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HTF DVD REVIEW: Night Gallery: Season Two

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#1 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted November 27 2008 - 07:39 PM


Studio: Universal
Original Broadcast: 1971-1972
Length: 18 hours 40 mins
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Fantasy/Horror/Comedy Anthology Series

Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Color/B&W: Color

  • English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono

    Subtitles: English SDH
    Rating: Unrated (TV-safe violence and some blood)

  • Release Date: November 11, 2008

    3 (Additional star for the special features)

    Created (and various segments written) by: Rod Serling
    Producer: Jack Laird

    Night Gallery: Season Two is a new 5-disc DVD set of the second season of the 1970s anthology series. The show is a series of one hour collections of two to four stories, usually focused within the horror or mystery genres. The basic frame of the series is that the viewer is touring a gallery of strange Tom Wright artwork with Serling as the guide, and each painting depicts a quality of the story we are about to see. Some segments are truly inspired – the opening story “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes”, the fantasy “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”, and the chilling “The Caterpillar.” However, there are also many other segments that don’t quite work – most commonly the brief comedy sketches like “Junior”. It is important to keep in mind that while the series is billed as ROD SERLING’S NIGHT GALLERY, the reality is that Serling did not have the creative control he did when producing The Twilight Zone - that authority rested with Jack Laird, who had different sensibilities than Serling. In some cases, the two men’s tastes coincided enough to make for some really good segments, but in many cases, the collection of stories on display each week varies from the sublime to the bizarre. Watching the series today, I’m struck by how specific to its period it really is. Even in the moments that the series feels like a transplanted Twilight Zone, the bright colors and 70s styles (especially the hair) can jar the viewer right out of the episode.

    Wherever possible, the complete episodes are presented in their original one-hour format with the segments in their original order. (On the packaging, there is an acknowledgement that the segment "Witches Feast" is absent from the set". There is also an incorrect note that “Satisfaction Guaranteed” from the 2nd episode is not complete. As readers to this site have pointed out, a full master of that segment was apparently found before the DVDs were pressed.)

    As a greatly appreciated attraction, several special features have been thrown in, including scene-specific commentaries on no less than six episodes, three with show historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson, and three with director Guillermo del Toro. There is also a retrospective featurette, a collection of TV spots for the show, and, best of all, an interview with then-painter Tom Wright and a guided tour of his paintings for the series with Wright as the docent! Fans of the series will be pleased with the care shown here, while more casual viewers may want to rent the set and learn more about the show before purchasing.

    The 22 episodes of the second season are presented over five discs, with the featurette, promos and gallery tour available on the 5th disc. The commentaries are spread over the discs, with each disc getting one and the third disc getting two.

    We’ll go through each disc in order. THERE ARE SPOILERS IN THE EPISODE DESCRIPTIONS HERE.. All seven episodes are presented in full-frame with a 2.0 mono soundtrack.


    This disc contains the first four episodes of the season:

    Episode 1 – Four segments are on the opening episode, starting with the Serling script “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes”, followed by the comic interlude “Miss Lovecraft Sent Me”, the horror tale “The Hand of Borgus Weems” and closing with another comic sketch, “Phantom of What Opera?” (starring Leslie Nielsen!)

    Episode 2 – Four segments on this episode – “A Death in the Family”, “The Merciful”, “Class of 99” and “Satisfaction Guaranteed”.

    Episode 3 – Three segments are found here – “Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay”, “With Apologies to Mr. Hyde” and “The Flip Side of Satan”.

    Episode 4 – Four segments on this one, the creepy “A Fear of Spiders” (which both resembles the earlier Serling Twilight Zone episode “A Thing About Machines” and presages the “They’re Creeping Up On You” segment of the 1980s anthology Creepshow.), “Junior”, “Marmalade Wine” and “The Academy”. A commentary is provided here with Jim Benson and Scott Skelton who point out the origins of “A Fear of Spiders” and even divulge a story about its original director. (The segment was finally directed by John Astin, but the original director went on to far more interesting projects as time went on...)

    When this disc is initially put in the player, you can see non-anamorphic trailers for season sets of The Rockford Files, Life and House, and for the DVD releases of Hellboy II: The Golden Army and The Strangers, along with the Universal Blu-ray trailer.

