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"You're most welcome in this particular museum. There's no admission, no requirement of membership, only a strong and abiding belief in the dark at the top of the stairs, or things that go bump in the night..." The second series of the cult fantasy horror anthology series Night Gallery (first broadcast from 1971 to 1972). As ever with the compendium structure Night Gallery fluctuates wildly in quality but this second season is stronger than the first and contains some truly fantastic Rod Serling penned scripts. There are a couple of decent Lovecraft segments, stories set in the future, in the Old West, in alternate dimensions. If you can sift through the forgettable material there is much to enjoy and admire. There are twenty-two hour long episodes spread over five discs and each episode contains between two and four segments all introduced by Serling as the curator in a surreal art gallery under Rembrandt light unveiling macabre paintings by Tom Wright. One thing I should point out is that while some segments run to over thirty minutes a small number of them are what became known as "black out skits" in Night Gallery jargon. Short comic sketches that often don't run to much more than a couple of minutes. These were the idea of producer Jack Laird and infuriated Night Gallery's creator Rod Serling (who had no control of the production of the series). Most Night Gallery fans can happily live without these skits. Episode one contains four segments - The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes, Miss Lovecraft Sent Me, The Hand of Borgus Weems, and Phantom of What Opera? The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes was written by Rod Serling (from a story by Margaret St Clair) and directed by John Badham. A New York television station hires a most unusual new commentator to host a regular slot. Ten-year-old Herbie Bittman (Clint Howard). Herbie can apparently see into the future and his grandfather (played by William Hansen) assures the dubious executives that all of his predictions come true. The station boss Wellman (Michael Constatine) is the most dubious of all but forced to eat his words when Herbie accurately predicts that a lost little girl will be found in the Sierras and that Los Angeles will suffer an earthquake.
He becomes famous and is signed to an exclusive contract with the station. Whatever Herbie suggests will happen in the near future (election results, shipping disasters etc) always comes to pass. It appears that he really can see the future and comes under the study of parapsychology expert Dr Peterson (Ellen Weston). But one day, just before he is due on air, Herbie baulks at his regular television appearance and says he can't do the show. Why is he suddenly so reluctant to tell us about the future? The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes is easily the best of the segments in this first episode and benefits from a briskly paced script and a genuinely interesting story. The television station setting is nicely conveyed and there are some good performances too - most notably by Ellen Weston as the psychiatrist. Clint Howard (brother of Ron Howard) was a reliable child actor in the sixties and early seventies and is not bad at all as the uncanny Herbie. I love the closing image in particular here and the direction by John Badham (later to direct films like Saturday Night Fever and Stakeout) is always inventive. Miss Lovecraft Sent Me is one of producer Jack Laird's infamous black out skits and not terribly good. This comic vignette lasts three minutes and has a babysitter named Betsy (Sue Lyon) arriving for her latest assignment - to babysit someone named Sonny. It turns out that Sonny's father has no reflection in the mirror and the bookshelves have titles like Vampyricon, Satan's Invisible World Discovered and Book of the Dead. Many of these short vignettes feel rather pointless but I suppose they do only last a few minutes.
The other main story here alongside The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes is The Hand of Borgus Weems. This was written by Alvin Sapinsley and directed by John Meredyth Lucas. The Hand of Borgus Weems is a disappointing segment with flat direction and bizarre editing that often makes it a struggle to watch. It's an uninspired riff on the old disembodied hand capers. Surgeon Dr Ravdon (Ray Milland) is perplexed when a young man named Lacland (George Maharis) enters his office and requests that his right hand be amputated despite the fact that a medical examination can find nothing wrong with it. Lacland claims the hand has a life of its own and has tried to murder people. He is not sure how much longer he can control it. The only clue Lacland has is a name the hand scribbled down once. Borgus Weems. An occultist who was murdered for reasons the police never fathomed. Ravdon decides to investigate. This segment has far too many plot holes for its own good and is never very interesting to look at. The performances are dull too, as if no one here had any enthusiasm for what they were doing. The first episode ends with another three minute comedy vignette. Phantom of What Opera? was written and directed by Gee Kearney. Set in the catacombs of the Paris Opera, the phantom has enticed a beautiful woman to his lair and begins to serenade her at the piano. She is curious to see what he really looks like. This is only of note because it features Leslie Neilsen and he's amusing enough here. Believe it or not, at the time Neilsen was very wary and nervous about doing comedy and had to be talked into it.
Episode two contains four stories - A Death in the Family, The Merciful, Class of '99, and Satisfaction Guaranteed. We begin with A Death in the Family, written by Rod Serling and directed by Jennot Szwarc. Lonely undertaker Jared Soames (EG Marshall) has just recieved the body of a resident who died at the old folk's home. As the deceased man in question did not have any relatives or anyone willing to pay for a funeral, Jared has taken a fee from the state to make arrangements for the body himself. However, this night a fugitive named Doran (Desi Arnez Jr) breaks into Jared's funeral home after a botched robbery. Doran is bleeding from a bullet wound in the stomach and requires sanctuary. To say anymore would be to give the twists away but needless to say Doran discovers that this is a most unusual funeral home. This is a darkly comic macabre meditation on death and mortality, a black comedy that restrains from too much bathos but is strangely moving when the secrets of the establishment are revealed. The reveal at the end is wonderful. Very strange, both disturbing and amusing at the same time. Much credit here has to go to veteran actor EG Marshall who is terrific as the lonesome and sensitive undertaker. His soliloquy at the end is wonderfully delivered. I love the brooding photography and weird jazz inflected score here with strings and undercurrents of hymns. A really fun and gripping segment. The Merciful was written by Jack Laird and directed by Jennot Szwarc. This is a three minute black out comedy skit but one of the better ones. An old woman (Imogene Coca) is bricking her husband (King Donovan) up in the basement. He sits sad-eyed, apparently resigned to his fate. "It's for your own good you know." But this being Night Gallery there is a twist of course. I quite liked this one.
