Musings in the Dark: Dark Love II: Night Gallery


Dark Love II: Night Gallery

Next on the slate in my continuing homage to Stephen King’s deconstruction of sci-fi/fantasy/horror fiction and television is Night Gallery. Night Gallery is Rod Serling’s second go-round with network television.  You undoubtedly remember the first, The Twilight Zone.*  

Night Gallery, also hosted by Mr. Serling, takes place in a museum at night.  It is a mostly supernatural and horror anthology show.  Each story and vignette is prefaced by a brief introduction and an ugly, but memorable, picture.  There are hits and misses, as there always are with anthology TV shows.  Some of the misses are head-shakingly, groan-inducing terrible.  But when Night Gallery hits, it hits it out of the park.  Oh baby!

My favorite episode is “The Caterpillar.”  **SPOILER** In a nutshell, a man wants a woman that he can’t have and decides to have her husband murdered by putting an earwig in his ear.  In a nasty turn of events, the creepy little bug was put in the villain’s ear instead, ate its way through his brain, and the asshole survives.  At least for a little while…because the earwig was female and it laid eggs while crawling around inside of his head.


Another episode, "Big Surprise," which is absolutely disturbing, deals with an old man who encourages some adventure-hungry boys to go out and dig up a "big surprise."  They do, and when it appears that they're doing nothing but digging a hole, two of the boys leave.  Only one is left, and he is determined to have the surprise, whatever it may be.  So he digs and digs, and finally unearths what appears to be a large trunk.  Excited, he pops the lock with the shovel.  The trunk opens with a long creak and out comes the old man, grinning evilly at the boy.  "Surprise," he says, and the camera fades to black.


Other stand-out episodes deal with sin eaters ("Sins of the Fathers"), a sadistic couple who likes torturing robots ("You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore"), unscrupulous medical instructors ("Deliveries in the Rear") and adaptations of Lovecraft's "Cool Air" and "Pickman's Model."  I have way too many favorite episodes to list them all, but I'll definitely provide a top ten at the end of this post.

The show ran for three years and it gained a cult following before the network at first gutted, then canceled it shortly thereafter.  But it left its mark.  Night Gallery helped to launch the careers of greats like Steven Spielberg and Diane Keaton.  It also introduced the world to Luke Skywalker, as an errand boy named Francis. Night Gallery also marked the directorial debuts of Spock and Gomez Addams, among other famous names.  Source.

Night Gallery featured some top-shelf acting talent as well.  Stars like Ossie Davis, Leonard Nimoy, Bill Bixby, Larry Hagman, Joan Crawford, Yaphet Kotto, Vincent Price, Orson Welles (his voice, actually), and Leslie Nielsen headlined some of the best episodes of the series.  Some of the source material came from Weird Tales, some were contributions from other writers, and some of them (including the dogs) came from the typewriter of Rod Serling himself.  He didn't win them all, but he did get a couple of ham sandwiches.

Some of my favorite episodes, in no particular order:

The Caterpillar
The Flip-Side of Satan
Sins of the Fathers
Silent Snow, Secret Snow
Big Surprise
Cool Air
Camera Obscura
The Funeral
The Late Mr. Peddington
Deliveries in the Rear
I'll Never Leave You--Ever

Night Gallery is such a fantastic show.  You can watch episodes online at Hulu, or you can order the series from Amazon.  Be careful that you are getting the original Night Gallery and not that ridiculous Sixth Sense garbage that was attached to it during its final season.  

Previous: Thriller
Next: Bus Stop

*For those who are unfamiliar with Serling's epic masterpiece, I'll provide a commentary on it at some point.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for commenting. Please be sure to leave a name; I like to know who I am talking to.