Country of origin
Final episode date
27 May 1973
First episode date
16 December 1970
Rod Serling, Gary Collins
Also known as
'Rod Serling's Night Gallery'
Horror Fantasy Drama Comedy
Theme music composer
Billy Goldenberg (pilot) Gil Mellé (seasons 1 & 2) Eddie Sauter (season 3)
Robert Bain Paul Glass John Lewis Gil Mellé Oliver Nelson Robert Prince Eddie Sauter
The Outer Limits, Night Visions, Amazing Stories, The Twilight Zone, Alcoa Presents: One Step
Night Gallery is an American anthology series that aired on NBC from 1969 to 1973, featuring stories of horror and the macabre. Rod Serling, who had gained fame from an earlier series, The Twilight Zone, served both as the on-air host of Night Gallery and as a major contributor of scripts, although he did not have the same control of content and tone as he had on The Twilight Zone. Serling viewed Night Gallery as a logical extension of The Twilight Zone, but while both series shared an interest in thought-provoking dark fantasy, more of Zone's offerings were science fiction while Night Gallery focused on horrors of the supernatural.
Serling appeared in an art gallery setting and introduced the macabre tales that made up each episode by unveiling paintings (by artist Thomas J. Wright) that depicted the stories. His 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, suspended in time and space, a frozen moment of a nightmare.” Night Gallery regularly 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 November 8, 1969, and featured the directorial debut of Steven Spielberg, as well as one of the last acting performances by Joan Crawford.
Unlike the series, in which the paintings merely accompanied an introduction to the upcoming story, the paintings themselves actually appeared in the three segments, serving major or minor plot functions. Night Gallery was initially part of a rotating anthology or wheel series called Four in One. This 1970–1971 television series rotated four separate shows, including McCloud, SFX (San Francisco International Airport) and The Psychiatrist. Two of these, Night Gallery and McCloud were renewed for the 1971–1972 season with McCloud becoming the most popular and longest running of the four.
The show featured various different composers. The original pilot theme was composed by Billy Goldenberg (who also did the pilot's background music). The theme for the first two seasons, composed by Gil Mellé, is noted for being one of the first television openings to use electronic instruments. For the third season, Mellé's theme was replaced with a more frantic orchestral piece by Eddie Sauter. Currently, no music from the show has ever been commercially released.
The series attracted criticism for its use of comedic blackout sketches between the longer story segments in some episodes, and for its splintered, multiple-story format, which contributed to its uneven tone. Another notable difference from the original Twilight Zone series was that there was no ending monologue by Serling summarizing the end of the story segment. Very often the camera would simply focus on the final chosen image (often for a chilling effect) for several seconds, then black out.
Serling wrote many of the teleplays, including "Camera Obscura" (based on a short story by Basil Copper), "The Caterpillar" (based on a short story by Oscar Cook), "Class of '99", "Cool Air" (based on a short story by H. P. Lovecraft), "The Doll", "Green Fingers", "Lindemann's Catch", and "The Messiah on Mott Street" (heavily influenced by Bernard Malamud's "Angel Levine"). Non-Serling efforts include "The Dead Man", "I'll Never Leave You—Ever", "Pickman's Model" (based on a short story by H. P. Lovecraft), "A Question of Fear", "Silent Snow, Secret Snow", and "The Sins of the Fathers".
Robert Bloch wrote two teleplays for the show. "Logoda's Heads" was based on the story by August Derleth. "Last Rites for a Dead Druid" was originally an adaptation by Bloch of the H. P. Lovecraft/Hazel Heald collaboration Out of the Aeons; however, Bloch's script was not used - the episode was rewritten and retitled, with "Last Rites for a Dead Druid" bearing no resemblance to "Out of the Aeons".
Night Gallery was nominated for an Emmy Award for its first-season episode "They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar" as the Outstanding Single Program on U.S. television in 1971. In 1972, the series received another nomination (Outstanding Achievement in Makeup) for the second-season episode "Pickman's Model."
In order to increase the number of episodes that were available for syndication, the 60-minute episodes were re-edited for a 30-minute time slot, with many segments severely cut, and others extended by inserting "new" scenes of recycled, previously discarded, or stock footage to fill up the time. In their book Rod Serling's Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour, authors Scott Skelton and Jim Benson identify 39 of the 98 individual segments that were produced for Night Gallery as being "severely altered" in syndication. Twenty-five episodes of an unrelated, short-lived supernatural series from 1972, The Sixth Sense, were also incorporated into the syndicated version of the series, with Serling providing newly filmed introductions to those episodes. As The Sixth Sense was originally a one-hour show, these episodes were all severely edited to fit into the half-hour timeslot.
The original, uncut version of the series (and without the additional Sixth Sense episodes) has been shown on the Encore Mystery cable network. The show has aired in the 30-minute format in some markets through the Retro Television Network in the past.
MeTV currently has broadcast rights for Night Gallery and airs the show in its edited thirty-minute format, including the edited The Sixth Sense episodes. However, as of March 2016 the series is not on the network's regular broadcast schedule and airs sporadically.
From May 21 to May 23 2016, Decades aired a marathon of the series.
In 2004, Universal released the Region 1 DVD collection (including the pilot film and the six episodes of the first season) of the series, plus bonus episodes from Seasons 2 and 3 as extras. On October 16, 2006, the first season (including the pilot film and two bonus episodes, one from Season 2 and one from Season 3) was released on Region 2 DVD.
In August 2008, Universal announced a November 11, 2008, release of the complete Season 2 DVD collection (only Region 1). Later, they announced that one story segment from Season 2, "Witches' Feast", would not be included because "Universal was not able to locate portions of the 40-year-old episode."
Season three was released on April 10, 2012. "Witches' Feast" is included as bonus material.