Class of '99 (again directed by Jennot Szwarc) is one of Rod Serling's greatest contributions to Night Gallery and features the great Vincent Price. Price is a professor in a vaguely futuristic but spare auditorium of antiseptic unease giving the "class of 1999" their final examination. He barks questions on a diverse range of subjects from energy to propulsion and the students are equally quick with their answers. When one isn't though he is sternly upbraided by the professor. The exam moves to behavioral sciences and the tension soon mounts. Why? Because the professor seems intent on provoking racial division - even violence - between the students. To what end? This is a compelling and brilliant segment with a magnetic performance by Price in the lead. Although constructed around a single classroom set (a brilliant one of florescent paranoia) the camera never stops moving and the piece has great energy. What I love about this segment is the way it suddenly reels you right in when Price begins probing for weakness in the students and setting them against one another. "So we have Mr. Barnes over there as an irritant, a possible block to your ambitions. An inferior man trying to usurp your superiority. What would you do to a man like that, Mr. Clinton?" We immediately become unsettled and wonder exactly what sort of class or school this is. The twist at the end is a good one too. The ugly existence of bigotry was a recurring theme for Serling and he's on fine impassioned form here. Satisfaction Guaranteed is another Laird penned black out skit directed by Szwarc to end the second episode. This runs to five minutes and is one of the more tolerable ones. It stars Victor Buono as a man who has some very specific requirements at a dating agency.
The third episode contains three segments - Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay, With Apologies to Mr Hide, and The Flip-Side of Satan. Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay was written by Alvin Sapinsley and directed by William Hale. Craig Lowell (James Farentino) is a science professor who is becoming increasingly irked by the way his wife Joanna (Michele Lee) is doted on by her elderly Aunt Ada (Jeanette Nolan). Ada brews special herbal potions for Joanna and is an altogether spooky character who has a habit of disappearing into thin air and muttering rhymes to herself. Lowell is especially concerned about the potions and takes one to a folklore specialist at his university to be analysed. The results are alarming. Who is Ada and what is her design for Joanna? I could never quite get into this one for some reason and it always came off as rather hackneyed and taking far too long to get to the point. On the plus side, Nolan is great as Aunt Ada and there are some clever directorial flourishes and dissolves which create a bizarre and off-kilter look for the episode at times. The earnest performances of Farentino and Lee are a help but this is not a Night Gallery episode that sticks in the memory. Look for Lost in Space star Jonathan Harris here giving a typically fey and theatrical performance. With Apologies to Mr Hide is another Laird/Szwarc black out skit and only runs to two minutes. Batman star Adam West is Dr Jekyll, accepting a cup of something from his hunchback lab assistant (played by Laird). It moves towards a not very funny punchline. The episode ends with another fuller length segment that like Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay never really manages to go the distance and ultimately proves to be disappointing. The Flip-Side of Satan was written by Gerald Sanford and directed by Jerrold Freedman. Disc jockey JJ Wilson (Arte Johnson) arrives at lonely and deserted radio station KAPH for his new job. He is to take over the graveyard shift and play songs through the night. However, when he cues up the first record it plays a funeral dirge. The whole play list is made up of equally strange and depressing music so he phones his agent to complain and is reminded about his late wife (who committed suicide). Wilson shrugs off suggestions that he was somehow guilty in any way for this tragedy and cues up more records. But they only get stranger and darker. Is someone playing a prank on him? The Flip-Side of Satan had potential but the main problem is the casting of comedian Arte Johnson. The original choice Mickey Rooney would have been terrific here but Johnson wasn't even an actor and brings no depth or nuance to the part whatsoever.
Episode four is much better and features four segments - A Fear of Spiders, Junior, Marmalade Wine, and The Academy. A Fear of Spiders was written by Rod Serling and directed by John Astin. Pompous gourmet critic Justus Walters (Patrick O'Neal) is trying to finish an article at his typewriter but seems to be plagued by a constant stream of interruptions that do not improve his mood. His upstairs neigbour Elizabeth (Kim Stanley) is a spinsterish librarian he once took out to dinner and now she doesn't ever seem to leave him alone. Even worse, the arachnophobic Justus keeps finding a large spider in his sink that always returns even when he flushes it away. When he discovers a new monstrous spider the size of a dog (!) in his house he races upstairs to ask Elizabeth for help and sanctuary but will she believe him? This is a strange but enjoyably acerbic episode that gets a lot of energy from the banter between the two excellent leads. Kim Stanley (a stage actress who rarely appeared on television) is like a spider herself as the predatorish Elizabeth and Patrick O'Neil does the grumpy curmudgeon thing very well. There is nothing remarkably penetrating about the script but it makes for an enjoyable piece of darkly comic theatre. It is quite spooky too when Justus can't flush the spider away. Junior is a two minute black out skit written by Gene Kearney and directed by Theodore Flicker. Two parents are woken in the night by their baby crying and it turns out to be Frankenstein or something. Like many of these vignettes it isn't terribly funny and feels somewhat out of place.
Next is Marmalade Wine, written and directed by Jerrold Freedman. This is a bit of a strange segment (at eleven minutes it is shorter than the fuller length stories and longer than the black out skits) but a good one. Caught in a storm, photographer Roger Blacker (Robert Morse) stumbles across an isolated house belonging to Dr Francis Deeking (Rudy Vallee). Once inside, Blacker is offered some marmalade wine and - his tongue loosened by drink - starts to brag about about his career and pretends to can predict the future. But Blacker, as he becomes more sozzled, suddenly remembers reading something in the paper about Dr Deeking. Something not very nice. This is pretty good and the two actors are excellent. I love the madhouse motif set design. Very abstract. A black curtain backdrop and white schematic props. The Academy was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeff Corey. This is a decent way to end the episode. Wealthy widower Mr Holston (Pat Boone) arrives at Glendalough Military Academy about admission for his son Roger and is shown around by the academy director (Leif Erickson). But as they tour the school, Holston begins to notice something rather strange about some of the students. The Academy is a mildly chilling and always effective tale with a strange atmosphere that grows as the segment unfolds. Singing star Pat Boone is cast against type as Holston but gives a surprisingly good performance, concealing his emotions and intent until we move to a conclusion. Leif Erickson is creepy as the no nonsense academy director and the twist isn't bad at all. This was filmed at a real school and the location work gives it a nice sense of authenticity.
