Séances and Surrealism: Another Night Gallery Tour

Come in, everyone. Glad you could make it. Ready to see some lovely, flower-filled meadows? Contemplate a few peaceful, rustic landscapes?

Sorry to hear that. Because you’ve entered … the Night Gallery.

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As founder Rod Serling once said, “In this particular salon, we choose our paintings with an eye more towards terror than technique.” That explains the dark, dusty halls. The chilly drafts that whistle down the corridors. The long shadows that offer numerous hiding places for … well, let’s get started. The night won’t last forever.

Perhaps you joined us on our first tour of the Night Gallery. You may have even tagged along for round two. If so, I can understand why you’re glancing around nervously. But remember, fright doesn’t always take a familiar form. Tonight’s selections prove that there is as much to dread in the brightest day as in the darkest night.

So without further ado, here are 10 more sinister selections for your enjoyment (click on any title to watch the episode it’s part of on Hulu):

THE LITTLE BLACK BAG (December 23, 1970)

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Dr. William Fall (Burgess Meredith) is well-named: This once-respected physician is now a skid-row bum, his days filled with nothing nobler than a quest for cheap booze. Then one day he discovers a unique medical bag, erroneously sent back in time from 2098, filled with tools that appear miraculous by 1970 standards. Too bad Dr. Fall’s malicious companion doesn’t share his desire to use it for good … or that the people from 2098 decide to retrieve their advanced technology at a most inopportune time.

***

CLASS OF ’99 (September 22, 1971)

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A college professor (Vincent Price) is administering final exams to a room full of young people. Pretty boring, right? Until the questions turn to racial attitudes, and the scene takes on a decidedly sinister tone. Wait, the professor wants the students to adopt a prejudicial mindset — indeed, will fail them if they don’t view other people as “the enemy”? And he’s urging them to be violent? What’s going on here? A Rod Serling original that’s as thought-provoking today as it was in 1971.

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SILENT SNOW, SECRET SNOW (October 20, 1971)

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Isolation was a recurring theme on The Twilight Zone, and it resurfaces here with a unique spin. Orson Welles narrates a hauntingly beautiful tale of a boy (who appears autistic, although the word is never used) gradually withdrawing from the outside world. Based on a 1934 short story by Conrad Aiken, this segment proved Serling’s contention that a “horror series” such as Night Gallery didn’t need a non-stop parade of shambling corpses to provide compelling TV.

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THE DIARY (November 10, 1971)

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A diary is certainly an appropriate New Year’s gift, but gossip columnist Holly Schaeffer (Patty Duke) wasn’t expecting anything from Carrie Crain (Virginia Mayo), an aging Hollywood star targeted by Holly’s poison pen. So when Holly finds the diary predicting dire events that later come true, her psychiatrist (TZ alum David Wayne) tries to help her make sense of it all. Another Serling original, it features one of my favorite twist endings.

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DR. STRINGFELLOW’S REJUVENATOR (November 17, 1971)

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Anyone who’s seen the Twilight Zone episodes “One for the Angels” and “What You Need” knows that Serling enjoyed writing about pitchmen. But Dr. Ernest Stringfellow (Forrest Tucker), a traveling salesman in Old West times who sells a worthless tonic he touts as a miraculous cure-all to gullible townspeople, merits no sympathy. Murray Hamilton (who played Death in “One for the Angels”) is an alcoholic doctor who tries to awaken his conscience. Poetic justice, served up Serling-style.

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THE DARK BOY (November 24, 1971)

DarkBoy

When a new schoolteacher named Mrs. Timm joins a Montana frontier community, she finds one more student than she bargained for: a shy young boy who shows up at the schoolhouse only at night and never says a word. Yet when she asks the townsfolk about him, they’re reluctant to even admit he exists. Can she figure out who he is and why he keeps coming back? John “Gomez Addams” Astin directs this gentle yet intriguing tale of regret and redemption.

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THE MESSIAH ON MOTT STREET (December 15, 1971)

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Christmas is hardly Christmas for me without Serling’s heartfelt Twilight Zone episode “Night of the Meek“. But this touching holiday story of an elderly Jewish man, his faith in the Messiah, and the grandson he loves, is a close second. Abraham Goldman (Edward G. Robinson) is determined to keep the Angel of Death at bay so that he can ensure young Mikey is taken care of. But when Abraham’s health deteriorates, Mikey goes searching for the Messiah. Serling felt that this sentimental tale merited an Emmy nod, and it’s easy to see why.

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THE TUNE IN DAN’S CAFÉ (January 5, 1972)

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A couple stops in a quiet diner one night and feeds some coins into the jukebox. It plays only one song no matter what they pick, starts skipping halfway through at the same spot, and turns off. What gives? That’s where the record was one fateful evening when the diner erupted in gunfire, the owner explains, after the police cornered a lawless man who’d been betrayed by his beautiful femme fatale. A cleverly directed story of romance and revenge.

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THE SINS OF THE FATHERS (February 23, 1972)

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If you think of Richard Thomas only as John-Boy Walton, this pre-Waltons episode will be quite an eye-opener. Here he plays Ian, the son of a sin-eater who lives in an old Welsh village. When his father falls ill, Ian’s mother pressures him to take dear old dad’s place. It’s nice to be well-paid, but to feast by a corpse in a symbolic cleansing rite so you can bring food to your family? Poor Ian. Horror queen Barbara Steele was reportedly reluctant to make one of her rare TV appearances … until she read the script and was suitably impressed. I think you’ll be, too.