    There is also a “Previews” menu, which brings up non-anamorphic trailers for the season sets for 30 Rock, Coach, Life, Miami Vice, Monk, Northern Exposure, Quantum Leap, Saturday Night Live and a collective trailer for The A Team, Knight Rider and Magnum P.I..


    This disc contains five episodes:

    Episode 5– There are two segments here – “The Phantom Farmhouse” (starring a post-Uncle David McCallum) and “Silent Snow, Secret Snow” (narrated by no less than Orson Welles). Guillermo del Toro provides a commentary for this episode, discussing his affection for the series and his original reactions to the episodes when he first saw them in Spanish back in the 1970’s.

    Episode 6 – Two segments on this one – “A Question of Fear” and “The Devil is Not Mocked”.

    Episode 7 – Two segments here – “Midnight Never Ends” and “Brenda”.

    Episode 8 – Four segments here – “The Diary”, “A Matter of Semantics”, “Big Surprise” and “Professor Peabody’s Last Lecture.”

    Episode 9 – Four segments on this episode – “House – with Ghost”, “A Midnight Visit to the Neighborhood Blood Bank”, “Dr. Stringfellow’s Rejuvenator” and “Hell’s Bells”.


    This disc contains the next five episodes of the season:

    Episode 10 – Two segments here – “The Dark Boy” and “Keep in Touch – We’ll Think of Something”

    Episode 11 – Three segments on this episode – The creature feature “Pickman’s Model”, “The Dear Departed” and “An Act of Chivalry”.

    Episode 12– Three segments are found here – “Cool Air”, “Camera Obscura” and “Quoth the Raven”. This episode gets a commentary with show historians Benson and Skelton.

    Episode 13 - There are two segments here - “The Messiah on Mott Street” and “The Painted Mirror”. This episode gets a commentary with Guillermo del Toro.

    Episode 14 – There are three segments here – “The Different Ones”, “Tell David...” and “Logoda’s Heads”.


    This disc contains the next four episodes of the season:

    Episode 15 – Three segments here, starting with one of the craziest premises of the series in “Green Fingers” and continuing with “The Funeral” and “The Tune in Dan’s Cafe”.

    Episode 16 –Three segments on this episode – “Lindemann’s Catch”, “The Late Mr. Peddington” and “A Feast of Blood”. This episode has a commentary with historians Benson and Skelton.

    Episode 17 – Two segments on this episode – “The Miracle at Camafeo” and “The Ghost of Sorworth Place”.

    Episode 18 – Two segments here – “The Waiting Room” and “Last Rites for a Dead Druid”.


    This disc contains the final four episodes of the season, and the bonus features:

    Episode 19 – Three segments are on this episode – “Deliveries in the Rear”, “Stop Killing Me” and “Dead Weight”.

    Episode 20 – Two segments here – “I’ll Never Leave You – Ever” and “There Aren’t Any More MacBanes”.

    Episode 21– Two segments here – “The Sins of the Fathers” and “You Can’t Get Help Like That Anymore”.

    Episode 22 – Two segments are on the final episode of the season – the unsettling (to say the least) “The Caterpillar” and “Little Girl Lost”. Guillermo del Toro provides a commentary for this episode.

    This is also the disc where we find the special features (apart from the commentaries):

    Revisiting the Gallery: A Look Back - (29:53, Non-anamorphic) – This retrospective featurette includes interviews with directors, actors and other creative personnel from the series, intercut with actual scenes. All look back with a fair amount of affection for the show as well as for both Serling and Laird.

    Art Gallery: the Paintings in Rod Serling’s Night Gallery - (3:26, Non-anamorphic) – Here we have an interview with Tom Wright, the production artist who painted the artwork seen in the gallery each week of the series. It’s both informative and fun material and leads to another, even better feature on this disc.

    NBC TV Promos - (12:49, Non-Anamorphic) – This is a collection of NBC promotional clips for various episodes. The picture quality isn’t the greatest, but it is interesting to see the 70’s promotional style for the show.

    The Night Gallery - (Anamorphic) – This is my favourite of the special features to be found in this collection. It’s a guided tour through many of the paintings used for the segments in the second season, with Tom Wright providing descriptions for each one. It’s a great opportunity both to linger on the artwork and to get the perspective of the man who was painting it each week.