Episode five contains two segments. The Phantom Farmhouse and Silent Snow, Secret Snow which is arguably Night Gallery's finest hour. We have a solid enough start though with The Phantom Farmhouse, written by Halstead welles and directed by Jennot Szwarc. At Delphinium House, a remote country santarium, Dr Joel Winter (David McCallum) is visited by the sheriff (Ford Rainey) about the discovery of a body of one of the patients. The bloodied patient was found in the woods as if she had been killed in gruesome fashion by wild animals. Winter investigates and finds a note nearby with a set of directions to a house in the woods. He recognises the handwriting as that of Gideon (David Carradine). Gideon is also a patient and a hippy druggy character who likes sitting in trees and speaking in cryptic fashion. Gideon tells Winter about Mildred Squire, a beautiful mysterious woman he claims lives in that house in the woods but that house apparently burned down a long time ago according to everyone else. Winter decides to look for this house anyway. This one is a bit slow but the cast is good and it looks pretty with the sun hazed woodland setting. This is more about atmosphere than incident and succeeds in creating a vaguely dreamlike aura as Dr Winter gets far more than he bargained for with his sojourn into the forest. Linda Marsh is well cast too as Mildred here. Silent Snow, Secret Snow was based on the story by Conrad Aitken and directed by Gene Kearney. This is a haunting and fragile tale narrated by Orson Welles. Paul (Radames Pera) is a boy who is becoming increasingly isolated from his parents and the world around him and retreating into his own inner fantasy life. Paul's secret world is a world of snow. He imagines it sweeping up against the house each day and whispering to him. The beauty of snow is beyond anything he can imagine and although no one else can see it, to Paul snow is everywhere and all he cares about. His troubled parents bring in a psychiatrist but it appears as if Paul is too far gone now in his imagined world of secret and silent snow. A great coup to get Welles to narrate this and his sonorous voice and the beautiful score by Paul Glass is a potent combination. There is an element of ambiguity to this story that makes it more haunting and interesting I think. It's about the inner life, the tension between fantasy and reality, and mental illness. Wonderfully directed, Silent Snow, Secret Snow is a moving and memorable experience.
There are two segments in episode six, A Question of Fear and The Devil is Not Mocked. The first one might be my favourite Night Gallery story ever. A Question of Fear was written by Theodore Flicker and directed by Jack Laird. It opens at an exclusive gentleman's club where Dr Mazi (Fritz Weaver) tells his friends about a terrifying experience he had at a house that is reported to be haunted. Overhearing the conversation is the macho and arrogant Colonel Denny Malloy (Leslie Nielsen). Malloy scoffs at all this talk of ghosts and haunted houses and says that he is personally incapable of fear. Mazi decides to take the Colonel at his word and says he will give him $15,000 if he spends a night at the haunted house alone. "For $15,000 I would survive a night in hell!" laughs Malloy and accepts the challenge. That night, Malloy arrives at the spooky deserted house armed with his service revolver and prepares to begin the challenge. Distorted laughter echoes through the draughty rooms. Will he survive the night? A Question of fear is about as much fun as television can get I think. Leslie Nielsen as a gung ho soldier of fortune spending a night in a haunted house. Nielson (with a spiffy eye-patch) is excellent as Colonel Malloy's bluster begins to ebb and flow and the night becomes ever stranger. What I love about this segment is not just the haunted house setting (the special effects department obviously had a field day) but the way this opens out into an intricate and complex story that gives you a number of satisfying twists at the end. Fritz weaver is superb too as the more subtle nemesis of Malloy. A Question of Fear runs to nearly 40 minutes and is terrific. The spooky music by Paul Glass is wonderful too. The other segment here is only about ten minutes long but another good one with a fun twist at the end. The Devil is Not Mocked was written (like many Night Gallery episodes it was based on a short story) and directed by Gene Kearney. The story is set in the early years of World War 2. A detachment of German soldiers led by General von Grunn (Helmut Dantine) has been tasked with the capture of a castle in the Balkans which is said to house a secret partisan group. When they arrive though they are invited inside by a dignitary where a banquet awaits them. The master of the castle (played by Francis Lederer) is known as "the Count" and wears a cape. General von Grunn is rather sneering and superior towards him though and sees him as nothing more than a partisan trying to ingratiate himself to avoid punishment by the Nazis. But the closer they get to midnight the stranger the castle becomes and the Germans soon begin to suspect that the Count and his servants are not what they seem. You'll spot the ending about 30 seconds into this one but it's still fun. Two wonderful performances from the veteran leads too.
Episode seven again contains just two stories - Midnight Never Ends and Brenda. I like both of these a lot. Midnight Never Ends was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jennot Szwarc. It is believed that Jack Laird had Serling's screenplay rewritten and Midnight Never Ends is not considered classic Night Gallery but I especially enjoyed the Twilight Zone feel to the story that reminds one of Mirror Image and Five Characters in Search of an Exit. Driving along an apparently endless lonely road at night, Ruth (Susan Strasberg) stops and picks up a young soldier named Vincent (Robert F Lyons) who is hitchhiking. As they start talking they experience an overwhelming sense of deja vu. They know exactly what the other is going to say before they even speak and when they arrive at a cafe they feel certain they have been here before many times together. What is going on? This has one of those Star Trek style plots where characters are caught in a recurring loop and must somehow make sense of it all. It's given a nice Night Gallery tweak though and despite all the changes Rod Serling's hand is still detectable, this story presenting as it does another Serling meditation on the nature of destiny and who really controls it. This has a very artificial visual style that was obviously used to cut costs but is very effective nonetheless and enforces the dreamlike nature of the segment. The cafe seems to exist in limbo and Ruth's car is literally in an endless blanket of night as it travels down an empty road.
Next is Brenda, written by Douglas Heyes from a short story by Margaret St Clair and directed by Allen Reisner. Brenda is perhaps the strangest of all Night Gallery segments and fairly bizarre on first viewing but somehow brilliant too. In many ways this is a companion segment to Silent Snow, Secret Snow, and a moving story about the loss of innocence and isolation from others. Brenda (Laurie Prange) is an eleven year-old girl on holiday with her parents on the remote Moss Island. Benda seems fairly polite and normal around the adults but when their backs are turned she is mean and spiteful to the other children. The other kids soon get sick of Brenda and want nothing to do with her. The lonely Brenda takes to exploring the island on her own instead and makes a strange discovery. A weird creature that stands upright like a man but looks like it has just crawled out of a swamp and is covered in leaves, slime and twigs. Brenda goads the shambling swamp monster and makes it fall into a pit. But when it opens out its arms from below she suddenly feels a strange sympathy and empathy for the creature. Brenda doesn't understand the emotions she is feeling but is overwhelmed by the sense of connection. This is such a strange half hour of television and the bog monster is risible but Brenda is something of a unique experience and will stay in the memory afterwards as you ponder what exactly it all meant. Laurie Prange is superb as Brenda and her soliloquy near the end is fantastic and moving. A child actress with a talent beyond her years. I think maybe the monster is supposed to represent adulthood and coming of age. While her parents are scared of the monster and want it to go away, Brenda embraces it and is excited by its presence. The direction is nothing amazing but Brenda is so bizarre and unusual (love the way the music has different cues for Brenda and the monster) that you can't help embracing it.
