Night Gallery: Season 2, Episode 8

The Diary/A Matter of Semantics/Big Surprise/Professor Peabody's Last Lecture (10 Nov. 1971)

TV Episode  |  TV-PG  |   |  Drama, Fantasy, Horror
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 159 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 4 critic

Gossip columnist Holly receives a diary describing future events. / Dracula visits a blood bank with an odd request. / Hawkins the hermit promises a surprise to three boys if they dig for it. / Professor Peabody publicly ridicules the gods.


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Title: The Diary/A Matter of Semantics/Big Surprise/Professor Peabody's Last Lecture (10 Nov 1971)

The Diary/A Matter of Semantics/Big Surprise/Professor Peabody's Last Lecture (10 Nov 1971) on IMDb 7.4/10

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Holly Schaeffer (segment "The Diary")
Carrie Crane (segment "The Diary")
Dr. Mill (segment "The Diary")
E.J. Peaker ...
Nurse (segment "A Matter of Semantics")
Mr. Hawkins (segment "Big Surprise")
Professor Peabody (segment "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture")
Robert Yuro ...
Jeb Harlan (segment "The Diary")
James McCallion ...
George (segment "The Diary")
Nurse (segment "The Diary")
Floy Dean ...
Receptionist (segment "The Diary")
Diana Chesney ...
Maid (segment "The Diary")
Monie Ellis ...
Candy-Striper (segment "A Matter of Semantics")
Chris (segment "Big Surprise")
Marc Vahanian ...
Jason (segment "Big Surprise")


A ruthless gossip columnist becomes the recipient of a mysterious diary that automatically writes down future events before they actually occur. Count Dracula visits a blood bank. An eccentric farmer promises a big surprise to a group of boys- if they dig for it. A college professor invokes the wrath of an angry god while delivering a lecture.

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Release Date:

10 November 1971 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In Big Surprise, there are several cuts from Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds (1963) interspersed throughout the episode - such as the crows gathering on and flying away from the Jungle Jim outside the Bodega Bay School. See more »

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User Reviews

Big Surprise wasn't much of a surprise
9 December 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I happen to agree with the reviewer who thought the "surprise" was a bit of a letdown. The short episode certainly had a terrific suspenseful plot, which has an old farmer(played brilliantly by creepy John Carradine)promising a young boy a big surprise, if he agrees to dig where the farmer told him to. Naturally, the 3 kids are intrigued by the idea of what could be under ground; one of them thinks it could be money, another thinks it's probably a prank. I liked the atmosphere of the digging area, with the surrounding church, farm, and trees, although it may have been creepier if this scene occurred during the evening instead of the middle of the day. The 3 begin to dig and bark at each other because nothing's been found yet, so 2 of the boys leave determined Chris by himself to keep digging for the supposed surprise. Long story short, he digs about another foot and finds an old old crate(perhaps a coffin)and the old farmer emerges and says, "surprise" and starts to laugh, ending the episode. I know this was based on a short story, but I thought more imagination could've really made this segment more effective and scarier. That being said, it's still one of the better shorts from the controversial Night Gallery.

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