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Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Kolchak: The Night Stalker – the complete series

Kolchak: the Night Stalker – Darren McGavin shines as Carl Kolchak, a reporter who keeps finding himself unwillingly investigating the supernatural
Kolchak: The Night Stalker, starring Darrin McGavinI have nothing but warm memories for the short-lived television series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, starring Darren McGavin (No Deposit, No ReturnThe Delicate Delinquent), for a variety of reasons. First, Darrin McGavin does an admirable job portraying Carl Kolchak.  He’s a down-on-his-luck reporter reduced to working for a third-rate news bureau.  He frequently conflicts with his boss, Antonio Vincenzo (played well by Simon Oakland). A few other recurring characters at the news bureau are memorable, as are the various … things … that Kolchak keeps stumbling across — vampires, werewolves, space aliens, zombies, and more.

Antonio Vincenzo (Simon Oakland) arguing with Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin)Much of the appeal of the series has to do with an ordinary man, thrust into circumstances that are anything but ordinary.  Carl Kolchak is no hero, but he has a strong sense of self-preservation that serves him well.  As well as a reporter’s dogged determination to get to the truth. He’s also an ordinary man — not handsome, not young, not hyper-intelligent, but determined, not overly heroic.  And easy for the audience to identify with; almost as if Lieutenant Columbo ran into the supernatural.

It’s very enjoyable, and I recommend it highly.

Editorial review of  Kolchak: The Night Stalker courtesy of Amazon.com

The acknowledged inspiration for The X-Files, and the basis for an updated 2005 network version, Kolchak: The Night Stalker was a short-lived 1974 series spun off from a pair of extremely popular made-for-TV movies about the supernatural adventures of dogged newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin). Though plagued by low ratings and critical brickbats, the show has cultivated a huge cult following over the past three decades, which has given rise to this three-disc set, which compiles all 20 episodes of the show.

Though none of the episodic stories matches the suspense and writing strength of the Night Stalker or Night Strangler movies, TV horror fans will appreciate the parade of interesting and inventive monsters encountered by Kolchak (including a witches’ coven in “The Trevi Collection”; an Aztec cult in “Legacy of Terror”; a Hindu Demon in “Horror in the Heights,” which was penned by Hammer Films scribe Jimmy Sangster; and a headless biker in “Chopper,” an episode deemed in extreme poor taste by Stephen King and co-written by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, and Sopranos creator David Chase). McGavin is, of course, topnotch as Kolchak, and he’s well-matched by Simon Oakland as his hot-tempered boss; guest stars include Scatman Crothers, James Gregory, Phil Silvers, Eric Braeden, Tom Skerritt, and Richard Kiel as the monster in two back-to-back episodes. Sadly, no extras accompany this fun collection of Kolchak’s creepiest cases. —Paul Gaita

Product description of  Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Kolchak: The Night Stalker, the uniquely eerie mystery series that paved the way for The X-Files, comes to DVD for the first time with all 20 original one-hour episodes of the 1974-1975 series. Emmy nominee Darren McGavin stars as Carl Kolchak, a headstrong investigative reporter on the trail of the paranormal: zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, succubi and even aliens. No matter how unnatural or unbelievable, Kolchak is there to uncover the truth”¦one supernatural threat at a time. Join the hunt in the dark alleys and creepy hidden lairs of Chicago with such sensational guest stars as Scatman Crothers, Antonio Fargas, Sharon Farrell, Dick Van Patten, Jamie Farr, Larry Linville, Jim Backus and more. Kolchak: The Night Stalker is finally on DVD, digitally restored to capture every shiver every scream, and every bump in the night.