Episode eight has four segments of varying lengths - The Diary, A Matter of Semantics, Big Surprise and Professor Peabody's Last Lecture. Diary was written by Rod Serling and directed William Hale. I like this one quite a lot. Patty Duke is Holly Schaeffer - a spiteful gossip columnist who takes great pleasure in destroying the reputation of celebrities. Her latest target is Virginia Mayo (Carrie Crane), an ageing Hollywood star. Mayo commits suicide after Holly uncovers a mild scandal in her closet but before she kills herself she presents Holly with a diary. Everything in the diary (which is spookily filled with Holly's own handwriting) comes true and Holly is soon on the brink of madness. Diary isn't regarded to be one of the best Night Gallery stories but I really enjoyed it. It reminded me very much of the sort of yarn you get in Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense. The acting isn't amazing but the twist is certainly good. A Matter of Semantics was written by Gene Kearney and directed by Jack Laird. It's one of Laird's infamous blackout comedy skits and only a few minutes long. Dracula (Cesar Romero - who of course was the Joker in the Adam West Batman television series) visits a blood bank. Not terribly funny really although it's nice to see Romero camping it up in Dracula make-up. A bit better is the other five minute comic bauble Professor Peabody's Last Lecture - written by Laird and directed by Jerrold Freedman. Carl Reiner is a pompous university lecturer named Professor Peabody who ridicules ancient cults and religions in his class. "This overblown gibberish," he storms, brandishing a copy of the Necronomicon. "Is as corruptibly harmful as the Farmer's Almanac!" A storm begins to rage outside. He will soon get his comeuppance. Big Surprise was written by Richard Matheson and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. It's fairly short at ten minutes but I have a soft spot for this one. John Carradine is an eccentric farmer who promises three boys a big surprise if they dig at a certain point on his farm. The treasure hunt begins and one of them really will get a surprise. I like the strange images here of the isolated countryside and the boys searching and digging. Night Gallery is a bit trippy at times and this is a case in point (as Rod Serling might say).
There are four segments in episode nine - House - With Ghost, A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank, Dr Stringfellow's Rejuvenator, and Hell's Bells. The House - With Ghost was written and directed by Gene Kearney from a short story by August Derleth. Ellis Travers (Bob Crane) is an American in London with his wife Iris (Jo Anne Worley). Bored with life in their cramped city flat, he decides to look for a house to rent in the country. Ellis wants to dispose of his wife and start a new life with his mistress but his wife controls the fortune and he won't be entitled to anything if he divorces her. As Iris is interested in becoming a spiritualist and is prone to dizzy spells, he decides a house with a ghost would be perfect. Just the place for her to have a little accident maybe? This is an average segment that feels like it is trying to be amusing but never really sparks into life. Bob Crane (best known for Hogan's Heroes and being murdered several years later) is rather dull in the lead and even the twist at the end fails to elicit much surprise or interest. A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank is a one minute skit written by Jack Laird with Victor Bueno as a vampire who has entered the bedroom of a potential victim. Hardly worth watching and these black out skits do start to become annoying in the end.
Much better is the next fuller length feature Dr Stringfellow's Rejuvenator. This was written by Rod serling and directed by Jerrold Freedman. It's the Old West, around 1880. "Dr" Ernest Stringfellow (Forest Tucker) rolls into town with his garish medical wagon loaded with bottles of useless snake oil to sell to gullible locals. Stringfellow is, to quote Serling at the start, "That uniquely American institution known as the pitchman - the wheeler and dealer of magical nostrums guaranteed to cure, to paliate, to bring back the glow of health to everything but a cadaver. Bottled dreams, if you will..." Stringfellow is peturbed though when a worried looking man catches his eye. It turns out that the man has a sick daughter who is dying. He asks for Stringfellow's help to cure her. Stringfellow knows he can't help and that his snake oil is a con but he sees a chance to make some money. Will his conscience ever return? This is good on practically every level. The Old West setting is authentic, the script is sad and poetic, the performances are excellent. Tucker plays stringfellow as a man of great confidence and bombast during his sales pitches but as a broken person in private. We sense that Stringfellow was once a different man and pehaps something happened. His conscience is his assistant Rolpho, played effectively by Don Pedro Colley. The last segment is Hells Bells. This was written and directed by Theodore Flicker Jr and runs to about ten minutes. It's a comic skit and has hippy Randy Miller (John Astin) crashing his car and arriving in Hell with his velvet period clobber and stoner attitude. He finds himself in a waiting room that has terrible wallpaper and terrible music playing. Not to mention the boring couple who want to show him their holiday slides. Randy is eager to get out of here and take a peek at Hell. Hells Bells is sort of fun for Astin (Gomez Addams in The Addams Family) although I'd already seen the twist in a couple of Twilight Zones.
Episode ten features just two segments - The Dark Boy and Keep in Touch - We'll Think of Something. The Dark Boy was written by Halstead Welles and directed by John Astin. This is set in the Montana frontier community of the late 1880s. Judith (Elizabeth Hartman) is a widower who has arrived to take up a new position as a schoolteacher. But the woman she is replacing left without explanation and warned Judith not to take the job. When Judith arrives back at the house she is boarding in, she comments on her first day with the seventeen children in her class. All fair haired apart from one dark-haired boy. The elderly Moore sisters tell her that there are only sixteen children in her class and seem shocked by Judith's revelation. Who is the dark haired boy? This is a sensitive and well produced segment that might be a trifle slow for some tastes but becomes reasonably moving and compelling for those that stay with it. Elizabeth Hartman (who had been nominated for an Oscar for a film called A Patch of Blue) was persuaded to do Night Gallery by producer Jack Laird and it was something of a coup at the time. The fact that the script was a poignant and strong one was clearly a boost when it came to getting her services. I can't say that The Dark Boy is one of my own personal favourites but in terms of its look, production and acting, a very classy half hour of Night Gallery. Keep in Touch - We'll Think of Something was written and directed by Gene Kearney. This is somewhat Twilight Zone-esque but that wouldn't be classic Twilight Zone. Musician Eric Sutton (Alex Cord) keeps reporting that his car has been stolen by a beautiful woman. At one point he even claims she pistol whipped him! The police eventually draw an artists impression of this mystery car thief and it turns out to be a beautiful blonde woman. Like, I don't know, Joanna Pettet for instance, Alex Cord's co-star here (and his real life wife at the time). Does this woman really exist? I like the premise here but the dialogue is not great and you can see where it's going before it arrives. Cord and Pettet work quite well together though.
