"Night Gallery" They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar/The Last Laurel (TV Episode 1971) Poster

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"With assistants like that, who needs assassins?"
classicsoncall16 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" - not only was this the best of the first season episodes of 'Night Gallery' but it also had the coolest title. It doesn't necessarily give away the main plot of the story but if one is familiar with Rod Serling's sense of nostalgia in his writing, you can make a pretty good guess. This story wends it's way back and forth between (back then) present day 1970 and Randy Lane's (William Windom) first year with Pritkin's Plastic Products twenty five years earlier in 1945. Lane's attitude suggests that his life has seen better days, having succumbed to the despair of being a widower for the past eighteen years, and simply going through the motions with frequent lunch breaks at the local gin mill.

Serling quite often visited the past with stories he wrote for his earlier popular TV series, 'The Twilight Zone'. Sometimes those stories had an optimistic ending, like the one titled "Walking Distance", and sometimes they ended on a somber note, like "A Stop at Willoughby". One time, one of his characters even tried to short cut his way to success by going back in time to take advantage of things he knew were going to happen in the future. That one was "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville".

The recurring thread in all those stories, as well as 'Riley's Bar', is how one can get so caught up with the way things used to be, that there's no sense of appreciation for the way things are right now. I think that probably happens with all of us to some degree. I caught many of the Twilight Zone shows when they originally ran as a kid, so I have some perspective in that regard. If one could only turn back the clock.

What could have been a morose story actually turned out to be fairly positive one for old Randy, who if you think about it, wasn't really all that old at forty eight. It took some help from a supportive secretary (Diane Baker) to convince him (and his boss) that the best to come might still be achievable if he'd learn to live in the present. I'd like to think he found a new lease on life as he celebrated his 'first' twenty five years with the company.

As for the second story, "The Last Laurel", one might keep handy a few grains of salt to sprinkle on the tale of Marius Davis (Jack Cassidy). The petty and jealous cripple is convinced his wife is cheating on him with his personal physician, and sets out to seek his revenge upon refining his skills at astral projection. If one takes any comfort in the concept at all, the story falls apart when Marius winds up killing himself because he found himself in the 'wrong' room when he set out to murder Doctor Armstrong (Robert E. Brooks). The irony isn't lost on the viewer, but if projecting one's spirit outside the physical body is even remotely possible, it's not too much of a stretch to think that a little darkness wouldn't matter one way or the other.
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Part 2: =Final minutes of a Great Production . . . not!
drbond0073 February 2015
I am please the writer of Final minutes of a Great Production explained the problem. The plug was pulled, yanked, or stepped on, through the west coast. Those watching it with me were in shock and then==== outrage.

As said the wrecking ball starts to move and POOF- NOTHING. So for a while we did not know the ending. However unlike the other reviewer= the news anchor stopped the news and ran the final minutes. He explained the switchboards lit up and no one can call either way.

So I got to see a delayed ending.

Funny thing- it was more exciting with the black out and suspense. They out to leave it like that.

Oh well, ......Keep in Touch–We'll Think of Something ...
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Redemption & Revenge
AaronCapenBanner11 November 2014
'They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar' - William Windom is superb playing Randolph "Randy" Lane, a tired and beaten-down sales director in a plastics company who misses his late wife and the good old days, feeling lost in a modern world he hates. Fortunately he has a most sympathetic secretary(played by Diane Baker) who does all she can to help him before he not only loses his job, but his life... Wonderful story is similar to episodes of "The Twilight Zone", but is strong enough to stand on its own.

'The Last Laurel' - Jack Cassidy plays a bedridden cripple who uses astral projection to get revenge on his wife, whom he thinks is having an affair with his doctor, though his plan ends disastrously...Mediocre tale is too short, though does have an ironic ending.
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William Windom Great Actor But His Character......
Hitchcoc4 June 2014
This is one of Rod Serling's sentimental offerings. William Windom has paid his dues. He was in the war and upon his return, he joined up with a budding plastics firm, and has been there ever since. Early on, his wife died from pneumonia and he has never felt whole again. Things have changed and he is stuck in the rat race. As a sales executive, he has become only as good as his recent performance. Heading for fifty, he has lost his edge, and a young hotshot, Bert Convy with his tightly curled hair, is gunning for his job. He finds out that a favorite watering hole of his youth, Tim Riley's Bar, is about to be razed and a 20 story bank building erected. He falls into deep depression and alcoholism, embarrassing his company and opening the way for the young upstart. His only supporter is his pretty young secretary. She does what she can to pull him out of his malaise, but he can't escape it. He is stuck in the past. Windom does a masterful job as the unbalanced salesman, but after a while, he does become a bit tiresome. The viewer keeps wanting him to stop and look forward. He has a lot going for him, but can't get past self pity. He finds himself in the decrepit bar, reliving the night he was welcomed home from the war. He has been arrested and has spent the night in the drunk tank, and has been fired upon his return to the office. He is a man at a crossroads. Very good acting and tight writing.

