Thursday, November 29, 2012
KOLCHAK, THE NIGHT STALKER
After the high ratings of the two movies featuring Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak, intrepid reporter who uncovers the unusual in The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, Kolchak was given his own series, which lasted one season, and took place in Chicago where he worked for International News Service (INS). Clad always in his rumpled white suit and straw hat, Kolchak would probably not be very likable were he not played by the always-likable McGavin, who is excellent in the show, along with Simon Oakland [Psycho] as his testy, rotund boss, Jack Grinnage as snooty Ron Updyke and the delightful Ruth McDevitt [The Birds] as senior reporter "Miss Emily" [these last two also worked at the paper and were semi-regulars]. The publisher's daughter Monique (Carol Ann Susi, who's now on The Big Bang Theory) also appeared in a couple of episodes before being called back to New York. Often closer to black comedy than out and out horror, Kolchak could be pretty cheesy and silly, and was only modestly entertaining. Most of the episodes were not memorable, although at least four were better than average: "Chopper" guest stars spirited Sharon Farrell in the tale of a ghostly biker who comes back and beheads the old buddies who were responsible for his accidental death; "Firefall" deals with cases of spontaneous combustion; "The Trevi Collection" (with Nina Foch of The Return of the Vampire, an excellent Lara Parker from Dark Shadows, and Henry Brandon of The Land Unknown) deals with a woman who uses witchcraft to take control of a fashion house; and "The Devil's Platform" features Tom Skerritt of Alien as a politician whose campaign trail is dogged by "accidental" deaths and murders -- this is probably the best episode of the series.
Verdict: Fun, minor, easy to take, if hardly all that it could have been. **1/2.