The second episode of Night Gallery originally aired on December 23rd, 1970 and it featured three stories, two of which were written by Rod Serling. Serling, himself, introduced all three of the stories by inviting us to look at the paintings that may or may not have been inspired from them.
Room With A View (dir by Jerrold Freedman, written by Hal Dresner)
When a cranky, bed-bound man (Joseph Wiseman) discovers this his wife (Angel Tompkins) is cheating on him, he comes up with an elaborate scheme to get revenge. It all hinges on his somewhat nervous nurse (Diane Keaton), who has no idea that she’s being manipulated.
This short segment is well-done but it doesn’t really feel like it belongs on an episode of Night Gallery. There’s no elements of horror or science fiction to be found in this story. Instead, it’s just about a manipulative man seeking revenge on his wife. It’s actually easy to imagine this segment as being a flashback on a Monk-style detective show. You just need a detective saying, “I finally figured out how you did it!”
For most viewers, probably the most interesting thing about this segment will be the presence of a young Diane Keaton, playing the nurse and laughing nervously at her patient’s rather intrusive questions.
The Little Black Bag (dir by Jeannot Szwarc, written by Rod Serling)
In the 30th Century, a careless accident at a time travel station sends a black medical bag into the past. It arrives in 1971, where it’s discovered by two homeless gentlemen. One of the men is a disgraced former doctor named William Fall (Burgess Meredith). The other, Hepplewhite (Chill Wills), has no medical experience but he does have a greedy spirit. Fall wants to use the bag to do good, Hepplewhite wants to use the bag to make money. Meanwhile, in the future, poor put-upon Gillings (George Furth) is just trying to figure out what to do about the missing bag.
The Little Black Bag is this episode’s high point, featuring good performances from Meredith, Wills, and Furth and also ending with properly macabre twist. This is another Rod Serling story about how terrible, at heart, most people are but Jeannot Szwarc’s direction is fast-paced and he never allows things to get too heavy-handed.
The Nature of the Enemy (dir by Allen Reisner, written by Rod Serling)
NASA’s latest expedition to the Moon has run into trouble. The astronauts have discovered that there is something living on the lunar surface. On Earth, the director of NASA (Joseph Campanella) tries to keep everyone calm while also figuring out the nature of the enemy.
This segment has an intriguing premise but it’s let down by a so-so execution. Like a lot of less-than-effective Night Gallery segments, this one features a story that doesn’t so much conclude as it just stops after a somewhat weak punchline.
So, the second episode of Night Gallery was not an improvement on the first and it was nowhere close to matching the pilot. Watching this episode, it was hard not to feel that the show had a few growing pains. Did it want to be a horror anthology or a collection of short skits? The 2nd episode reveals a show that was still trying to find it’s voice.
Previous Night Gallery Reviews:
- The Pilot
- The Dead Man/The Housekeeper