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When the show was first announced it sounded promising, mostly because
producer Frank Spotnitz was a veteran of "The X Files"...and as we all
know, several "X Files" veterans were big fans of the original "Night
Stalker" movies and series.
Now, whenever a cultural icon is reinvented for a new era, one always expects a few changes. I don't think we were expecting this many.
Carl Kolchak, as you may recall, was a down-on-his-luck loner, a middle-aged, average-looking has-been reporter whose primary positive qualities were his investigative skills, his tenacity and his flair for mocking authority. He had a part buddy/ part adversarial (mostly the latter) relationship with his boss, Tony Vincenzo. The adversarial part of their relationship came to a head when Kolchak came upon the story that first piqued his interest in the supernatural: a killer who appeared to be an actual vampire. The police, not wanting to look stupid, were not about to admit that there really might be things that go bump in the night running around their city...and Vincenzo (being not exactly akin to Ben Bradlee) was only too happy to quash the story in order to keep the authorities happy. This, of course, rubbed Kolchak the wrong way. Kolchak was dedicated to getting the truth out, no matter what.
Well, that brings us to the new Kolchak.
In ABC's latest incarnation, Kolchak is changed almost beyond recognition. Now he is young, good-looking and morose. He no longer seems to have arguments with Vincenzo. Most surprisingly, perhaps...he was married. His wife was killed by one of these bumpy-night-things, and now he pursues stories about them. Instead of operating alone, he's joined by his partner Peri and staff photographer Jain.
This makes for an awfully weird feel. Watching a young, handsome Kolchak investigate a story with his capable partner Peri and wide-eyed photographer Jain, you get the feeling you're actually in Metropolis with Clark, Lois and Jimmy.
Those changes alone are enough to alienate a number of the "Night Stalker" faithful. But there's an underlying feeling, a style, that's also very different from the original books, movies and series.
Whereas the "old" Kolchak used to narrate events in a snappy, factual way, Spotnitz has fallen back into his "X Files" habit of just using opening and closing narration which, even then, is more on the philosophical than factual side. It's a change that removes a considerable amount of the pacing and realism from the show. And if you're looking for the old Kolchak who had a smart mouth and was ever quick with a quip...forget it. He's not here. This Kolchak is more moody than mouthy.
Even the music is languid. In the original movies, the score was jazzy yet kind of morbid, a style that fit the stories to a T. Here, you'll find music more like what you'd hear on...well, "The X Files".
Then there's the Vincenzo thing. "Old" Kolchak had to battle not only the authorities but his boss. This one is clearly Kolchak's pal, which removes half the conflict from the show. Believe it or not, there are none of those wonderful Kolchak-Vincenzo screaming matches here. Instead, we're offered an FBI agent who wants to pin the death of Kolchak's wife on Kolchak himself. Shades of The Fugitive. (Ironically, the agent's name is Fain. Bernie Fain was an FBI agent buddy of Kolchak's in the original novel.)
One truly bizarre feature of the show: this Kolchak drives a newish yellow Mustang and lives in a penthouse suite with a built-in swimming pool. Give me a break!
The true test of whether this is a worthy "Night Stalker" or not is...if you removed the title from the show, and changed the names of the characters to Smith and Jones...would anybody recognize it? Chances are, beyond the fact that the stories are supernatural and the hero works at a newspaper, no, you would not. Kolchak no longer resembles Kolchak, either figuratively or literally.
The one bright spot in the show was a digitally-inserted "in-joke" in which Darren McGavin, replete with seersucker suit and straw hat, was inserted into the foreground of a shot of the newsroom. Unfortunately, it served only to remind the viewer of the big difference between the original Kolchak and Spotnitz's Kolchak.
And finally -- without giving away spoilers -- there's the puzzling shot of Kolchak's hand at the end of the episode which ties in with the murder of his wife. That was just weird.
The fault does not all lie with Frank Spotnitz. In a TV Guide interview, he stated that the "mission" aspect of the show -- finding the killer of Kolchak's wife -- was inserted at the insistence of the suits at ABC, who felt Kolchak needed a stronger motivation for going after ghoulies and ghosties. Nevertheless, this "Night Stalker" does not have the jazzy music, the narration, the pacing or the comic patter -- in other words, the feel -- of the original. It looks more like "The X Files" than "The Night Stalker".
Oh well. It's not a bad show. It just should've been much, much better.
This was a good idea (bringing back Kolchack: The Night Stalker) unfortunately everyone who bought the rights to the name completely ignored what made the original a great show. No matter what glitz and glamor you crank out - there is nothing that compares to a great character driven drama. And trust me, this was nothing resembling a great character driven drama. The main characters are completely bland and forgettable just going through the motions. No matter what the powers that be think works as an update to the show - this show needed an old touch to it. Darren McGavin was a great character actor and that is the first thing this show needed - someone who has something interesting about them. But it would also take more than one character actor - the original had several stand out performers. People who were not bland, people who you remembered. Kolchak should be played by a middle aged man - not some young generic stud. Have him work with the generic people if you want, but the main character has to be one who acts interesting. This was indeed an X-Files Clone, and a pale one at that. So much for formulas on what to put in a show - put in something that stands out instead. Thoughly disgusted and disappointed with this tripe.
