While Rod Serling’s name will always be synonymous with The Twilight Zone, I was introduced to his work through Night Gallery. For whatever reason, I was utterly obsessed with horror films and comics as a kid. My local UHF affiliate would show Serling’s followup series late at night after all the sensible people were well off to slumberland…but a handful of neurotic insomniacs, myself included, would stay up to all hours of the night consuming whatever fodder the local television stations would shovel into our eyeballs.
While I would later discover how much better his previous boob-tube outing had been, I don’t regret my strange introduction to Mr. Serling’s dry wit and oddball charm. Looking back it’s likely that Night Gallery was my first exposure to the work of H.P Lovecraft through Serling’s adaptations of ‘Pickman’s Model’ and ‘Cool Air’…and it’s easy to see how the series perfectly complemented my youthful interest in horror comic digest rags like Creepy and Eerie.
Night Gallery premiered in 1969 with a 95-minute pilot episode that featured the legendary Joan Crawford under the direction of a fresh-faced Steven Spielberg. While this auspicious debut didn’t do any lasting good for Serling’s short-lived horror series (it was cancelled after a modest 3 years with 46 episodes in the can), Night Gallery is a fun footnote in the annals of television history.
Bonus: Night Gallery – An Inside Look