Director: Walter E. Grauman
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Cast: Robert Duvall, Pert Kelton, Barbara Barrie, William Windom, Lennie Weinrib, John McLiam, Barney Phillips, Joan Chambers, Chet Stratton, Richard Angarola, Nina Roman, and Claire Griswold
Composer: Fred Steiner
Air Date: 2/21/1963
Production Code: 4862
Struggling to find a place for himself in the real world, Charley Parkes (Robert Duvall)—a shy, thirty-something man who lives at home with his mother—forms an attachment to a wooden doll family displayed in a local museum. Breaking from reality altogether, Charley witnesses the doll figures come to life before his very eyes—with a remarkable twist.
Encouraging viewers to sympathize with outcasts and social misfits, “Miniature” deserves praise for its delicate performance from the main actor. Nevertheless, this episode sets a questionable example for how introverts, well-adjusted or otherwise, should handle awkward or uncomfortable situations.
Robert Duvall should be commended for his sensitive portrayal of Charley Parkes, whose character will resonate with anyone who suffers from mild autism, social anxiety, or schizoid tendencies. Especially moving are Charley’s interactions with the doll family, who, unlike the majority of flesh-and-blood people, never judge or belittle the protagonist for his idiosyncratic behavior.
Despite performing his work duties in a satisfactory manner, Charley is fired for not “fitting in” with his fellow accountants—a weak and unbelievable setup for Charley’s predicament later in the episode.
There are also instances when Charley, as a result of his withdrawn personality, comes across as being unappreciative of his family members, who make every effort to understand and accommodate him in spite of his mental illness—a factor that may prevent the audience from fully sympathizing with Charley.
This episode offers tremendous insight into the trials of a man who, unable to cope with the social difficulties of real life, retreats into a world of fantasy. It should be mentioned, however, that “Miniature” sends an ambiguous message on avoiding responsibility and substituting human relationships with pure escapism—much in contrast to season one’s “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” which depicts an aging actress as a vain, selfish individual for living a solitary existence and refusing to confront the painful aspects of reality.
“Miniature” contains a beautifully acted and emotionally stirring narrative. Those who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its poignant offerings will thus appreciate this episode, minor logical flaws notwithstanding.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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