★★★1/2 April 10, 1964 Season 5 Episode 28
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
This is the second Twilight Zone with a ventriloquist’s dummy that is smarter than his ventriloquist. The episode though doesn’t build the same mystery about the dummy as The Dummy does. Jackie Cooper plays Jonathan West a down on his luck ventriloquist who has no friend but Caesar…the dummy. You do feel some sympathy with this character, but he is far too naive. The trouble starts when Caesar manipulates Jonathan into performing several robberies instead of finding honest work while they are waiting for their big break.
The vicious character in this story is the little girl named Morgan Brittany played by Suzanne Cupito. She would later play Katherine Wentworth in Dallas. She started out as a insufferable little know it all but ended up as evil as the Caesar. This is the only episode of the series written by a woman. Adele T. Strassfield was the secretary of William Froug, the producer of the second half of the final season of The Twilight Zone.
It was a good episode and an improvement over the previous episode Sounds and Silences.
IMDB Trivia: The ventriloquist’s dummy is a reuse of the one created for The Twilight Zone: The Dummy (1962). It was modelled on George Murdock, one of that episode’s guest stars.
Jackie Cooper’s name previously appeared on a poster for the film O’Shaughnessy’s Boy (1935), in which he starred, in The Twilight Zone: The Incredible World of Horace Ford (1963).
This show was written by Rod Serling and Adele T. Strassfield
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Jonathan West, ventriloquist, a master of voice manipulation. A man, late of Ireland, with a talent for putting words into other peoples’ mouths. In this case, the other person is a dummy, aptly named Caesar, a small splinter with large ideas, a wooden tyrant with a mind and a voice of his own, who is about to talk Jonathan West – into the Twilight Zone.
Ventriloquist Jonathan West isn’t having much luck finding a job. He’s gone to several auditions but no one has taken him on. He’s falling behind in his rent and is now getting to the point where he’s running out of things to pawn. He has to put up with the taunts of young Susan, the landlady’s niece. He’s also talking to his dummy, Caesar, who has advice for him on how to get ahead. It’s not very good advice however.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
A little girl and a wooden doll. A lethal dummy in the shape of a man. But everybody knows dummies can’t talk – unless, of course, they learn their vocabulary in the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Host / Narrator – Himself
Jackie Cooper … Jonathan West / voice of Caesar
Suzanne Cupito (Morgan Brittany) … Susan
Sarah Selby … Mrs. Cudahy
Stafford Repp … Pawnbroker
Don Gazzaniga … Detective
Kenneth Konopka … Mr. Miller
Sidney Marion … Watchman
Robert McCord … Man Watching Audition
Olan Soule … Mr. Smiles