Night Gallery season 2 episode 4: A Fear of Spiders/Junior/Marmalade Wine/The Academy

Another Friday, another Night Gallery. Ah, the magic of the past, the paintings hanging in abject blackness. Let’s get scared.

“A Fear of Spiders” tells the story of restaurant critic Justus Walters (Patrick O’Neal, The Stuff), a man afraid of spiders who is now dealing with several in his apartment, forcing him to turn to Elizabeth Croft (Kim Stanley, incredible as Frances Farmer’s mother in Frances), the neighbor that he has spurned, for help.

A simple story told well, this was directed by John Astin and written by Rod Serling and based on Elizabeth M. Walter’s “The Spider.” Even though the spider effect at the end may seem somewhat dated, you have to consider the budget of this show and be understanding. Steven Spielberg was slated to direct this episode but backed out. While Astin is mainly known for playing Gomez Addams, he turns in a solid episode.

“Junior” is another blackout segment that has Wally Cox wake up in the middle of the night to stop his son from crying. That boy ends up being a baby Frankenstein’s monster. This is directed by Theodore J. Flicker, who also made Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, and was written by Gene R. Kearney. We’re lucky that these episodes are streaming or on blu ray, because if I had to sit through commericals only to come back for this, I would dislike it so much more.

“Marmalade Wine” was directed and written by Jerrold Freedman (Borderline) and is based on a story by Joan Aiken. It’s pretty wild for a TV show, as the entire set feels like a stage play surrounded by darkness. Photojournalist Roger Blacker (Robert Morse) is lost in the woods and finds Dr. Francis Deeking (Rudy Vallee, yes, the singer), a surgeon who amputates his feet so that he will stay and continue making predictions of the future.

It doesn’t exactly work but the fact that it tries is worthwhile. I’d rather Night Gallery had more experiments like this and less outright comedic pieces of fluffy nonsense.

“The Academy” has a very simple idea, as the children of the rich and powerful never leave a military school, forgotten and thrown away, something that the school’s director (Leif Ericskon) feels is what a father (Pat Boone, the second acting singer in one night) wants to do with his delinquent son.

Director by Jeff Corey (who is better known for acting in movies including Beneath the Planet of the Apes) and written by Serling, based on a story by David Ely, this is quick and to the point.

This episode of Night Gallery feels more morality play than horror, yet still finds something worth watching.

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