Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Series Wrap-Up

Our Picks for the Best of
Kolchak: The Night Stalker

The Top 7 Episodes
While we felt it was safe to assume that The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler will be in most fans' top picks, we had a hunch that they might not always be in the top two spots. So we decided to go with the top seven episodes (including the TV movies)  to ensure we'd be able to identify the top 5 episodes of the TV series.

Peter's Picks:
  1. The Night Stalker
  2. The Vampire
  3. The Spanish Moss Murders
  4. The Knightly Murders
  5. Chopper
  6. The Night Strangler
  7. The Ripper
John's Picks:
  1. The Night Stalker
  2. The Night Strangler
  3. The Vampire
  4. Chopper
  5. The Energy Eater
  6. Horror in the Heights
  7. Firefall
Best Babe
Peter and John's Pick:
Patricia Estrin, "Firefall"
(yeah, we know, 30 seconds of screen time but oh what a 30 seconds!)

Best Cop
Peter's Pick:
 Tie: Keenan Wynn/John Dehner

John's Pick:
John Dehner

Best Monster

Peter's Pick:
Barry Atwater as Janos Skorzeny "The Night Stalker"

John's Pick(s):
 Suzanne Charney "The Vampire"

Matchemonedo "The Energy Eater"

Be sure to let us know how our picks stacked up against yours!

You didn't think you'd get off that easy, did you? We've got quite a few special treats in store for your continuing pleasure—at least a few more week's worth! First up, over the next several days DJS provides us with the scripts for three unfilmed episodes (and check in this Saturday for a surprise extra!). Then, Mark Dawidziak will offer a look at Carl Kolchak's career in prose. David J. Schow will explore the TV offspring of Kolchak: The Night Stalker, and then we launch into a full episode-a-day review of the revival series. That's right. Stay tuned to find out how it stacks up against the original.


  1. My favorite Kolchak Adventures:
    1. The Night Stalker
    2. The Night Strangler
    3. The Vampire
    4. The Trevi Collection
    5. Chopper
    6. Horror in the Heights
    7. Mr. R.I.N.G.

    (8.) Spanish Moss Murders
    (9.) Firefall
    (10.) The Zombie

    Best babe: Erik Estrada and William Smith tie
    Best cop: John Dehner
    Best Monster: Suzanne Charney's Vampire

    Looking forward to the upcoming special treats.

  2. Top - 5 *Favorite* Episodes From The Series:

    1) "Horror In The Heights"
    2) "The Spanish Moss Murders"
    3) "The Zombie"
    4) "The Werewolf"
    5) "The Vampire"

    Looking very much forward to more Kolchak shenanigans with this great bunch. Cheers, gang!

  3. My favorites were the two TV movies, THE NIGHT STALKER and THE NIGHT STRANGLER. The 20 series episodes seemed to lose something by decreasing the length down to 50 minutes. Less time to develop the plot and characters. Then again, the two TV pilots seemed fresh and new at the time and the episodes often rehashed the same old thing.

    I have to admit I had fond memories of the series which I saw back in 1974-75. But over 35 years later, the series simply did not stand up to a second viewing. It was ok but I guess I'm jaded from seeing so many horror movies. Frankly, I think they made the right choice when they killed the series after 20 episodes. Darren McGavin was burnt out and wanted out of the show and the ratings were too low. It's better to kill a show early rather than continue it on and on until the viewers start to dread seeing another episode.

    I would rank NIGHT STALKER 3rd behind THRILLER and OUTER LIMITS.

  4. I knew that my top 5 favorites would most definitely coincide with the top 5 best, so I decided to do a top 5 list of both. I'm not even going to bring up the movies, because they are kind of beyond our discussions of them, since they are such classics (and classics that are good every time you see them).

    Top 5 favorites:

    1. The Sentry
    2. Chopper
    3. Horror in the Heights
    4. Legacy of Terror
    5. The Spanish Moss Murders

    Top 5 best:

    1. Horror in the Heights
    2. The Spanish Moss Murders
    3. The Knightly Murders
    4. The Vampire
    5. Chopper

  5. Oh shoot, I forgot the other stuff:

    favorite babe: Jo Ann Phlug, "The Night Strangler"
    favorite cop: John Denher/Ramon Bieri tie ("Bad Medicine" Bieri, not "Legacy" Bieri)
    favorite monster: the Sentry

    By the way, does anyone else think "The Sentry" was the closest way the writers could get Kolchak to fight Godzilla?

  6. Top of the "Kolchak" food chain for me remains the two movies, then I think Troy has it as far as the five best episodes (in order): "Horror in the Heights," "The Spanish Moss Murders," "The Knightly Murders," "The Vampire" and "Chopper." That would be my top-seven, although, obviously, I have great fondness for the entire series and several other episodes in particular (including "Firefall" and "The Trevi Collection"). Series to series, I would never make the argument that "Kolchak: The Night Stalker" matches up with the likes of "Thriller" or "The Outer Limits." The first movie is what Kolchak really hangs his porkpie hat on and truly establishes the character as an important slice of TV history. But put Darren McGavin in a seersucker suit and white sneakers and I'm there. The day of the great anthology series passed because TV increasingly became a character-driven medium, and Carl is just a great character.

  7. FAVORITE BABE - The blond undercover police woman posing as a massage parlor girl ("Shame on you, Kolchak. Lou! Lewd proposal. He wanted to watch me.") in "The Ripper".

    FAVORITE COP - Charles Aidman in "The Zombie".

    FAVORITE MONSTER - The Rakshasa

  8. The two telefeatures are indeed Carl's greatest adventures. As for the hour shows...

    1. "The Ripper" (perfect re-working of original formula into hour format; ideal opener)
    2. "Horror in the Heights" (most imaginative example of slightly expanded formula)
    3. "The Spanish Moss Murders" (second most imaginative example of s. e. f.)
    4. "Bad Medicine" (powerful 'monster' with memorable powers; screw Old MacDonald)
    5. "The Devil's Platform" (offbeat 'monster' and some actual character development!)
    6. "The Zombie" (early David Chase mob flavoring a genuine plus)
    7. "The Vampire" (much praise for the burning cross!)
    8. "Demon in Lace" (strong idea, scarifying make-up)
    9. "Chopper" (nutsy but irresistible)
    10. "The Trevi Collection" and "The Knightly Murders" (tie -- couldn't decide which one made me laugh more. In a good way...)

    Favorite Babe: Doug K, I'm with you. That cop from "The Ripper" was beautiful, sharp, humorous, a good shot -- think I'm in love. And I'm so glad she escaped a bloody demise.

    Favorite Cop: John Dehner, with Keenan Wynn not far behind.

    Favorite Monster: The Rakshasa.

  9. My top 10:
    1. "Horror in the Heights"
    2. "The Energy Eater"
    3. "Legacy of Terror"
    4. "The Zombie"
    5. "Primal Scream"

    6. "The Spanish Moss Murders"
    7. "The Trevi Collection"
    8. "The Night Strangler"
    9. "The Knightly Murders"
    10. "Firefall"

    Best babe: Assuming that "babe" refers to "who's the best looking regardless of gender," I have to go with Simon Oakland as Tony; he's just so incredibly dashing! Darren as Carl is adorable, too, but seeing as though it was Simon who caught my eye first, he gets my vote.

    Best cop: Captain Rausch, played by John Dehner

    Best Monster: The Rakshasa! It's a shame that its trickery and powers of illusion weren't used to their fullest extent, but it was still an incredible adversary for Carl as is.

    --Crystal Rose

  10. My list of top episodes:
    1. The Vampire
    2. The Zombie
    3. Horror In The Heights
    4. The Spanish Moss Murders
    5. Chopper
    Honorable Mentions:
    6. The Trevi Collection
    7. The Ripper
    8. Mr. R.I.N.G.
    9. The Werewolf
    10.The Sentry
    Best Babe(in a big role): Lara Parker as Madelaine "Trevi"
    Best Babe(in a small role): Blonde policewoman in "The Ripper"
    Best Cops: Larry Linville
    Keenan Wynn
    Best(scariest)Monster:Suzanne Charney as"The Vampire"
    Best(unusual) Monster: The Rakshasa
    I've really enjoyed this blog, looking forward to seeing what comes next!

