Release Date(s)1972-1973 (November 22, 2022)
Studio(s)Universal Television/NBC (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Film/Program Grade: B+
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: B+
- Extras Grade: A+
- Overall Grade: A
While Rod Serling will forever be remembered in the eternal zeitgeist as the creator, co-writer, and host of The Twilight Zone, many of his other projects tend to be overlooked to a certain degree. Devoted fans of one of his finest follow-ups, Night Gallery, spent a number of years watching the syndicated versions of the show prior to it being restored to its original length in the late 1990s and early 2000s on both VHS and DVD. Trimmed down and expanded using alternate footage to meet those syndication standards, this macabre-focused anthology series has rarely been seen on TV in its full form since its original broadcast.
The premise revolves around Rod Serling once again performing introductory hosting duties, taking us on a journey through various paintings, each with a story attached to them. Episodes from the first two seasons in their original broadcast length featured two to three, or even four, segments, all involving supernatural elements. Whereas The Twilight Zone was in black and white and had more of a science fiction bent, Night Gallery was shot in color with horror and thriller elements. In Tales from the Crypt fashion, many of the segments revolved around characters getting their comeuppance, or having a change of heart. Vampires, ghosts, and witches were much of its primary emphasis, though some of the episodes also managed to pull off touching stories about people down on their luck.
Night Gallery returned for its third and final season with only fifteen episodes. Sadly, they were only a half an hour in length and featured only one story per episode, with two exceptions. Returning directors included Jeannot Szwarc, John Badham, Jeff Corey, and Gene Kearney, adding in Leonard Nimoy and Jack Laird, among others. In front of the camera, another range of TV and film actors were brought in, which included Vincent Price, Bill Bixby, James Farentino, John Astin, Mickey Rooney, Sandra Dee, Ozzie Nelson, Harriet Nelson, Michael Lerner, Lindsay Wagner, Burl Ives, Jeff Corey, Stuart Whitman, Alan Napier, Burgess Meredith, Cameron Mitchell, Leonard Nimoy, Lorraine Gary, Joan Van Ark, Chuck Connors, Geraldine Page, Leif Erickson, Brooke Bundy, Dean Stockwell, Sally Field, and Susan Strasberg, among many others.
Fan favorite segments from the show’s third season include You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan, which features an inventor (Ozzie Nelson) trying out his latest immortality experiment on his wife (Harriet Nelson); The Girl with the Hungry Eyes, which features James Farentino as a photographer whose subject (Joanna Pettet) has glowing eyes; Something in the Woodwork, which features Geraldine Page as an alcoholic who asks a ghost for help in offing her ex-husband (Leif Erikson); Death on a Barge, which features a lonely woman (Lesley Ann Warren) who lives on an anchored boat and falls in love with a local guy, not knowing she’s a vampire; Rare Objects, which features Mickey Rooney as a marked man on the run who is taken in by a mysterious doctor (Raymond Massey), offering him a way out, but at a cost; The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes, which features a boxing champion (Gary Lockwood) who winds up in a mysterious hotel where he must fight an unbeatable opponent; Fright Night, which features Stuart Whitman and Barbara Anderson as a couple who move into an old house; and Whisper, which features Sally Field as a spirit-inhabited medium who’s having difficulty with those taking control of her as her husband (Dean Stockwell) grows more and more concerned.
Like all anthology shows, the quality of each segment and the preference point of the viewer is the determining factor in the success of Night Gallery’s entertainment value. The show can be rather compelling for the most part with excellent writing and memorable performances, and the majority of the segments are satisfying. Some of those segments are more enjoyable and effective than others, but more importantly, there’s plenty of good choices to be had.
Night Gallery was shot by various cinematographers on 35 mm film, finished photochemically, and presented on television in the aspect ratio of 1.33:1. Kino Lorber Studio Classics brings the third season to Blu-ray for the first time with new 2K masters of all fifteen episodes from interpositive elements. Because of the nature of the surviving elements, the quality of the presentations range from good to very good. Grain, speckling, delineation, and minor crush fluctuate from segment to segment, but for the most part, each offers an improved picture over their standard definition counterparts. The color palette is often rich, even vibrant, with good contrast. Shadow detail isn’t always potent, but again, one must chalk that up to the elements and their condition. By and large, the show makes the jump to high definition with mostly pleasing results, and with healthy encodes, it gets the most out of them.
Audio for the show is presented in English 2.0 mono DTS-HD Master Audio with optional English subtitles. It’s a little more evenly-tempered with good support for dialogue and score, even with minor sibilance and distortion from time to time. It’s relatively narrow, but clean and problem-free.