    Night Gallery: Season Two offers full-frame presentations of the best masters available. The image here is what you saw when these episodes originally aired. Picture quality can vary as expected from 30 year old prints made on a television schedule. As far as the transfer itself goes, it is an accurate representation of the series as it was telecast. I should note that I was struck by how colorful the show really is. This may be partly due to my being used seeing such stories in the fabled black and white of The Twilight Zone, but I was quite pleased with the breadth of colors on display in these transfers.


    Night Gallery: Season Two is presented in an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono mix that basically gives us what could be heard during the original broadcasts some 36+ years ago. The dialogue is mostly clear, as is the music and the various effects.

    IN THE END...

    Night Gallery: Season Two is a good example of an interesting DVD set being made from a series that normally could pass under the radar of most viewers. It’s still very much a dated anthology from the 1970s, but there are some really effective segments that have stood the test of time. And I salute whoever thought of providing a gallery tour with the artists for the viewers to enjoy.

    Kevin Koster
    November 27, 2008

    #2 of 17 OFFLINE   Paul_Scott


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    Posted November 28 2008 - 12:09 AM

    I've been pining for this set ever since they began to release vintage TV seasons. Growing up as a monsterkid in the mid 70's, genre material was nowhere near as ubiquitous as it would be 10 years later. This show (I caught it in syndication) was simply a blast and whenever it got too intense for a 9 year olds psyche, a blackout sketch would come along to provide the opportunity to catch some air. Far from being a deficet, for me the 70's fashion and ambiance are a huge source of the continued enjoyment. Also, I have to say after recently finishing up season 3 of TZ, that the shows hit to miss ratio is wildly over stated. The bullseyes are primarily weighted in the shows first two seasons. with the last three having an abundance of maudlin, didactic, and painfully forced hi-jinks. Fully two thirds of the eps on that set you would have to force me to watch again. As eye rollingly awful as some of the blackout sketches seem now (especially to an adults sensibilities), they at least go by fairly quick. And if you can accept them in the spirit of being vaudville by way of Forry Ackerman, they go down a lot easier. I can't express how thrilled I am to finally have these eps on the shelf. Not only did they finally release it, but they actually put some effort into it as well. All the complaints some fans had about season 1 should be washed away now and never uttered again. In the wake of lousy sales and much negativity, for season 1, they actually put some time, money and thought into this release. Bravo, Uni, well done! For fans of the show like myself, this is, all in all, a superb release. I used to say "if only they would release season 2...I'd let em off the hook for season 3". Well, I was too hasty. They've wet my appetite and Season 3 can't come soon enough now. But I will cut them some slack on the extras next time. I'll take a bare bones box in a heart beat. And if it doesn't come...I'm still enormously thankful for this release.

    #3 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted November 28 2008 - 05:02 AM

    Paul, you're correct to note that there are many Twilight Zones in the last three years (particularly the last two years) of the original series that don't work particularly well. I can name numerous eps that have all sorts of problems. But there are two factors to the Twilight Zone that should be kept in mind here -

    1. The black and white photography and simple yet inventive staging gave the Zone a timeless, classic setting. The episodes don't feel like they were made today, but it's hard to pinpoint exactly when they WERE made (unless you're looking up the airdates...)

    2. For better or for worse, Rod Serling had artistic control over the Zone. As he admitted later, he took the applause but also the criticism for how the show was doing, because he said it was usually his fault anyway. He not only wrote a significant number of the episodes, he had control of the tone and the themes on display. He was pretty free with this - you could see horror stories by Chuck Beaumont one week and fantasy the next week, but they all belonged in the same universe.

    In the case of Night Gallery, the episodes are clearly a product of the early 1970s. The color is part of it, and the styles are a bigger part of it. I can understand that this will be an attraction for some viewers - it just isn't one for me. And while Rod Serling's name and face are all over the show, this is not one that he had control over. That control rested with Jack Laird. Serling contributed scripts and did the introductions to the segments, but he did not have the influence he did on the Zone. This results in a lack of consistency of tone so that episodes of the Gallery run from an apocalyptic Serling story to a blackout sketch with Frankenstein in a crib. That doesn't make it a bad series - there are many worthwhile segments, but it does make for an inconsistent one.

