Leonard Nimoy as a not-grieving-enough widower (at least in the eyes of his late wife’s friend) in the Night Gallery story “She’ll Be Company For You,” reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 9—aired 12/24/72 (a little hard to believe NBC aired a new non-holiday themed episode on Christmas Eve, but this was apparently not that uncommon in 1972. Also, this was one of the series’ worst episodes, so perhaps the network wanted to show it when it was least likely to draw an audience)
“She’ll Be Company For You” *1/2
Teleplay by David Rayfiel • Story by Andrea Newman
Directed by Gerald Perry Finnerman
Leonard Nimoy as Henry Auden
Lorraine Gary as Barbara Morgan
Kathryn Hays as June
Bern Hoffman as the Reverend
At invalid Margaret Auden’s funeral, her husband Henry (Leonard Nimoy) can’t feel much of anything beyond relief. He wonders (in voice-over narration) why this is the only thing he feels. Likely, the years of attending to his wife’s needs have worn him down and changed their relationship from that of husband and wife to that of caregiver and patient.
After the funeral, Margaret’s friend, Barbara (Lorraine Gary, Chief Brody’s wife in Jaws) takes it upon herself to return with Henry to his house. She asks him some pointed questions about how he’s feeling and when his declarations of loneliness are unconvincing, she tells him she’ll send her pet cat over while she vacations out of town.
On Henry’s first night home, Barbara’s cat, Jennet, a common orange tabby, first sidles up to Henry’s leg, then after Henry informs her to not get used to it as she won’t be there long, he begins to feel as though his late wife is still there, mainly from the sounds he hears of the ringing of the tiny bell she used to use to summon him to tend to her.
Soon, Henry begins to see signs of a much larger, non-domesticated cat. A big paw print here, a guttural roar there, and finally a glimpse caught of what appears to be a leopard.
With these disturbances, Henry can’t sleep at home and starts to spend the night at his office. When he seeks the compassion of his secretary, June (Kathryn Hays), with whom he has had some sort of closer-than-boss-employee relationship, she rebuffs him, saying while his wife was alive, he only wanted to take from her, but now that he truly needs her, she’s no longer interested. In fact, she seems to enjoy seeing him in pain.
When he finally returns home, his mental state becomes completely unhinged as he sees both a leopard, then a tiger outside on the patio. He decides to take matters into his own hands and goes out there with a large knife, slashing through the plants, as if a hunter in the jungle stalking his prey. Finally, he passes out.
When he comes to, he is resolved to the inevitability of the large cat’s pursuit of him and grimly marches up the stairs to his bedroom, awaiting his fate and hoping it doesn’t hurt too much.
The next morning, Barbara has returned from her trip and shows up at Henry’s house looking for him. Seeing the first floor empty, she climbs the stairs and inside Henry’s bedroom she finds Jennet on the floor, licking at a patch of blood on the carpet as the camera pans up and we see Henry’s arm streaked with blood as he lies dead in his bed.
This episode is a real mess, very confusing and no way to reconcile what we’ve seen without concluding that it’s ridiculous. If Henry was hallucinating that Jennet the tabby was a wild cat, then why did he end up dead, apparently at the hands (paws) of a large feline? If it’s supposedly to have really happened, then how do we explain it? His wife’s friend happened to own a cat that could transform itself into a leopard and a tiger in the event of her friend’s husband not being a sufficiently contrite widower? Nimoy does what he can with the role, but the script and direction are confused at best, incompetent at worst. One of the series’ low points.