Night Gallery Episode 13: Midnight Never Ends/Brenda

General Information

Directors: Jeannot Szwarc and Allen Reisner

Writers: Rod Serling and Matthew Howard

Cast: Robert F. Lyons, Susan Strasberg, Glenn Corbett, Laurie Prange, Joseph Perry, Robert Karnes, Robert Hogan, Barbara Babcock, Sue Taylor, and Pamelyn Ferdin

Composers: Oliver Nelson and Ed Sauter

Gallery Painter: Tom Wright

Air Date: 11/3/1971

 

Midnight Never Ends

Overview

Offered a ride by driver Ruth Asquith (Susan Strasberg), hitchhiker Vincent Riley (Robert F. Lyons) struggles to explain his Marine uniform, life history, and accurateNight Gallery Midnight Never Ends predictions about the future. Upon arriving in a diner, Ruth and Vincent—joined by manager Jim Emsden (Robert Hogan) and a sheriff named Lewis (Robert Karnes)—are haunted by faint, rapid clicking sounds from above.

“Midnight Never Ends” contains all the potential for a supernatural mystery piece. Unfortunately, this Night Gallery segment is marred by its weak ending, languid pacing, and meandering script.

 

Pros

Night Gallery Midnight Never EndsShowcasing a diner with missing walls, objects that vanish and reappear without warning, and characters with severe amnesia, “Midnight Never Ends” will likely appeal to fans of experimental television. (Viewers may, however, take issue with this segment for lacking a coherent and unifying central theme, instead featuring bizarre occurrences devoid of explanation.)

 

Cons

Forgoing tension in favor of copious exposition, this segment fails to capitalize on its eerie premise. Notably, the protagonists often convey their sense Night Gallery Midnight Never Endsof déjà vu, foreshadowing, and general confusion by conversing at length with each other—a blatant violation of the “show, don’t tell” rule.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

“Midnight Never Ends” may also evoke criticism for its haphazard twist in the final scene, which reveals a framing narrative to explain that Ruth, Vincent, Sheriff Lewis, and Jim Emsden exist within a fictional universe created by the real Vincent—a struggling author who pounds away on his typewriter (hence the strange clicking noises) when writing his stories.

 

Analysis

Night Gallery Midnight Never EndsDespite its lackluster ending, this segment seems to hint at the possible existence of overlapping dimensions, Boltzmann brains (i.e., spontaneously generated brains with false memories), and time segments that repeat indefinitely—all fascinating concepts within the science fiction genre.

 

Concluding Comments

Violating the laws of physics at random, “Midnight Never Ends” will elicit praise for its air of uncertainty. Sci-fi/horror buffs may nevertheless wish to avoid this effort, which forgoes creepy atmosphere and a satisfying conclusion.

 

Overall Quality: 5/10

 

Brenda

Overview

While vacationing at her parents’ summer home, Brenda Alden (Laurie Prange) encounters a strange monster from the ocean. Despite forming a friendshipNight Gallery Brenda with Brenda, the creature is hunted and feared by the island residents—including Brenda’s own parents, Richard and Flora Alden (Glenn Corbett and Barbara Babcock).

Blending horror aspects with a poignant friendship story, “Brenda” operates on a compelling premise. That being said, sensitive viewers may condemn this segment for its bratty main character and goofy monster antics.

 

Pros

Night Gallery BrendaShowcasing a little girl’s bond with a horrible sea creature, “Brenda” demonstrates how rejection, isolation, and loneliness can prompt children to seek friendships in unusual places—similar to “My Friend, Mr. Nobody” from Lost in Space, where Penny Robinson enjoys the companionship of an incorporeal, cave-residing entity.

 

Cons

By knocking over a sand castle built by an acquaintance, smirking at the misfortunes of others, and leading a monster to her parents’ home, Brenda exhibits manyNight Gallery Brenda traits of a young sociopath. Viewers may therefore struggle to sympathize with the protagonist, who comes across as creepy, selfish, and undeserving of a quality friend.

Also worth criticizing is the monster itself, whose credibility suffers due to its unconvincing form—in contrast to the cave entity from Lost in Space, whose lack of tangibility serves to enhance the power of suggestion.

 

Analysis

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Concluding Comments

This offering is a bizarre and underwhelming Night Gallery segment. Especially problematic is the characterization of Brenda, who, as opposed to a misunderstood child searching for acceptance, behaves in a demonic and mean-spirited fashion.

 

Overall Quality: 3/10

 

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