50 Years of Kolchak: A Legacy

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by cooleddie74, Jan 12, 2022.

  1. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Tonight marks 50 years to the day since a Dan Curtis-produced TV-movie named The Night Stalker aired on ABC in the United States. January 11, 1972 saw the birth of an influential character in pop culture, the zealous and excited investigative reporter for a wire service named Carl Kolchak(played with delicious verve by Darren McGavin) who with his omnipresent tape recorder, straw hat and penchant for getting in the faces of those in authority tackled vampires, other paranormal creatures preying on the innocent of 1970s America and even Jack the Ripper.

    The Night Stalker got such huge ratings that night that ABC commissioned a sequel film which would be called The Night Strangler and air the following year in 1973. The positive public reactions to both movies led to ABC greenlighting a weekly series based on them, entitled Kolchak: The Night Stalker which premiered in September 1974 and ran for one season before being canceled. Despite a limited lifespan in prime time Kolchak went on to become a cult hit in reruns and almost 20 years later inspired Chris Carter during his creation of The X-Files.

    What are your favorite memories of the Kolchak movies and series and your favorite stories? The original movie had at least three Star Trek veterans who had appeared in TOS just three to five years earlier - Barry Atwater(Surak), Elisha Cook, Jr.(Samuel T. Cogley) and Stanley Adams(Cyrano Jones).

     
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  2. Mr. Adventure

    Mr. Adventure Admiral Admiral

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    I didn't see this until well in my adult years but I had heard about "The Night Stalker" and the name conjured up a much more moody type of show in my imagination than the actual product. When I finally saw it and you had the dad from A Christmas Story bumbling through investigations it was not at all what I had built up for myself.

    That said, there aren't a lot of these "shaggy dog" kind of characters in science fiction, it's usually either quite slick or quite silly, so it's a nice change of pace. The classic Doctor Who scratches a similar itch.
     
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  3. Push The Button

    Push The Button Commodore Commodore

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    I watched a good number of the Kolchak episodes only once, during their original 1974-75 run on ABC, when I was eight years old. My first rewatch took place about forty years later, and I was amazed at how many details I remembered, the show had left such a deep impression on me.

    It was unfortunate that McGavin had such a negative experience with the production of the TV show that he would often refuse to talk about it in interviews, and refused to reprise the Kolchak character for The X-Files.

    McGavin was married to Kathie Browne, another Star Trek connection.
     
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  4. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Deela? I did not know that! That's cool!
     
  5. J.T.B.

    J.T.B. Rear Admiral Premium Member

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    I don't remember much. I am sorry to say, I have still never seen the original movie. I plan to take care of that soon.

    I remember my teenage uncle talking about "Kolchak," which I confused with "Kojak." It must have been the series, I was too young to remember anything from '72. Anyway, when I got it sorted out that "Kolchak" was a different show, the way my uncle had talked about it made me scared to death of it. I only remember seeing one scene, when I was at my grandparents' house with the same uncle. I was so scared I had to leave the room. Seeing it later, I think it was the episode on the cruise ship, a month or so before my fifth birthday.
     
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  6. BK613

    BK613 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I remember watching it (the first movie) and it was the topic of discussion among my friends at school the next day but I don't remember much about the series.

    In the details about the opening victim: She starts at the corner of Fremont and Casino Centre and intends to walk nine blocks to her home off 9th and Bridger.
    Someone actually used a Las Vegas map because it is seven blocks along Fremont to reach 9th and two blocks along 9th to reach Bridger.
    I like it when people take the time to get it right.
     
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  7. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    I’ve been a fan ever since I first saw the films and the TV show as a kid, in fact I watched the original film a month or so ago (it’s on YouTube if anyone’s interested). Is it as scary as I found it in my younger days, not really, is it just a joy to see Darren McGavin at work? Always.

    I own the TV series on DVD, and actually re-watched the episode that acts as a sequel to the original movie. The series is ok, certainly can’t fault the imagination that went into coming up with different monsters week in week out, but the episodes follow a set pattern and some are quite pedestrian, you can see why McGavin became disillusioned.

    I’ve just begun re-watching the X-Files, and the influences are so obvious, much as I’ve always been more of a monster of the week fan, I have to say Kolchak could have done with some kind of arc, the episodes do tend to blur into one another, which doesn’t mean some of them aren’t very entertaining.
     
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  8. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    If you, or perhaps your mom, read the National Enquirer back in the day, say, 1978 or so, you may also know McGavin chased off three home invaders from his house, referring to them as ''SOBs'' in the article. A decade or so later G. Gordon Liddy had a similar home event in which he was struck over the head, which he claimed would have killed a normal person.

    I liked KOLCHAK the show as a kid. In the 1970s we had lots of fantasy/sci-fi/horror on Friday nights, but the vast majority including Kolchak and APES were cancelled at about 14 weeks.

    So I liked KOLCHAK while it was on, but after later seeing the fantastic NIGHT STALKER and 90-percent-as great NIGHT STRANGLER, my love for the first TV-film in particular showed me the TV series was in the end very pedestrian. So I worked my way back to what I see as the pinnacle. I would watch the first film once a year, usually the moment my last day of school was completed.

    The dialogue and humor of STALKER are very JAWSy before their time. Matt Hooper has a lot of Kolchak in him in that sense.. McGavin has great repartee with almost the entire cast. They repeat this style even with newcomers like Wally Cox and Margaret Hamilton. And my personal favorite Kolchak exchange ever is the STRANGLER argument with Scott Brady.

    KOLCHAK: I've been a reporter for seventeen years!
    SCHUBERT: And I've been a police officer for thirty!
    KOLCHAK: Then why don't you retire?

    Plus Kolchak's hilariously-delivered question: ''Charisma Beauty?'' Priceless.
     
  9. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Ah, my beloved Kolchak. Still one of my all-time favorite heroes and characters. I've got the movies and series on DVD and I've seen them all countless times. If only we could have gotten one or two more seasons out of him.

    Happy Anniversary, Carl. :beer:

    There was also a third movie written by Richard Matheson called The Night Killers, set in Hawaii, which was never used because they went with the series instead (I've read that they would have used that script as the two-part season premiere of season two). This is how much of a Kolchak fanatic I am: In the early 80s when I read about this script in an interview with Matheson in Twilight Zone magazine, I immediately sent him a letter asking if I could buy a copy-- I quickly got a very nice and conversational reply that he had no idea where to find a copy. Years later, a hardcover volume was released with all three scripts, which I quickly purchased-- it turned out to be numbered and autographed, too, which I didn't even know when I sent for it.

    Also, Kickstarter has notified me of this, which my fellow fanatics may be interested in.
     
  10. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    At the time, I thought assembling the eye out of the x-rays in "The Energy Eater" was pretty creepy. It's the scene that's stuck with me most clearly.
     
  11. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    It's like The X-Files on a Bill Bixby The Incredible Hulk budget. And it works brilliantly.
     
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  12. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    Following on from the link @RJDiogenes provided there's also going to be a prose anthology and they're accepting submissions. This is definitely something I'm planning to submit a story for.

    Something interesting I noticed the last time I went through the series, was the episode Mr. R.I.N.G. This features a robot that's been built by the Tyrell Corporation. I thought that was interesting but just figured someone had read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. Except the company that builds replicants in the novel isn't called Tyrell, it's the Rosen Association! Tyrell is an invention of the 1982 film. Random coincidence or were Fancher or Peoples fans of the TV show? I suspect the former but it is cute coincidence nonetheless.
     
  13. Jedi Marso

    Jedi Marso Commodore Commodore

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    I have a foggy remembrance of this series, being 6-7 years old when it aired. I doubt I saw every one, and it wasn't normally the sort of thing my grandma and parents would have let me watch. I remember something about an episode where someone was cutting out hearts (like a MezoAmerican human sacrifice kind of thing.) I also sort of remember the opening credits, with McGavin banging away on the typewriter, the ticking clock, and freezeframe right at the end where he looks up as if surprised by something unexpected.

    Memory is a funny thing. I totally remember the show itself, but only bare snippets of the content. I should probably go back and rewatch a couple for old time's sake, but TBH there's a lot of stuff in 'the queue' that interests me more.
     
  14. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'm gratified nobody's brought up the pitiful remake attempt of STALKER-----ah, crap.
     
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  15. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I forgot that happened until just now. Wow. :lol:
     
  16. Foxhot

    Foxhot Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It didn't even make 14 weeks. The atrocious V remake managed about a full year.
     
  17. Starkers

    Starkers Admiral Admiral

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    There's definitely an episode featuring an Aztec cult. Legacy of Terror featuring Erik Estrada! (I had to look up the episode title but vividly recall Estrada was in it! :))
     
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  18. cooleddie74

    cooleddie74 Fleet Admiral Admiral

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  19. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    I was forbidden from watching Dark Shadows back in the 60s. But, thanks to good ol' Uncle Mike, I managed. :rommie:
     
  20. DarrenTR1970

    DarrenTR1970 Captain Captain

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    I remember seeing the sequel, 'The Night Strangler' in syndication and laughing at the Seattle underground city, because, growing up in the greater Seattle area, it's just a collection of connected basements with a few abandoned storefronts; not some cavernous underground city.
    I do remember that they filmed in the University of Washington's 'Red Square' and had the obligatory Seattle Center/Space Needle appearance.