Continuing on from the five best Night Gallery episodes, I present to you what I consider the five worst episodes.

“Brenda”

Rod Serling intro:

There’s something rather remarkable in the scope of imagination peculiar to children. They project and dream and fantasize with beauty and simplicity and faith in a manner that somehow eludes us as we grow older. This is “Brenda,” and Brenda has a playmate. It comes to her in part because of loneliness—and what I wish for you is that you never get that lonely.

Data:

Episode 7b, season 2 / Air date November 3rd, 1971 / Written by Matthew Howard

Comments:

So boring. And so long — the thirty-minute story feels more like an hour, an agonizing hour.

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“Big Surprise”

Rod Serling intro:

Our painting reminds us that there’s a strange fascination to digging holes alongside ancient oaks. You give the average man a shovel and an X on a map and the fantasies come thick and fast. Pirate gold, hidden Confederate treasure, and sometimes the unexpected—and sometimes the unwelcome. Hence the title: “Big Surprise.”

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Data:

Episode 8c, season 2 / Air date November 10th, 1971 / Written by Richard Matheson

Comments:

Always hated this one. Worst surprise ever. Now, given that it’s from the mind of Richard Matheson, is my opinion bad and should I feel bad? Maybe — but I still don’t like it.

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“The Academy”

Rod Serling intro:

A small item for the pedagogues amongst you, a little something to be found in the drawer alongside the old school ties. Picture, if you will, a very special school where the students don’t matriculate but rather are marooned; where the scholars are not enrolled but rather sentenced. The painting is called “The Academy.”

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Data:

Episode 4d, season 2 / Air date October 6th, 1971 / Written by Rod Serling

Comments:

This one follows a pretty standard Serling formula, but with a weak premise and even weaker payoff.

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“Death on a Barge”

Rod Serling intro:

We offer you both tricks and treats in this special realm, where the national dish is pumpkin, the national flower is wolfsbane, and our national anthem is the funeral march, which should give you some definitive idea as to the nature of this place. We show paintings like this one. In a color scheme of blood-red sky with corpse-white moon, this, we tell you up front, is a story of vampires—and of course this must conjure up images of Bela Lugosi and Christopher Lee, somewhat frigid, malevolent, monstrous creatures. But reserve such all-conclusive judgment of the living dead until you hear the story of a particular vampire, the kind you might find in a place like this, the Night Gallery.

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Data:

Episode 12, season 3 / Air date March 4th, 1973 / Written by Halsted Welles

Comments:

Even though the story itself is pretty bland on this one, the thing I’ve always disliked the most is the visual aesthetic. Basically I can’t stand the fuzzy vaseline-on-camera-lens type effect for all vampire scenes. Directed by Leonard Nimoy.

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“Nature of the Enemy”

Rod Serling intro:

This offering is a landscape, lunar and low-keyed, suggestive perhaps of some of the question marks that await us in the stars . . . and perhaps pointing up the moment when we’ll collect something other than moon rocks. This item is called “The Nature of the Enemy.”

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Data:

Episode 2c, season 1 / Air date December 23rd, 1970 / Written by Rod Serling

Comments:

This has to be, definitively, the worst of them all. The demise of astronauts on the moon is a giant rat? A GIANT RAT. ON THE MOON. It makes the gag bits look thoughtful.

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As a kind of coping mechanism, I like to think it was intentional and served as a giant “fuck you” from Serling to Jack Laird, who was essentially the Night Gallery showrunner — not Serling. Indeed, imagination is a useful tool.


-=Dishonorable mentions =-

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  • “The Ring with the Red Velvet Ropes”
  • “The Phantom Farmhouse”
  • “The Dark Boy”