Jack Cassidy made a career of playing smug jerks. In "The Last Laurel" he plays an invalid (he was a real sportsman but got into a car accident) who lies in bed and thinks up all kinds of scenarios involving his wife and men who cross their paths. He asks his doctor, whom he suspects is one of these threats, to see him, only to malign him. The doctor stuck in the house because the bridge is out and the ferry won't be going back until the next day. Cassidy has, through mind control, managed to leave his body and even pick up objects. He plans on killing the doctor while he sleeps. The only criticism of this episode is that there are some issues that are going to have to be resolved after the deed.
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stones7812 March 2012
This is a very short segment of the Night Gallery series, and I would have to say the most redeeming aspect is the entertaining performance of the late Jack Cassidy, who portrays the crippled Marius Davis just about perfectly. He was perhaps a professional athlete, as we see his many trophies, but was in a major car accident and is paralyzed and basically stuck in bed the rest of his life, or so we're to believe. The story boils down to Marius summoning his doctor late at night, who he believes is having an affair with his younger wife, and although it's not known that Marius knew the bridge would be closed because of bad weather, the doctor is just about forced to spend the night at the house mainly because the bridge is too dangerous to cross; let me add the doctor had to take a ferry to the Davis household. It seems that Marius has also accused his wife of having an affair with a paperboy also, and it appears he's clearly delusional. Soon after chasing both of them out of his room after accusing them, he somehow makes his "ghost" jump out of his sleeping body, and hatches a plan to kill the good doctor and the effects are fairly effective for 1971; he's able to pick up a pair of his wife's large sewing scissors, and he plans to stick them deep in the doctor's jugular. All seems according to plan, but during the storm the lights go out(I guess even ghosts need light), then Marius drops the scissors and stumbles in the dark, then picks up an object and thrusts it at a sleeping body, which we don't see right away. It turns out that the object was one of his trophies, and the bottom line is that he hits himself in the head instead of the doctor and there's a bloody gash on the temple of a sleeping, now probably dead Marius. When the ghost discovers the epic mistake, he screams rather loudly, and proclaims "I'm in the wrong room!"; the next scene has the doctor knocking on the door asking what's wrong, to which Marius replies, "Marius doesn't live here anymore", and a few seconds later we get the typical Night Gallery black screen. Overall, this was a decent, but rather short story which may leave you wanting a bit more, but the performance of Jack Cassidy more than makes up for it. I would recommend this for any fan of this show, as this is one of the better ones from the first year of Night Gallery.
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They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar/ The Last Laurel
Scarecrow-8816 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
"I keep getting beckoned to by ghosts.."

Director of sales at a growing company, Randolph Lane (William Windom; superb; memorable for his role in the great Star Trek episode "The Doomsday Machine") is 48 years old, but so tired and prone to booze he looks 60, understanding that his time in his current position, having worked for it for 25 years, is in jeopardy, pining for the days of old when he was far more happier than he is currently. You see, the past seems to be vividly reintroducing itself to Lane as he revisits specific events (such as the celebration at the bar when he returned from the war, a better period at his place of employment as the company was headed into plastics) that recalled better times when his wife was alive and boss more excited about his potential contributions to the company. Tim Riley's bar, his former home on 67th Avenue (along with other buildings on this street), all these places are being torn down, condemned to live no longer, the past wiped away. Tim Riley's bar symbolizes something universal, the tearing down of the old to make way for the new. Lane is the same as this condemned bar, Bert Convey's ambitious, cutthroat company climber, Harvey Doane, the shiny brand new apartment complex to replace him. The heartbreaking "fading of the past" scene where Randy tries to no avail to stop a certain night with friends and family from slowly vanishing is quite impactful because so many of us try our damnedest to hold on for dear life to those moments that we cherish and so wish would not leave us. At least the ending provides hope to Randy for a more promising future as the dumbbell is lifted by the crane of a construction crew, on its way to demolishing Tim Riley's bar and grille forever. The rich script was beautifully written by Rod Serling, although it must be said that this isn't the kind of story many will equate to a series that is supposed to be spooky or creepy. Marvelous central performance from Windom who has never been better (this is Emmy caliber work, that's for sure), so full of raw truth, his character wallowing in misery for he feels like a relic, a dinosaur at the point of extinction, someone about to be put out to pasture due to his alcoholism interfering with his work, not to mention, his deteriorating work ethic that is declining because of his longing for the past. The gorgeous Diane Baker (William Castle's Strait-Jacket) is Lane's dutiful secretary who doggedly defends him despite his worsening performance, such as late lunches and coming back drunk. Convey is slick and heartless as Doane, eyeing the prize of Lane's position. Great character actor John Randolph (this guy did all, folks) is HE Pritkin, the boss who is at his wit's end with Lane.

