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I vaguely remember watching this show when I was a small child when it was a regular series. I watched it in syndication when I was an adolescent and have watched it as an adult on the Sci-Fi channel, so I guess that you could say I have had a chance to view Night Gallery from three very different perspectives. Rod Serling was a true genius who was often called television's "first angry man". What I mean is that he wrote scripts for tv that dealt with real social issues and were not meant as fluff entertainment. He wanted to send out a message with the stories that he wrote. Serling wrote such classic screenplays as Requium For A Heavywieght and Patterns. He probably would not have liked it that he was best remembered for The Twilight Zone! Night Gallery was the last series he hosted before his untimely death in 1975. Each episode had about three or four stories. Of course they didn't hit the target with all of them, but they still had a good batting average! Some of the episodes were disturbing and terrifying and some were just meant to be merely humerous. I remember one with Leslie Nielsen as the Phantom of the Opera (keep in mind this was before the Naked Gun and Police Squad when he was a dramatic actor). The girl unmasked him and he unmasked her and found she was as deformed as he was! They had another episode that I clearly remember about a time traveler who was a survivor of the Titanic who was picked up by the Lusitania who was then rescued by the Andrea Doria! The one that I remember the most, the one that chilled me was the one about a boy who could see the future and then described a horrifying vision where the sun would explode (a nova) and would incinerate the earth! The fun part of this show was the high quality of the guest stars that they had everyone from Burgess Meredith to Ozzie and Harriet Nelson to Leonard Nimoy. Gary Collins was Night Gallery's most frequent guest star, he played a parapsychologist named Doctor Rhode's who investigated all kinds of odd cases and his character was so popular that he even got his own series. I always enjoyed every episode that Mister Collins was in. People don't realize this, but the original Night Gallery movie in 1969, the series pilot was one of the first television movies ever made! In fact, one of the directors who did one of the stories was a young man named Steven Spielburg! The story I most remember from the pilot was one with Richard Kiley as a Nazi War Criminal who meets a truly just and horrifying end. A man who put too many Christs on crosses for any God to give him forgiveness! Rod Serling fought in World War II as a paratrooper and was severely wounded. His wife said in an interview that he never stopped having nightmares about the war and many of the stories he wrote for the Twilight Zone and Night Gallery deal with the horrors of war. Rod Serling was a true genius who wrote stories that entertained us and made us think at the same time.
Often lost in the shadow of Rod Serling's first series, "The Twilight Zone," "Night Gallery" was a fascinating experiment in the anthology format. Instead of one story per episode, the hour was splintered into two, three, or four different stories of varying length. Some were quite brief, lasting no more than a minute; others lasted over 40 minutes. The quality often varied, too. A few of the little vignettes were quite bad. Some stories were quite good. And on more than a few occasions, this little mini-film festival on Wednesday nights produced segments that were as good as anything else on TV at the time. Classic episodes included "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar," "Pickman's Model" (both nominated for Emmys), "The Caterpillar," "Class of '99," "Green Fingers," "The Messiah on Mott Street," "The Sins of the Fathers," "The Doll," "Cool Air," "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," "A Question of Fear," "The Little Black Bag," and "The Dead Man." Because one of these classics could often be followed or preceded by a story of lesser quality, the series got a reputation for being wildly uneven. It was universally lambasted during its network run by near-sighted critics who were thrown off by its inconsistency, and missed the quality elements: intelligent, stylish writing by Serling and others, top-notch production values (particularly in cinematography and music), and innovative directorial touches. For its syndication run, the series segments were butchered to fit into a half-hour time slot, some losing half their length in the editing, and is a travesty, a mere shadow of its former self. Episodes of a boring ESP potboiler, "The Sixth Sense," were annexed into the syndie package with terrible results. Stick to the uncut version.
Caught a few episodes of this once again, as part of a Memorial Day marathon
on Encore's MYSTERY! Channel. In spite of the fact that it was mostly
reviled by critics and not a few viewers, when it originally ran on NBC back
in the early '70's, it now has garnered a cult following and I can
definitely see why.
GALLERY in its own way, did for horror anthologies what TWILIGHT ZONE did for science fiction and fantasy. It's not as good as ZONE was in most respects, and I don't think that Rod Serling intended it to be. Free of the pressure of topping himself, which was something damn near impossible to do, GALLERY could be wildly uneven in the way the stories were featured, as it has been mentioned before, in terms of both quantity and quality. One story could take up an entire hour, while a half-hour tale could be accompanied by much shorter vignettes, some of them no more than LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE-quality blackouts, albeit it with endings that feature mayhem rather than marriage, though just as hokey.
