Night Gallery – S2 E3
Night Gallery is a series produced by Rod Serling and Jack Laird, that ran from 1970- 73. The Twilight Zone styled, one-hour show had a wonderful introductory premise. Each week the host, Rod Serling, would swagger through an art gallery of nightmarish creations and pick one to tell us viewers about. The camera would zoom in on the painting, thus leading into the story. Each 1 hr. episode would have three stories; one main story, one minor story and one very brief tale with a comedic twist. The stories were not as timeless as the stories in The Twilight Zone, but some of the tales stood out as exceptionally creepy.
This episode has one of my favorite stories in the series, Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay, along with two shorter pieces.
Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay
Craig Lowell is a college professor whose wife has welcomed her Aunt Ada into their home. Ada is a gray-haired old woman with a cane who seems docile and innocent around her niece Joanna, wanting to share an afternoon ritual of having tea and talking. However, when Joanna is not around, she likes to challenge Craig’s authority in the home and doesn’t seem feeble at all. When the husband becomes suspicious of the woman he contacts a professor at the University that deals in the occult, Professor Porteus, played by Jonathan Harris (better known to most of us as Dr. Smith, from the TV show Lost in Space). The professor provides some valuable information about how a witch can jump from an old used up body into the body of a younger woman, and how to stop her. Craig suspects the ritual is taking place and he battles Aunt Ada in his home to defeat her. In the end he has successfully beaten her. Or has he? Stars James Farentino at Craig Lowell and Michele Lee as his wife Joanna.
With Apologies to Mr. Hyde
Adam West stars in this short vignette playing Dr. Jekyll in a moment of transformation.
The Flip Side of Satan
Arty Johnson plays an angry, washed-up, radio disc jockey starting a new job at a derelict station. Unhappy with the music he has to play he decides to quit but discovers he is locked in the studio and can’t leave.
The Aunt Ada story is the reason to view this episode. It’s a creepy witch story and the actress that plays Ada, Jeanette Nolan, is fantastic as the centuries old, body-jumping witch. The effects consist of camera and film tricks only slightly more creative than what you would see on Bewitched, or I Dream of Jeanie at the time. However, I think the acting and directing in this episode achieve a level of eerie foreboding that raises it above its limited budget.
The stories in the series range from well-written, 70s style, TV horror, to just downright bland. They don’t have the message and introspect that Twilight Zone episodes had. The best Night Gallery to watch is the TV movie/pilot that started it all, but I’ll review that at a later date. If you are inclined to check out the series, this is one of the best of the bunch. A nasty witch tale always makes for good viewing on Halloween nights!