Episode eleven has three stories - Pickman's Model, The Dear Departed, and An Act of Chivalry. Pickman's Model is a Lovecraft adaptation by Alvin Sapinsley and was directed by Jack Laird. Boston, the 1890s. Richard Pickman (Bradford Dillman) is a bohemian artist who teaches refined young ladies how to paint for some extra cash. When he paints a hideous ghoul he is fired for his trouble but a student named Mavis (Louise Sorel) has a crush on Pickman and follows him to a tavern. Pressed on his macabre paintings, Pickman tells her about a race of creatures so foul they could turn a man to stone if he ever looked at them. It's only a legend though, just inspiration for his art. Or is it? Pickman's Model is a superior segment and always compelling. This is a low budget series but the period costumes and warm hued photography make Pickman's Model look like a far more elaborate production than it actually was. The special effects people get to build a decent monster here too and this episode is one of the more chilling and tense ones. The Dear Departed was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeff Corey. The Serling/Corey team was like a lucky omen in series two and usually guaranteed a good segment but this one misses the bullseye by some distance and is one you even struggle to remember afterwards. Mark (Steve Lawrence) and Joe (Harvey Lembeck) are a couple of conmen who have gatecrashed the medium/psychic racket. Mark pretends to be Radha Ramadi with a spirit guide named "Running Deer" (hey, I wonder if Derek Acorah was a Night Gallery fan and picked up a few tips here?) while Steve operates the special effects behind the scenes. The fake seance scenes are quite good fun but you'll see the twist coming well before you arrive at the conclusion. An Act of Chivalry is a one minute black out skit by Jack Laird and another waste of time. A young woman (Deidre Hall) enters a lift and all the men take their hats off. Then Death enters the lift and is expected to do the same. These skits were often used to pad out running times so you do wonder why they couldn't just of added an extra minute to Pickman's Model instead.
Episode twelve has three segments - Cool Air, Camera Obscura, and Quoth the Raven. Two of these are fantastic. Cool Air is another Lovecraft story, this time adapted by Rod Serling and directed by Jennot Szwarc. It's New York, the 1920s. Dr Juan Munoz (Henry Darrow) receives a visitor to his room. Agatha Howard (Barbara Rush), the daughter of an old friend he used to correspond with. Munoz is glad to see her but Agatha notices some very odd things about his rooms. They are freezing cold and he has a refrigeration machine chugging away. He explains that he has a rare medical condition and must always keep the temperature below fifty-five degrees. Agatha is moved by his dignified isolation and becomes a frequent visitor to the reclusive doctor and they form a connection but one night she is woken by a desperate phone call from him. He needs her help urgently. This is an absorbing entry with two nice performances by the leads (especially Barbara Howard) and some great lines. Serling always seemed to be inspired by meditations on death and the meaning of life. Life is precious and precarious and Munez will cling to it for as long as he can however drastic the circumstances. Camera Obscura was written by Rod Serling (from a story by Basil Copper) and directed by John Badham. A great segment. It's England, the 1920s. William Sharsted (Rene Auberjonois) is a merciless cold hearted moneylender visiting an old man named Mr Gingold (Ross Martin) to discuss the terms of the debt Gingold owes. With the outrageous interest charges it has spiralled but Sharsted is interested to note that Gingold seems to collect rare antiques and artifacts. Gingold shows him a Victorian toy known as a camera obscura. It consists of prisms and lenses that give you a unique view of the city. He says he has another very special camera obscura and invites Sharsted to take a look inside. This is a lot of fun with a wonderful twist half-way through and an amusing performance by Rene Auberjonois as the nasty moneylender about to get a big shock. He's not exactly restrained (with bogus Cockney accent) but his performance has energy and flair and is very committed. The off kilter cinematography and sense of being trapped in a nightmare is superbly conveyed. It's a shame really that you get a one minute black out skit tagged onto the end of two such wonderful segments. Quoth the Raven was written by Jack Laird and directed by Jeff Corey. Mart Allen is Edgar Allen Poe searching for an elusive line to start his next opus. This is hardly worth bothering with at all.
Episode thirteen has two stories - The Messiah on Mott Street and The Painted Mirror. The Messiah on Mott Street was written by Rod Serling and directed by Don Taylor. This is Serling on top form and an example of how great Night Gallery could be at its best. It's Christmas Eve on Manhattan's Lower East Side. In his threadbare and freezing apartment elderley Abraham Goldman (Edward G Robinson) is close to death. He has refused to check into a hospital and is keeping himself alive through will and determination despite what he believes to be the presence of the "Angel of Death" in his room. Goldman is worried that his grandson Mikey (Ricky Powell) will be put in a foster home if he dies. He is also convinced that the Messiah will arrive soon and save him. "He's a messenger from God. Any moment he will appear, looming big and black against the sky, striking down our enemies and lifting us up to health and wealth and heavenly contentment." Mikey decides to go out on the snow frosted streets and look for the Messiah himself. Will he find him? This is an unashamedly sentimental and sweet Christmas tale that can't fail to charm the viewer at least a little. Serling and Taylor had produced the first season classic They're Tearing Down Tom Riley's Bar and while The Messiah on Mott Street has less bite it is one of the highlights of the second series. Edward G Robinson is absolutely brilliant as Goldman, acting his socks off in every scene, and a fine supporting cast includes Yapphet Kotto and Tony Roberts. This is one of the best casts in any Night Gallery episode. This unusual and offbeat meditation on miracles and faith is heartwarming stuff and one of the must see segments in this collection. The Painted Mirror was written and directed by Gene Kearney. This is much shorter than The Messiah on Mott Street but not bad at all. Frank Standish (Arthur O'Connell) is miserable because his new business partner Mrs Moore (Zsa Zsa Gabor) is turning his antiques shop upside down and always annoying him with her bossy personality. One day though, something strange turns up in the shop. A mirror with paint over the glass. When Frank removes the paint he find what appears to be a portal to a strange alien landscape. This might be his chance to get shot of Mrs Moore. This is quite good fun actually and I love the alternate dimension angle to the story. The cast are fun too (Zsa Zsa Gabor is surprisingly good).
