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Kolchak: The Night Stalker (1974)
R.I.P Darrin McGavin
I just learned today that Darrin McGavin has passed on. Which is a real pity, because he was such a great actor.
I never met the man, much to my regret, but I am doing a little tribute here, because this is the first place I recall see this fine, talented actor. To this day, his portrayal of Karl Kolchak (I hope I spelled it right) is a favorite of my, and one of my favorite television shows from the 70s.
The show aired on Friday nights for one season. But it was never forgotten by fans, and fortunately the Sci-Fi Channel runs it occasionally.
The show had great writing, was extremely moody, and some really great monsters and scary situations. But the high point of the show each week was McGavin's performance. He played Karl as a guy who'd rather use his brains as opposed to brawn to get the job done. Often when he fought and defeated the monster, it was from what he'd learned earlier in the show, as opposed to just hacking and slashing his way through.
McGavin also had a real nice sense of comic timing that worked well when bantering words with is boss Tony Vinchenzo (Simon Oakland). The two of them together generated some really entertaining chemistry.
My favorite episode of the series was "Horror in the Heights" (aka: The Rakshaka). It had it all -- a great performance by McGavin, a really great monster that you didn't see until the end, and a really, really great shock ending. (No I won't spoil it for you folks who haven't seen it. But I strongly recommended it to anyone who hasn't. It's a real dilly.) Well, Darrin McGavin is gone now. But he leaves behind a nice little legacy. Many of us also remember him as "The Old Man" in that wonderful season film "A Christmas Story." But for me, he will always be, first and foremost, "Karl Kolchak, the Night Stalker."