    That said, I think some real care was put into the presentation here. I wish they had done more of this with the first season, but I'm not complaining when for the second season, they deliver a 36 year old TV show with 6 commentaries, a retrospective and an a guided tour of their art gallery. I think fans of the series will be very happy with this set, and that it provides a good introduction for those who have never seen it.

    #4 of 17 OFFLINE   Corey3rd



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    Posted November 28 2008 - 06:48 AM

    hopefully season 3 won't take so long since there are only 15 half hour episodes. The only hold up is finding a complete version of the missing season 2 segment.
    come see the reviews at

    and the Seinfeld Tour Bus

    #5 of 17 OFFLINE   michael_ks



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    Posted November 28 2008 - 12:11 PM

    I'm enjoying this set enormously myself and will be watching this set over and over, just as I have with S1 over the last 4 years. And yes, I'm just as eager to get my hands on S3, where once again the good outweighs the bad by quite a bit. In fact when I think of the series, the episodes I conjure up first tend to be "Finnegan's Flight", "Rare Objects" and "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes". The Serling intros in S3 are top notch as well, some of all time favorites are seen in this season.

    #6 of 17 OFFLINE   chas speed

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    Posted November 28 2008 - 04:07 PM

    Nice and fair review. You didn't run the Twlight Zone thing in to the ground and you didn't seem to have your mind made up before you opened the box. The first review I've come across that mentioned the great "Silent Snow, Secret Snow". One thing about the photography, while it's certainly true that everything looks better in B/W. The Night Gallery had great cameramen including Academy Award winner Lionel Lindon, who shot the original Manchurian Candidate, and Gerald Perry Finnerman who did Moonlighting and Star Trek. "Satisfaction Guaranteed" is actually complete. Universal just made an error in saying it wasn't. Again, nice review.

    #7 of 17 OFFLINE   Lord Dalek

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    Posted November 28 2008 - 04:56 PM

    Well actually they were right when the packaging went to the printers, its just that a complete print turned up before the discs got replicated.

    #8 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted November 28 2008 - 05:36 PM

    I'm editing the review to remove the error. Can't say that I'm a huge fan of that piece. It's essentially a very long joke with a simple punchline. But it is complete. "Witches' Feast" on the other hand is definitely not in the collection.

    #9 of 17 OFFLINE   chas speed

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    Posted November 28 2008 - 05:45 PM

    All the blackouts segments (they only add up to 30 minutes if you added them all together) are completely disposable in my opinion. The shorter the better, but with DVD's all you have to do is hit the chapter button.

    #10 of 17 OFFLINE   FrancisP



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    Posted December 01 2008 - 03:01 AM

    Rod Serling didn't have artistic control because he didn't want it. He did not want to go through the meat grinder again as he had done with Twilight Zone. He should have realized a lot of things before he chose to give up control. Whatever issues he had with NG were his doing and his choices. As for Twilight Zone's 3rd and 5th season, they had pretty good batting averages. I would say better than 1/3 were very good or excellent. about 1/3 were good, and less than 1/3 were clunkers. I exclude the 4th season because of the 1 hour format. It was very clear that they were feeling their way around as to what could be done. Yet even this season produced classics like Deathship, Printers Devil, to name a couple. I think the reason that NG is looked down is because its more entertainment than morality plays. That is probably why Serling was not enamored with the show.

    #11 of 17 OFFLINE   chas speed

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    Posted December 01 2008 - 07:28 AM

    I really think Night Gallery did a fine job on Serlings' better scripts, but I thought they made his bad scripts much worse. Yet, I don't think Serlings wrote very many bad scripts for Night Gallery since he wasn't writing the insane 90% of the scripts like he did for the Twilight Zone.

    #12 of 17 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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    Posted December 01 2008 - 08:18 AM

    Serling by his own admission realized the error he made on NG. Even though he didn't have control over what was happening, it was still his face, his name and his personal introductions all over the show. Several of my favorite TZ's are in the 4th season, particularly "The Bard" and "On Thursday We Leave For Home". The 5th season has a few good ones, but a bunch of clunkers in there. The strong impression I have of NG from watching it is that Serling was initially trying to make a new anthology series along the lines of TZ but without the hassles he went through on the earlier series. However, this resulted in him watching the show running under someone else's direction, and not in the fashion that he wanted. Much more so than on TZ, he felt that NG was subject to the network's tastes - and his feelings about the networks were made clear in one comment I've heard: "They don't want it good, they want it THURSDAY." Still, NG has several really interesting and/or creepy segments in its pantheon. And many of those popped up in the 2nd season. As I said in the review, I am pleased with the care Universal gave to this package. The guided tour of the gallery alone made me happy to have experienced it.

