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TV show: Night Gallery (NBC)
Air date: March 1, 1972
Streaming on Netflix?: No
After The Twilight Zone ended in 1964, Rod Serling gave the genre anthology format another shot with Night Gallery, though much less effectively. Hamstrung by NBC executives, Serling didn't oversee Night Gallery with the same kind of freedom he'd had with CBS and Zone—furthermore, his heart wasn't in it as much. As a result, only a handful of Night Gallery episodes left lasting impacts anywhere near even second-tier Zone installments, but one episode is scarier than damn near all of The Twilight Zone. And, of course, it was written by Serling himself.
Serling adapted "The Caterpillar" from author Oscar Cook's original short story. It's pure E.C. Comics material—a douchey British civil servant named Macy (Laurence Harvey) moves in with a married older man and his young, beautiful wife, whom Macy endlessly eye-fucks. Thinking he needs to kill the man in order to bag his wife, Macy pays someone to leave an earwig on the guy's pillow—earwigs are tiny insects that love human ears, veraciously burrow their way into them, and, since they can't see anything inside a person's head, the bugs feed on the brain as they seek an exit.
Basically, if an earwig enters your skull, you're toast, but only after experiencing the worst kind of drawn-out, agonizing pain. Which, that's right, Macy himself eventually meets firsthand, leading to a final twist, delivered through a wonderful piece of dialogue, that's sick, macabre, and brilliant.