The 2-Disc Blu-ray release of Night Gallery: Season Three sits in a blue amaray case with new artwork and a 4-page insert detailing each episode and segment. The following episodes and extras are included on each disc, all in HD:
DISC ONE (EPISODES 1-8)
- The Return of the Sorcerer (26:07)
- The Girl with the Hungry Eyes (25:57)
- Rare Objects (25:52)
- Spectre in Tap-Shoes (25:54)
- You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan/Smile, Please (25:57)
- The Other Way Out (25:56)
- Fright Night (25:56)
- Finnegan’s Flight (25:56)
- Audio Commentary on The Return of the Sorcerer by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
- Audio Commentary on The Return of the Sorcerer by Jim Benson and Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on The Girl with the Hungry Eyes by Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on The Girl with the Hungry Eyes by David J. Schow
- Audio Commentary on Rare Objects by Jim Benson, Rod Serling, Guillermo del Toro, Mickey Rooney, Raymond Massey, Jeannot Szwarc, and Tom Wright
- Audio Commentary on Rare Objects by Craig Beam
- Audio Commentary on Spectre in Tap-Shoes by Amanda Reyes
- Audio Commentary on You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan/Smile, Please by Jim Benson, Ozzie Nelson, Lindsay Wagner, Michael Lerner, Roger David, John Badham, and Tom Wright
- Audio Commentary on You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan/Smile, Please by Tim Lucas
- Audio Commentary on The Other Way Out by Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on Fright Night by Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on Fright Night by Amanda Reyes
- Audio Commentary on Finnegan’s Flight by Jim Benson, Rod Serling, Guillermo del Toro, Burgess Meredith, Cameron Mitchell, Leonard Engleman, Jenny Sullivan, and Tom Wright
- Audio Commentary on Finnegan’s Flight by Dr. Reba Wissner
DISC TWO (EPISODES 9-15)
- She’ll Be Company for You (26:08)
- The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes (25:57)
- Something in the Woodwork (25:56)
- Death on a Barge (25:55)
- Whisper (25:54)
- The Doll of Death (25:55)
- Hatred Unto Death/How to Cure the Common Vampire (25:54)
- Audio Commentary on She’ll Be Company for You by Amanda Reyes
- Audio Commentary on She’ll Be Company for You by Craig Beam
- Audio Commentary on The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes by Jim Benson, Rod Serling, Joan Van Ark, Gary Lockwood, Jeannot Szwarc, Leonard Engleman, and Tom Wright
- Audio Commentary on The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes by Dr. Reba Wissner
- Audio Commentary on Something in the Woodwork by Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on Something in the Woodwork by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
- Audio Commentary on Death on a Barge by Scott Skelton
- Audio Commentary on Death on a Barge by Tim Lucas
- Audio Commentary on Whisper by Jim Benson, Guillermo del Toro, Sally Field, Dean Stockwell, Jeannot Szwarc, David Rayfiel, Gerald Perry Finnerman, Burt Astor, and Tom Wright
- Audio Commentary on The Doll of Death by Kim Newman and Stephen Jones
- Audio Commentary on Hatred Unto Death/How to Cure the Common Vampire by Gary Gerani
- The Syndication Conundrum: Night Gallery’s Horrific Second Life in Reruns Part Three (55:42)
One of the commentaries (Jim Benson and Scott Skelton on The Return of the Sorcerer) was recorded for the Universal Pictures DVD release of the third season. The rest are new additions and each one is jam-packed with information about each episode, the show, and its creators. They feature the likes of film critics and authors Tim Lucas, David J. Schow, Amanda Reyes, Kim Newman, Stephen Jones, and Guillermo del Toro, among others. All are worth your time. On board as well is film historian Craig Beam, who also provides The Syndication Conundrum, which is perhaps the most fascinating extra of the lot. It not only details the fate of the show when it was cut up and re-purposed for syndication (which still airs to this day), but also showcases all 25 re-edited introductions by Rod Serling. Interesting also is the fact that the syndicated versions used footage from the shortly-lived science fiction show The Sixth Sense which, as Craig correctly points out, isn’t available in any form on home video in the US.
Kino Lorber’s treatment of Night Gallery not only offers the show in better quality than ever seen before, but adds a bevy of valuable bonus material to dig through. Although this is the final release of the show on Blu-ray in its original form, one does have to wonder if a fourth set could be produced that offers the syndicated versions just for posterity (along with The Sixth Sense). Regardless, it’s wonderful just to have the original broadcast versions of each and every episode in such high quality. Highly recommended.
- Tim Salmons