Five years after having a sucessful run of six seasons and gaining quite a following with The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling returned to television with another anthology series entitled, Night Gallery.
Here we have the complete first season which contains the pilot movie (listed as an "extra feature" on the box), twenty episodes, and six other stories from various later seasons. The show itself would only run for three seasons.
The concept of the show was quite simple: each week our host (the ever ominous Serling himself) introduces a batch of stories based around an art gallery filled with creepy paintings. As with The Twilight Zone a lot of the stories would focus around revenge, greed, and various forms of ambition turning around to shoot a person in the foot.
And while a lot of the shows on the series feel pedestrian this is an important show just because it brought adaptations of classic and famous authors (such as H.P. Lovecraft and Richard Matheson) to the masses and helped jump start the careers of many name talents such as Steven Spielberg (his episode "Eyes" on the pilot movie is great) and contained lots of young actors we know today (like Diane Keaton, who is quite bad in her episode, "Room With A View"), well-known actors like Joan Crawford, Roddy McDowell, Phyllis Diller, and tons of other familiar faces.
Viewed today the series seems pretty mild and tame by comparision, but there's a lot to like here because most of the stories are short enough and have a decent enough twist to be enjoyable and you'd never see an anthology series on prime time these days (in my opinon anthologies are definitely underrated with such great shows as Tales From The Crypt no longer with us) plus most of the episodes are well written (the ones by that Serling did the screenplay on are as solid as you'd expect from him - in fact some consider him one of the best TV writers in history) and mostly directed fine.
If you're a fan of The Twilight Zone or you're curious about the show and didn't get the opportunity to see if when you were growing up (I was about ten years too late and I'd never seen it before watching this box set) then you should at least rent this and check it out. And if you're a fan of anthology, then it should be a no-brainer to see this.
Universal continues to bring us older cult classic television series on DVD (the first season of The Munsters was released the same day as this) and I commend them for it - just more extras in the future would be nice. (Chris Hartley, 9/2/04)
Directed By: Various.
Written By: Various.
Starring: Roddy McDowell, Joan Crawford, Burgess Meredith, etc.
Picture Ratio: Full Frame.
Picture Quality: As with their first season box set of The Munsters, Universal has done a good job bringing an old show to DVD. While it's not quite as crisp as that set, Night Gallery does look pretty good despite the specks scattered throughout and a few moments of fuzziness.
Extras: They've brought the show to DVD, and for that fans everywhere thank them, but you'd think Universal would slap some extras on the set since it contained so many people still working today in the industry. But what we do get is the original "pilot" movie (which aired a year before the show) and the aforementioned six stories taken from the other two seasons and containing such names as Vincent Price.