Night Gallery Episode 5: Pamela’s Voice/Lone Survivor/The Doll

General Information

Directors: Richard Benedict, Gene Levitt, and Rudi Dorn

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Phyllis Diller, John Astin, John Colicos, Torin Thatcher, Hedley Mattingly, Shani Wallis, John Williams, Henry Silva, Charles Davis, Brendan Dillon, William Beckley, Terence Pushman, Edward Colmans, Pierre Jalbert, Carl Milletaire, Than Wyenn, Jewel Blanch, and John Barclay

Composer: Robert Prince

Gallery Painter: Tom Wright

Air Date: 1/13/1971

 

Pamela’s Voice

Overview

A husband named Jonathan (John Astin) murders his insufferable wife Pamela (Phyllis Diller), no longer able to endure her incessant nagging. Following her demise, PamelaNight Gallery Pamelas Voice returns to haunt Jonathan—with a horrible and unforeseen outcome.

“Pamela’s Voice” deserves recognition for blending morbid humor with acerbic dialogue. This segment should also be commended for its succinct execution, which allows just enough time to develop its premise before finishing with a “grave” twist.

 

Pros

Though known for playing characters of a comedic and eccentric variety (e.g. Gomez in The Addams Family), actor John Astin exemplifies the callous and Night Gallery Pamelas Voiceconniving manner of a cold-blooded killer—a rare opportunity for Astin to showcase his talents in a dark and serious role.

Additionally worth noting is the performance of Phyllis Diller, whose grating voice and horrid personality compel the viewer to sympathize with Jonathan—a man who, despite relishing the murder of his wife, offers a realistic and relatable motive for pushing Pamela down a flight of stairs.

 

Cons

Night Gallery Pamelas VoiceIn spite of its amusing banter between Jonathan and his late wife, “Pamela’s Voice” occasionally borders on the obnoxious—albeit intentionally—due to the constant arguing of both characters.

 

Analysis

Implying that Jonathan must either be haunted by his wife’s ghost or flat-out hallucinating, “Pamela’s Voice” relies on misdirection to strengthen the impact of its surprise ending—a narrative technique later used in Shutter Island, The Sixth Sense, and other classic films within the supernatural horror and thriller genres.

 

Concluding Comments

A short but clever Night Gallery segment, “Pamela’s Voice” should appeal to fans of ghost stories with a satirical tone. In addition, this offering will earn praise for the acting/chemistry of both Astin and Diller.

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

Lone Survivor

Overview

In the year 1915, the Captain of the Lusitania (Torin Thatcher) picks up a Survivor (John Colicos) of the Titanic. Incredulous that a man could live in the open seaNight Gallery Lone Survivor for three years, the captain interrogates his new passenger in search of answers—with a grim result.

A remake of “Judgment Night” from The Twilight Zone, “Lone Survivor” succeeds in evoking a thick layer of ominous dread. Worth praising in particular are the mystery aspects of this segment, which stem from the bizarre circumstances of the Survivor’s account.

 

Pros

“Lone Survivor” benefits from the tormented acting of John Colicos, known to science fiction buffs for playing Kor in Star Trek and Count Baltar in Battlestar Galactica. Specifically, Night Gallery Lone Survivorthe Survivor, visibly perturbed over his cowardly actions aboard the Titanic, explains in harrowing detail how the ship crashed into an iceberg, began tilting into the ocean, and forced him to make a terrible decision within a matter of minutes: either perish aboard a doomed vessel or sneak onto a lifeboat while dressed in womanly attire—a rare case of exposition serving to heighten the suspense and overall backstory of a horror-themed tale.

 

Cons

Night Gallery Lone SurvivorAfter relaying his fate to a Lusitania crewman, the Survivor explains that all ship members are nothing more than phantoms in his own personal hell—an unnecessary twist to an already haunting story.

 

Analysis

“Lone Survivor” contains a simple but poignant moral lesson, namely that one can never escape the consequences of deceit, cowardice, and shirking responsibility to those in need of assistance.

 

Concluding Comments

Combining ghost story tropes with an historical background, “Lone Survivor” will interest fans of the supernatural horror genre. Exceptionally compelling is the performance of Colicos, who adds a hint of credibility to the fantastic nature of his character.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

The Doll

Overview

After ordering the death of an Indian national, British Colonel Hymber Masters (John Williams) receives an evil-looking doll for his niece Monica (Jewel Blanch). Realizing that Pandit Chola (Henry Silva)—brother of the executed prisoner—hadNight Gallery The Doll sent the doll for nefarious purposes, Col. Masters returns the favor in a final act of spite.

“The Doll” benefits from eerie atmosphere, topnotch acting, and veiled commentary on colonialism. Rod Serling enthusiasts may, however, observe numerous parallels between this segment and “Living Doll”—a classic (and arguably superior) episode of The Twilight Zone.

 

Pros

Night Gallery The DollAn early example of the uncanny valley in fiction, Monica’s doll will induce horrified reactions due to her vaguely humanoid countenance—unlike Chucky from the Child’s Play series, who, though more violent and psychotic than the doll in this segment, hardly qualifies as a credible villain given his cartoonish, if not comical, appearance.

 

Cons

By wearing a malevolent expression at all times, Monica’s doll reveals her evil intentions to every character—an aspect that prevents both Miss Danton (Shani Wallis) Night Gallery The Dolland young Monica from doubting Col. Masters, who, under normal circumstances, would come across as a total madman for claiming that an inanimate object intends on murdering him. (Talky Tina from The Twilight Zone, in contrast, embodies a subtle creepiness that manifests only in the presence of Telly Savalas’ character, prompting his wife and stepdaughter to disbelieve his accusations against the eponymous living doll.)

 

Analysis

Night Gallery The DollLacking the moral commentary of a typical Serling effort, “The Doll” glorifies revenge as a means of atoning past injustices.

 

Concluding Comments

An unsettling Night Gallery entry, “The Doll” may intrigue horror fans for its nightmarish qualities. Also outstanding is John Williams’ portrayal of Col. Masters, who allows the audience to accept the doll as a plausible antagonist.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.

Please note: Comments that are malicious, offensive, or excessively profane will be removed. Off-topic messages belong in the About section.

Leave a Reply