The third episode of Night Gallery aired on December 30th, 1970. While Americans were undoubtedly finalizing their plans for a wild New Year’s Eve (because, after all, Nixon was president and every day was a party), NBC and Rod Serling invited viewers to take a tour through a darkened museum, one where every painting told a story.
This episode of Night Gallery featured two stories:
The House (dir by John Astin, written by Rod Serling)
The House opens with Elaine Latimer (Joanna Pettet) talking about a recurring dream. She’s driving her car through the countryside when she comes across a large house. Though she’s never seen the house, she finds herself drawn to it, as if she somehow belongs in the house. As Elaine describes her dream, we come to realize that she’s talking to a psychiatrist (Steve Franken) and that Elaine is recovering from mental breakdown. Her doctor tells Elaine that the dream is nothing to worry about.
However, when Elaine is driving home, she realizes that the countryside looks familiar. Soon, she’s pulling up in front of the house from her dreams! When Elaine gets out of the car, she’s greeted by a real estate named Peugeot (Paul Richards) who asks her if she’s interested in buying the house. As Peugeot gives her a tour of the estate, he mentions that the house is thought to be haunted….
I liked The House. It was an atmospheric little tale and, from the minute that Elaine started talking about her dream, the story captured my attention. (I should admit that I also have recurring dreams about a house that I’ve never actually seen before.) Admittedly, the story does play out at a very deliberate pace and requires a bit of patience but the dream sequences are effectively surreal and Joanna Pettet gives an empathetic performance in the lead role.
Certain Shadows On The Wall (dir by Corey Allen, written by Rod Serling)
This segment features Agnes Moorehead as the sickly Emma, who is poisoned by her own brother, the despicable Stephen (Louis Hayward). After Emma’s death, Stephen is shocked to discover that, even though Emma is gone, her shadow remains on the wall. While Stephen is trying to make sense of that, his other two sisters (played by Grayson Hall and Rachel Roberts) have plans of their own for how to deal with their duplicitous brother.
Like The House, Certain Shadows On The Wall is appropriately atmospheric. The ending is a bit weak as Stephen gets what he deserves but the shadow itself doesn’t have much to do with his actual fate. Just when you’re waiting for Agnes Moorehead to make a sudden, ghostly appearance, the story comes to an end. Still, this is an effective segment and it features excellent work from its ensemble. I especially liked the performance of Grayson Hall, which features one of the most frightening glares that I’ve ever seen.
The third episode of Night Gallery was a definite improvement over the two that came before it. Both segments tell intriguing stories, though it’s obvious that the show was still better at coming up with good premises than effective endings.
Previous Night Gallery Reviews: