A show that *does* still hold up? Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Dale Sams, Jul 2, 2020.

  1. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I saw you all saying the Six Million Dollar Man doesn't hold up, and I'll get to it eventually, but I'm really enjoying my rewatch of Kolchak.

    I could just watch the interactions between him and Simon Oakland.

    Yeah, I remember things got pretty dire as the season went on but the ones I've seen so far? Jack the Ripper, The Zombie One, the Invisible Alien one? Solid.
     
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  2. amp

    amp Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I haven't seen it in many years, but Kolchak was a great, creepy show. And it was one of Chris Carter's main influences when developing The X-Files.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It's mostly entertaining, though formulaic in the '70s way where every episode is practically its own alternate universe. (Really, what are the odds that the same reporter would continue to just accidentally stumble upon supernatural occurrences while on routine assignments over and over again, and would be just as disbelieved by his editor and the police every single time no matter how much evidence he uncovered? It often felt less like a continuing series than like an anthology of variations on the same premise.)

    But there are a couple of things that don't hold up today, primarily some disturbing, hopefully accidental echoes of racist practices in early episodes. In "The Zombie," Kolchak defeats a black zombie by essentially lynching him, and in "The Vampire," he defeats the vampire with a gigantic burning cross. Why did it need to be on fire? If it’s the holiness of a cross that makes it potent against the spawn of Satan, then surely desecrating a cross by burning it would weaken its effect, not strengthen it. It's a bad idea to show your hero defeating evil by acting like a member of the KKK, especially when his birth name is already Karel Kolchak.

    The show also doesn't treat female characters very well, tending to relegate them to the role of victims or beauty-obsessed villains, and Kolchak fat-shames Beatrice Colen's character, whose build is perfectly average. And it doesn't handle Native American culture and lore any better than any other '70s show.
     
  4. Dale Sams

    Dale Sams Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    The fat-shaming definitely stood out....ah, I thought you were referring to the big girl who worked in the office...cause i was going to point out how the 'rival reporter in The Ripper Ep' was referred to as 'fat' by several characters....and she wasn't nearly fat!! But after looking her up, Thats Beatrice Colen.*

    I never picked up the lynching thing. Interesting.

    And I think the police believe him as often as not. And yes, exactly on the alternate universe thing. It just resets every episode.

    *I see she also played Etta Candy in Wonder Woman....for crying out loud TV Execs, if you want a fat character just hire a fat actress! I wonder if Beatrice developed any neuroses over this!!

    "Am *I* fat??"
     
  5. Roundabout

    Roundabout Commander Red Shirt

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    The show has its charms. Darren McGavin's performance, as the intrepid reporter, deserves a lot of the credit for making the show better than it probably would had been without him.

    The special effects were awful. The werewolf on the cruise ship was a case in point.

    One of the memorable things about the show was Kolchak's interactions and verbal sparring with the various police officials throughout the series, as well as with Vincenzo.

    I did a rewatch of the show recently. The two made for tv movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler, were the two best installments of the show. The Ripper episode seemed almost like a rip off of The Night Stalker, yet it was one of the better episodes from the series.

    The zombie episode and the one with the monster terrorizing those elderly Jewish folks were pretty good too.

    There was that effeminate reporter in the INS office that Kolchak was always needling. Kolchak called the guy "uptight" instead of his name Updyke, which was an interesting name for an effeminate character.



    There was a remake of the series that aired a number of years ago. It didn't have the charm of the original.
     
  6. TopperHenly

    TopperHenly Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I wonder if another influence of the X-files was The Omega Factor?
     
  7. Push The Button

    Push The Button Commodore Commodore

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    My brother and I were big fans, and watched all of the episodes during the first run on ABC in 1974-75. It is both sad and fortunate that it only lasted for one season, as I think the premise was already beginning to run out of gas by the end.

    Darren McGavin was perfectly cast as Karl Kolchak, I don’t believe the show would have worked at all with another actor in that spot.

    I think one of the best tributes to this show, and an indicator of its cult status are the present-day fans that cosplay Karl at cons.
     
  8. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Is this streaming free anywhere? I tried a few episodes a while back while one of the retro channels was showing, but it was on late and I always ended up falling asleep right after it started.
    I've been hearing about it for ages, and I'd like to see more of it.
     
  9. amp

    amp Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Some of the episodes are on YouTube.
     
  10. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I think only Bob Odenkirk could do justice to that character today....
     
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  11. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That doesn't look official, and if it's possible I only watch official versions of shows and movies.
     
  12. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Yeah, it's very formulaic, with no character development, which irritated McGavin, but the interplay between him, Oakland and the rest of the staff is entertaining even in weak episodes.
    I would say that a remake would be great, but after the one 15 years ago, and in the absence of McGavin and Oakland...Some actors are difficult to replace.
     
  13. diankra

    diankra Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Interesting, but unlikely that Chris Carter saw a single season BBC series.
     
  14. RJDiogenes

    RJDiogenes Idealistic Cynic and Canon Champion Premium Member

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    Night Stalker is one of my all-time favorite shows. Darren McGavin was absolutely perfect as Kolchak, and the rest of the cast was also great. The episodic monster-of-the-week formula was fine with me-- I just wanted to see how monsters adapted to the present day. It was a little weird that all this supernatural stuff happened to one guy, but I actually came up with a story that offered a simple explanation (I was 13 years old-- I came up with a lot of Kolchak stories :rommie: ).
     
  15. publiusr

    publiusr Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The way I would make it work, would be to have the devil episode last, just after the manikin episode, as an explanation of all the supernatural goings on.

    Mr. R.I.N.G. would be the next season start.