Rod Serling's Night Gallery on DVD

Sunday, 13 March 2016 00:00 Written by 

Night Gallery - The Complete Collection out now on UK DVDThere are some shows which would not be the same in colour. The monochrome production of The Twilight Zone from 1959 to 1964, all 156 episodes, was a case in point. To the modern eye, Rod Serling’s televisual masterpiece is boosted by being black and white, adding to the atmosphere and storytelling in a way which cannot be truly quantified. But rest assured, there has never been talk of colourisation. Its recent Blu-ray restoration simply enhanced the credentials of keeping red, green and blue away from it. However, back at the end of the 1960s, when colour had stormed small screens in the USA, and everything monochrome had effectively been shipped off to the scrap heap, it was almost inevitable that Serling would be tempted to make a series in colour.

And so it was that Night Gallery was born. With Jack Laird as Producer, Serling was a scriptwriter, at least in part, on 27 of the episodes. Out went the hard science fiction of The Twilight Zone era, replaced with predominantly supernatural horror, with the odd jokey segment in an anthology series where the lengths of the stories varied – you never knew whether a story will take over an entire episode or just a couple of minutes. And now, thanks to Fabulous Films, we in the UK get to see the most definitive release of the show anywhere in the world. AND YOU COULD HAVE WON ONE OF FOUR NIGHT GALLERY DVD SETS WE HAD UP FOR GRABS IN OUR COMPETITION.

Rod Serling had little creative control over the path of the series – in syndication, post network transmission Stateside, some segments were slashed in terms of length, and stories from another anthology series of the time, The Sixth Sense, were added into the package creating an even more uneven set of styles within what was presented.

Like the Zone, Serling would introduce most of the segments, not doing so only on some of the half-baked humour vignettes, while prowling around an art gallery in the twilight hours, and addressing the audience about what was on offer. “Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way; not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”

The paintings unveiled in each episode were created by Thomas J Wright, a name perhaps now familiar to cult appreciators for directorial assignments on episodes of Smallville, One Tree Hill, and Firefly.

Night Gallery is now available as “The Complete Collection”, or as three individual season sets. It ran from 1969 to 1973, beginning with a pilot movie. The ‘first season’ of episodes was rotated week by week with three other separate shows under the umbrella title Four-In-One. These were McCloud (the most popular, with Dennis Weaver’s star turn as a New Mexico Marshal sent to New York spawning 46 episodes over seven years), San Francisco International Airport (a pilot and six episodes – star of the first episode Pernell Roberts was replaced by Lloyd Bridges for the subsequent run) and The Psychiatrist (Roy Thinnes starring in another explanatory-titled pilot and six subsequent episodes).

The original pilot movie (included on Night Gallery Season One) featured the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg, as well as one of the last acting performances of Joan Crawford. The previously mentioned The Sixth Sense featured Crawford’s final onscreen performance, in “Dear Joan: We’re Going to Scare You to Death” (episode2.2 of that show), which was edited into the expanded Night Gallery package. So, in syndication Crawford by default appeared in Night Gallery twice.

Also bringing their star billing to the expanded syndication package of stories (if not running times) were Pernell Roberts in “I Did Not Mean to Slay Thee” (The Sixth Sense 2.7 – who also appeared in a proper Night Gallery episode - “The Tune in Dan’s Café” (2.15)), and Cloris Leachman in “Witch, Witch Burning Bright” (The Sixth Sense 1.8 – who also appeared in the Night Gallery episode “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore” (2.21)).

Master of horror and dark fantasy Guillermo del Toro (he of “Hellboy” “Pacific Rim” and “Pan’s Labyrynth” fame) isn’t someone you would expect to be easily scared, but as a child, the first season episode “The Doll” caused him to scream uncontrollably and wet himself - “... that’s as scared as I’ve ever been” he commented. Such love for the season is converted into a tangible form on the Season Two set, as the extras there include commentary tracks by del Torro.

The Season Two set also includes the short vignette “Witches Feast”, featuring Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Buzzi, is now available for the first time on UK DVD, and long-thought lost in the darkest corner of the Night Gallery. It has not been seen since its first and only airing in 1971, and regrettably you can see why – the payoff is very weak. In the reruns, and on the American version of the Night Gallery DVD release, it was replaced by “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, another weak quickie with Victor Buono seeking a new employee from a job agency.

Other extras on the Season Two set include the uncut original version of “Little Girl Lost”  and further audio commentaries from Night Gallery historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson; “Revisiting The Gallery: A Look Back” documentary; “Art Gallery: The Paintings in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery”; and some NBC Night Gallery TV promos.

Lex Barker, an actor who played Tarzan in several films in the 1950s, had his final screen role in the segment “The Waiting Room” (2.18).

The Third and final season, features a sensational list of entertainment legends including Vincent Price, Mickey Rooney, Sally Field, Sandra Dee, and Bill Bixby – you can see a directory of the key stars who graced the entire series at the end of this article. Extras on the Season include a further audio commentary from Skelton and Benson on “The Return of the Sorcerer”.

