Damien Wayans Jr. plays the widower of a small town mayor who discovers a miniature model of that town in an attic that, when changed, affects the town itself essentially turning Wayans into a God. At first, he uses these powers to fix up the small city for everyone’s benefit, but when the sleazy mayor starts taking credit for the improvements, the widower is faced with the question of what kind of God he wants to be.
Out of all of the episodes of The Twilight Zone reboot, this one is the most nostalgically old school… the most charming and the most pleasant. It’s not exactly deep, nor does it thoroughly scrutinize the idea of unfettered godhood, but it does tell an appealing fantasy story with likeable characters.
Damien Wayans Jr. balances just the right amount of charm and sympathy in the role. This isn’t exactly a deep character, but Wayans plays him well where you can see both his good intentions and his faults.
David Krumholtz is equally great as the mayor balancing just the right amount of political opportunism and rat-like behavior. It’s a bit of a cartoony character, but it’s a bit of a cartoony episode so it’s completely forgivable and, to be honest, expected.
There were some things that bothered me, particularly in the opening few minutes with Wayans discovers the model. The Twilight Zone reboot has had a huge problem with telling and not showing and, having Wayans continually narrate his reactions to the model was amateurish and distracting when his wonder and awe could have easily been captured with facial expressions and the musical score instead of a constant stream of “Whaaaaat?”, “No way!”, and “It’s so cool!”
Thankfully, this only lasts one scene, but still…
I would have liked the episode to be a little more on the nose about political figures and the herd of admirers they develop for doing next to nothing which would have been a perfect analogy for our times. As it stands, “A Small Town” is a perfectly fine episode, but not very memorable for anything it tries to say.
That being said, “A Small Town” is a completely fine and fun old fashioned episode of The Twilight Zone that felt like it would have fit in perfectly inside of Rod Serling’s original run. It was a whimsical and magical fantasy, quirky and harmless, avoiding the annoying and unnecessary edginess and profanity that has been needlessly peppered over the other reboot episodes.
It may not be memorable or deep, but it is delightfully wistful.