As explained in “The Twilight Zone Companion,” the supposedly plagiarized script was called “The Thirteenth Mannequin,” and it did cover some of the same general themes:
“The script concerned an old man who preferred the company of store mannequins — mannequins who ultimately come to life. The suit claimed that since both works dealt with main characters becoming involved with inanimate human figures who come to life, ‘Miniature’ had stolen the idea.”
Ultimately the case was dismissed by a judge and then again on appeal. The reasoning was that not only was “The Miniature” different enough to not be considered stolen from “The Thirteenth Mannequin,” but that “The Thirteenth Mannequin” itself was awfully similar to a “Twilight Zone” episode that came out in season 1. “The After Hours,” written by Serling, revolved around sentient mannequins. If anything, one could argue that the suing screenwriter stole Serling’s idea, not the other way around.
Although Serling escaped the lawsuit with his reputation rightfully intact, the episode itself still suffered a lot for it. Although “Miniature” is available now on streaming services, it was denied syndication for twenty years after its initial airing. In fact, it wasn’t available to watch at all until the show’s 1984 Silver Anniversary Special.
It’s a shame, because “Miniature” is a haunting and thought-provoking episode, one that features a standout performance from a young, pre-fame Robert Duvall. It’s also one of the handful of season 4 episodes that fully earned its one-hour time slot — a controversial choice exclusive to this season — using its extra time to add a lot of nuance and sensitivity to its main character’s apparent decline into insanity. “Miniature” should have been a well-known classic, one of the show’s most popular entries, but instead it was nearly lost to time.
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