Night Gallery: Season 1, Episode 0

Night Gallery (8 Nov. 1969)

TV Episode  -   -  Drama | Fantasy | Horror
7.2
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 1,085 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 7 critic

In the pilot of the television series _"Night Gallery" (1970)_, Rod Serling introduces three separate paintings, each with its own story of uncanny vengeance against evil to tell. The first... See full summary »

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Title: Night Gallery (08 Nov 1969)

Night Gallery (08 Nov 1969) on IMDb 7.2/10

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Cast

Episode cast overview, first billed only:
...
Miss Claudia Menlo
...
Osmund Portifoy
...
SS-Gruppenführer Helmut Arndt / Josef Strobe
...
Jeremy Evans
...
Dr. Frank Heatherton
...
Sidney Resnick
...
William Hendricks
...
Bleum
...
Gretchen
Barry Atwater ...
Carson
...
1st Agent
Tom Basham ...
Gibbons
Byron Morrow ...
George J. Packer
Garry Goodrow ...
Louis
...
1st Nurse
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Storyline

In the pilot of the television series _"Night Gallery" (1970)_, Rod Serling introduces three separate paintings, each with its own story of uncanny vengeance against evil to tell. The first, "The Cemetery", involves a black sheep nephew (Roddy McDowall) who murders his rich uncle to inherit his fortune - both much to the detriment of the uncle's butler (Ossie Davis) - only to find that vengeance extends beyond the grave. In the second story, "Eyes", a rich, heartless woman (Joan Crawford) who has been blind from birth blackmails an aspiring surgeon and a man who desperately needs money to give her a pair of eyes which will allow her to see for the first time - even though for only half a day's time - only to have the plan backfire on her in ways she never imagined. In the third story, "The Escape Route", a Nazi war criminal (Richard Kiley) is hiding from the authorities in South America, where he is confronted with his past demons and a curious Holocaust survivor (Sam Jaffe) and finds... Written by Curly Q. Link

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Unrated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

8 November 1969 (USA)  »

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4:3
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Hendricks was born in 1893. See more »

Goofs

In the opening segment, the proximity and arrangement of the trees and headstones of the family graveyard varies wildly between shots and points of view; particularly the direction in which the prominent "Hendricks" monument faces and where the small tree outside the window is. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Rate It X (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

 
I agree with those who said that this pilot is much better than most of the subsequent series--it's better written and more interesting.
19 March 2011 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

It's curious, but when you look at the page for this pilot for "Night Gallery", it reads as follows:

"Directors: Boris Sagal, Barry Shear, and 1 more credit » "

You have to click on the '1 more credit' tag to learn that Steven Spieberg himself was this other director--and this was his first professional job as a director! This is more than enough reason to watch the show's first episode and interesting that unless you click this link you might never know about his involvement.

In some ways, this pilot is quite typical of a regular episode of "The Night Gallery". It consists of three separate stories (this often varied) and each is a story about horror and irony. The main difference, however, is that most of episodes of the series were NOT written by Rod Serling--despite him being the host of the shows. Here, he writes all three segments and so it's not surprising that they are very high quality--he was a heck of a writer and the execs at the network were idiots to hire him essentially as a host and begrudgingly let him contribute a few scripts. Duh.

The first segment, "The Cemetery", stars Roddy McDowell as a scum-bag nephew waiting for his disabled disabled Uncle (George Macready) to die. You can't help but hate McDowell's character--he is 100% awful and delights in anticipating the old man's death. In fact, he tries his best to 'simplify things'--by putting Macready by an open window on a cold day when his butler (Ossie Davis) has his day off from work. Not surprisingly, when the old man soon dies, McDowell is ecstatic--unseemly so. However, his joy at is cut short when strange things start to happen to a creepy painting in his house...what, exactly, it is and why is something you'll have to find out for yourself. While I would not consider this a great segment, it is very good and a welcome introduction to the series. Plus it's humorously black ending is worth waiting for--although not entirely unexpected. I'd rate this one an 8..nearly a 9.

The second segment, "Eyes", has the distinction of starring Joan Crawford. Oddly, despite her fame, the directing job was given to young Spielberg--an untried professional to say the least. Crawford plays a horrid lady who can get whatever she likes simply because she's rich and wicked. She shows this by her trying to get her doctor (Barry Sullivan) to arrange for an evil surgery--to transplant a poor living donor's eyes into Crawford!! Sick, yes, but even sicker because she knows that IF the surgery works, she'll only be able to see for a few hours at most!! As she says, "My single abiding interest is MYSELF"! Naturally the doctor refuses, so she blackmails him to get his cooperation. Nice lady, huh?! And, based on Christina Crawford's book "Mommy, Dearest", perhaps not unlike Crawford in real life!! Regardless of whether or not this is true, Crawford was wonderfully wicked in this show--it's one of her best performances late in her career. And who is this pathetic donor? None other than Tom Bosley (who, incidentally, was also surprisingly good)! Naturally there is an ironic twist--and it's one of the best episodes of the series. I'd give this one a 9--though I will admit there were a few plot holes with this one that other reviewers have also noticed. Still, it's a winner.

The third, "Escape Route", stars Richard Kiley--a very good actor who most would not recognize despite his many appearances on TV, movies and on stage. Kiley plays a man who is a Nazi war criminal living in South America. He becomes fixated on a painting in a museum--a painting with WEIRD qualities. And, a man at the museum (Sam Jaffe) recognizes him as an evil officer from Auschwitz. What happens next has a lot to do with a creepy painting of the man being crucified that's in the same art gallery in "Escape Route"--wow, is that spooky! However, despite this, the final segment is not especially scary, though it is a nice story about Karma. I'd give this one 7.

Overall, this pilot is quite a bit better than the subsequent series. Much of this, I am sure, has to do with Serling's continually diminishing involvement with the scripts. However, on occasion, the show did manage some incredibly effective episodes. I'd give this pilot an overall score of 7.


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