Night Gallery (1970-1973)
There are 3 episodes of Rod Sterling's 'The Night Gallery' that are of interest to Mythos fans: They were all aired as part of the second season. 2 were based directly on Lovecraft Storys - 'Cool Air' and 'Pickman's Model' while the 3rd, 'Professor Peabody's Last Lecture', just referenced some of the Mythos names. Also in the 2nd Season there was an episode titled 'Miss Lovecraft Sent Me' but other than the name there is no other related content. In the 4th Season, there was an adaptation of a Clark Ashton Smith story called 'Return of the Sorcerer' which was part of his Mythos work.
Night Gallery Season 2
Episode #14 (11/10/71)
Professor Peabody is teaching a course about ancient pagan religions, none of which he takes very seriously. Today's, lecture, he tells the call is about the Cult of the Great old ones (which he states 'started on Arkham'). He has a list of the Great Old Ones on chalked on his black board and proceeds to run through their names. Upon reaching 'Great Hastur', a student (named Derleth) stands up and warns the Professor on the dangers of reading some of these names aloud. The teacher dismisses him and continues. As he does so a storm starts to form outside. His ridicule continues and then he produces a copy of an old book which he informs the class is 'The Necronomicon by Abdul Alhazred'. He starts to quote from this blasphemous tome and the storm rages on. The Professor seems almost possessed as he rants about the Great Old ones return - the storm outside peaks and lighting strikes. The Professor is transformed into a humanoid tentacled creature as his class look on in horror.
This is a pretty enjoyable episode that is played totally for laughs. Though the make up at the end is dreadful, it kind of suits the playful tone of this episode.
- There are Students in the class called Lovecraft, Bloch and Derleth.
- Arkham is mentioned (as the birth place of the Cult of the Old Ones).
- The text read from The Necronomican is mostly taken from the Lovecraft story 'The Dunwich Horror'.
- 'The Great Old Ones' listed on the board were:
- Umr At-Tawil
- Great Hastur
- Rl'yeh Cthulhu
- Shub Niggurath
Night Gallery Season 2
Episode #17 (12/1/71)
The episode starts with two art connoisseurs discussing the painting on front of them in an old loft. They think it's the last work of artist, Richard Upton Pickman, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances 50 years ago.
The segment then flashes back to Pickman teaching art to a class of your women using the previously shown picture (titled 'Ghoul about to Dine) as the subject. One of the students, Mavis Goldsmith, is obviously impressed with the artist and is attracted to him. After the lesson, the college authorities fire Pickman for displaying such a disturbing image to young ladies of society.
The young female artist follows Pickman from the college to a local Inn where she asks the painter for permission to visit his studio so she can see his new collection of morbid works that he's rumoured to be working on. Pickman refuses but tells her about the legend of an eldritch race of ghouls that live in subterranean tunnels and emerge at night to feed on corpses - he tells here these are the inspirations for his work. Ms. Goldsmith not shocked by the revelation declares her love for Robert which he spurns, quickly leaving the establishment, leaving a painting behind.
Mavis Goldsmith deduces the location of Pickman's studio from a scenic painting of it that she owns. She tracks down the building with the intention of returning the forgotten painting to the artist. Entering the old studio, she initially find its empty but after searching through a few rooms she stumbles upon a collection of (mostly) half finished painting of hideous creatures. As she examining a particularly ghoulish one - Richard Upton Pickman enters disturbing her. He begs her to leave and never to see him again but as he does such a sound outside disturbs them. He tells her it's now too late and he goes to investigate and warns her to stay put. She hears the artist talking to an heard thing then the door opens slowly and a creature (like those in the paintings) enters and attacks Ms Goldsmith. Pickman trys to rescue her but is severely injured in the attempt but it does allow the young woman to flee. The struggle also reveals that some of Pickman's previously covered skin is similar to that of the monster. The ghoul then takes the artist's prone body back to the tunnels. Mavis Goldsmith returns some days later with her father who seals off the tunnels while his daughter removes what's left of Pickman's art.
The segment then returns to the duo of art lovers who decide to search the rest of the house for more of Pickman's work. The episode ends with them opening the seal to the tunnels with a ghoul lying in wait beyond.
Though like many Night Gallery episodes this is pretty stagey, it starts off pretty well. Bradford Dillman is pretty good as Richard Upton Pickman and the rest of the cast do their jobs adequately enough but all this is marred by a train wreck of a conclusion. Modern producers (well 70's anyway) obviously decided that a photo of the creature wasn't enough so they had to show it in all its glory in a well lit scene. Unfortunately, the ghoul's makeup was poor and looks even worse to today's audiences. (Ironically, This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement in Makeup (1971-72).
- The episode makes many changes to the original story where the Narrator is telling the story to his friend. There is no love interest and the only evidence of Ghouls (and the twist in the tale) was a photo of the creature revealing that Pickman was painting 'live subjects' and not from his imagination.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award: Outstanding Achievement in Makeup (1971-72).
- Although not mentioned in the original story, other Lovecraft sources give the date of Pickman's disappearance as 1926. The settings in the episode, however, indicate this television version takes place at a date much earlier than this (however, the aluminium paint tubes shown in the scene in Pickman's studio were invented in the early 1890s).