Rod Serling’s Night Gallery 9 Terrifying Halloween Treats!

*THE CEMETERY -PILOT TV movie AIR DATE NOV.8, 1969
*THE DEAD MAN-AIR DATE DEC. 16, 1970
*CERTAIN SHADOWS ON THE WALL-DEC.30, 1970
*THE DOLL-AIR DATE JAN.13, 1971
*A FEAR OF SPIDERS -AIR DATE OCT. 6, 1971
*COOL AIR-AIR DATE DEC.8, 1971
*GREEN FINGERS-AIR DATE JAN.8, 1972
*GIRL WITH THE HUNGRY EYES AIR DATE OCT.1, 1972
*SOMETHING IN THE WOODWORK AIR DATE JAN.14, 1973

Next time up, The Tune in Dan’s Cafe, Lindenmann’s Catch, A Question of Fear, The Sins of the Father, Fright Night and There Aren’t Any More McBanes.

Available on dvd: with Season 2 Audio Commentary from Guillermo Del Toro and from historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson and Season 3 aslo with Audio Commentary from historians Scott Skelton and Jim Benson

There will be no need for spoilers, I will not give away the endings …

The way the studio wants to do it, a character won’t be able to walk by a graveyard, he’ll have to be chased. They’re trying to turn it into a Mannix in a shroud.—Creator Rod Serling

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

With the major success of The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), after it was cancelled in 1964, Rod Serling continued to work on various projects. He wrote the screenplays for the movie versions of Pierre Boulle’s Planet of the Apes and The Man based on the novel by Irving Wallace. In 1970 he created a new series, Night Gallery which were tales of the macabre based on various mystery/horror/fantasy writers, H.P Lovecraft, Algernon Blackwood and even Serling himself. The show was produced by Jack Laird and Rod Serling. The show that ran six episodes each, part of four dramatic series under the umbrella title Four-In-One. In 1971, it appeared with it’s own vignettes on NBC opposite Mannix. In 1971 the Pilot for the show had three of the most powerful of the series. The Cemetery starring Ossie Davis, Roddy McDowall, and George Macready. Eyes stars Hollywood legend Joan Crawford who plays an unpleasant tyrant who is blind and is willing to rob the sight of another man in order to see for a short period of time. The segment was directed by Steven Spielberg. The last playlet starred Norma Crane and Richard Kiley as a Nazi who is hiding out in a South American country who dreams of losing himself in a little boat on a quiet lake depicted in a painting at the local art museum.

Then Night Gallery showcased an initial six segments and the hour long series consisted of several different mini teleplays. In its last season from 1972-1973 the show was reduced to only a half hour.
Night Gallery differed from The Twilight Zone which were comprised of science fiction and fantasy narratives as it delved more into the supernatural and occult themes. The show has a unique flavor in the same way Boris Karloff introduced each one of Thriller’s divergent stories, Rod Serling would introduce each episode surrounded by his gallery of macabre and morbid paintings by artist Gallery Painter: Tom Wright Serling would open his show with a little soliloquy about life, irony and the upcoming tale of ghoulish delights.

Rod Serling was not a fan of Night Gallery and did not have the revelatory passion and inducement to plug the show the way he did for The Twilight Zone, in fact the series was panned by the critics. Two of the shows Serling wrote were nominated for Emmy’s, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” starring William Windom and Diane Baker and The Messiah of Mott Street “ starring Edward G. Robinson.

From Gary Gerani-Fantastic Television: A Pictorial History of Sci-Fi, the Unusual and The Fantastic
“No stranger to the interference of sponsors, networks and censors, Serling once again found himself locked by contact into an untenable situation..{…}… He owned Night Gallery, created it and it was sold to network and audience on his reputation . The competitor on CBS was Mannix, a formula private-eye shoot-and rough-‘em up. Serling felt that NBC and Universal were doing their best to imitate Mannix, with an emphasis on monsters, chases and fights. They turned down many of his scripts as “too thoughtful” Serling lamented. “They don’t want to compete against Mannix in terms of contrast, but similarity.” Not only was Serling unable to sell them scripts he was also barred from casting sessions, and couldn’t make decisions about his show—he had signed away creative control. As a result he tried to have his name removed from the title, but NBC had him contract-bound to play host and cordially to introduce the parasite to the TV audience.”

