Night Gallery

Season 3 Episode 1

The Return of the Sorcerer

Aired Unknown Sep 24, 1972 on NBC
out of 10
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Episode Summary

The Return of the Sorcerer
A sorcerer hires a translator to divine the meaning of an ancient Arabic manuscript that has some grisly connection with his twin brother's death.

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  • The Price is right!

    I really like this episode of Night Gallery. It's very surreal. Vincent Price plays John Carnby, a paranoid, ageing ceremonial magician who hires Noel Evans (played by Bill Bixby) to complete the translation of an Arabic grimoire after previous translators resigned when they came across its most fiendish passage-about being flayed over burning coals and slowly dismembered! Hehehe!

    So poor Noel is caught between his duty to his employer (after Carnby pulls a gun on him to force him to finish the translation), the seductive allure of Fern (Carnby's assistant sorceress played by Trisha Sterling) who keeps him from bolting stage left, and his fear when he reads what the Arabic writing says will happen to him if he translates the book. Ooh, dilemma!

    Yet he remains to the grisly end. Fern is spooky, devoid of emotion and possessing sensual charms that Noel seems powerless to resist, but she also seems to be harbouring a secret. "The Return of the Sorcerer" is a must-see for fans of horror icon Vincent Price, who goes full-bore into the part of a frightened sorcerer who believes he hears "bits and pieces" of his murdered twin brother scurrying about just out of sight (Fern says they are just rats).

    What I also love most is Price's occult-decorated abode. Its red and black dcor, white dinning room, and a black mass sanctuary of worship is pure eye candy. Fern, with her pet toad, is just bizarre, and the black goat Carnby claims is his father eating at their dinner table, is a total hoot!moreless
  • A story about a sorcerer is really more about the ramblings of a crazy man.

    A disappointing episode that fails to deliver any thrills or surprises.

    The story had potential but the delivery was terrible. Bill Bixby plays a translator sent into decipher a famous textbook for a man, John Carnby, who seems to be a sorcerer in disguise.

    Despite that, however, this episode features almost no effects, except for a couple of hands walking on the floor (that are crudely done). This episode seems to resemble more a story about a madman losing touch with reality (something Price did with regularity in his movies). Unfortunately, the story isn't done very well and seems to be done more for laughs.

    Like for example one scene that has Carnby talking to a goat and calling it his father is absolutely ridiculous. Then the twist with Noel having an affair with the man's

    mistress is also predictable.

    The ending itself is really silly. When it seems that Noel has figured out the matter of whether the man is a sorcerer or not, he declines to pursue the matter more.

    This episode is just below average. It's kinda sad considering they had two great stars here. There's just not a real scary payoff here.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (2)

    • Host: Good evening. We're delighted that all of you could make it this evening because we have something special on tap. In the area of the occult, it's customary to preoccupy ourselves with witches, and too infrequently we dabble on the male side of that time-honored profession, the sorcerer. On display here is a painting showing the natural habitat of this species of black art practitioner. Dark alley, murky light, a few sundry skulls, and the gentleman himself on the right of the picture with the upraised hand and the funny little goat horns. Yes indeed, this is a sorcerer, and for those of you who disbelieve his existence, we invite you to check this out for a little while. Our painting is called The Return of the Sorcerer, and where better place for him to return than right here... in the Night Gallery

    • Noel: Uh, no, I--I can't kiss you with that frog.
      Fern: But it's beauty. I like beauty. Kiss the toad.
      Noel: Some other time, maybe.

  • NOTES (2)

    • The third season main title design changes, now featuring revised credits of gallery paintings of previous and future episodes moving toward the camera. Gil Mille's theme music is replaced with a more strident musical number, and the "Tonight's Guest Stars" appear within the frame of a painting on a wall.

    • This episode is based on the short story "The Return of the Sorcerer" by Clark Ashton Smith. This story was first published in Strange Tales of Mystery and Terror (September, 1931).


    • Necronomicon: This is the title of the book Noel Evans (Bill Bixby) was hired to translate. It was the creation of H.P. Lovecraft and formed one of the centerpieces of his Cthulhu Mythos stories. "Written" by the "mad Arab" Abdul Alhazred, it is described as a "terrible and forbidden" volume.

      A number of Lovecraft's colleagues, proteges and successors, with his approval, borrowed from and expanded upon elements of his works, including the Necronomicon. Among these are August Derleth (manager of Lovecraft's literary estate), Robert Bloch (author of Psycho and Clark Ashton Smith, the author of the story from which this episode was adapted.

      The book also featured prominently in director Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series of films.