Monday, October 25, 2010

The Complete Night Stalker, Part Five

With Halloween less than a week away, we come to the end of the line for the original "Night Stalker" television series. Sadly, it went out not with a bang, but with a wimper.

Episode Eighteen: The Knightly Murders
Director: Vincent McEveety
Rating: Nine of Stars

A string of murders--all committed with authentic weaponry dating from the Middle Ages--have the police baffled. When Kolchak notices the victims are all involved in a venture that will convvert a small museum into a discoteque, he first suspects the curator of being being the killer. But maybe it's the exhibits themselves are resisting such humilation?

This is one of the best episodes of the series. The danger to Kolchack seems very real during every encounter with the supernatural, and the humor is top-notch, both that evolving from a self-important, publicity-hungry cop that Kolchak deals with, as well as that coming from some of Kolchak's investigation of and confrontation with the killer. If all the episodes had been been this good, maybe Darren McGavin wouldn't have hated working on the series so much.

Episode Nineteen: The Youth Killer
Director: Ron McDougall
Rating: Two of Ten Stars

Unknown senior citizens are found dead in Chicago parks and streets. Kolchak's investigation turns up that they were young only days before, and they were all using an exclusive dating service run by a woman of epic beauty. Naturally she's Helen of Troy who is sacrificing young victims to the Greek gods to maintain her youth, and only Kolchak can stop her!

From lame plot conveniences, to story problems so huge that even the fact characters comment on them doesn't make them less problematic, this is one of the very worst episodes of the series. It also doesn't help that Kathy Lee Crosby (as Helen) can't act worth a damn.

Episode Twenty: The Sentry
Director: Seymour Robbie
Rating: Four of Ten Stars

When surveyers at a super-secure underground storage facility recover some strange rocks from a new section that's under construction, murder and mayhem breaks out. Kolchak discovers that a lizard creature that's trying to protect its young is responsible.

The final episode of the series looks and feels like just that... the final episode of a series. It's got a cheap feel about it, and the thing that'll stick with viewers more than anything is Carl driving around in a golf cart. The introduction of a woman police LT who has everyone but Carl wrapped around her finger is the one high note of the episode--her banter with Carl is some of the funniest dialogue in the entire series. Still, it wasn't the best of notes to end on.

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