  11. That undercover cop BABE in THE RIPPER is Roberta Collins who starred in plenty of drive-in movies in the seventies.

  12. I've seen 11 episodes so far plus the 2 movies:
    1. The Night Stalker
    2. The Night Strangler
    3. The Energy Eater
    4. Horror in the Heights
    5. The Trevi Connection
    6. The Knightly Murders
    5. Bad Medicine
    6. Firefall
    7. Mr. Ring
    8. Chopper
    9. The Primal Scream
    10. Devil's Platform
    11. Werewolf

  13. Kolchak episodes ranked (not including 2 movies):
    1. Horror in the Heights
    2. Trevi Connection
    3. Knightly Murders
    4. Energy Eaters
    5. Zombie- most underrated
    6. Spanish Moss Murders
    7. Bad Medicine
    8. Legacy of Terror(bad title, call it Aztec)
    9. Firewall
    10. Ripper
    11. Youth Killer
    12. Demon in Lace
    13. The Devil's Playgound
    14. Mr R.I.N.G.
    15. Vampire- the most overrated episode in my opinion
    16. The Sentry
    17. Werewolf
    18. Primal Scream
    19. Chopper- also very overrated
    20. They have been- an ending so stupid it boggles the mind

    This turned out to be a great show in my opinion- the first 2 episodes I watched where 18 and 19 on my list, so I was worried at that point, but I think 12 of the episodes were good to great, and only 4-5 were weak, and even those episodes, except for #20, all had at least one interesting element. Darren McGaven definitely should have been nominated for and Emmy for this, who would you rather watch McGavin or Robert Blake in Baretta (the winner that year), Barry Newman in Petrocelli, or Karl Malden in Streets of San Francisco? Because Peter Falk was in the miniseries that year, I would have even picked him to win. I would have even nominated the show for best dramatic series, the only series in 74-75 that were better (again given Columbo was in the everchanging miniseries category) were Upstairs, Downstairs, Kojak, and possible Police Story.

  14. Favorite Babe:
    other than Ruth McDevitt, I'd vote for Nina Talbott in the otherwise poor Werewolf, she
    was funny (see her an Emmy nominated performance
    in 'The Hostage' season of two of Hogan's Heroes), she's aging a bit, still sexy.
    There are many runners-up- lots of attractive
    women in The Trevi Connection, Demon Lace Murders, Legacy of Terror, and The Energy Eaters.

  15. Funniest episode- agree with Mr. Gerani- the scene in The Energy Eaters with William Smith and the 2 hot women is hilarious- every line seems like a double entrende.
    But every episode has humor- its the best example of humor side by side with terror on TV I can think of.

  16. Best Monster:
    The croc in The Sentry (just kidding):
    #1 is the creature in Horror in the Heights- rarely seen, but when it is it effective.
    close 2nd- the mannequins in The Trevi Connection- those scenes were very well done (I'm convinced one of them is guy in drag which made it even scarier).
    Others: The Knightly Murders, Zombie, Richard Kiel in Bad Medicine, Demon in Lace.

    Worst monster: The Werewolf was pretty bad- I know its a lowbudget show, but why do a werewolf show if the makeup is far inferior to that of the 73 episode, even something like Werewolves on Wheels (1971).
    Also- The Chopper wasn't convincing,
    The Sentry looked like a big muppet, although I didn't mind that one.
    I didn't like Mr. Ring's tan spandex outfit, although his computer face was ok.

  17. I agree with Anonymous about best babes in The Trevi Connection and I forgot about the cop babe in The Ripper.

  18. I'm reading a very good book about TV diresctors written in 1980.
    The American Vein: Directors and Directions in Television by Christopher Wicking- it includes directors from Thriller and Kolchak, and discusses their episodes.

  19. What show are you doing next and when?

  20. I'm thoroughly enjoying this blog. I'd have loved to have participated in the episode by episode dissections, but I just discovered this website this past weekend. This post may fall on deaf ears, but I just had to dive in, albeit belatedly.

    I think there are seven episodes that stand above all others. They are, in chronological order:

    The Ripper
    The Zombie
    The Vampire
    The Spanish Moss Murders
    Horror in the Heights
    The Trevi Collection

    I am perplexed by the consistently high ratings for Chopper. Although, as a nine year old, I considered the Vampire, Werewolf, and Chopper to be the best, one's appreciation for things Kolchakian evolves with age.

    If this site is still active, I'd be honored to add to the interesting discussion(s) on the various episodes.

    Great show, great blog.

  21. Hi John -

    Thanks for posting! Though our day-by-day run of the blog has been completed, you'll find that new folks are regularly finding us and adding their own comments. We do hope you'll do the same.

  22. John,

    What is the next blog? I'd like to participate day by day for a change. Suggestion: Night Gallery?

  23. I'd really like to do Spielberg's Amazing Stories first season a day at a time.