Finally, an episode of Night Gallery you can savor, as “Pickman’s Model” is one of the better stories that the show would present. Sure, you have to deal with a middling story in the, well, middle, and the Jack Laird blackout segment is predictable flotsam and jetsam, but when you have an opening this strong, that’s why you stay with this show.
Remarkably, Laird would direct the first segment from a script by Alvin Sapinsley. Based on the H.P. Lovecraft story, this is about Richard Upton Pickman (Bradford Dillman), a painting teacher at a women’s college. Somehow, he keeps his job despite all of his work being so horrific it nearly causes people to pass out. Mavis Goldsmith (Louise Sorel) becomes obsessed with him, despite him trying to remain apart from her. As she tracks him down, she discovers that the creatures in his paintings are horribly real, thanks to special effects by Leonard Engelman and John Chambers, who used the original mold for the Creature from the Black Lagoon to make their monster. Another tie to monster films is that Mavis lives in the same studio backlot house that was once home to the Munsters.
For someone so devoted to humorous vanilla horror, the fact that Laird made more than one Lovecraft story on this show is slightly perplexing. Maybe people really aren’t all good or bad; there are shades of everything.
“The Dear Departed” was directed by Jeff Corey and written by host Rod Serling. Based on a Alice-Mary Schnirring story, it’s about two spiritualist con artists — Mark Bennett (Steve Lawrence) and Joe (Harvey Lembeck) — and the affair Mark is having with his partner’s wife Angela (Maureen Arthur). Once Joe is hit by a bus, their act becomes legitimate, to Mark’s horror.
“An Act of Chivalry” is the absolute nadir of this show, if “Pickman’s” is near the height. Just the dumbest of sight gags and something that denigrates this show to a degree that emotionally bothers me. About the only nice thing you can say is that at least future Electra Woman Deidre Hall is in it.
Ah Night Gallery. Often you are the peak and the valley at the same time.