Category Archives: Night Gallery

A Lost Lunar Landscape: Serling’s Missing Moon Story

Space travel, as any Twilight Zone fan can tell you, obviously held keen interest for Rod Serling. Stories about what would happen if we went Up There, or aliens came Down Here, cropped up throughout the entire run of the hit series.

nature-of-the-enemy3

Tantalizingly enough, Serling’s plans for Season 6 pointedly mentioned his interest in featuring more outer-space tales. Alas, it was never to be. And by the time man landed on the moon in 1969, Serling was focused on bringing a trilogy of horror stories to TV. Only one teleplay in the entire run of “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery” dealt with space travel.

So a nice surprise awaited me several years ago when I bought a used copy of the first “Night Gallery” book (“Night Gallery 2” followed a year later). Then out of print, this paperback boasted prose versions of some of Serling’s screenplays from the first season, so I was naturally eager to see how he transitioned them to the printed page. Read the rest of this entry

Spock Meets Serling: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

When the sad news of Leonard Nimoy’s death broke last week, images of Spock were everywhere. And why not? Everybody’s favorite Vulcan is one of the most beloved characters in television history.

Spock

But as the custodian of “Shadow & Substance,” I couldn’t help but think of Nimoy’s work in the Serling-verse.

There wasn’t much, alas. The Twilight Zone preceded his break-out role in Star Trek by a few years. But if you’ve ever seen the Season 3 war-themed episode “A Quality of Mercy,” you may have recognized the actor playing Hansen, one of the American soldiers.

“I was only in that briefly, but my memory of it is [working with] Dean Stockwell and Albert Salmi,” Nimoy later recalled. “We were in a war-time situation, and it was a kind of fantasy story, which isn’t a common combination. It was a good episode.” Read the rest of this entry

Brushstrokes and Broomsticks

An art gallery may strike you as an odd place to spend Halloween … at least, until you see the paintings hanging in the Night Gallery.

RodSerlingNGIntro

“If you seem to sense an aura of cold dampness that permeates this room, attribute it not to either defective air conditioning or inclement indoor weather,” Rod Serling once said. “It’s simply because this is rather a special place with special statuary and special paintings, and they carry with them a coldness that seems to go best in a crypt.”

Most museums turn up the lights so you can see the paintings in detail. But once you see the canvases on display here, I think you’ll be grateful for the many shadows that line the hallways.

I hope you were able to join us for our inaugural tour. Because I have 10 more favorites to share with you today (click on any title to watch the episode on Hulu): Read the rest of this entry

Steven Spielberg On Directing “Night Gallery”

Long before “Jaws”, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” made him a household name, Steven Spielberg was just another unknown director with hopes for fame and fortune. And the first step toward that goal took him through a shadowy museum known as … Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.

Steven Spielberg and Joan Crawford

The pilot movie, to be specific. The 21-year-old director would helm the middle segment of three dark-edged tales written by Serling himself. It premiered on November 8, 1969, and was a ratings success, leading to the Night Gallery series a year later.

While Spielberg was a novice, however, his star was anything but. The part of Claudia Menlo, the predatory blind dowager in “Eyes,” was to be played by none other than Joan Crawford.

Crawford, then 65, had already starred in more than 90 feature films, dating back to the silent era. “Directing Joan Crawford was like pitching to Hank Aaron your first time in the game,” Spielberg later remarked. Read the rest of this entry

All Dolled Up

Want to see a good scary movie? Skip the multiplex. I have something better. Spend the evening playing with dolls.

Before you chuckle TOO loudly, perhaps I’d better introduce them. You really don’t want them to hear you.

First up is Willie. Yes, a ventriloquist … well, I hesitate to say “dummy,” but that’s what these wooden sidekicks are usually called. He’s been known to resist whenever his owner suggests changes to the act. How can a stick of wood object, you ask? Oh, he has ways. And they don’t end well for people who oppose him. Just ask Goofy Goggles. Not that he can give you much of an answer. Goofy’s part of the pavement now, thanks to Willie’s little games.

The Dummy Compilation2

Next to him: Talky Tina. Quite a smile on that one! Here’s a tip, though: when she says anything other than “I love you”? RUN. Trust me. Don’t bother arguing with her, and for pity’s sake, don’t drag her to the garage and try to use your circular saw to decapitate her. (Note the word “try”.) Just steer clear, or you might take an unscheduled trip down the stairs in the middle of the night. Read the rest of this entry

Cobwebs and Canvases

It’s been 40 years since the last painting was hung in the darkened display known as Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. But for those who enjoy a good campfire story — something light on gore and heavy on shivers — the doors have never closed. The cobwebbed corridors still beckon.

But be careful. You never know who might be looking over your shoulder.

Serling NG pilot

So let’s take a look around. Alas, Mr. Serling can’t be here, so I hope you don’t mind if I serve as your tour guide today. I’d like to show you some of my favorites … Read the rest of this entry

The New Exhibit

I might as well be upfront about it. This isn’t the usual post. I’m not here to highlight some behind-the-scenes details about the filming of a Twilight Zone, or to drill down into some little-noticed aspect of Rod Serling’s work.

Nope. I’m here to brag.

Somerset Frisby, TZ's chief teller of tall tales.

Somerset Frisby, TZ’s chief teller of tall tales.

Many of you know that months before I started this blog, I was hosting what I immodestly call “the ultimate marathon” on Twitter. It began as a whim. My goal was simple: to create more awareness of the Twilight Zone’s underappreciated step brother: Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, a horror/suspense series that ran for three seasons on NBC in the early 1970s.

Before long, though, I found it impossible to ignore Serling’s other works — books, teleplays, movies, and a little thing called The Twilight Zone. Read the rest of this entry

“A Death in the Family”

On Sept. 22, 1971, NBC aired the second episode of Night Gallery’s second season. It was a strong hour for the series, anchored by two very effective tales scripted by Rod Serling: “A Death in the Family” with E.G. Marshall, and “Class of ’99” with Vincent Price.

Each deserves its own blog post, so I’ll use this one to highlight a particular aspect of the Marshall segment. If you haven’t watched it before, try the link below. And if you want to avoid spoilers, stop here, and then come back when you’re done.

Marshall plays an unusual undertaker named Jared Soames. Like many of us, he pities the cast-off members of society who come through his door for a charity funeral. But unlike many of us, he goes a macabre step further. He adopts those who have no family into his “family” — of corpses. Lovingly preserved, they populate a specially kept room in his basement. Read the rest of this entry

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. Read the rest of this entry

“A Private Showing”

“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.

“Our initial offering: a small gothic item in blacks and grays. A piece of the past known as the family crypt. This one we call simply The Cemetery. Offered to you now, six feet of earth and all that it contains. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the Night Gallery.”

And with those words, Rod Serling gave TV viewers their first glimpse of a unique art display — designed not to be edifying, but to be eerie. Read the rest of this entry

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