As you’ll see, the renewal for a third season saw the show transform. NBC cut down the running time of episode from an hour to a half hour, and additionally requesting a refocus in the story material from the thoughtful to the lurid. It’s probably not unexpected that the show was then cancelled after this run.

Star Trek’s Spock, Leonard Nimoy, made his directorial debut on the series with “Death on a Barge” (3.12), after having previously starred in the episode “She’ll Be Company for You” (3.10).

The series was nominated for an Emmy Award for its first-season episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" in the category of ‘Outstanding Single Programme on American television’ in 1971.

Night Gallery is out now from Fabulous Films/Fremantle Media Enterprises. The 10 DVD Complete Series set runs for 1,931 mins approx and has a RRP of £79.99. Alternatively, Season One is on a 2-DVD set with a running time of 382 mins approx, and a RRP of £24,99, Season Two is a 6-DVD set with a running time of 1,185 mins approx, and a RRP of £39.99, or Season Three is a 2-DVD set with a running time of 384 mins approx and a RRP of £24.99 – all sets have a ‘12’ certificate and can be obtained for less at www.culttvstore.com

You had an opportunity to win one of four prizes of Night Gallery to put on to your mantelpiece, in our competition. The first prize was a set of the three-season Complete Collection Box Set, the second prize was Season Two, third prize Season One, and the fourth prize Season Three.

All you had to do was tell us the answer to the following question: Which Star Trek actor made his directorial debut on an episode of Night Gallery? The answer was LEONARD NIMOY, and the winners were Robert Hammond of Godalming (Complete Collection), Patricia Edwards of St Austell (Season Two), Amanda Plant of Wolverhampton (Season One), and Geoff Hibbert of Paignton (Season Three) - well done all, and thanks to everyone who entered.

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY THE COMPLETE SERIES BOX SET

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY SEASON ONE

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY SEASON TWO

 

CLICK HERE TO BUY SEASON THREE

 

Night Gallery – Key Guest Stars

Barbara Anderson – “Fright Night” (3.3).

Desi Arnaz Jr – “Death in the Family” (2.2).

John Astin – “Pamela’s Voice” (1.5), “Hell’s Bells” (2.9), “The Girl with the Hungry Eyes” (3.2)

Rene Auberjonois – “Camera Obscura” (2.12).

Hermione Baddeley – “A Feast of Blood” (2.16).

Diane Baker – “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” (1.6).

Lex Barker – “The Waiting Room” (2.18)

Martine Beswick – “The Last Laurel” (1.6).

Bill Bixby – “Last Rites for a Dead Druid” (2.18), “The Return of the Sorcerer” (3.1).

Pat Boone – “The Academy” (2.4).

Tom Bosley – (Pilot), “Make Me Laugh” (1.4).

Martin E Brooks – “The Last Laurel” (1.6).

Victor Buono – “A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank” (2.9), “Satisfaction Guaranteed” (2.23).

Ruth Buzzi – “Witches’ Feast” (2.2).

David Carradine – “The Phantom Farmhouse” (2.5).

John Carradine – “Big Surprise” (2.8).

John Collicos – “Lone Survivor” (1.5).

Chuck Connors – “The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes” (3.6).

Alex Cord – “Keep in Touch – We’ll Think of Something” (2.10).

Wally Cox – “Junior” (2.4).

Bob Crane – “House – With Ghost” (2.9).

Broderick Crawford – “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore” (2.21).

Ji-Tu Cumbuka – “The Ring With the Red Velvet Ropes” (3.6).

Bobby Darin – “Dead Weight” (2.19).

Henry Darrow – “Cool Air” (2.12).

Jim Davis – “The Waiting Room” (2.18).

Roger Davis – “You Can Come Up Now, Mrs Millikan” (3.7).

Sandra Dee – “Tell David…” (2.14), “Spectre in Tap Shoes” (3.5).

Phyllis Diller – “Pamela’s Voice” (1.5).

Bradford Dillman – “Pickman’s Model” (2.11).

Howard Duff – “There Aren’t Any More MacBanes” (2.20).

Patty Duke – “The Diary” (2.8).

Buddy Ebsen – “The Waiting Room” (2.18).

Leif Erickson – “The Academy” (2.4), “Something in the Woodwork” (3.11).

James Farentino – “Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay” (2.3), “The Girl With the Hungry Eyes” (3.2).

Sally Field – “Whisper” (3.13).

Steve Forrest – “The Waiting Room” (2.18), “Hatred Unto Death” (3.15).

Zsa Zsa Gabor – “The Painted Mirror” (2.13).

Will Geer – “Die Now, Pay Later” (3.16).

Larry Hagman – “The Housekeeper” (1.1).

Mark Hamill – “There Aren’t Any More MacBanes” (2.20).

Jonathan Harris – “Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay” (2.3).

Clint Howard – “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes” (2.1).

Kim Hunter – “The Late Mr Peddington” (2.16).

Jill Ireland – “The Ghost of Sorworth Place” (2.17).

Burl Ives – “The Other Way Out” (3.8).

Herb Jefferson Jr – “Clean Kills and Other Trophies” (1.4).

Arte Johnson – “The Flip Side of Satan” (2.3).

Diane Keaton – “Room with a View” (1.2).

Richard Kiley – (Pilot), “The Ghost of Sorworth Place” (2.17).

Werner Klemperer – “The Funeral” (2.15).

Yaphet Kotto – “The Messiah on Mott Street” (2.13).

Elsa Lanchester – “Green Fingers” (2.15).

Cloris Leachman – “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore” (2.21).

Michele Lee – “Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay” (2.3).

Al Lewis – “Make Me Laugh” (1.4).

Larry Linville – “The Academy” (2.4).

Norman Lloyd – “A Feast of Blood” (2.16).

Sondra Locke – “A Feast of Blood” (2.16).

Gary Lockwood – “The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes” (3.6).

Carol Lynley – “Last Rites for a Dead Druid” (2.18)

Patrick Macnee – “Logoda’s Heads” (2.14).

Jared Martin – “Tell David…” (2.14).

Ross Martin – “Camera Obscura” (2.12), “The Other Way Out” (3.8).

Virginia Mayo – “The Diary” (2.8).

David McCallum – “The Phantom Farmhouse” (2.5).

Robby McDowell – (Pilot).

Gerald McRaney – “Deliveries in the Rear” (2.19).

Burgess Meredith – “The Little Black Bag” (1.2), “Finnegan’s Flight” (3.9).

Dina Merrill – “Hatred Unto Death” (3.15).

Ray Milland – “The Hand of Borgus Weems” (2.1).

Cameron Mitchell – “Green Fingers” (2.15), “Finnegan’s Flight” (3.9).

Donald Moffat – “Pickman’s Model” (2.11).

Agnes Moorhead – “Certain Shadows on the Wall” (1.3), “Witches’ Feast” (2.22).

Harry Morgan – “The Late Mr Peddington” (2.16).

Roger E Mosley – “Logoda’s Heads” (2.14), “Finnegan’s Flight” (3.9).

Alan Napier – “House – With Ghost” (2.9), “The Sins of the Fathers” (2.21), “Fright Night” (3.3).

Ed Nelson – “Little Girl Lost” (2.22).

Ozzie Nelson – “You Can Come Up Now, Mrs Millikan” (3.7).

Leslie Nielsen – “Phantom of What Opera?” (2.1), “A Question of Fear” (2.6).

Leonard Nimoy – “She’ll Be Company for You” (3.10).

Susan Oliver – “The Tune in Dan’s Café” (2.15).

Brock Peters – “Logoda’s Heads” (2.14).

Joanna Pettet – “The House” (1.3), “Keep In Touch – We’ll Think of Something” (2.10), “The Caterpillar” (2.22), “The Girl With The Hungry Eyes” (3.2).

Slim Pickens – “Die Now, Pay Later” (3.16).

Vincent Price – “Class of ‘99” (2.2), “Return of the Sorcerer” (3.1).

Carl Reiner – “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture” (2.8).

Pernell Roberts – “The Tune in Dan’s Café” (2.15).

Edward G Robinson – “The Messiah on Mott Street” (2.13).

Cesar Romero – “A Matter of Semantics” (2.8).

Mickey Rooney – “Rare Objects” (3.4).

Barbara Rush – “Cool Air” (2.12).

John Saxon – “I’ll Never Leave You – Ever” (2.20).

James B Sikking – “The Nature of the Enemy” (1.2), “Death in the Family” (2.2).

Henry Silva – “The Doll” (1.5).

Kent Smith – “Deliveries in the Rear” (2.19), “Whisper” (3.13).

Barbara Steele – “The Sins of the Fathers” (2.21).

Dean Stockwell – “Whisper” (3.13).

Susan Strasberg – “Midnight Never Ends” (2.7), “The Doll of Death” (3.14).

Richard Thomas – “The Sins of the Fathers” (2.21).

Forrest Tucker – “Dr Stringfellow’s Rejuvenator” (2.9).

Rudy Vallee – “Marmalade Wine” (2.4)

Joan Van Ark – “The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes” (3.6).

Stuart Whitman – “Lindemann’s Catch” (2.10), “Fright Night” (3.3).

Lindsay Wagner – “The Diary” (2.8), “Smile, Please” (3.7).

Lesley Ann Warren – “Death on a Barge” (3.12).

David Wayne – “The Diary” (2.8).

Fritz Weaver – “A Question of Fear” (2.6).

Orson Welles – “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” (2.5).

Adam West – With Apologies to Mr Hyde” (2.3).

William Windom – “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” (1.6), “Little Girl Lost” (2.22).

Lana Wood – “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore” (2.21).

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 March 2016 05:51

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