Night Gallery Episode 2: Room with a View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy

General Information

Directors: Jerrold Freedman, Jeannot Szwarc, and Allen Reisner

Writers: Hal Dresner and Rod Serling

Cast: Joseph Wiseman, Diane Keaton, Angel Tompkins, Burgess Meredith, Chill Wills, George Furth, Joseph Campanella, Morgan Farley, Larry Watson, E.J. André, Arthur Malet, Eunice Suarez, Marion Val, Johnny Silver, Lindsay Workman, Matt Pelto, Robert Terry, Ralph Moody, William Challee, Richard Van Vleet, James Sikking, Jason Wingreen, Albert Popwell, and Jerry Strickler

Composer: Robert Prince

Gallery Painter: Tom Wright

Air Date: 12/23/1970

 

Room with a View

Overview

Night Gallery Room with a ViewUsing a pair of binoculars, invalid Jacob Bauman (Joseph Wiseman) discovers the infidelity of his wife Lila (Angel Tompkins). Unable to personally confront Lila over her adultery, Jacob relies on Nurse Frances Nevins (Diane Keaton)—engaged to a man named Vic (Larry Watson)—to carry out a violent scheme.

Compensating for a shallow premise, “Room with a View” benefits from the solid acting of Joseph Wiseman and Diane Keaton. Night Gallery buffs may, however, avoid this segment for its lack of horror-themed subject matter.

 

Pros

Despite its narrative being almost entirely driven by exposition, “Room with a View” features a number of POV shots that reveal Lila’s secret affair with Vic—an aspect that compels the audience to empathize with the jealousy, silent rage, and Night Gallery Room with a Viewlust for revenge that motivate Jacob to commit murder through vicarious means.

Also worth praising is the performance of Wiseman, whom fans of The Twilight Zone may recognize from “One More Pallbearer.” Specifically, the stoic manner of Wiseman’s character—which manifests even when plotting the downfall of his adulterous wife—offers an original twist on the Crazy Jealous Guy trope.

 

Cons

“Room with a View” is marred by copious dialogue and a predictable twist ending.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery Room with a ViewThough depicting vengeance in a positive light, “Room with a View” serves as a cautionary tale for unfaithful spouses of both genders.

 

Concluding Comments

“Room with a View” is a well-written and amusing, if unremarkable, Night Gallery segment. Fans of ironic dark humor in particular may appreciate this offering, which concludes on a morbidly satisfying note.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

The Little Black Bag

Overview

Night Gallery The Little Black BagIn the year 2098, a medical toolkit capable of curing every known ailment is sent back in time to 1971. Accompanied by a moocher named Heppelwhite (Chill Wills), former physician Doctor William Fall (Burgess Meredith) locates the futuristic bag in an abandoned alley—with a surprising outcome.

“The Little Black Bag” combines time travel mayhem with a poignant message on the human condition. Science fiction fans will thus enjoy this segment, which suffers only from an illogical turn of events in the final act.

 

Pros

Having ruined his medical career due to chronic alcoholism, Dr. Fall may initially struggle to evoke compassion from the viewer. Upon discovering the eponymous black Night Gallery The Little Black Bagbag, however, the good doctor dedicates his life to curing patients with intractable diseases—much in contrast to Heppelwhite, who wishes only to exploit the device for monetary gain. Dr. Fall will therefore elicit sympathy after showcasing his desire to assist mankind, especially when healing a little girl with a strep infection, an old man with cancer, and a shelter resident suffering from rheumatoid arthritis.

 

Cons

By impersonating a disgraced doctor with no credentials, Heppelwhite somehow captures the attention of an entire medical board.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery The Little Black BagInspired by the misanthropic viewpoint of Rod Serling, “The Little Black Bag” indicates how greed, arrogance, and stupidity often stifle progress in the worst of ways.

 

Concluding Comments

This segment benefits from a clever sci-fi premise, an ironic twist ending, and a brilliant performance from Burgess Meredith. Additionally worth noting are the character actions of Heppelwhite and Dr. Fall, which offer contrasting perspectives on human nature.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

The Nature of the Enemy

Overview

Following the disappearance of several astronauts on the Moon, NASA scientist Simms (Joseph Campanella) attempts to decipher the last message of the missing Night Gallery The Nature of the Enemycrew members. Before long, Simms and his colleagues are confronted with a bizarre, unforeseen explanation for the mysterious vanishings.

“The Nature of the Enemy” opens with an engaging sequence that should appeal to fans of the space exploration genre. Nevertheless, this segment will likely induce cringing for its nonsensical conclusion.

 

Pros

Night Gallery The Nature of the EnemyKnown to Night Gallery enthusiasts for appearing in “Miss Lovecraft Sent Me” (a short segment from the second season of this series), actor Joseph Campanella should be commended for his performance—the serious and determined nature of which injects a hint of gravitas into an otherwise goofy, uninspired, and ridiculous narrative by Serling.

 

Cons

Building an air of suspense around a failed space expedition, “The Nature of the Enemy” operates on a captivating premise. Unfortunately, this segment lacks sufficientNight Gallery The Nature of the Enemy running time to resolve its main conflict in a satisfying manner.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

“The Nature of the Enemy” may especially earn criticism for its idiotic twist in the final scene, which reveals that the astronauts of a doomed mission had built a giant, metallic mousetrap for a killer rodent living on the Moon.

 

Analysis

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Concluding Comments

Emulating the style of a sci-fi/horror disaster piece, “The Nature of the Enemy” contains all the elements of a classic Night Gallery offering. This segment is, however, ruined by a random punchline—reminiscent of the blackout sketches featured throughout most of season two.

 

Overall Quality: 2/10

 

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