Night Gallery: Add a little tension to your night!
“Welcome to this morbid mortuary of oddities in oil… where things creak and stalk… I’m your little ol’ curator… welcome to this museum we call…. The Night Gallery.”
Such was the eerie tenor of the introductions to Night Gallery, delivered by its host and creator Rod Serling as he strolled through a hanging forest of bizarre and unsettling Tom Wright paintings, each depicting a scene from the night’s stories. It’s said that Rod Serling had already conceived the notion of Night Gallery as early as 1964, though it took until 1970 for the show to be brought to the air.
Night Gallery was one of the original elements in an NBC Wednesday night series called Four In One, which featured a rotating lineup of – you guessed it – four shows in one time slot. The other shows were McCloud, San Francisco International and The Psychiatrist. Only Night Gallery and McCloud managed to gain any traction among viewers, and Night Gallery eventually wound up on Sunday nights.
Culling stories from top science fiction writers like HP Lovecraft (and Serling himself, though he was not as heavily involved as he was for Twilight Zone), Night Gallery was also notable as it marked the directorial debut of a burgeoning talent by the name of Steven Spielberg. It’s alleged that this Spielberg fellow managed to cobble together a career in movies, though little information is available about him.
Night Gallery differed from Twilight Zone in that its anthology approach meant that there were two or three stories within its original one hour running time, though there were also some episodes in which a single story was told. The show was pared down to a half hour running time by the 1972 season. The show also employed brief little blackout vignettes between the main stories, and often they were of a darkly comical nature.
Also different was the fact that the show was aired in color. I mean, it was 1970, after all. Time to go color. Sure black and white might be a little more smoky and intense, a little more chilling and claustrophobic, but the artful direction and effective use of makeup delivered a more than satisfying amount of suspense and tension.
Serling might have been a little more hands off than he was for his brainchild, The Twilight Zone, but Night Gallery still packs all the potent punch of the master storyteller, and it’s waiting for you night owls on Me-TV every night at 1:30AM/12:30C. Pleasant dreams!
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