Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Reporter of the Supernatural

My Halloween evening presentation today covers a television series in the mid-1970s, which I watched faithfully and was sorry to see it go.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker was an American television series that aired in 1974. It featured a newspaper reporter, Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin, who investigated crimes with mysterious and unlikely causes that the proper authorities would not accept or pursue. The series with twenty episodes was preceded by two television movies, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973).

The series version was set in Chicago and featured Kolchak as a reporter for the Independent News Service (INS). The series also featured Simon Oakland, again appearing as Kolchak's editor; Ron Updyke (Jack Grinnage) as a supercilious rival at INS; and Emily Cowles (Ruth McDevitt) as an elderly advice columnist (and the only character who is sympathetic toward Kolchak). Each week Kolchak investigated murders involving supernatural and science fictional creatures. The series was light-hearted black comedy and placed Kolchak in an office setting with quirky co-workers. Other recurring characters included Monique Marmelstein (Carol Ann Susi) as an intern whose father owned the INS, Gordy "The Ghoul" Spangler (John Fiedler) as a helpful morgue attendant who ran lotteries based on corpse statistics, and Captain "Mad Dog" Siska (Keenan Wynn), a Chicago officer who found his efforts to reign in his temper through group therapy constantly thwarted by Kolchak's abrasive nature. McGavin's wife and behind-the-scenes assistant, Kathie Browne, appeared in the final episode as Lt. Irene Lamont, who found herself forced to deal with Kolchak.

Episode 9 “The Spanish Moss Murders” was aired on December 6, 1974. A dreaming host conjures up the Creole legend of Pelemafair moss monster willing to kill anyone who threatens its survival.

The following are excerpts from this episode.








This last one is close to the ending.




Charles Gramlich began posting about Halloween last week in writing flash fiction stories. His link can be found under "Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Horror Writer Connection" on the sidebar.

Research: wikipedia

12 comments:

willow said...

I'm not familiar with this series. I love Keenan Wynn, though. This looks like something I would like. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

This was a great series. I really enjoyed it. Darren McGavin was perfect. They tried to revive this with a different character but it just didn't work.

Barbara Martin said...

Willow, the series did well for the time it was on, though ratings lagged towards the end.

Charles, I agree with you. Now I have to go looking for the DVD set before it sells out before the Christmas rush.

Will Kinshella said...

Being as I was born in 1986, I'm afriad I didn't have the pleasure of ever seeing the series on TV.

I'll keep an eye out for it online though. It seems to be just the type of thing I'm into.

Michele Wassell said...

Interesting post... Enjoyed.. :)

Webradio said...

I don't know this serie...

pattinase (abbott) said...

I loved that series too and Darren McGavin, who went on to be the perfect fifties Dad in A Christmas Story, my favorite Christmas movie, penned originally by the great Jean Sheppard.

Gary Rith Pottery Blog said...

I remember that show!!!! Yes, it was spooky!

laughingwolf said...

i was a faithful watcher too, barbara

one of a few series in the vein i really enjoyed....

David Cranmer said...

I bought the entire Kolchak series last year and for the most part enjoyed it. There are dated elements but overall a great show because of his presence. Interestingly, he starred in an episode of The X-Files as the man who started the X-Files.

Barbara Martin said...

Will, now you can have a fresh, unbiased look at it when you do view.

Michele, welcome. Come again and browse whenever you like.

Webradio, I don't know if the series was syndicated to Europe or the UK.

Patti, ahh, yes A Christmas Story is one of my favourites, too. Darren McGavin had that actor's gift of drawing in the viewer.

Gary, then we have something in common.

Tony, I liked the series as there was a different "creepy thing" each week; which turned out to be the reason Darren McGavin wanted out of the series at the end.

David, but we of the older generation appreciate those dated elements: OMG, to think we dressed like that and made cliched comments.

BernardL said...

I still watch the Night Stalker on the 'Chiller' channel. Great review.