Episode fourteen is something of a mixed bag and contains three segments - The Different Ones, Tell David, and Logoda's Heads. The Different Ones was written by Rod Serling and directed by John Meredyth Lucas. This runs to fifteen minutes and is somewhat reminiscent of The Twilight Zone episode The Eye of The Beholder. Serling (who had nothing to do with the production of Night Gallery) later criticised the treatment of his story and called this segment a "piece of s***." Bit harsh maybe but The Different Ones is certainly not top table Night Gallery. In the near future, widower Paul Koch (Dana Andrews) is contemplating sending his son Victor (Jon Korkes) away to escape the taunts of the local children. Victor has a congenital deformity that makes him look like he has had a swamp poured over his head. "Where is this utopia father?" asks the bitter Victor. Meeting with government officials, Paul refuses their offers of a state sanctioned killing (charming) but instead hears about an interstellar exchange programme. Earth has made contact with a planet called Boreon but Boreon is underpopulated and will welcome emigres from Earth. Victor has nothing to lose so signs up. This is a fairly strange segment that has a nice twist at the end. Weaknesses are the make-up used for Jon Korkes (he looks like he has green candle wax dripping down his face) and the wooden performance of Dana Andrews. The trip into space is depicted by stock footage of NASA missions so this was hardly the most lavish production.
Tell David was written by Gerald Sanford. Ann (Sandra Dee) drives home one evening and becomes lost during a thunderstorm. She has a lot on her mind since the birth of her son. She suspects her husband is cheating on her and is insanely jealous and angry. She eventually stops and asks for directions and ends up in the home of young couple David (Chris Patrick) and Pat (Jenny Sullivan). Ann is astonished by the advanced technology in the house. Closed circuit cameras, one way glass, videophones, even a sat nav system that David uses to tell her where she is. She has (and remember this is 1970) never seen anything like it. To go too much further would be to give the story away but suffice to say there are going to be some big twists and revelations. I like this segment quite a bit and although the script is inconsistent the premise is always interesting. The futuristic house is surprisingly prescient given we have all of these gadgets now although the seventies jargon is hopelessly dated of course. The final segment is Logoda's Heads - written by Robert Bloch and directed by Jennot Szwarc. It's high time we had some hokey voodoo capers I think. Major Crosby (Patrick Macnee) and his assistant Henley (Tim Matheson) are scouring the African jungle in some far flung British outpost searching for Henley's brother - a scientist who has gone missing. Suspicion falls on the powerful local witch doctor Logoda (Brock Peters), a man with a charming collection of shrunken heads. Is he the culprit? This is the weakest of the Jennot Szwarc segments and never really grips the viewer as it should. The setting is very fake and Carry On Up the Jungle and Tim Matheson in particular looks embarrassed to be here. Patrick Macnee is the only reason to give this one a look.
Episode fifteen contains three segments - Green Fingers, The Funeral, and The Tune in Dan's Cafe. This is stronger than the previous episode. Green Fingers was written by Rod Serling and directed by John Badham. Cold-hearted industrial tycoon Saunders (Cameron Mitchell) has a problem. He wants to build a new factory complex out in the country but plans have been put on hold because of a stubborn old woman named Mrs Bowen (Elsa Lanchester) who refuses to sell her isolated cottage. Mrs Bowen's husband died in the cottage, she loves her garden, and she's certainly not going to make way for some industrial park however much money they throw at her. As she natters on about her "green fingers" and how everything she plants grows, Saunders becomes infuriated and decides it's time that his goons disposed of the pesky Mrs Boen. This being the Night Gallery he might regret that. Green Fingers is good fun and an excursion in EC Horror Comics territory. Much of the credit goes to Cameron Mitchell as the sinister Saunders and Elsa Lanchester as the eccentric Mrs Bowen. These two actors are a delight to watch together. My one criticism of Green Fingers is that it was obviously shot in the dusty parched Californian countryside. It's a shame Mrs Bowen couldn't have given a more lush and verdant garden as it would have suited the house proud character more. The Funeral was written by Richard Matheson and directed by John Meredyth Lucas. This only runs to fourteen minutes and is ok but does smack of an expanded black out skit. Funeral director Morton Silkine (Joe Flynn) is delighted to be visited by a most distinguished client who has plenty of money. A certain Ludwig Asper (Werner Klemperer). Morton is not so delighted though when the customer says that the lavish obsequy is for Asper himself. He never had one when he died so is making up for it now. Morton thinks this is a sick joke but the strange events are only just beginning. This is modest fun but lacks a sense of comic nuance. No one in the cast really stands out. The final segment is The Tune in Dan's Cafe - written by Gerald Sanford and Garrie Bateson and directed by David Rawlins. Joe and Kelly Bellman (played by Pernell Roberts and Susan Oliver respectively) are a couple with a strained marriage on a lonely stretch of highway. They stop for a burger at a roadside diner and find the place deserted. When they use the jukebox they find it only ever plays one song. The owner Dan (James Nusser) tells them about his extraordinary theory for his phenomenon. This is a decent ghost story that is most notable for the way it makes the jukebox like an extra character in the story. The script is not amazing but this is a solid segment.
Episode sixteen contains three segments - Lindemann's Catch, The Late Mr Peddington, and A Feast of Blood. The most memorable is probably the first. Lindemann's Catch was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeff Corey. The scene is a New England fishing village in the 1900s. In a murky dockside inn arrives Hendrick Lindemann (Stuart Whitman), the captain of a fishing boat. Lindemann is a thoroughly miserable and cold man and seems full of anger at the world. When he next takes his boat out, he finds his crew huddled around one of the nets examining their latest catch. With all the fish is a naked woman - only she has a finned fish tale instead of legs. A mermaid. The men tell their captain they could put it on display and make money but Lindemann says he'll think about it and tells them to take the mermaid below. It appears that the mermaid has done the impossible and made Lindemann feel human emotions. Will he ever release her? This is pretty good. Staurt Whitman is excellent as the tormented captain and the design is impressive with bleak weather beaten sets and a chilling shrouding mist. They had use of a lagoon on the Universal back lot and the end result is impressive for a low budget television series. The Late Mr Peddington was written by Jack Laird and directed by Jeff Corey. A black out skit but expanded to 12 minutes and distinguished by the two leads. Hary Morgan of MASH fame and Kim Hunter from the Planet of the Apes series. Morgan is Conway, a funeral director visited by Hunter as a woman named Cora Peddington. She wants a cut price funeral for her husband but why? This is above average with some nicely morbid humour and a decent twist. A Feast of Blood was written by Stanford Whitmore and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. This is a decent segment and an excursion back into horror. Young Shiela Gray (Sandra Locke) has been set up on a dinner date with Henry Mallory (Norman Lloyd) by her mother. Mallory is much older than Shiela and not much of a catch in the looks department but he does have a lot of money and is "insurance" for Shiela and her bossy mother. Over dinner, Sheila is cold and distant towards Mallory and he gives her a strange fur brooch that looks like a small mouse with red-eyes. Mallory is not all that he seems. This is a neat and grisly little chiller that passes the time agreeably enough. Veteran Norman Lloyd is superb and Sandra Locke (strange to see her in something that isn't connected to Clint Eastwood) is good too. Love the barely concealed distaste they have for one another over dinner.
