Night Gallery season 2 episode 19: Deliveries in the Rear/Stop Killing Me/Dead Weight

After two nearly Jack Laird-less episodes, I knew my luck would not hold out. Yet I don’t plan to go into the Night Gallery close-minded. Perhaps this will be a good episode.

Directed by Jeff Corey and written by Rod Serling, “Delivers In the Rear” starts with a body being delivered for Dr. John Fletcher (Cornel Wilde) of the Macmillan School of Medicine. The image of a dead person is so shocking that one of his students, Tuttle (Gerald McRaney in his first TV appearance), faints. The bodies that he gets seem to have been dead only a few hours. Sure, the men delivering them could be murderers. But science…

That night, while eating dinner with his fiancee Barbara Bennett (Rosemary Forsyth) and her family, her father Bennett (Kent Smith) brings this fact up, wondering about grave robbing. What fun dinner talk…

Fletcher believes that “no individual life is of any consequence if it means the saving of many lives.” So when the cops close in — a woman believes that he has the body of her murdered husband — he asks his grave robbers to get rid of the body and supply him with a woman so that the police no longer suspect him. Of course, the woman they kill and bring to him is…his fiancee.

As always, Serling brings his darkest tales to the party.

Frances Turchin (Geraldine Page) believes that her husband is trying to kill her, a plot that she describes in grand detail to Sergeant Stanley Bevelow (James Gregory). Of course, she goes on so much that she reminds the officer of his wife and he wonders how he can get away with it as well. “Stop Killing Me” was directed by Jeannot Szwarc and written by Jack Laird from a story by Hal Dresner. It is, as you can figure, another blackout sketch but stretched way longer than it has any right to be enlongated.

“Dead Weight” concerns Landau (Bobby Darin), a criminal involved in a bank heist gone wrong who needs to escape the attention of the police. That’s where Mr. Bullivant (Jack Albertson) comes in, as he has a history of helping get thugs out of jams just like this.

The truth? The fixer kills off the criminals, grinds them up and sends them away as dog food.

This was directed by Timothy Galfas, who also made Black Fist and also served as the cinematographer for the live action scenes that were rotoscoped over for the 70s animated Lord of the Rings. If you guessed that this was another Jack Laird script, based on the story “Out of the Country” by Jeffry Scott, you would be correct.

After two weeks of solid episodes, Night Gallery reminds us that it was a constant push and pull between the elegant and bleak world of Serling and the hackneyed and prosaic work of Laird. I wanted more this time and was left, well, wishing.

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