Paging Dr. Rhodes …

Every now and then someone who’s watching reruns of Night Gallery will ask me, “How many episodes did Gary Collins star in?”

Technically, none. When you see a Gallery episode that stars Collins as Dr. Michael Rhodes, you’re watching what was originally a separate show. Known as “The Sixth Sense,” it was later included in the Gallery syndication package. Why? Simple. There weren’t enough Gallery episodes.

Gary Collins

When Night Gallery ended its run 15 episodes into its third season, only 43 episodes (not story segments) had been produced. TV stations want more than that, generally, so as not to show the same rerun too frequently. So Universal, the studio behind the show, resorted to two tricks to inflate the number of episodes:

  1. Cutting the 28 hour-long episodes from seasons 1 and 2 into half-hour shows. This necessitated some horrendous editing, by the way, which I’ll cover in a separate post.
  2. Turning the 25 episodes of “The Sixth Sense,” which was cancelled shortly into its second season, into Gallery episodes. To do this, they paid Serling to film new, Gallery-style introductions.

Night Gallery, despite the fact that it showcased some excellent work from Serling and other writers, already suffered from an unevenness of tone. The same episode might contain one or two very entertaining stories, which were then diluted with a substandard segment. In adding “The Sixth Sense,” a B-grade paranormal thriller series, Universal only added to the substandard side of the equation.

The studio, to its credit, corrected this when it issued Night Gallery Season 1 and Season 2 on DVD. No episodes of “The Sixth Sense” were included. But the Season 1 episodes on iTunes include the show, and so does the syndication package that remains available for airing today.

From an accounting perspective, it might have been the right decision. But from an artistic one, it was about as horrific as anything painted by Richard Pickman.

46Pickman

***

Photos courtesy of my “Gal Friday,” artist Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook orPinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress followers, just hit “follow” at the top of the page.

Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

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About Paul

Hard-working, hard-playing fan of all pop culture, especially the Twilight Zone. Which led to a Twitter page. And then to a blog. And then to ... stay tuned. Yes, that's a picture of Rod Serling, not me. You can find the real me under the "Your Host" tab on my blog, along with biographical details that, while 100 percent accurate, sound kind of boastful and braggy. Sorry.

Posted on 06/27/2011, in Night Gallery and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. You know, when I watched the series I remembered thinking something “felt” different about the “Dr. Michael Rhodes” shows, even as a kid. Funny! But, I kinda also remembering liking his character and thinking him cool. Thinking, wow, here’s a guy who gets *paid* to investigate the paranormal–how do I sign up? :-]

    Thanks for the post!

  2. You’re welcome! I didn’t mean to be too hard on Collins, but as a Night Gallery purist, it’s hard to accept his episodes as part of the series when they were never intended to be.

  3. I do understand — same issue crossed my mind with the TZ and “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”! ;-]

  4. Except that William Froug, the TZ producer at the time, acquired the film and made it into a TZ ep with Serling’s blessing. “The Sixth Sense” was shoehorned into Night Gallery after the fact by the network. Serling went along, but contractually (he wasn’t producing NG the way he had produced TZ), he had little choice.

  5. Cool info, for sure. But as I watched the webisode, it just didn’t FEEL like a TZ episode (well, to me—which is my parallel with the “Dr Rhodes” stuff in NG), though it’s subject matter was perfect “TZ.” But, great info, good to know, and thanks for taking the time to explain it, Paul!

  6. Thank you for this – I’ve been reliving my youth by recording the re-runs of this, Alfred Hitchcock & Thriller. I was thoroughly excited to watch all three the next day….until the appearance of the mysteriously annoying Dr. Rhodes. I finally turned to Google to figure out how much longer I need to endure his episodes, and seeing nothing relating him to Night Gallery episodes, I kept digging till I found your article. It was almost like living in my own Twilight Zone hell – knowing in my heart Rod Serling could never have created or agreed to such awful story lines in this brilliant series, but facing the proof he knew of them when he did the intros.

    It’s a load off mind (it really was bugging me to the point I’ve been avoiding watching them for fear if seeing Gary Collins yet again cast ashore from the Love Boat or some such just to ruin my Serling fix). I’ve gotta believe he was confident enough in his own thorough mastery of paranormal entertainment programming that he knew us people of the future would seek out the truth behind his association with these silly episodes. My sense if drama is because, at this moment, I am suffering one of the Rhodes episodes as I type. But you have given me some peace by knowing he was never part of Serling’s plan, and the vision of his original show had not been changed so much as co-opted by network execs. Whew! And thank you! ;-)

    • I could have written this post! It took me a while to figure out that Dr. Rhodes was going to be on – and ruin – every show. I also tape those show and have finally deleted Night Gallery. Boring..same old thing.

      • Fortunately, Mary, he doesn’t ruin EVERY episode. There are many fine NGs that don’t feature Collins. I encourage you to check them out if you haven’t already. Thanks for stopping by!

      • Hi Paul, i’ve been watching Night Gallery since it started so I know every episode and have always been a fan! I was just referring to the ones they are running right now on METV. When the season of Dr Rhodes ends I’ll start watching again. Every episode with him is the same and it’s unwatchable!

      • Oh, sorry! Glad to have been wrong in this instance. Yes, the GC eps are depressingly repetitive.

    • Glad to have brought you some peace of mind! Yes, Dr. Rhodes was very much an after-thought, and one that irritates just about any true fan of Night Gallery. The series had enough handicaps to overcome without adding yet another one simply to allow the network to get a big enough syndication package. It bothers me to think that people will write off the series because of the Collins’s episodes and then never get to appreciate the much better work that was actually written by Serling.

      I’m glad you enjoyed this post. Hope you caught the other ones I’ve done (just click on “Night Gallery” under “categories” on the upper-right-hand side of the page). More to come. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  7. I’ve been been reliving my youth by recording the re-runs of this, Alfred Hitchcock & Thriller on meTV. I was thoroughly excited to watch all three sows each day….until the appearance of the mysteriously annoying Dr. Rhodes. I finally turned to Google to figure out how much longer I need to endure his episodes, and seeing nothing relating him to Night Gallery episodes, I kept digging till I found your article. It was almost like living in my own Twilight Zone hell – knowing in my heart Rod Serling could never have created or agreed to such awful story lines in this brilliant series, but facing the proof he knew of them when he did the intros.

    Thank you!

    • I’m glad that Google brought us together! It was very satisfying to set the record straight, and watch an uptick in views of this post every time a Collins episode aired on Me-TV. I hope to spread the message far and wide: NG may stand in TZ’s shadow, but it doesn’t deserve to be dismissed.

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