I bought this today and just finished the Pilot Epsiode. So this review is based on the actual DVD release, and not speculation or hearsay. and yes, IT DOES INCLUDE THE PILOT!
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this release for months. Some of which I agree with, but most of which seems to be based on unrealistic and even fanatical speculation. Is this a perfect Night Gallery DVD? No. Is it worth buying? Without a doubt.
The Picture Quality: Is quite good. The color is all there and has obviously been enhanced and corrected. No more grainy, magenta tinted episodes like we’ve seen on TV for years. The transfer is crisp and color well saturated. There are a few dust spots and hairs from time to time, but no long scratches. Could Universal do better? Sure. But let’s be realistic. Most of us watched these episodes on grainy TV sets with rabbit ear antennae 30 years ago. They look better on the DVD than I ever remember.
Sound Quality. This seems to have been much enhanced. Not quite Dolby Surround, but the musical score is clear and crisp, and lends a creepy layer of atmosphere the series never had back when we only had a crummy TV speaker. The sound is great, at least on the pilot.
Extras? Well, there are none, and here I agree with the critics. Would it have killed Universal to put the paintings on DVD? Or maybe include one interview with Serling or even Spielberg? This is barebones for sure.
Presentation: The box is a beautifully printed glossy gatefold with some cool photos of Rod Serling on N.G. set. It’s quite nice and well done. There are 3 discs.
If you’ve been waiting to see the full episodes of N.G. for decades, like I have, then buy this set and don’t listen to the carping from other reviewers and websites. Let’s be realistic; boycotting the release of this DVD because it’s not perfect is like going on a Hunger Strike at McDonald’s because they’re not a 5 star French Restaurant! Get real! Although I loved Night Gallery, it has always been considered the ugly stepchild in Serling’s oeuvre. It was not as highly regarded as Twilight Zone, nor as well known because far fewer epsiodes were made for Syndication. Hopefully this disc set will change that and N.G. will get the respect it deserves. Who knows? If enough people buy the set, maybe Universal will release season two with the goodies. If you sit on your behind, boycott this release, sulk or even harrass the studio, it’s likely the season two episodes will stay in the dark forever. I for one, will be enjoying this DVD set immensely. It’s a long time overdue.
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I am the coauthor, with Jim Benson, of the companion guide to “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery.” We’ve been tracking this release pretty closely and are privy to as much information as we can squeeze out of Universal Studios. We’re grateful the series has been tapped for a DVD release, and the set has been struck from original, uncut prints–the same ones Columbia House used for its mail-order volumes–and not the butchered half-hour syndication version that played on the SciFi Channel for years. That said, the master for the pilot is 20 years old, and those for the series are 15 years old–acceptable, but a bit long-in-the-tooth compared to the up-to-date treatment other television series have received. Imbedded in a few of the episodes are some errors, mostly in the sound and music tracks, and it would have been preferable had Universal seen fit to correct these. We also fail to see why a series which featured the involvement of both Rod Serling and Steven Spielberg did not rate a budget that allowed special features. If Warner Brothers can load extras into DVD releases of such non-classics as “Wonder Woman” and “The Dukes of Hazzard,” then Universal is out of touch with current standards in the DVD business when they fail to properly document their own classic TV shows (such as “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery” and “Columbo”). However, Universal is new to the TV side of their property library and may need to get their feet wet before they finally catch up to their more forward-looking competitors.As a caveat emptor, the first season is relatively free of errors compared to the second season. The most critical error is the crackling that runs through the soundtrack of Serling’s segment “The House” (found in Episode #3). Any further critique will have to wait until the release. And who knows, if sales for Season One are impressive enough, maybe the studio will do right by Season Two and give “RSNG” a budget that more accurately reflects its classic status.
No question that Night Gallery is a series that divides opinion and I’d agree with those who say Twilight Zone is more consistent in quality. Night Gallery suffers from far too many bad-to-outright-embarrassing segments that really do make you question the sanity of its creators. I assume a lot of drugs were being taken because even at its worst, NG has a kind of hallucinogenic quality that indicates the writers and directors were encouraged to be as experimental as they wanted to be even if the results didn’t always cohere. As much as I love TZ and acknowledge its greatness, I still prefer Night Gallery because at its very best, NG offers individual segments that are far stronger in content and more striking in presentation. My love for stories of the macabre may also explain my preference but even the most critical viewer would have to acknowledge that Night Gallery presented some of the scariest and most hauntingly original drama ever presented on television. The problem with the new Season One DVD set is that it contains very few of the best Night Gallery segments. If I were making a judgment based on this set, I’d be pretty disappointed. The Pilot is superb as are “The Doll”, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar”, “The Dead Man,” and “Certain Shadows on the Wall” but the rest are forgettable. OK, the “Little Black Bag” is very strong until the final scene but the shock ending falls flat because it is rushed and explained away rather than shown or suggested (it could have been handled without showing gore) and the sudden cut to the future lab scene destroys the atmosphere. It’s a botched ending – one of many that ruined otherwise good segments. But I digress. Night Gallery really came into its own in the Second Season and it is here that you find so many brilliant segments (mixed in, of course, with the routine and those horrendous vignettes). The best Second Season segments include “The Caterpillar,” “A Fear of Spiders,” “A Question of Fear,” “Camera Obscura,” “Cool Air,” “Class of 99,” “Silent Snow, Secret Snow”, “Green Fingers,” “The Messiah of Mott Street,” “Satisfaction Guaranteed,” Pickman’s Model,” “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes,” “The Devil is Not Mocked,” “Brenda”, “The Dark Boy,” “Last Rites for a Dead Druid”, “Deliveries in the Rear,” “Dead Weight,” “I’ll Never Leave You, Ever”, “The Sins of the Fathers” and “Little Girl Lost.” Any of these segments compare favorably with anything Twilight Zone offered and I’d argue that no single season of TZ presented so many outstanding segments. I am hoping and praying that Universal gives us a Second Season DVD set that is digitally remastered and packed with all the extras that fans are clamoring for. The Third Season was a disappointment but there were a couple of really strong episodes including “Something in the Woodwork,” and “The Other Way Out” – the latter being perhaps the most nail-biting segment of all. Don’t dismiss Night Gallery until you’ve seen it’s brilliant second season and the best of the third season. Seen in its entirety, Night Gallery emerges as one of the most creative and entertaining series ever seen on television and a very worth follow-up to Twilight Zone.