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Night GalleryOne of the scariest shows from my childhood is getting a reboot. “Night Gallery,” which aired on NBC from 1970 to 1973, featured frightening stories of the macabre. For me, I think it was scarier than “The Twilight Zone” because it seemed like the things on “Night Gallery” could really happen. They seemed closer to home, even if they were supernatural in nature.

In fact, Rod Serling, who gained fame on “The Twilight Zone,” served as on-air host of “Night Gallery” and also wrote a lot of the scripts. However, he didn’t have the same control over content and tone as he did on “The Twilight Zone.”

While both shows shared stories of dark fantasy, much of “The Twilight Zone” was science fiction, and “Night Gallery” was more horror and supernatural. Thus – to me – scarier.

One episode that always sticks in my mind is “Certain Shadows On the Wall,” which aired on Dec. 30, 1970. It was written by Serling, directed by Jeff Corey and starred Louis Hayward, Agnes Moorehead, Grayson Hall and Rachel Roberts. It was also based on the short story “The Shadows on the Wall” by Mary E. Wilkins-Freeman.

The story chronicled the lingering shadow of a dead woman that haunted her murderous brother, and the image of the shadow on that staircase still haunts me today. I’m sure deep down in my psyche, I still look for that shadow when I’m going up or down stairs.

Serling appeared in an art gallery setting and introduced the tales in each episode by unveiling paintings (by artist Thomas J. Wright) that depicted the stories. The paintings themselves actually appeared in the three segments, serving major or minor plot functions.

Serling’s intro usually was, “Good evening, and welcome to a private showing of three paintings, displayed here for the first time. Each is a collector’s item in its own way – not because of any special artistic quality, but because each captures on a canvas, suspends in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.”

Yes, a nightmare. My nightmares!

“Night Gallery” often presented adaptations of classic fantasy tales by authors such as H. P. Lovecraft, as well as original works, many of which were by Serling himself. The series was introduced with a pilot TV movie that aired on Nov. 8, 1969, and featured the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg, as well as one of the last acting performances by Joan Crawford.

“Night Gallery” was initially part of a rotating anthology – or wheel series – called Four in One. The series ran from 1970 to 1970 and rotated four separate shows, including “McCloud,” “SFX (San Francisco International Airport)” (I believe this was featured on an episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000”) and “The Psychiatrist.”

Two of these, “Night Gallery” and “McCloud” were renewed for the 1971–72 season, with “McCloud” becoming the most popular and longest running of the four.

While checking out J. Michael Straczynski’s IMDB profile for the “Sense8” story I just posted, I noticed that he’s helming a reboot of “Night Gallery,” which is currently in pre-production, but scheduled for a 2015 release. It’s listed as a TV Miniseries, and I believe scheduled to air on the SyFy Channel (?), but correct me if you’ve heard differently.

As for a host, there are lots of possibilities, but my pick is John Noble. We haven’t seen much of him since “Fringe” ended, and I so miss him on my screen. Plus, he has just the right tone to do justice to “Night Gallery.”

Were you a fan of “Night Gallery”? Got a favorite episode that still haunts you? Who do you think would be a good host for the reboot? Share in the comments below!

12 COMMENTS

  1. I can say with certainty that Night Gallery was my chief influence in becoming a horror writer. I remember watching the syndicated reruns on KCOP in L.A. when I was a kid. I loved the atmosphere of the show, especially the way the paintings and Rod’s intros set the mood of each story. The story that stuck with me the most was “The Flip-Side of Satan” with Arte Johnson as a slimy disc jockey working his first (and last) gig at a bizarre radio station. If NG is being re-booted I’m all in, as long as they don’t make the mistake of dabbling in the kind of screwball comedy that weakened the original. I nominate Tony Todd to be the new host!

  2. As a fan of Rod Serling – who was a genius and a pioneer not only in TV but in writing and being a mensch – I am intrigued and wouldn’t be terribly put off – Noble is indeed worthy to be his proxy. But like all reboots the rabid fans, sloppy productions and ill-fitting CGI etc. often botch the ‘written word’ overall.
    I hope they get a runner not unlike Vince Gilligan and/or Chris Carter (I realize both are super busy – Gilligan has his plate full w/2 shows (unless I missed the possible on-the-bubble cancellation of BATTLE CREEK and of course BETTER CALL SAUL & Carter’s revamp return w/THE XFILES (sadly Gilligan again no redux)
    Everytime I hear a reboot of something from my adolescence/childhood like this or the ill-fated NIGHT STALKER/KOLCHAK series recently (and even the Johnny Depp/Tim Burton take on it in the works) I get a vague giddy -oh-no-maybe-they-really-shouldn’t feeling not unlike if your divorced parents decided after your adulthood to remarry.

    We’ll see; thanks for posting!

  3. There will never be another Rod Serling , The head honchos behind the reboot must wisely choose a host that evokes a similar presence and style to our beloved Rod Serling , The wrong choice of a host regardless of how well the stories are written and adapted for television is a receipe for disaster ( IMO ) If the head honchos at SyFy are smart they will not waste any time bringing Scott Skelton and Jim Benson on board as creative directors for the show !!!

  4. Thanks for the heads up. I’ve never seen NightGallery (few years before my time lol), but it sounds awesome. I used to love the Outer Limits and the Twilight Zone. Looking forward to seeing what this reboot is like.

  5. No offense but what worked for Twilight Zone simply won’t work for Night Gallery. I’m not referring to the new host btw, but simply the re-launch of Night Gallery. I have a feeling it will end before it begins. No ‘reboot’ is ever going to compare or replace the original Night Gallery. This era is the WRONG era for a classic gem like that. It’d be like making Leave It Beaver in 2015. Simply won’t work and wasn’t meant to. The only show that came remotely close to the genius of the original Night Gallery was the original series ‘Beyond Belief.’

  6. Night Gallery was scarier cause it seemed the things could happen? It was surely the other way around. Night Gallery was pure horror!

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