Night Gallery

Season 2 Episode 24

Big Surprise

Aired Unknown Nov 10, 1971 on NBC
out of 10
User Rating
47 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Big Surprise
An eccentric farmer promises a "big surprise" to a group of boys... if they dig for it.

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  • Good and interesting buildup, ultimately leading to a completely inane and ridiculous ending. Would be entertaining for a young child though.

    The setup for this story is intriguing, though basic, and does pull one in. However the payoff is lazy and fairly ridiculous, killing all interest in the story. My first thought was "what a lazy ending". There is no real resolution to the story as well, just a surreal ending that offers no closure. The old man played by John Carradine is suitably creepy, and the boys all play their roles convincingly, but it's just not enough to offset the ending. It feels very incomplete and I'm a bit puzzled at the fairly high rating of this episode. I do think a young child would be entertained by this, but as an adult, I can't really endorse it.moreless
  • Three boys are in for a "big suprise" alright.

    Three boys are told by a mysterious old farmer that if they dig under an oak tree in a field near a church that they would find a "big suprise". What they don't know is that they are in for a "big suprise", indeed. More terrifying than they could have ever imagined.

    Big Suprise stars John Carradine as the mysterious old farmer, and one of the boys is played by Vincent Van Patten. Although relatively short, it is one of the best episodes of Night Gallery, written by Richard Matheson, who also wrote a few episodes of the Twilight Zone.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Host: Our painting reminds us that there's a strange fascination with digging holes along side ancient oaks. You give the average man a shovel and an "X" on a map and the fantasies come thick and fast. Pirate gold, hidden Confederate treasure and sometimes the unexpected, and sometimes the unwelcome. Hence the title, Big Surprise.

    • Hawkins: You know where Miller's Field is? You know where that big oak tree is? Go over to that tree and face the steeple of the church, you understand? Walk ten paces, dig down four feet... and there you'll find a great big surprise!

  • NOTES (3)

    • In syndication, combined and airs first before "Professor Peabody's Last Lecture" and "Quoth the Raven".

    • The syndicated version uses randomly-inserted shots of birds gathering, from The Birds (1963), to pad out the episode. It also changes the ending, adding some wavering effects and footage from earlier in the episode, to end the episode by making it appear that the last half of the episode is Chris merely imagining what will happen if he takes up Hawkins' offer.

    • This episode is based on the short story "Big Surprise" (also called "What Was in the Box") by Richard Matheson. The story was first published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine (April 1959).


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