Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The seventh season of the suspense anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents rather surprisingly did not open with an episode directed by Alfred Hitchcock himself, but instead with "The Hat Box," directed by frequent series contributor Alan Crosland Jr. In fact, Hitch helmed only one episode this season -- but it was a knockout. "Bang, You're Dead," starring child actor Billy Mumy as a lonely youngster who gets hold of a loaded gun, is one of the few series episodes in which host Alfred Hitchcock eschews his traditional humorous epilogue, instead delivering a solemn plea for better and more efficient gun control. The bulk of the season's episodes are directed by such "regulars" as Norman Lloyd and Paul Henreid. New additions to the directorial docket include John Newland, fresh from three seasons on the paranormal anthology One Step Beyond, whose best season-seven effort is "Bad Actor," starring a young Robert Duvall as the homicidal title character. Also showing up in the Hitchcock director's chair this season is former Broadway leading man Richard Whorf, a year away from his long directorial association on the popular sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies. One of the seventh-season episodes was deemed too gruesome for network play, and was never shown on NBC; however, "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," depicting a fateful three-way confrontation between a retarded youth (Brandon de Wilde), a cheating wife (Diana Dors), and an electric buzz saw, was subsequently included in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents syndicated package, and has since popped up frequently on the public-domain home-video market. In its second year on NBC's Tuesday-night schedule, Alfred Hitchcock Presents continued to languish in the ratings, a dilemma attributed to its powerhouse competition on CBS (Dobie Gillis) and the fact that the half-hour anthology format was on its last legs. Thus, when the series returned for its eighth season, it had returned to its original network, CBS, and expanded to a full 60 minutes per week.