I had Forgotten How Good This Was

My daughter’s rehearsal went long, so I watched the first episode of Kolchak: The Night Stalker on my phone in the parking lot. (She has a thing about us being in one of her plays, she is the stage manager, when the rehearsal is going. She also has a problem with people saying the name of the Scottish Play. Whatever.)

Nowadays, it’s primarily remembered as being the inspiration for shows like The X-Files, but it was very well done television.

I remembered enjoying it as a kid, but it’s a lot more sophisticated and polished than I noticed back then.

Darren McGavin was engaging, the relationship between him and Simon Oakland, who played his ever-annoyed editor Tony Vincenzo showed a lot more depth than I recalled. (you get a sense of mutual the respect that they have for each other)

The supporting actors Jack Grinnage, as Kolchak’s uptight and barely competent cow-orker Ron Updyke, and the guest appearance of Beatrice Colen as the gore and food obsessed competitor Jane Plumm was spot on. (I did not like all the fat jokes about her: It was the one thing that rankles now.)

The action sequences/SFX are amazing in that there really are no special effects, the show was done on a shoe string, but, because of good directing and camera work, you really don’t notice this.

Through inspired use of camera angles, light, and darkness, you believe that there is a superhuman maniac tossing policemen around like they were puppies.

I would also note that its representation of reporting has shaped my view of the trade.  It was an entertaining depiction of old fashioned shoe leather journalism.

This show is one reason why I tend to disdain the sort of access journalism favored these days.

The following video is the “Ripper”, the first episode of the series: (run time 51:44)

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