A lot of the clothes, the special effects, the skewed photographic angles and lighting are positively outdated by today's standards, but that is a big part of the charm of revisiting a lot of the episodes, many which are all too familiar to the generation that grew up with GALLERY and its peer programs from this particular era.
Even more fascinating, however, is the chance to see movie and TV veterans rubbing elbows and sharing scenes with many "newbies," a lot of whom are established stars today, and the chance to see them cutting their teeth on '70's material is an interesting and sometimes enlightening experience. For example, one episode I viewed featured Kim Hunter, Harry Morgan and a very young Randy Quaid; another starred an up-and-coming actor named Bill Bixby, with Carol Lynley, Ned Glass and Donna Douglas (yes, as in "Ellie Mae Clampett," but without most of her corn-pone accent.)
Based on classic short stories by everyone from August Derleth and H.P. Lovecraft ("Pickman's Model"), to Charles Beaumont and Ray Bradbury, the adaptations varied in quality, but usually never suffered as much as the original stories. Even so, there were scripts, directing and acting that are still every bit as good as anything produced today, better even, since anthology shows such as this are in woefully short supply (though the revamped THE OUTER LIMITS is in reruns, and I've heard a new version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE is in the works.)
Case in point, is one of the episodes I saw in the marathon, called THE WAITING ROOM. From an original Rod Serling story, directed by one of the resident GALLERY helmers, Jeannot Szwarc, this was a masterfully dark Old West tale with a twist, and a Who's-Who of a cast that would put any character actor buff or fan of Western potboilers into High Noon Heaven: Steve Forrest, Buddy Ebsen, Lex Barker, Albert Salmi, Jim Davis and Gilbert Roland. This tale brought to mind a movie TNT did not so long ago called PURGATORY, but where that film needed ninety minutes, this episode delivered a similar punch in thirty.
Of course, there is the now-legendary work done in both the pilot movie and the series by some young, green, but talented kid with the unlikely last name of Spielberg, but if you should happen to catch this while channel-surfing, look beyond those prejudicial impressions, stop and give it a chance, especially if you haven't seen it in quite a while. There are plenty of misses that were made during GALLERY'S three-season run, but the hits, which can still leave trails of cranberry-sized goosebumps down the back of your spine, are definitely worth it. Don't believe me? Well, you'll know whether or not NIGHT GALLERY can still have an effect on you, if you still shudder when you read my closing sentence...
"...and the FEMALE LAYS EGGS...."
One of the most underrated TV series of the 1970s, and of all time, is this
terrific collection of sci-fi and horror stories, hosted by Rod Serling.
Often (wrongly) compared to Serling's other series, "The Twilight
Zone"...the overall mood, and purpose of this series is different. The
"Zone" was a collection of morality tales, disguised as sci-fi stories. A
fantastic show, without a doubt, but the "Gallery" was designed purely to
shock and entertain...and it certainly succeeded in that
So much great talent was on display in this series. The actors, writers, directors, and musicians were almost always top-notch. Though the decision to have multiple stories within each episode, did result in some mediocre results sometimes (especially with the campy vignettes), the quality of the better segments is what most remember best.
Among some of the better segments:
"They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar", with William Windom (in an awesome performance) as a has-been salesman who's beckoned by the ghosts of his past.
"The Doll", about a gruesome doll, sent to a British officer as revenge.
"The Tune in Dan's Cafe", about a haunted jukebox that plays the same song always.
"Green Fingers", with Elsa Lanchester as an elderly woman, harassed by a tycoon who wants her land, where she has an unusual knack for gardening.
So many more great ones. Some folks get turned off by the dated 1970s look to this show (the costumes, sets, bright color, excessive use of zooms/close-ups). If you can get past that aspect, and rather appreciate the show's camp value, you're sure to enjoy this unique and highly original horror series. It's a classic in my book.
There is something that sets Night Gallery apart from all other
sci-fi/thriller TV shows. An ethereal element of mystique lurks within
every episode that provides for unique entertainment. Narrated by Rod
Serling, Night Gallery explores the supernatural from the context of an
abstract painting--a different painting each episode. When narrating his
previous series, The Twilight Zone, Serling generally manifested an air of
superiority to the plot--like he had it in the palm of his hand and could
control it. In Night Gallery, however, he relinquishes such control and
becomes more a PART of the madness; as if the gallery is controlling HIM (it
is also refreshing to finally view him in color). Night Gallery episodes are
NOT concluded with a Serling anecdotal summary; instead, a shocking punch is
usually delivered that the viewer is left to unravel without assistance.
The directing and editing are top notch. Scenes cascade in a swift and somewhat ambiguous fashion, and camera tricks are cleverly exploited to hold our attention--proving that today's computer graphics are not essential to exact viewer interest. Simple story lines are translated into convoluted journeys of intrigue with music and sound effects akin only to The Exorcist.
Some memorable episodes include Sally Field playing a woman with multiple personalities (this was before she played Cybil, mind you); an ostracized young girl who befriends a seaweed monster; a diner jukebox that hauntingly plays only one song; a man who has an earwig planted in his ear that creeps through his brain (and lays eggs!); and a young Clint Howard (Ron's kid brother) playing a child prodigy who foresees mankind's treacherous fate.
Of course, there are those little, campy vignettes thrown in for fun, most of which are mildly amusing. Overall, this is an exhibit you will not want to bypass!
The Night Gallery was Rod Serling introducing tales of terror and irony much like he did for the Twilight Zone. While the TZ dealt more with Sci-Fi, Night Gallery dealt with the macabe. Damn, was it good and scary. The stories that stood out in my mind were the Tune In Dan's Cafe, Green Fingers and They're Aren't Anymore McBanes. Talk about scary. I remember watching the McBanes episode and it scared the daylights out of me and my mother who was watching it with me. The TUne in Dan's Cafe is very haunting. To me this is one of the best anthology shows ever, ranking up there with the Outer Limits(the original) Tales From the Darkside, One Step Beyond, and the great Twilight Zone. I love the fact that the Sci-Fi channel runs Twilight Zone episodes back to back in front of the older Outer Limits episodes. Now if only it would add the Night Gallery all would be perfect in the afternoon. The Night Gallery is classic horror anthologies at their best. Great acting, great stories, scary as hell. Pass the popcorn and get ready for some real chills. way to go Rod Serling another classic show.
Rod Serling made a name for himself with his stunning series the Twilight Zone, after it ended, he came up with this follow up series. It was more of horror and supernatural than of sci-fi like the Twilight Zone was, but it still is a masterpiece, but there were a few funny moments, like the ones with vampires or Dracula. But the rest were either shocking, surprising or spooky! My favorite is the one about the undertaker who acts kind, and another is the one about the drug addict who goes to Hell. These stories also have a point or sometimes a lesson in it, or shows some dark karma, or in other words, it shows bad people getting a dark comeuppance. It's like a serious version of Tales From The Crypt, or perhaps maybe a forerunner to it. Recommended to all Twilight Zone fans, or fans of horror. Excellent work Mr. Serling!
For those who enjoy psychological thrillers and who have never seen "Night Gallery" - find them and watch them. This show was on television when I was only six, yet I can still remember how utterly spooky, horrifying and terrorizing some of the vignettes were. Granted, not all of them were great (some were a bit silly), but there were ones that I would still find chilling today. Some gems include Joan Crawford and Tom Bosley in one story about eyes, Roddy McDowall as a spoiled heir to a large fortune, and Agnes Moorehead, Rachel Roberts and Grayson Hall with the shadows on the wall. I could go on and on...you can also find information about the series at www.nightgallery.net. And -- some of the paintings done for the vignettes are downright creepy! All in all a great series, and it's a shame it didn't last longer.
Rod Serlings follow up to Twilight Zone. This series originally began as a
four in one alternating with three other shows and each would get one
per month. Night Gallery was easily the best and became a weekly. While
Twilight Zone dealt with Science Fiction Gallery dealt on the macabre
side. Rod as host would introduce each story via a painting.
A few (mostly the short ones) had tongue in cheek humor. The others could be very spooky. The theme music was equally eerie. The show now airs on the Sci-Fi channel. Having watched it when it originally aired it seems that the episodes are edited here and there. Later episodes were added from another series entitled The Sixth Sense and they were not nearly as good as the Serling ones.
The Night Gallery was a great series. It had many great guest stars including Al Lewis, Vincent Price, John Carradine, Diane Keaton, Burgess Meredith, Chill Wills, Tom Bosley, John Astin, Phyllis Diller, Henry Silva, Diane Baker, John Randolph, Cesar Romero, Carl Reiner, and many, many more! The acting by all of these actors is very good. The dialog was really good in this series. The shorts were filmed very good. The music is good. Rod Serling hosted the show well. The short films are quite interesting and they really keeps you going. Most of them are spooky! This is a very good and thrilling series! Some of My favorites is Professor Peabody's Last Lecture, The Nature of the Enemy, and A Matter of Semantics to name a few. If you like classic shows like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, The Nightstalker, and others, and classic Horror, Crime, Thrillers, Dramas, and interesting films then I strongly recommend you to go over to Amazon.com and buy the complete first season on DVD that is also includes the pilot as well today!
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