Episode seventeen has two segments - The Miracle at Camafeo and The Ghost of Sorworth Place - and neither are classics. The Miracle at Camafeo was adapted by Rod Serling and directed by Ralph Senensky. Insurance investigator Charlie Rogan (Harry Guardino) is in Mexico on the trail of swindler Joe Melcor (Ray Danton). Rogan is irritated because Melcor has taken half a million dollars from his insurance company for a suspicious traffic accident and now claims to be in Mexico to get healed at a holy shrine. Nice scam if it works out alright but this is the Night Gallery and Melcor might get more than he bargained for. Decent twist but The Miracle at Camafeo never quite comes together as it should. Guardino is fine as the dogged investigator but the use of a Mexico themed street at the Universal lot instead of real locations is a hindrance to the atmosphere. Serling's return to spiritual themes does not strike gold this time. The Ghost of Sorworth Place was written by Alvin Sapinsley and directed by Ralph Senensky. This is a decent stab at a gothic romance but doesn't really work. Ralph Burke (Richard Kiley) is an American walking the wilds of Scotland. He stumbles across a grand house known as Sorworth Place and introduces himself to the only resident, the beautiful Ann Loring (Jill Ireland). In the local pub that night, Ralph hears some stories about the terrible history of Soworth Place and lurid stories about Ann's late husband. He is in love though and decides to return to the spooky house. This is ok if a bit slow but the acting is flat and there is no sense of atmosphere. The story is supposed to be set in a remote craggy wind blown part of Scotland but it's patently obvious that they shot this in some bland sun drenched area of California.
Episode eighteen has two segments - The Waiting Room and Last Rites for a Dead Druid. The Waiting Room was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. We are back again in the Old West. Gunfighter Sam Dichter (Steve Forrest) rides into town and observes the body of a hooded figure hanging from a tree as nears the main street. The town seems deserted but when he enters the saloon he notices four men quietly playing cards in the corner. They all seem to know Dichter but he doesn't recognise any of them. Or does he? As they pass the time, Dichter begins to have an unsettling feeling that he has heard of some of these characters before and yet they are supposed to be dead. This story almost feels too Rod Serling, like the sort of obvious thing he would do on autopilot in the declining years of The Twilight Zone. I personally have more time for this than most though and like the Old West setting and spooky saloon atmosphere. Best of all is the supporting cast of grizzled cowboys. They are played by Buddy Ebsen, Albert Salmi and Jim Davis (Jock Ewing in Dallas). Some good (and in all likelyhood hokey) cowboy jargon from the grizzled critters. Last Rites for a Dead Druid was written by Alvin Sapinsley and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. Future Incredible Hulk star Bill Bixby plays Bruce Tarraday, a young attourney who is unimpressed by the latest purchase of his wife Jennie (Carol Lynley). Carol has bought a life size statue of a man from an antiques shop and plonked it in the garden. She says it looks like him but Bruce is not amused. Sounds like the plot of a Victor Meldrew episode! That night, Bruce has nightmares about the statue stalking him in his bedroom but shrugs the bad dream off in the morning. Until that is he notices footsteps on the lawn outside leading from the statue. He decides to visit the antiques shop to investigate. This is well directed and written but I could never quite get into this one for some reason. This is like a so so episode of Hammer House of Horror with a bit more visual flair behind the camera. Bixby is very good but I was never terribly gripped by this.
Episode nineteen has three segments - Deliveries in the Rear, Stop Killing Me, and Dead Weight. It begins with the superb Deliveries in the Rear. This was written by Serling and directed by Jeff Corey. In Nineteenth-century New England, Dr John Fletcher (Cornel Wilde) is the surgery instructor at the MacMillan School of Medicine. Fletcher is a cold, pompous man who is starting to attract attention and suspicion for the source of the cadavers he uses to dissect for his students classes. He has been secretly paying a couple of petty criminals to provide dead bodies for his class and a few drunks and down and outs have gone missing as a result. Fletcher is not worried by ethical and moral questions. He believes that the loss of one life is a sacrifice worth paying if it leads to medical knowledge that will save the lives of many. And as these dead specimens were only drunkards and down and outs who cares? No one will miss them. But the police are starting to keep a very close eye on Fletcher and he is also due for the shock of his life. This episode is strong on atmosphere and set design and Wilde is solid and dependable as the arrogant Fletcher. I like the way Serling gives both sides of the ethical debate here but we are never in too much doubt where he stands himself. Stop Killing Me was written by Jack Laird and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. This is a black out skit that for some reason is padded out to fourteen minutes. It's a dull afternoon at the police station but Sergeant Bevelow (James Gregory) has an unusual complaint from a dumpy elder woman named Frances (Geraldine Page) who claims her husband keeps trying to kill her. This takes far too long to get to the twist and should have been considerably shortened. Dead Weight was written by Laird again and directed by Timothy Galfas. Only seven minutes long but one of the better black out skits. Mr Bullivant (Jack Albertson) has a thriving business that isn't public. He deals with gangsters on the run. Need to get out of the country incognito? Bullivant is your man. His latest customer is a hood named Landau (Bobby Darin) who is now on the ten most wanted list. Bullivant promises to have him out of the country by nightfall but how will he accomplish this? Dead weight has a nice twist at the end and is agreeable enough.