    #13 of 17 OFFLINE   chas speed

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    Posted December 01 2008 - 09:03 AM

    You can really see the studio and network take control over the 3rd season episodes when they demanded the producers make Night Gallery "less British" (whatever that means) and cut the show to a 1/2 an hour. It's a classic example of a network trying to "fix" a show that wasn't broken. They had gotten rid of the stupid blackout segment half way through the 2nd season and had finished very strong with "The Caterpillar" as the final episode.

    #14 of 17 OFFLINE   FrancisP



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    Posted December 02 2008 - 04:12 AM

    All of Serling's frustrations stem from the fact that he had signed away control. Laird was probably more of a studio guy than Rod Serling would have been. Whether he would have had to work as hard on NG as he had on TZ was debatable. On TZ, Serling was contractually committed to writing a huge number of scripts. It would have been interesting to see if Serling would have turned to writers like Richard Matheson or Earl Hamner. I do think there was something going on behind the scenes that led to the abortive 3rd season. It could have been the infighting between Laird and Serling. I think the network wanted to cancel it after the second season but the ratings didn't justify it. Even though it was renewed for a 3rd season, it seemed the network decided to destroy the show to justify a cancellation. TZ 4th season was different. However, as Serling's 30 Fathom Grave proved, what works for a 30 minute TZ does not necessarily work for a 60 minute TZ. There were a number of excellent stories done in the 4th season. As for the 5th season, I do believe that it compares favorably with the previous episodes. Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, The Masks, Living Doll, I Am the night-Color Me Black, The Jeapordy Room to name a few are as good as anything TZ has done. Shows like Brain Center At Whipples, Mr Garrity and the Graves, 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms, Stopover In A Quiet Town, You Drive are entertaining. I don't see any more clunkers than I saw in previous seasons.

    #15 of 17 OFFLINE   michael_ks



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    Posted December 02 2008 - 04:29 AM

    The studio network was probably always expecting a less stylish and cerebral show in favor of a more conventional approach to horror in that schlocky, traditional manner. We know that several of Rod Serling's scripts throughout the seasons were turned away, having been deemed "too thoughtful". I think that his vision was to create the atmosphere and stylistic qualities of the horror genre as interpreted by such lumanaries as Poe, Leiber, Derleth, Bloch, Lovecraft and others for the medium of television, something that studio heads who were raised on "Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman" just couldn't relate to. But Serling's vision and even Jack Laird's (discounting his participation in the mostly hammy vignettes) occassionally peaks through, and that is what I latch onto when I view episodes of NG. I see what they were attempting to accomplish when I watch episodes like "Cool Air", "The Messiah on Mott Street" and "Silent Snow, Secret Snow". This is what grabs me and reinforces what I've felt for many years--that this series, like "The Outer Limits" had the makings of an outstanding, incisive and probing anthology if only they had been accorded a bigger budget and less studio head interference. I genuinely appreciate the talent of Serlling, Laird, Joseph Alves, Tom Wright, Jeanot Szwarc and Lionel "Curly"l Linden, just as I appreciate the visionalry talent of Joseph Stefano, Leslie Stevens, Gerd Oswald and Conrad Hall and what they occasionally achieved with OL, in the face of studio wrangling and budget issues.

    #16 of 17 OFFLINE   Mark Zimmer

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    Posted December 02 2008 - 10:59 AM

    Wow, is black type on a black background hard to read. I'll be glad when this Dark Knight promo is over with. Anyway, this season has two segments that had a profound effect on me. Cool Air and Pickman's Model introduced me to the wacky world of HP Lovecraft, and there's been no turning back.

    #17 of 17 OFFLINE   Chas_Michael


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    Posted December 02 2008 - 01:01 PM

    you can change it to the easy to read blue background. just go to the bottom left hand corner of the page.

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