“The Diary” reviewed in this Night Gallery tale is given as a vengeful gift and predicts what will happen to its most deserving recipient…
Season 2 Episode 8—aired 11/10/71
“The Diary” **1/2
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by William Hale
Patty Duke as Holly Schaefer
David Wayne as Dr. Mill
Virginia Mayo as Carrie Crane
Robert Yuro as Jeb Harlan
James McCallion as George
Lindsay Wagner as the Nurse
Floy Dean as the Receptionist
Diana Chesney as the Maid
Holly Schaefer (Patty Duke) is a tv gossip columnist who in recent broadcasts has savagely and delightedly reported on the alcohol-fueled misadventures of faded star Carrie Crane (Virginia Mayo, herself a star in such films as White Heat from 20-25 years before). She intrudes on Holly’s New Year’s Eve party at her high rise to deliver a gift in the form of a diary.
From the privacy of her bedroom, the two exchange harsh words and Carrie leaves. Holly opens the diary and is astonished to find a first entry already written for January 1—in Holly’s own handwriting. One thing written is “Can’t shake that miserable disquiet over Crane’s suicide.”
There is a commotion among the guests in the living room and Holly emerges from her bedroom to find them congregating in horror near the open balcony window. Peering down to the pavement, Holly sees that Carrie Crane has jumped to her death.
The next morning, New Year’s Day, her boyfriend Jeb (Robert Yuro) opens the diary and finds an entry already in it for January 2, again in Holly’s handwriting. It says the phone was out of order and she missed being able to appear on her show that evening. After returning to her apartment later, she picks the phone up from the living room to carry it into the bedroom when she trips and falls, breaking it.
At Jeb’s advice, she sees a psychiatrist, Dr. Mill (David Wayne). Incidentally, she is missing her show in order to see him, so both things in today’s diary entry have now come true. He suggests that she may be clairvoyant, telepathic and thinks she may be writing her visions down in the diary with no recollection of doing so. She scoffs at this.
Before leaving, she picks up the diary and sees an entry for the next day. It says Jeb is dead. Hysterical, she rushes to his office and discovers from his secretary that Jeb has left on a last-minute business trip to San Francisco.
In the next scene, Dr. Mill is visiting Holly at her apartment and says he called Jeb and told him to come back immediately to be with her and on his way to the airport, Jeb was killed instantly in a car crash.
There is no next diary entry which convinces Holly that she won’t live until tomorrow.
In a grim, locked down psychiatric sanitarium, we hear Holly’s voice calling for Dr. Mill. When he arrives, the new nurse on duty (Lindsay Wagner, yeah the Bionic Woman herself a few years before that show began) tells him she’s been calling him for quite some time.
Dr. Mill goes to see Holly and she is raving, apparently quite insane. She’s been asking for a pen. The doctor says she asked to be committed and specified that she be given no sharp objects. The timing of her requesting to be committed was just after she saw the blank diary entry and concluded it foretold her death. She now thinks if she writes on that page that nothing will happen to her, she won’t die.
He goes to the nurse to retrieve a pen and explains to her that they’ve been giving Holly a pen every day for the last five years—the time which she’s been confined to the asylum.
This segment doesn’t have quite the bite, or pack quite the punch that it could have, mainly due to the “twist” ending taking too much time to think about rather than just having a visceral impact. Additionally, Rod Serling’s script throws in a fair amount of early 70s slang that doesn’t exactly jibe with his typical longer rhetorical flourishes and simply gives Patty Duke’s Holly too much dialogue to work her way through.