My expectations confessedly did not run very high when word of this project came to me. I mean, let's be honest, the original Night Stalker was a one of a kind gem that only happens once in awhile. It was a show ahead of its time, and its legacy has grown tremendously over the years despite its one year run. Star Trek ran for only three years you might remember. I also understand that things must change for different audiences. But why would writers with some ability(from The X-Files - a great show I might add)change everything except the names The Night Stalker, Karl Kolchak, and Vincenzo. They are the only links this new show has with the old. The way the series is shot is markedly different, the tones of the stories markedly different, the actors(for lack of a better word) are markedly different and so on. I can guess what might have happened: genre writers who grew up on the old show pitched the idea of remaking the series to the networks wanting to pay homage and make a new, exciting series. I think they probably wanted to stay close to the heart of the old show. A great central character that was affable, unflappable, and played by a guy that could act would be needed. They probably knew that the show's success would hinge on this actor's representation of the role. Darren McGavin was a great actor, and yes, now he is way too old to assay this role. But why in the world did the producers get some guy like Stuart Townsend. He looks like he popped out of the pages of GQ magazine and has so little range. This is the guy that is going to convey humor in much of what he says and does amidst the surroundings of stark horror and investigative reporting? Is anyone out there buying him as a gritty reporter in Los Angeles or anywhere else? You know how little faith the producers had in him when they assigned him a beautiful helper. Gabrielle Union, a beautiful woman but an average at best actress, wanders through the inane dialog with little conviction. She is helping Kolchak? I was just flabbergasted with how bad this remaking of the series was from the perspective of looking at the show's foundation. Maybe if it wasn't called The Night Stalker then I could accept it for the mediocre sci-fi rehash that it is. But when you call it something that brings smiles to the faces of horror fans from the seventies you then have an obvious comparison to make. There is no comparison at all. Absolutely none. This is dreck when placed on those standards. The show is talky with little action or suspense. It fails miserably in evoking any kind of fond memories for anyone who is watching it because of its name. Just a pitiful shame and a pitiful show.
.....and never have I been so disappointed. I am not sure why this series was even produced at all?! Did they hope to draw in the fans of the old show? If so, this was not the way to do it. None of the charisma of Darren McGavin is evident in the "acting" of the current "Carl Kolchak". I'm also not sure why he has a partner. Since they went to all the trouble of lifting the following from the original: Kolchak drives a Mustang (updated), works as a reporter, works for Tony Vincenzo, you'd think they would also try and establish some of the charm of the original show (no one believes Kolchak, his bumbling, wacky clothing, intrusive style of reporting, etc. In their defense, I suppose they DIDN'T want to remake the series over again, perhaps they wanted to completely re-do the series and attract the younger viewer - but why call it the "Night Stalker"? They would have done just as well (which was horribly) with "Night Reporter Who Bears Little to No Resemblance to Carl Kolchak"
When this was announced I knew there would be trouble.Kolchak is one of
TV land's most beloved and remembered supernatural-themed shows.One of
the reasons being the superb casting of the Late,greats Darren
McGavin,and Simon Oakland.
As a big fan of the original I was looking forward to a faithful updating.The studio just used the name to launch a generic x-files wanna-be.
This time we get Sturt Townsand and Gabrielle Union.They are not bad.The stories that aired had a little promise.The whole thing played like a wake.None of the charm or wit of the original to be found,and ended up very disappointing.
Townsend is a bit underrated in my book.He could have grew into the role if given time and better writing.A bit too young for the character in my book.
With Time this might have developed into something good.The show needed to start with a BANG;Not on mute.They just went for a serious tone with nothing to balance it out.How could the network have the stomach to green-light this and send it out into the public.
It was clear from the start they had no idea of the following the original had.
I expected more.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
May Contain Spoilers**** Disappointing as named. Did they even bother
to WATCH the original show? We already have X-Files, and it was far
superior to this X-erox.(sic) Too bad. The actors are fine--for a
different type of show--they're all very pretty. If the show wasn't
parading itself under the banner "Night Stalker" it might even have
potential, but it's hard to get past that.
The original show had character in itself and had CHARACTERS--great character actors playing interesting roles. It was fun, entertaining. The new version is dreary and depressing. The new show uses the old saw about the the murdered wife and her unsolved crime...Are you kidding me? The Fugitive, Monk, First Wave...Stealing from the stuff they already stole, huh?
And, since when does Kolchak have anyone around him who believes a word he's saying? Like two, sexy cohorts.
A huge disappointment, since expectations are not met. Maybe some day, some one will get it and remake the series properly.
After reading some of the negative comments of certain viewers here on
this new series I was intrigued to watch it so I could get a personal
opinion. To begin with, there's not even a single episode of the old
Night Stalker of the seventies that I missed and that because I'm a
This new series has very little in common with the original ,old series. That, however, doesn't make it bad. Perhaps giving the series the same title was a promotional mistake but the series is definitely not.