We move into episode twenty in this Night Gallery marathon (I'm starting to feel like I live in that art museum with Rod Serling). There are two stories here - I'll Never Leave You - Ever and There Aren't Any More MacBanes - and both are pretty good. I'll Never Leave You - Ever was adapted by Jack Laird and directed by Daniel Haller. The setting is medieval Scotland. Secret lovers Moragh (Lois Nettleton) and Ianto (John Saxon) meet under the moon and make the most of their time together. Though he is gravely ill, Moragh's husband Owen (Royal Dano) watches her like a hawk and clings to life. Moragh wants rid of him once and for all to be with her lover and consults a local crone (Peggy Webber) who is said to be an expert in the dark arts. Will it work? This is strong on atmosphere and makes use of the same old ages sets built for Sins of the Father (which was shot first but broadcast in the episode after this one). You think it's going to be dull at first but voodoo doll capers and some straight ahead horror elements ultimately make it highly entertaining. Nice casting here too. The great John Saxon (of Enter the Dragon fame) and Lois Nettleton (the star of the classic Twilight Zone episode The Midnight Sun). There Aren't Any More MacBanes was written by Alvin Sainsley and directed by John Newland. New graduates Elie (Darrell Larson) and Mickey (Barry Higgins) pay a visit to fellow Ivy Leager Andrew MacBane (Joel Gray). MacBane has not graduated with them because he has been studying witchcraft instead of religious studies. His uncle (played by Howard Duff) considers MacBane to be a slacker (as that bloke in Back to the Future would say to Michael J Fox) and says he has six months to find employment or he will be cut off from his inheritance. MacBane seems unworried by this bombshell and decides to investigate the papers of his ancestor Jedediah MacBane. It is said that Jedediah was a sorcerer who could kill by mere thought. This is a rather silly segment but it works quite well. The sense of location is good (it feels like a real New England campus world) and Joel Gray, who was fresh from the film Cabaret and something of a coup to get, throws himself into the part of MacBane and gives it far more gravitas and energy than it probably deserves.
Episode twenty-one contains two segments - The Sins of the Fathers and You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore. The Sins of the Fathers was written by Halstead Welles and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. This is widely regarded to be one of the greatest Night Gallery segments of all but I would respectfully disagree with that consensus. The setting is Wales, the Middle Ages. Famine and pestilence is rife. Mrs Craighill (Barbara Steele) is in need of a "sin eater" to perform the funeral rite for her dead husband. The sin-eater ensures that a spirit goes to God by eating in the presence of the corpse and taking on the sins of the departed. The last hope is Dylan Evans but they are told by his wife Mrs Evans (Geraldine Page) that he is ill himself and can't perform the rite. Mrs Evans salivates at the thought of the banquet they have laid on for the rite and has a crafty plan. She will send her dim-witted son Ian (Richard Thomas) to be the sin-eater instead and give him orders to steal the grub when no one is looking. Let the sin-eating capers begin! This is a strong piece and authentically grim and sober but it never quite managed to reel me in and at thirty minutes felt too long. The best thing here is the set design by Joe Alves. Twisted trees, craggy stones, fog descending. All very impressive but the accents by the American actors are risible to British ears and - as much as I love The Waltons - there is only so much of Richard Thomas wailing and overacting that you can take in one sitting. You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeff Corey. I enjoyed this segment much more than the first one. It's the near future. At Robot Aids. Inc you can buy a robot that looks just like a human being to do those everyday tasks. Need a butler, maid, chef or gardener? All of these occupations and many more can be done by the robots. However, when a robot maid (Lana Wood) is returned in some state of disrepair by a nasty couple named the Fultons (played by Cloris Leachman and Broderick Crawford), the android engineer at the company (played by Severn Darden) accuses them of torture and notices the robot maid has a tear in her eye. It appears the robots are becoming more sophisticated in their behaviour and mutiny might be on the cards. Is the human race doomed? This is a fun twenty minute segment with a nice twist at the end. Very Twilight Zone and a return to Serling's recurring theme of cruelty hindering the progress of man. On a note of trivia, the robot maid actress Lana Wood was Bond girl Plenty O'Toole in Diamonds Are Forever.
The final episode contains only two segments - The Caterpillar and Little Girl Lost - and is superb. The Caterpillar was written by Rod Serling and directed by Jeannot Szwarc. This is probably the most famous of all Night Gallery stories. The scariest and most gripping with a kicker of a twist. The setting is the 1900s, a remote British colony in Borneo. Stephen Macy (Laurence Harvey) has arrived from England to work for tobacco plantation owner John Warwick (Tom Helmore). But Macy soons grows bored with life in the colony. The monsoons, the humidity. He finds it dull and depressing. The only thing that piques his interest is Warwick's beautiful wife Rhona (Joanna Pettet is once again the stock Night Gallery babe). Macy is determined to cop off with Rhona despite the fact that she doesn't seem interested. He is offered help in his romantic quest though by a local spiv peddlar named Tommy (Don Knight) who he meets in a bar. Tommy tells Macy about an insect indigenous to Borneo. An earwig/caterpillar that once inside the human ear will eat its way through the brain. The victim will suffer weeks of indescribable agony and insanity before death. Tommy offers to have his men place one of these insects into the ear of Warwick while he sleeps and though reluctant at first, Macy agrees to the fiendish scheme. This is only the beginning of the nightmare that will follow. There is nothing much to dislike here. This is the most stomach churning segment and one that you'll never forget and the jungle sets are (just for once) superb. Laurence Harvey is terrific as the shameless and desperate Macy and the score by composer Eddie Stauter is wonderfully haunting and effective. The Caterpillar runs to just over 30 minutes and is great fun.
Little Girl Lost was written by Stanford Whitmore and directed by Timothy Galfas. This is an underrated episode that serves as a solid end to series 2. Pilot Tom Burke (Ed Nelson) is recovering from a crash and recieves an unusual assignment from the military. He is to babysit Professor Putman (William Windom). Putman is a genius working on a top secret fission project for the government but he recently lost his daughter in a hit and run incident and is now suicidal and unbalanced and has a delusion that his daughter is still alive. If you have lunch with Putnam you have to set up an extra chair and pretend that his daughter is there. Nelson immerses himself in the professor's strange world and does his best to keep an eye on him but this job will prove to be far more difficult and important than he could ever have dreamed. There is a great humanity to this episode that is worthy of Serling himself and it's a joy to see the great William Windom again (his performance in They're Tearing Down Tom Riley's Bar was a first season highlight). There is an intense neon look to this episode that is very striking at times. This last two part episode is a worthy way to end the second series.
This particular series of Night Gallery is only available on region 1 over here (there obviously aren't enough Night Gallery fans in Britain) but the picture quality is good and you get a smattering of extras. Audio commentaries from celebrity fan Guillermo Del Toro and Night Gallery experts Jim Benson and Scott Skelton. A look at the paintings used in the series, NBC Night Gallery promos (good fun) and an overview of the series. Nothing extensive but all interesting. I should point out that parts of Satisfaction Guaranteed are missing and a segment called Witches Feast is absent all together (Universal somehow managed to lose portions of the print). Night Gallery series two is inconsistent but contains some wonderful stories and is frequently a lot of fun. Highly recommended if you are in the right mood. At the time of writing you can buy this for £20.