Night Gallery Misconceptions

NIGHT GALLERY HAS CLOSE TO 100 EPISODES!

No, it doesn’t—not unless you insist on counting every individual story in this anthology series, even the 60-second vignettes, as an “episode.” That would be like calling every short story in a published anthology a “book.” Logic suggests that an episode is all, not part, of the material that falls between the opening titles and the end credits. In order to avoid confusion when discussing such anthology series as Night Gallery or the 1985 Twilight Zone, one has to find another term for the individual stories that make up the episodes—perhaps “stories” or “story segments” or “episode segments.” Whatever. If you’re struggling with the nomenclature, just get the concept right.

Rod Serling’s Night Gallery has 93 stories distributed among the 43 episodes of the show’s three seasons. The pilot film has three stories. The syndicated version of Gallery included two vignettes that never aired in the original broadcast version of the series. That totals 98 stories. Still, some websites devoted to chronicling television history insist on compounding the confusion that already hangs over this seemingly cursed series by posting misinformation about it (www.tv.com, for instance, which lists the story segments as individual episodes).

ROD SERLING HAD ALMOST NOTHING TO DO WITH THE SHOW. HE WAS JUST A HOST.

That’s utter crap. He wrote more than a third of the scripts for the show—35 out of 98, in fact. True, he had no input in the casting or the production, but the story material and scripts defined the direction of the show. Serling was deeply involved in these important aspects, and that shouldn’t be dismissed.

ALL OF SERLING’S SCRIPTS FOR THE SHOW WERE HEAVILY REWRITTEN!

More crap. The lies—that all of his scripts were doctored—seems to have been largely spread by a second-season story editor on the show, Gerald Sanford, who has given numerous interviews on the subject of Night Gallery. These lies were printed by various Serling biographers without any attempt at researching the claims. The proof that most of Rod Serling’s scripts got to the screen intact can be found among the many drafts and completed Gallery scripts located in the Serling archive at Ithaca College.

Yes, Serling did have a few rewrites along the way: “The Little Black Bag” had its last scene rewritten to avoid a graphic on-screen suicide; “The Dear Departed” was entirely rewritten (from a few clues in the dialogue of the altered script, it seems probable that producer Jack Laird performed the rewrite); “Midnight Never Ends” had its dialogue rewritten by Sanford, although its structure follows Serling’s original scene-by-scene; “The Different Ones” was shortened by two scenes (removing a major character) and had a new opening scene added by Sanford; and “A Fear of Spiders” had one of the main character’s lines replaced in the second act when the lead actress in the role, Kim Stanley, improvised during production. That’s the extent of the rewrites—only five of Serling’s scripts were affected out of the 35 that were shot, and only two can be considered severe.

NIGHT GALLERY STARRED GARY COLLINS AS PSYCHIC RESEARCHER DR. MICHAEL RHODES!

No, it didn’t. Universal Studios, the company that produced Night Gallery, dumped the 25 episodes of The Sixth Sense into the syndication package (with the addition of new Gallery-type introductions by Rod Serling, written by others).