The second tale is about a paraplegic former decathlon athlete, Marius Davis (Jack Cassidy; father of David Cassidy), obsessed with the notion that his wife (Martine Bestwick; Hammer's Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde) is banging his physician having mastered an out of body ability somehow, planning to murder who he considers a scoundrel. This is over with pretty quickly and doesn't have a memorable bone in its body, except for Cassidy doing what he does best, playing a wealthy miser seething at the core because of his dilemma, reveling in his plan to kill the man he believes is sleeping with his wife (further relishing the idea that she will be implicated for it since he's paralyzed in the legs). "Riley" was so good, though that "The Last Laurel" never had a prayer to begin with… "Riley"

10/10//"Laurel" 5/10
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Final minutes of a Great Production . . . not!
bsamstag-26 January 2009
Warning: Spoilers
William Windom always played fabulous characters, and his performance in this episode was no exception. I, and fellow Night Gallery watchers, were glued to our Black and White TV sets when this ran at 8:30 in the evening. We suffered with the main character as history and nostalgia conflicted with progress - we knew the ultimate scene.

Or, did we? In the final minutes of the story, someone at the Los Angeles Network outlet pulled the plug. We saw the wrecking ball start its swing towards the bar - and the screen went black! The crew's critique at breakfast the following morning was filled with anger and resentment at the network.

Fortunately, the L A Times TV Editor was on the ball, and printed a summary of the final minutes. I'm told that the missing minutes ran at another time, but missed it.

I wonder if this episode is available on VHS or DVD? I would love to see it again . . . in its entirety.
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They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar was possibly Rod Serling's last harrah on "Night Gallery"
tavm1 December 2008
William Windom is Randolph Lane, a worker at a plastics company for the last 25 years who's been off drinking and reminiscing at the abandoned-and-about-to-be-torn Tim Riley's Bar. His boss (John Randolph) doesn't like it and is considering replacing him with his underling Harvey Doane (Burt Convy) who's quite a hotshot. Only his loyal secretary Lynn Alcott (Diane Baker) still treats him kindly. Lane's been having memories of his homecoming from the war and how happy he seemed to be when he first worked at his company as well as how sad he didn't get to say goodbye to his now-late wife. I'll stop there and say while Rod Serling wrote a very compelling tale of the effects of aging and how those years can pile on like a sledgehammer (a suitable word considering the story) due to alcohol and not having enough time to smell the roses, he backtracked on the ending which was probably forced on him by the network. Still, "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" was possibly his last compelling work as a writer before his untimely death four years later. To which I can only add, rest in eternal peace, Mr. Serling...About the next shorter segment of the hour, "The Last Laurel", that one stars Jack Cassidy as Marius Davis, a man who's paralyzed from the legs with a bad back who suspects his wife of having an affair with his doctor. When a collapsed bridge forces the doctor to stay in the house, Marius finds he has an out-of-body experience that allows him to pick objects up at will. So he picks some scissors in order to kill his wife's alleged paramour. I'll stop there and just say that the length of about eight minutes seems just about right for this episode as one wouldn't want to spend another second with these not-so-very-nice people. So I don't think the ending affected me one way or another. And since I'm used to this kind of twist ending especially from Serling, it really wasn't much of a surprise to me. Still, it was pretty good as filler goes...P.S. This segment gets a 6.
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msilva7-127 December 2007
The best episode on the "Gallery" offering on DVD. I believe award winning also. Would make a marvelous 80 minute film with the right cast. I would dare say an older Brad Pitt in the lead. Robert Montgomery for my money, although deceased :(. I think previous mentioned "nostalgic" and that is the key plot line. Perhaps if I may say "black nostalgia" in this case. Something grown-ups can all relate to in days gone by that shall never return. For some of us, we may think of our family when younger or friends, and desperately miss those "old days" when times seemed more innocent in an acutely different culture. I think Rod Serling made this very personal for him which gave it's production a golden touch, if you will. I believe he saved it as the show's last episode that first season as to perhaps leave a lasting impression. Well Mr. Serling, over 35 years later, it still does!
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In Search of Time Lost.
Robert J. Maxwell9 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This is a strange episode of Night Gallery, a moving story of a man who is fully aware of the way that he has killed time and time is now killing him.

Rod Serling, the writer, did a splendid job of evoking nostalgia for times gone by, peaceful optimistic times, as contrasted with the wreck things seemed to be turning into -- symbolized by O'Reilly's Bar, deserted and bleak, its furniture abused.

Serling grew up in Binghamton, New York, one of those smallish cities in which, during the 1920s and 1930s, people came to know their neighbors and all participated in rites of intensification -- the Fourth of July celebrations, Christmas caroling, that sort of thing. He never forgot it.

His stories on the Twilight Zone often reflected this winsome sense of loss, and this episode of Night Gallery pretty much closes the book on that sentiment. Serling wasn't to live much longer. I wonder if it doesn't take a certain amount of age to fully appreciate this film. You must be old enough to understand the meaning of "disillusionment," not to mention "dissolution." I don't know of any ten-year-old kids who are capable of it.

It's not a TV masterwork. It does go on, and at times it's confusing. William Windom's performance, though, is very good. He has the pleasantly plain, unpleasantly pained face of Everyman. It's a sad and touching story of a man who, like Serling himself, moved from a state of innocence into one of heartless modernism, devoid of human passion.
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