(Edward) Rod(man) Serling

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Cleveland Amory

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We've learned through short experience to beware of any show which is titled Somebody's Something. It's inclined not to be anybody's anything. And Rod Serling's Night Gallery is no exception. Mr. Serling was one of the giants of "The Golden Age of Television." Now he is more of an endangered species….

Most episodes contain three separate stories, so if you don't like the first, you can always look forward to the next two. On the other hand, if you don't like either the first or the second, you can always look forward to the third. By the same token, if you don't like the first or the second or the third—well, look at it this way, it's over. They are the kind of thing that [Alfred] Hitchcock did so well, and still does in reruns. And it really is infuriating, 50 years after Hitchcock, to have something not anywhere near as good….

Opening in a museum with paintings, with Mr. Serling as host, the series each week offers such maggots—or do we mean nuggets?—as a baby sitter who discovers her strange-looking employer is Count Dracula, a vampire returning from the dead to have a fancy funeral in the Eternal Rest Room, and an 11-year-old girl befriending a monster known as The Thing. Curiously enough, such drivel attracts a wide variety of name stars….

Two shows stand out in our mind particularly—perhaps because they were written by Mr. Serling himself, and reasonably well. One was a story in which a man of the future sends his deformed son to another planet in accordance with The Federal Conformity Act of 1993. It could have been touching, but, being in this show, it wasn't. Another was a story in which a widow … who had a green thumb refused to sell her little cottage to a mean industrial developer. Again, it had its points—aside from the fact that, like so many stories here, it didn't really have an end. Someone should tell Mr. Serling and [executive producer Jack] Laird that in stories like this, it's very important to have an end. We admit that it's basically good news that they are ending, but somehow that's not enough. An ending should be either logical or very illogical, either funny or a twist or something. Otherwise you feel cheated—and, believe us, what you've got here is highway robbery.

Cleveland Amory, "Rod Serling's 'Night Gallery'," in TV GUIDE© Magazine, Vol. 20, No. 6, February 5, 1972, p. 40.

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