Carl Kolchak is a reporter for a Chicago newspaper. Through more accident than design he ends up investigating homicides, many of which involve supernatural forces. Ultimately, rather than r... Read allCarl Kolchak is a reporter for a Chicago newspaper. Through more accident than design he ends up investigating homicides, many of which involve supernatural forces. Ultimately, rather than reporting on the crimes, he solves them.Carl Kolchak is a reporter for a Chicago newspaper. Through more accident than design he ends up investigating homicides, many of which involve supernatural forces. Ultimately, rather than reporting on the crimes, he solves them.
Starring the incomparable (and irreplaceable) Darren McGavin, this smartly written show has been described by some as being "campy", and while a couple of episodes ("The Youth Killer" and the much more amusing "The Trevi Collection") may have strayed far enough into that territory to qualify as camp, this was actually a series with two distinct parts. Half of the show was a situation comedy (the scenes taking place in the INS office between Kolchak and Vincenzo were particularly amusing), and the other half was a straight-faced thriller that featured some genuinely frightening scenes of horror.
Quite a maverick among television shows of the day, "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" noticeably parted company with established convention regarding what qualifies a character to fill the role of a hero. Common practice dictates that your basic TV good guy will be conventionally handsome, good with his fists and fearless in the sight of danger. Some are rich and reside in fabulously appointed surroundings and often find themselves the focus of unflagging admiration from a cheering section of supporting characters.
Then there's Carl Kolchak. A far sight from the usual male model-type lead, this average-looking guy doesn't work for a big league paper, but instead pounds away at his typewriter in a somewhat rundown news bureau office. He has no family and the only people who seem even remotely close to him are a gray-haired advice columnist and a short-tempered managing editor who's usually bellowing at him to drop his latest crazy story.
Also rare for a TV hero: he doesn't even carry a gun. In fact, when faced with danger, Carl sometimes runs away in stark raving terror.
Furthermore, he's generally reviled by public officials, and after vanquishing something evil from our midst, he never even gets any credit for having risked his neck.
Armed only with a camera, a tape recorder and his wits, Carl Kolchak certainly doesn't sound very formidable. And yet, somehow, this cynical, middle-aged news hound in a seersucker suit and beat-up straw hat is the greatest foe any vampire or blood-thirsty creature of the night ever came up against. Sure, he may not get that Pulitzer prize, but for his uncanny abilities at ridding the world of one monster after another, this unlikely hero surely ranks as one of the most unique and marvelously ironic characters in the history of television.
If you're interested, have reviewed of all 20 episodes, too.
- Aug 18, 2006