 

Continue reading “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery 9 Terrifying Halloween Treats!”

Boris Karloff’s Thriller: The Ordeal of Dr Cordell: “I know that science and ego make lousy chemistry”

Boris Karloff’s Thriller The Ordeal of Dr. Cordell Episode release date: March 7, 1961

Directed by Lazlo Benedek, Written by Donald S. Sanford and music scored by Morton Stevens. Starring Robert Vaughn as Dr. Frank Cordell and Kathleen Crowley as Dr. Lois Walker.

There are obvious elements of  Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with more of a neo realism that displaces the Gothic romanticist nature of the story of dualities of the mind/soul connection transplanting it in a modern setting, making it almost hyper eerier. This episode is also one of the few in the series that is an integration of post world war II science -fiction mystery with the reoccurring themes of crime drama and Gothic horror that most of the other episodes pivoted on in this timeless hybrid television show. Not only are there the traces of Neo Noir realism of the 60s, it flirted with good science vs bad science. I find a correlation with the original novella published by Stevenson in the late 1800s.

ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the original title of a novella written by author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in London on Jan  5th 1886. The work is commonly known today as simply Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Dr Henry Jekyll has unleashed a bestial alter ego Edward Hyde, a violent misanthrope. A fracturing of the self, into two clashing and opposing natures. It is the ultimate parable of good vs evil where 2 vastly different personalities within the same person battle over their moral character and the question of right and wrong.

DR MORBIUS FORBIDDEN PLANET’S VERSION OF PROSPERO

DR JEKYLL’S MONSTER FROM HIS id

DR. MORBIUS’S MONSTER FROM HIS id

The invasion of the darker sides of the id and human nature infiltrating the everyday human’s mind. The id is virtually our innate instinctive impulses, drives our motivations, and where our primary thought processes become manifest. The term was first used by Freud in the 1920s. We saw Walter Pidgeon’s Dr Morbius fall victim to his own id in Fred M. Wilcox’s sci-fi masterpiece Forbidden Planet (1956) a retelling of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Or in a more contemporary venue consider Michael C. Hall’s Dexter and his infamous Dark Passenger.

The Ordeal of Dr Cordell is also a story using a very common theme of the late 50s early 60s Neo Realism trend, about growing paranoia of society becoming aggressively violent.

The episode can also be viewed as a hybrid noir /chamber drama like that of The Thing From Another World (1951) as a lot of the scenes involving science good vs evil remains within the constructs of the laboratory and the gas chamber booth. There are tinges of  patriotism vs communism. Anxiety over chemical and nuclear warfare layered into the plot as Cordell inadvertently discovers by trying to formulate an anti war weapon/ antidote a more sinister device because it’s more internal more personal. The episode could be lens as a statement against war, violence, fear of letting morality slip away out of control giving into the darker sides of human nature, in particular the dangers of people who dabble in scientific research under the guise of betterment of mankind only to unleash something more profoundly destructive.

The episode contains some extraordinarily dissonant music, utilizing a range of instruments from what I could swear is Gil Melle’s signature violin work at times Mephistophelean and Baroque in tone. I cannot find any reference to Melle having worked on any projects with Mort Stevens, although the 2 were emerging on the film and tv score scene at the same time. Perhaps he did the studio session and is just uncredited with the performance. If anyone knows, I would love to hear about it, as I am a huge Gil Melle fan as well as Mort Stevens. What’s missing in terms of it’s sound is only the salient reverberation of his 70s style electric violin sound, that he used in let’s say Kolchak The Night Stalker and Night Gallery series or Michael Winner’s adaptation of Jeffrey Konvitz’s The Sentinel (1977) Which was a great read. Starring Christina Raines and Burgess Meredith as a jaunty little devil. Continue reading “Boris Karloff’s Thriller: The Ordeal of Dr Cordell: “I know that science and ego make lousy chemistry””