Friday, March 20, 2009

Serling's other show

"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."
-Rod Serling (intro)

Forty years ago I was a kid.  Forty years ago, there was a television show that gave me the heebie-jeebies.  That show was Night Gallery. Rod Serling would begin each show exhibiting eerie paintings. Each eerie painting had an eerie story to tell The show was woven together as Serling would walk from canvas to canvas in his dimly lit gallery of macabre art and give a brief Twilight Zone-ish intro.

Night Gallery was Serling's follow up to The Twilight Zone. Night Gallery wasn't as good as The Twilight Zone - but it did have it's merits. The show wasn't like Twilight Zone - Gallery was had more of a gothic feel and stories were horror stories.  Where TZ was insightful, NG was creepy.  My understanding is that Mr. Serling wrote a good many the stories and hosted, but wasn't involved on the production end.

I first watched the show while spending the night with Billy Daugette one Friday night in 1970.  The show that aired that night was 'Dead Man and The Housekeeper'.  If you haven't seen it, you can watch it via Hulu here.

That particular showed scared the crap out of me. That particular episode had the look and feel of an old American International Film. I remember Night Gallery, being freaked out with Billy that night over that creepy episode. After that experience - even the intro of Night Gallery gave me the willies.

The series went downhill due to bad decisions by studio execs (naturally). They started incorporating some failed psychic series (The Sixth Sense) starring Gary Collins. So if you ever see Gary Collins in a Night Gallery episode - just know that it's not a bona-fide Night Gallery episode.

Rod Serling was a paratrooper and a demolition specialist during WWII and awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. During his service, he watched as his best friend was crushed to death by a heavy supply crate dropped by a parachute onto the field. After the war he suffered from many nightmares and flashbacks because of his wartime experiences. It is believed that Rod brought that dark side to television by way of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery.
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