Fans have rightly hailed the long-awaited release of the final season of Night Gallery on home video, and the series is now finally complete on DVD, including all the favorite episodes, some rarely seen footage, and long-missing episode segments.
In August 2004, Universal Studios released a three-DVD set of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery that included the 1969 pilot film and the first season. November 2008 saw the release of the second season, plus some special features: a 30-minute documentary on the history of the show; a menu featuring close inspection of 33 of the second-season paintings, with commentary by artist Tom Wright; audio commentary on three episodes by NG fan Guillermo del Toro (director of Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Devil’s Backbone); audio commentary on three episodes by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson (authors of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour); and some NBC commercials, promo material, and act-break bumpers.
On April 10, 2012, Universal released the third and final season. For the Night Gallery Season Three DVD release, Universal Home Entertainment hired TV Time Machine Productions and Jim Benson and Scott Skelton to restore four rarely seen segments of Rod Serling’s classic horror series, assembled and reproduced on the DVD set as a “lost episode”—essentially a missing 23rd episode from the second season.
Jim Benson, the owner of TV Time Machine Productions, had previously worked with Universal Studios Digital Services and colorist Skip Martin on the restoration of selected episodes of I’m Dickens . . . He’s Fenster for that series’ DVD release. TV Time Machine Productions also produced audio commentaries for Night Gallery’s third season, featuring commentary by Skelton and Benson for the “lost episode” and the premiere episode, “The Return of the Sorcerer.”
Night Gallery aired on NBC from 1970 to 1973. When the series was syndicated in 1973, several of the individual segments that composed the show’s original hour-long versions were either shortened or lengthened to create new half-hour episodes. Three story segments were produced that either never aired in the broadcast version of the series or only appeared once and never repeated. These three segments later showed up in the syndication version—heavily padded with extra footage, in most cases, and all of them requiring restoration to bring them back to their original state.
Once Universal green-lit this unique project, the job of finding missing and original elements began. Because of the fragmented nature of the series, the process was similar to putting hundreds of jumbled puzzle pieces back together to create a coherent, complete picture. After two months of mining the vast archives of Universal Studios, most of the missing elements were found.
“Die Now, Pay Later,” an episode never aired on NBC, was lengthened for syndication in 1973 and has never been seen in its original form. This segment was painstakingly reconstructed from original 35 millimeter elements, and the majority of the episode was brought back to its original state.
“Room for One Less,” a one-minute vignette that never aired on NBC, was restored using original elements, including original optical titles. Rare, behind-the-scenes footage of Rod Serling shooting his introduction for this segment is included as an “Easter egg” on the DVD set.
“Witches’ Feast” was beautifully remastered from original 35 millimeter elements. This segment ran only once on NBC in the original airing, was replaced by another segment for the repeat airing, and has been seen rarely since.
“Little Girl Lost” originally had six minutes of footage excised before the segment aired on NBC in 1972. Working with colorist Skip Martin, existing 35 and 16 millimeter elements were meticulously matched, reinstating the missing six minutes.
Since “Die Now, Pay Later” was never fully completed in 1971, a new slate of music cues (taken from existing episodes) were assembled for the segment. “Room for One Less” also received a revised music track.
After the restoration process, the four segments were edited together and, using the familiar second-season main title, a “new” hour-long Night Gallery episode was created. New end title credits were also designed, and the classic NBC commercial-break bumper that had not been seen in decades (featuring a series of horrific faces) was reinstated.
Night Gallery had a very unique history, and this unique DVD project reflects that fact. Over the years, fans have been vocal about having the entire collection of Night Gallery tales made available on DVD. Through the good offices of Universal Studios, this wish has finally been fulfilled.