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SOMETHING IN THE WOODWORK (January 14, 1973)

something-in-the-woodwork

Getting back at your ex-spouse? That’s something that happens practically every day. Trying to use the ghost in your attic to do it? Now, there’s a Gallery-esque twist. Not that Molly Wheatland (three-time NG star Geraldine Page) is having an easy time of it. The ghost in this case isn’t all that eager to do the job. It isn’t long before Molly is having one of Serling’s recurring be-careful-what-you-wish-for moments … and wishing that she’d never gotten into the, ahem, spirit of things.

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We hope you’ve enjoyed your time in this special museum, where, as Serling once said, “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.”

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Of course, I can see from your apprehensive expressions that it’s been a successful tour. Excellent! The next time you feel a chill up your spine, be sure and think of us. Until your next visit …

Night Gallery Tour #1: Cobwebs and Canvases

Night Gallery Tour #2: Brushstrokes and Broomsticks

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For more on Night Gallery, try this amazing book. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on TwitterFacebook or Pinterest. 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.

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

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About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 11/05/2015, in Night Gallery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Wow, you are really stepping it up, Paul. You’ve got some of my most favorite actors listed here. I seriously need to find a way to watch some of these shows. This is a great post.

    • Thank you, sir! It’s best enjoyed on DVD (check Amazon), but each title is a hyperlink to the episode on Hulu. Definitely worth checking out.

      • I’m working my way through the Outer Limits DVDs right now. Maybe I’ll add this to my Christmas list. Santa has been good about supporting my viewing habits. I’m very glad you keep putting this out there. Burgess Meredith and Vincent Price — I didn’t know (although Wendy did also recently point out VP).

      • You MAY want to start with Season 2. That’s when the show really hit its stride. And bear in mind that most episodes have two or more segments, and it’s not uncommon for there to be an excellent one sandwiched in between a couple that are so-so.

  2. All great episodes. My personal favorites are “The Messiah On Mott Street (with Edward G. Robinson) and “Silent Snow, Secret Snow.” Orson Welles’ narration is superb.

  3. Nice NG picks! Some of my own favorites. I always felt “Stringfellow” was a sort of bleaker flip side to “Mr. Garrity And The Graves” from TZ. The two make an interesting double feature. The NG DVD sets are worth investing in as season one includes the pilot and season two is packed with bonus features.
    P.S. Paul: another pitch for an article on The Season To Be Wary as it relates to NG.

    • Thanks, Dale! You’re right — Stringfellow and Garrity would make a good double feature. And it’s interesting that you’d add this postscript — with the anniversary of the NG pilot movie almost upon us, I was just thinking about getting that post done. I appreciate the reminder, though!

  4. Excellent selections, Paul! Just reading the summations gave me chills (…Silent Snow, Secret Snow, The Tune in Dan’s Cafe—I think I’ve commented with you before on THIS one, so danged well done…)! I was also working my way through the DVDs…until my DVD player died (a fitting term, perhaps?)! Must resurrect!

    • Definitely, Frank! Ha, imagine if your DVD player started up and would only play “The Tune in Dan’s Café” until it reached the same spot every time and then stopped. Now, THAT would be spooky. :-o

      Anyway, glad you enjoyed the summaries. I’m always worried that I won’t do the shows justice, but if you’re getting chills, I must be doing something right! :)

  5. The Night Gallery is being shown on late night cable here. I think I have seen most of these. Really difficult to compete with The Twilight Zone, but some of these stories were really great.

    My favorite Night Gallery is The Cemetery with Roddy McDowall from S1, but The Diary with Patty Duke from S2 is really creepy!

    Anything with Burgess Meredith is wonderful! He was such a fabulous actor!

    American Horror Story brags about using “big stars” on their show, but Rod was doing that ages ago! The difference is that instead of just using celebs to attract attention, Rod used great actors and writing. That’s why his work is timeless.

    Loved this post! :-)

    • Yes, it’s a shame that Night Gallery has to stand in TZ’s shadow, because it really is a good show in its own right. And I agree — “The Cemetery” is fantastic! That was the first entry in my first NG “tour” post, in fact.

      As for the guest stars, you’re right. The Serling name was a powerful draw, but the scripts are what sold the stars (as I mentioned above in reference to Barbara Steele). Many who didn’t do TV work would make an exception for TZ or NG, and who can blame them?

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

  6. Victor De Leon

    awesome picks! loved some of these especially black bag and class of 99. I hope to re-visit the rest very soon on hulu plus since I just joined and its easier to just stream the eps than change out dvd’s (I do own the complete series) great job on this post. Love NG! :)

    • Thanks, Vic! Glad to hear you joined Hulu — I think it’s great how they stream NG. Wish Netflix had it. Sure, there are ads on Hulu, but at least NG is uncut there, unlike what you get with the syndicated version on Me-TV and elsewhere. Good to know the post appealed. Happy rewatching!

      • Victor De Leon

        I am very satisfied with HULU of late. Glad I joined. Catching up on NG has been a blast! I opted for the no commercial interruption package and it’s great. Thanks for showcasing these great eps of Serling’s classic show!

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