Senior HTF Member
- May 9, 2003
Original Broadcast: 1971-1972
Length: 18 hours 40 mins
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Fantasy/Horror/Comedy Anthology Series
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
English Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Unrated (TV-safe violence and some blood)
Release Date: November 11, 2008
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.
VIDEO QUALITY: 3/5
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.
AUDIO QUALITY: 3/5
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.
November 27, 2008