After 'The Twilight Zone had ended on CBS, Rod Serling tried to sell it to another network but was unable to due to CBS retaining the rites to the series. So he went to another network and pitched an idea for a show called 'Rod Serling Wax Works' however that idea was rejected , Serling then tweaked the concept and set it in an art gallery instead and 'Night Gallery' was born.
|What might have been? Rod Serling on set while shooting The Twlight Zone episode 'The New Exhibit'|
While 'The Twlight Zone' was primarily a science fiction show with horror overtones, Night Gallery focused mainly on horror and the supernatural. Each episode of the series opened with Serling in a darkened art gallery, he then introduced each story by revaling the paintings that depicted them. For the first two season the epsidoes where 50 minutes in length and containted multiple self contained stories varying in length, while in season three the episodes where cut down to 25 minutes and mostly containted just a single story. While Serling wrote the majortiy of the scripts some where adapted from authors such as HP Lovecraft.
|Rod Serling's opening monologe from the pilot of Night Gallery|
The pilot for Night Gallery aired 8th November 1969 of NBC and consisted of 3 stories all written by Serling, the first one 'The Cemetery' starring Roddy McDowall and Ossie Davis in which Jeremy Evans (McDowall) murders his rich uncle in order to get his hands on the inheritance, much to the disgust of his uncle's butler Portifoy (Davis) but find finds he might not get away with it so easy after all.
The second story 'Eyes' (which marked the directing debut of Steven Spielberg) stars hollywood legend Joan Crawford (in one of her last acting roles), as Claudia Menlo, a rich selfish woman who has been blind since birth, who blackmails her surgen friend into performing an operation that will allow her to see for a short time, however it backfires on her in a bizarre twist of fate….
The final story 'The Escape Route' stars Richard Kelly and Sam Jaffe. A war criminal (Kelly) has fled and his hiding from the authorities under an alternate name, one day his past comes back to haunt him as a old man (Jaffe) recognises him and starts to ask questions, so he finds solace in a tranquil painting in a local art galley and longs to enter that world, however he should be careful what he wishes for……..
Night Galley ran for three seasons after the pilot and a lot of famous actors guest starred such as Burgess Meredith, Leslie Nelson, Vicnent Price, Angnes Moorehead, Leonard Nimoy, Ray Milland, Sally Field and many more, and while it never achived the same level of susscess as The Twlight Zone (perhaps in part due to the fact Serling did not have as much creatvite control over the series as he did with The Twlight Zone) it still remains one of the best TV horror antholgy series of the 70's and well worth checking out.
Just some of the famous actors that guest starred on 'Night Gallery' Vincent Price, Anges Moorehead, Sally Field and Burgess Meredith