Night Gallery Episode 6: They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar/The Last Laurel

General Information

Directors: Don Taylor and Daryl Duke

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: William Windom, Diane Baker, Bert Convy, John Randolph, Jack Cassidy, Martine Beswick, Henry Beckman, David Astor, Robert Herrman, Gene O’Donnell, Frederic Downs, John Ragin, David Frank, Susannah Darrow, Mary Gail Hobbs, Margie Hall, Don Melvoin, Matt Pelto, and Martin E. Brooks

Composer: Benny Carter

Gallery Painter: Tom Wright

Air Date: 1/20/1971

 

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar

Overview

Night Gallery Theyre Tearing Down Tim Rileys BarStruggling to cope with a miserable existence, past-his-prime salesman Randy Lane (William Windom) recollects a host of great memories at Tim Riley’s Bar—now closed for business and marked for demolition. Only the friendship of Lynn Alcott (Diane Baker)—a young secretary with a kind heart—and a variety of old acquaintances can convince Randy to appreciate his life in the present.

Combining sentimental themes with heartfelt performances, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” earns its status as an Emmy-nominated episode. Especially compelling is the characterization of Randy Lane, who, in spite of his irresponsible and alcoholic tendencies, will induce pity from those of a sensitive nature.

 

Pros

By interweaving Randy’s most pleasant memories with a dreary current-day setting, Rod Serling creates a poignant, surreal contrast between past and present—a relatableNight Gallery Theyre Tearing Down Tim Rileys Bar scenario for anyone with a romanticized view of history.

Further highlighting the emotional undertones of this segment, the acting of William Windom (known to science fiction fans for playing Commodore Decker in “The Doomsday Machine”) allows the audience to sympathize with Randy—a man struggling to reconcile his bleak, degrading work life with the memories of a glorious youth.

 

Cons

Slow-paced and heavy on exposition, this segment may fail to captivate viewers who enjoy Night Gallery for its gripping, extraordinary subject matter.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery Theyre Tearing Down Tim Rileys BarDespite benefiting from the support of a caring secretary and an old police friend, the protagonist of this segment frequently neglects his health, career, and personal appearance while grappling with ghosts of a time long past—possibly a statement on the dangerous, intoxicating allure of nostalgic thinking.

 

Concluding Comments

“They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar” deserves its reputation as the greatest non-horror episode of Night Gallery. Specifically commendable are the realistic performances, bittersweet images, and moving character exchanges that define this segment.

 

Overall Quality: 10/10

 

The Last Laurel

Overview

Suspecting an affair between his wife Susan (Martine Beswick) and personal physician Dr. Armstrong (Martin E. Brooks), Marius Davis (Jack Cassidy) Night Gallery The Last Laurelrelies on astral projection to exact revenge—with a humorous outcome.

A short and goofy segment with a paranormal premise, “The Last Laurel” may appeal to fans of the horror/comedy genre. Critical audiences may, however, wish to avoid this offering for its abrupt execution, underdeveloped characters, and unanswered questions concerning a possible relationship between Susan and Dr. Armstrong.

 

Pros

Night Gallery The Last LaurelActor Jack Cassidy should be commended for his portrayal of crippled athlete Marius Davis, at first depicted as a rational man consumed with righteous anger toward a cheating, deceptive wife; but later revealed to be a conniving and delusional sociopath—a clever and amusing character twist for a mostly silly, unremarkable filler segment.

 

Cons

Due to its running time of less than ten minutes, “The Last Laurel” fails to develop any of its three characters in a meaningful manner. Therefore, viewers may Night Gallery The Last Laurelquestion the integrity of both Susan and Dr. Armstrong—supposedly a loyal wife and a caring professional respectively, although never definitively proven as such.

Also problematic are the astral projection sequences, which suffer from dated, if not downright cheesy, special effects—an aspect that may evoke unintended laughter from the majority of modern viewers.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery The Last Laurel“The Last Laurel” deserves praise for its ironic twist ending, which, though predictable, highlights the danger of acting on impulse and making accusations without evidence.

 

Concluding Comments

Providing a unique and morbid spin on the cheating spouse trope, “The Last Laurel” is a mildly entertaining Night Gallery segment. Worth noting in particular is Serling’s use of astral projection as a narrative concept, which will likely intrigue fans of supernatural horror stories.

 

Overall Quality: 6/10

 

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