Night Gallery: Season 2
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Prepare for the unexpected as Season Two of Night Gallery comes to DVD! This 5-disc DVD set contains 61 stories, created and hosted by the master of mystery: The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling. With guest performances by Hollywood legends that reads like a roster of Who’s Who in Hollywood, you’ll be sure to see sights to amaze! Featuring audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and a gallery presentation of the paintings from the series, this collector’s set is the classic anthology of timeless, spine-tingling entertainment you don’t dare to miss!
Submitted for your approval, the second season of Night Gallery, Rod Serling's atmospheric anthology series that more often than not was in the Zone. Each week, Serling, acting as "an undernourished Alfred Hitchcock," played the role of host and curator of "a palladium of art treasures that range from the kooky to the uncommon, from the bestial to the bizarre." Comprised of original works and short story adaptations, Night Gallerys palette had many colors: touched-by-an-angel fantasy (the holiday fable "The Messiah on Mott Street"); the macabre ("Green Fingers"); the darkly comic ("The Late Mr. Peddington"); and the haunting ("The Tune in Dans Cafe," which spawned the surprise country hit, "If You Leave Me Tonight Ill Cry"). Night Gallery has long resided in The Twilight Zone's shadow, but great art demands a second, closer look. At its best, Gallery featured superb writing (Serling's body snatcher gem, "Deliveries in the Rear") and great performances (Orson Welles as the narrator of "Silent Snow, Secret Snow"), but it was also a director's showcase for moods and aesthetics. A series benchmark is the terrifying, "The Caterpillar," starring Laurence Harvey as a man who gets an earful of earwig. In addition to Harvey, Gallery featured a stellar roster of actors who did not ordinarily do television, including Edward G. Robinson ("Mott Street"), Patrick O'Neal and Kim Stanley ("A Fear of Spiders"), and Geraldine Page ("Stop Killing Me" and the classic, "The Sins of the Fathers"). It also featured familiar faces in atypical roles, such as Laugh-In's verrrry interesting Arte Johnson as a womanizing radio disc jockey in "Flip Side of Satan," Pat Boone as a callous father considering a very special school for his delinquent son in "The Academy," and Rudy Vallee as a committed doctor, or at least one who should be, in "Marmalade Wine." Comic vignettes and blackouts between offerings are more miss than hit (in one, Death, riding in a crowded elevator, chivalrously removes his skull in the presence of a female rider), but they are brief and can be easily skipped. Museum goers who like audio tours to enhance their appreciation of the exhibits will appreciate episode commentaries by Jim Benson and Scott Skelton, who literally wrote the book on the series (Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour, and Pan's Labyrinth and Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro. A series retrospective and a featurette spotlighting the artist who created the Gallery paintings featured in each episode make this DVD set one that is suitable for framing. --Donald Liebenson
The second season of Night Gallery offers 22 more terror-filled tours for those "whose tastes in art run lean towards the bizarre," as host Rod Serling described its viewership; a wealth of extras spread across the set also makes this sophomore journey into darkness a worthwhile one for series devotees and TV horror fans in general. Though Serling was the face and frequent author of Night Gallery's episodes, his creative control over the series was fading by the second season (1971-1972); frequent clashes between Serling, the network and producer Jack Laird over the tone and direction of the show left the acclaimed television scribe feeling powerless over a series that used his Twilight Zone pedigree as its calling card. And while the hit-and-miss nature of the second season is unquestionable--episodes like "The Flip Side of Satan," "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture" and "Hell's Bells" are embarrassingly bad, as are Laird's short comic vignettes--but there are an equal number of terrific and memorable stories to be found in the set as well. Chief among them is the Serling-penned "The Caterpillar," a gruesome tale of revenge that stands as one of the most horrifying tales ever presented on television; Serling also provided the moving Christmas fable "The Messiah on Mott Street," which features one of Edward G. Robinson's last screen appearances, as well as "Class of '99" with Vincent Price and "The Academy," with a surprising and effective turn against type for Pat Boone. Other standouts include two H.P. Lovecraft adaptations, "Cool Air" and "Pickman's Model," and "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," which earns its chills from a combination of dreamlike visuals and narration by Orson Welles. For a show disregarded by critics and fans of Serling's early work (as well as by the man himself) the second season of Night Gallery offers more than its share of small-screen scares. Nearly all of the 22 episodes from Night Gallery's second season are contained in this five-disc set; two comic shorts, "Witches' Feast" and "Satisfaction Guaranteed," are missing or presented incomplete, respectively, though their absence has little to no impact on the set's value. Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, authors of the invaluable companion guide Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After Hours Tour, provide a wealth of background information on the show in audio commentaries on three episodes, while director Guillermo Del Toro (Hellboy, Pan's Labyrinth) discusses the show's influence on his work in fascinating detail on three additional episodes. Revisiting The Gallery: A Look Back is a half-hour featurette that includes interviews with show contributors ranging from director John Badham and theme composer Gil Melle to actress Lindsay Wagner, while Art Gallery offers a glimpse at the show's evocative paintings with commentary by their creator, artist Tom Wright. A small battery of TV promos for the show round out the exemplary set, which should please fans who were disappointed by the lack of material in the first season presentation. --Paul Gaita
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"Night Gallery" leans much more to horror and the macabre than did "The Twilight Zone," with a bit of humor thrown into the mix as well. Many of the stories start with people, some from the then-present time but others in other eras, in ordinary situations before the supernatural intervenes. The cast of actors changes with each episode, with George Maharis, Michael Constantine, Vincent Price, Arte Johnson, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Harry Morgan, Bill Bixby, Donna Douglas, Cloris Leachman, and Buddy Ebsen being some of the most familiar and noteworthy.
"Night Gallery" is a pretty good horror series but a notch below "The Twilight Zone." The format of the episodes varies, with two stories being told per episode much of the time, three stories of varying length in others, and two long and two short stories in others. Some of the background music is about as campy as any early Seventies stereotype, but that era is also captured neatly in the period cars, clothes, hotels, restaurants, and bars of the time. This DVD set closes with a retrospective on the show and its production and with promos NBC used for the series.
All of this is gone on the DVD. Instead, there are somewhat long conversations on the phone between the DJ and two unseen "friends" that explain why he has been sent to this isolated town on this strange assignment. I vaguely remember some of the conversation but not them going on as long or going into as much detail; it's almost as if the DJ is reciting the plot; it doesn't feel very convincing that these are spontaneous conversations. The whole episode falls flat as it is just the DJ, "Jay-Jay" (sp?)talking on the phone and freaking out; you only see the outside world when he initially pulls up in the car. There are no disturbing visuals to go with the creepy music & eerie, satanic verse on the record albums.
The reason I am mentioning this is that I was disappointed with this version; while the other one was somewhat corny, I was fond of it; it had atmosphere and a sense of mystery, which this version seems to be lacking. Does anyone know if there were two versions to begin with, and which one was the original, or was the original just edited and I'm not fully remembering the phone dialogue? Thanks!
As has been mentioned, there are quite a few gems in this collection, whereas some episodes were just silly, and others are not aging as well. Rod Serling is perfect as the narrator/guide and I really appreciate the whole concept behind the gallery of dark paintings, and as he puts it: "statuary." This is an historically important series and I wish it could be redone/restored to the full vision and intent Serling had for it.