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Creepy Stuff Every Sunday

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Aug 30, 2007 8:50PM

Earlier this year when we interviewed ME-TV's Neal Sabin, he let drop that cult fave series "Night Gallery" would soon be part of the weekly line-up. True to his word, the early 70's horror anthology show created by Rod Serling is now on every Sunday from 5 to 6. That's two half-hour episodes back to back. It's part of the channel's "chill" new Sunday evening schedule. "Night Gallery" is followed by a full hour of "Tales from the Darkside," and then "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "Twilight Zone." Sunday evening the thought of returning to work the next day is plenty scary, so in our view this is a perfect fit.

8_2007nightgallery.JPG Seen today, "Night Gallery" isn't exactly scary; there are scattered moments of the eerie and uncanny (and the paintings are creepy), but mostly it's a great excuse to gawk at an ever-shifting gallery of guest stars made up of a who's who of 70's nostalgia. Roddy McDowell (The Planet of the Apes series), Edward G. Robinson (Soylent Green) and even Leslie Nielson and Diane Keaton make appearances. Joan Crawford had one of her last major roles in a segment of "Night Gallery," as a cruel blind woman in series opener "Eyes" (directed by a young Steven Spielberg). The show was on the air for less than four years, just long enough to generate enough episodes for syndication.

But when the series moved into syndication it was packaged with episodes of another short-lived series called "The Sixth Sense," which makes things a bit confusing. Crawford appears as a google-eyed asthmatic in the campy "Dear Joan: We're Going to Scare You to Death." Serling had nothing to do with this series, and it's all too apparent: missing are any hints of irony or the plot twists that were his trademarks. Nevertheless it's a must for devotees of dated 70's deliciousness.

We have vague memories sneaking peeks of "Tales from the Darkside" as a kid late Saturday nights, but the George A. Romero-created show is a lot less familiar to us. We're eager to get reacquainted. Back in the mid-eighties it was actually possible to create an independently produced anthology show with some level of success. Are those days gone forever? The new series "Masters of Science Fiction," hosted by no less a luminary than Stephen Hawking, got ignobly dumped on by ABC when it premiered earlier this month. Maybe instead of a Rod Serling all our culture has room for is a pompous hack like M. Night Shyamalan.

"Pamela's Voice" via Night Gallery.