Stuart Townsend is a superb actor, carrying with him very convincingly the air of a very special, talented reporter whose life was messed up by an, unexplained tragedy ,something that makes his life even more lonely and tortured but at the same time fills him with the resolution to find out. This necessary feeling Stuart conveys to the audience in an exceptional way.
Gabrielle Union is a very clever young reporter who in this group of three, plays the role of the doubting Thomas in a unique way .The audience senses an attraction and a respect for Kolchac but at the same time some fear that the man might be unstable and therefore untrustworthy. She prefers to distrust any references to the occult or mystery but also has the honesty to acknowledge something extraordinary when it happens. She gives a very good account of that sort of person and is an excellent actress apart from being very sweet and extremely sexy.
Equally talented and a very interesting character is the actor Eric Jungmann who plays the role of their assistant. An eager young journalist trying with enthusiasm and diligence to get into the gist of reporting he is all the time swayed between the 2 protagonists with the equally strong character trying to built the right profile of the pro he wants to be at the same time maintaining a balance with where his own instinct leads him.
Finally a very solid and convincing performance from the actor Cotter Smith who plays the role of the experienced,sometimes tough editor who however has a genuine love and interest in his reporters whom he wishes to succeed in their missions every time.
All in all I find this series very thrilling and really hope it goes on forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Sci-fi channel is currently running an NS marathon. WHat exactly is the point? One only has to watch the opening five minute of the first installment to realize what an unmitigated FARCE the whole thing is. The original series earned it's richly deserved cult status by blending equal parts humor and horror, and the UPDATED series unfortunately tosses this concept onto the scrap heap. The other critical element that is missing is a little thing called CONFLICT. This new Kolchak has a support system resembling a CHEERING SECTION. His new-age editor is the genteel, paternal sort and any resemblance to the previous series incarnate is virtually impossible to detect. And the idea of partnering him with some attractive but bland eye-candy, as well as a sycophantic toady, is just too laughable for words. Frank Spoonitz deserves the lion's share of blame for this fiasco. He SO desperately wanted to put his own stamp on this series that he forgot to make suspenseful or funny or scary or provocative or just plain mildly interesting. Calling David Chase.
In the spirit of full disclosure, and just because I am simply lazy,
this review also appears as a general posting on a message thread on
the show's IMDb page...
I personally liked the show. I actually saw it on re-runs on Space (the Canadian counterpart to SyFy) and not during the original airing of the show. It struck me that this new incarnation of "Night Stalker" was a show very much in the vein of "Millenium", a wonderful, wonderful show created by Chris Carter and starring the talented Lance Henriksen. It had that same brooding, dark and suspenseful atmosphere, but more than that it also had almost the same substance and heart as that show. Style was never, at least in my mind, put over substance. Of course as others have pointed it also shared certain similarities with "X-Files".
It is true, that it was quite dark for a prime-time, network TV series, and liking it might have been an acquired taste...but the contention that this show was overly pessimistic, hopeless and depressing, is in my mind, unfair and unwarranted. The show only aired six episodes before it was cancelled and never got the chance to establish itself, evolve and show its true potential. We will never know what would and could have been. On the DVD set Frank Spotnitz does hint at and discusses what the future had in store for the characters and their respective story lines as well as the over all theme of the show, Good VS. Evil.
Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union were excellent together as was the rest of the cast. The stories in each episode were crafted as stand-alone narratives, but they also neatly fitted into the overall arch of the show and Kolchak's one-man crusade to find out the truth about what happened to his wife as well as expose all the strange cases he came across, trying to understand the nature of the dark, the evil, the things that go-bump in the night, which most of us ignore and pretend don't exist.
The more I think the more I see "Night Stalker" if not parallel, at least mirror other similar shows like HBO's "Carnivale" and CW's "Supernatural". But "Millennium" remains the show most comparable to "Night Stalker".
Lastly I have to add, that the narration which Stuart Townsend did at the beginning/intro and end/outro of each episode was quite wonderfully chilling and gave me goosebumps each and every time, and I mean this as the highest compliment. That world-weary voice Carl Kolchak brought every week, heavily burdened by the knowledge and awareness of the darkness and evil which lurk out there, made this show a must-see! Too bad it didn't get a fair shake...
Okay. To start with, I agree with all or most of the other reviewers about one fact, that this is nothing like the original except for some of the characters' names and other similar things. But even though this series strays far from the original I really like it. I'm a big fan of the original series and TV movies, but I really liked this "remake" as well! You don't have to be familiar with the original at all in order to like this. It's good as a stand-alone series. I thought the characters were quite good and were well-acted. The story lines were also good. Unfortunately it was canceled in the middle of a two-part episode! How low could the network go! Then later on I found out the the entire series, including un-aired episodes, was put on DVD. So the two-part episode was available to be seen in its entirety. Very good. If you can put aside the association with the original series and TV movies with the similar name, I recommend renting or buying the DVD set and watching this with an open mind. It really is very good, and I highly recommend it. I give it 9 stars out of 10. I'd give it more if it had not gotten canceled so early. There just aren't that many stories in the series.
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