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Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974~'75)

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 8:41 pm    Post subject: Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974~'75) Reply with quote

"Kolchak:The Night Stalker" was an ABC network supernatural---and on a few occasions sci~fi---television series.

It was created by journalist Jeff Rice.

The show lasted only one season and ran from September 13, 1974 to March 28, 1975 for a total of 20 episodes.

The series has gained a devoted cult following even with its short run.

Show's Premise : Reporter Carl Kolchak investigates eerie and strange murders each week that often are supernatural in origin.

The TV show was actually spun-off from two ninety-minute TV movies.
"The Night Stalker" from January 11, 1972, and "The Night Strangler" from January 16, 1973.

Noted author Richard Matheson wrote the teleplay's for both TV movies.

Matheson wrote a number of episodes for Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone." He wrote another highly praised TV movie, "Duel," which helped to put its director Steven Spielberg on the map.

A number of Matheson's novels have been adapted to film such as I Am Legend. This novel would be put on film several times, starting with "The Last Man on Earth" (1954) and starring Vincent Price.

Later on as "The Omega Man" (1971) starring Charleton Heston which would also be based upon the Matheson novel.

His The Shrinking Man novel would be adapted to film in 1956 as "The Incredible Shrinking Man."

Hell House was filmed as "The Legend of Hell House" in 1973; and Bid Time Return was shot as "Somewhere In Time" in 1980.

Yeah, this gent was truly talented.

On the show, Darren McGavin played Chicago I.N.S (Independent News Service) reporter Carl Kolchak.

Kolchak is a somewhat disheveled reporter that always wears his old seersucker suit with a pork-pie straw hat on his head and drives his yellow Ford Mustang convertible.

Kolchak is a veteran reporter and a good one who has bounced around a number of newspapers. He can be unorthodox as he goes about getting that all important story.

Carl, like most journalists, is suspicious by nature and doesn't simply take anyone's word at face value.

This includes any and all authority figures with whom Kolchak often clashes when they are evasive, or attempt to suppress the facts.

Sometimes---many times---Carl is on the losing end of these battles with the-powers-that-be; hence his bouncing from one newspaper to another whenever he's fired.

Tony Vincenzo, Carl's editor at I.N.S., was played by the terrific Simon Oakland. To say that Carl & Tony butt heads is an understatement.

Tony is often exasperated by Kolchak's antics and let's Carl know it in a bellowing voice. Tony also realizes that Carl is one hell of a reporter and will begrudgingly stand by him.

Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) is a fellow reporter at I.N.S.

Ron is kind of the 'Felix Unger' of the newspaper. He is fussy, cultured, and neatly dressed at all times.
None of that fits Carl, so that's probably why he & Ron bicker all the time and have nothing in common.

Ruth McDevitt portrayed the elderly and kind columnist Edith Cowles who dispensed advice to readers ala Ann Landers.
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Bud Brewster
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 12:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I didn't watch very many of the episodes, but I do remember enjoying the first one, about Dracular living in Las Vegas because it had such an active night life.

Clever Idea. Very Happy

YouTube has that original TV movie and a site containing seven full episodes with reasonably good pictures.

Enjoy! _

_________ Kolchak The Night Stalker Movie 1972


_________________ Kolchak: The Night Stalker


Is there no man on Earth who has the wisdom and innocence of a child?
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 03, 2020 10:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"The Night Stalker" (January 11, 1972) and the sequel "The Night Strangler" (January 16, 1973) were both exciting and well done horror TV-movies.

Stalker took the classic vampire legend and updated it by setting it in contemporary Las Vegas instead of doing it as a period piece like the majority of vampire movies were usually done such as the marvelous Hammer Films.

The other refreshing aspect to these TV-movies was the mixture of humor in with the horror-supernatural atmosphere.

The scripting was first rate and the casting for each TV-movie was top-notch.

As sequels go, Strangler cannot quite match Stalker.

Strangler follows its predecessor's formula, and therefore doesn't have that advantage of being original or as surprising as Stalker was in 1972.

However, Strangler is a suspenseful romp with some chilling scenes and achieves what it sets out to do and that is to frighten us.

Trivia: Writers Richard Matheson & William F. Nolan wrote a script for a third Kolchak TV~movie titled "The Night Killers."

Premise: Key politicians are being murdered and replaced with lookalike androids.

For whatever reasons the project was dropped and Kolchak instead morphed into a weekly television series.

In that regard I believe the fun and freshness of the TV~movies, as well as only doing them occasionally versus every week, would have been the smarter way to go with the concept.

While I enjoyed the TV series, it became apparent that they ran out of clever and intriguing foes for Carl Kolchak to encounter.

I always found the show to be at its best with its early episodes. As it went on the plots seemed to become rather stale and not nearly as engaging to me.

Perhaps the series premise was too rigid which led to uninspiring episodes.

Perhaps the formula each week of having Kolchak figure out the truth of a situation; no one believing him or doing cover ups; Carl defeating the supernatural-sci~fi enemy alone and having no proof; became too repetitive for fans?

Keeping the premise to one or two 90-minute special TV-movies would have worked much better.

Kolchak does certainly have a cult following, no denying that at all.

And a handful of episodes are enjoyable while other episodes have their moments, and others just fall flat.

Doesn't keep me from re-watching my favorite episodes such as "The Ripper," "The Zombie," or "The Werewolf."
Scary episodes to watch on a Halloween Evening to be sure.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2020 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pow, I had read that the third movie was proposed after the TV show had been canceled. Darren McGavin, who was upset with how the network treated his show, told them to go pound sand.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 12, 2020 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe it, Krel, Darren was a pretty tough customer in real life. So he wouldn't hesitate to tell a network or producers where they can all go.

It's very arduous for any actor to be in a TV series where they are carrying the show and are in 99% of the scenes. Hour long TV shows put in fifteen, sixteen, seventeen hour long days for filming...or more. It always made sense to me that a series would have an ensemble cast rather than having most of the burden fall on one person week after week.

David Janssen had to quit "The Fugitive" after its fourth season because he was so burned out from having to be in almost every scene. One of my favorite actors is James Garner, and he ended up in the hospital trying to keep up with the demands of "The Rockford Files." And it almost cost him his marriage.

I think the same thing would have happened to Darren had his Kolchak series had been renewed for a second season.

As I wrote in an earlier post here, ''Kolchak:TNS" would have worked great as one or two 90-minute TV-movies a year. I think the quality could have been better overall for the production.

It also would allow them to develop better villains with having more time to prepare versus the mad dash a weekly series must do in order to meet their schedule.
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