NG on Me-TV: A Caveat

Being an unabashed fan of “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery,” I should be thrilled that it’s joining Me-TV’s regular fall schedule. And I am — with one reservation.

Simply put: The Night Gallery that the network will be showing is not the version that originally aired. It’s been edited, in some cases quite severely.

Here’s why. Night Gallery ran for three seasons. During the first two, each episode was an hour long. Only in its third season (when it was cancelled after 15 episodes) did it go to 30 minutes. By the end of its run, there were fewer than 50 episodes.

So when NBC went to put together a syndication package, it decided to expand the show’s run significantly by editing the hour-long shows into half-hour ones. The only problem: The hour-long shows contained stories that might run as short as two minutes or as long as 40. What happens when the segments don’t fit nicely together into new half-hour shows?

You guessed it. If it’s too long, cut it. Even if it means chopping almost half of the segment’s length (as in the case of Serling’s beautiful, Emmy-nominated “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar“). Some segments were judiciously trimmed, but others, alas, were hacked to bits. And if a segment ran short? No problem: just raid the video vaults and add footage from some other movie or TV show.

"Pickman's Model"

“Pickman’s Model”

Seriously? You don’t have to be a die-hard fan to view this as a kind of sacrilege.

That said, the syndicated Night Gallery is still well-worth watching. If you’re a first-time viewer, here’s my take on the show. I would also immodestly suggest “Things That Go Bump” and a look at how frightened director Guillermo del Toro was when he watched Night Gallery’s “The Doll” as a boy.

The show will be airing each weeknight on Me-TV at 1:30 a.m. Unless you’re a night watchman or a college student, sounds like you might want to program your DVR. Otherwise, follow the links at the end of this blog post. You’ll find other ways to view what may be considered the forerunner of many of today’s TV horror hits.

Night+Gallery+2-4+Serling

***

Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest

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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 09/09/2012, in Night Gallery and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. A qualified “cool”!!!

    I was just doing a search for it to DVR, and didn’t find anything, but do have it set to auto record when it does show up.

    While I do appreciate the series finally coming back to TV, it bugs the snot out of me that it’s being handled as you say. Come on, people! Give it the RESPECT it deserves!

    Now, let’s get Circle of Fear back on TV, too….

  2. Reblogged this on Reality Check and commented:
    Well, about time! Set those DVRs (though the Me Tv shows a start time of 3 p.m.)! It starts today, September 9th!

  3. Finally had a chance to [re]watch “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” — yeah, what a powerful story! But I do remember this episode! William Windom, great acting! And I always love to look in the background of shots, to see the faces and “odds and ends” that populate back there but aren’t meant to be “front and center,” but lend the in-depth texture to scenes. Like that creepy bar scene at the end, where everyone’s gathered. Also reminds me of the TZ show “The Trouble With Templeton,” including Templeton’s visit with his wife back in the bar in that episode.

    And “The Last Laurel”…even when I watched that one as a kid I remember thinking, no, out of body projections do *not* involve physical manipulation! But I always loved the little “twisted shorts” that followed the longer tales! SO cool!

    Thanks, again, for bringing these back into the public view! Ahhh, bringing back such great, scary moments from my youth!

    • You’re welcome! Bringing these “great, scary moments” back is the raison d’être of this blog and my Twitter page — nice to know it’s working!

      And yes, I find “Tim Riley” to be a very impressive story. Even Serling himself was proud of it, and he was very harsh about his own work. I hadn’t thought about the parallels with “The Trouble with Templeton” (probably b/c the latter wasn’t written by Serling), but that’s a good point. They both cover the same ground in their own poignant way.

      Yes, “The Last Laurel” is vaguely ridiculous when you think about it … but if you don’t, it’s kind of fun!

  4. I wish there was some sort of law against trimming shows to fit a timeslot. It IS sacrilege to do such a thing. I haven’t seen many episodes of Night Gallery, but I know how upsetting it is to see Twilight Zone episodes get hacked up during the Syfy marathons — especially losing the beautiful ending of “The Masks”.

    This would be akin to reading a book and then suddenly discovering that pages 34-110 have been ripped out. Can you keep reading the remaining 150 pages? Still understand the story? Get by without reading what’s missing? Sure, I suppose you can. But come on, it’s not enjoyable anymore, and you haven’t really read the book!

    It’s not right at all. And even though NG was inferior to TZ, it was still yes, as you say, the precursor to many similar horror anthology series that followed it, and it deserves to be treated with a little more respect. SERLING deserves a little more respect. And chopping chunks (whether big or small) out of his show is simply not okay.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Few shows, even ones far less intelligent and interesting than Night Gallery, deserve to be treated like a mere commodity that can be chopped up and repackaged at will, so it’s infuriating to think of anything associated with TV’s finest writer being treated in such a cavalier fashion.

      I’ve seen the syndicated prints, and I can tell you that they aren’t merely hard to understand — they’re downright bizarre in places. Padded, confusing, choppy … it’s a true desecration. That’s why I always urge people to check the series out on DVD or on Hulu.

      Syndicated NG beats no NG. But it’s a measure of how bad the edits are in places that it’s really a close call.

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