Friday, September 30, 2005

The Night Stalker


  • From the narration it is immediately apparent that this incarnation of Carl Kolchak is a much better writer. The character from the original show was a bit of a melodramatic hack. But it worked fine for his subject matter.

  • The opening sequence was much more effective and tense than that of Supernatural, the other new show this one will be compared to.

  • The paper this Kolchak works at is much more mainstream than the paper the original Kolchak worked at.

  • There is immediate and predictable sniping between Kolchak and Perri Reed (Gabrielle Union) as they fight over whose story it is. Ho hum.

  • The story begins with the murder of a pregnant woman. Her body is found with the fetus torn from it. We are obviously supposed to be reminded of the death of Lacy Peterson. Tacky, tacky choice of subject matter.

  • Kolchak is smug. He's shown to have better gut instincts than the black chick who is the senior crime reporter. Of course she needs this white guy's help to write a story. She’s only been doing that on this paper for the last four years without his ass to tell her what an angle is. Amazingly, she isn't terribly hostile about him invading her territory, though she does initiate a background check on him that temporarily lands him in jail.

  • The cinematography reminds one of The X-Files. Obviously it’s no accident, but it’s a good move. The story feels more mature than the episodes of Supernatural, and part of that is camera work.

  • The easiest way to set up a story of horror is to show women and children in danger. In the first 15 minutes of Night Stalker, a woman and her unborn child are killed, then another woman is attacked and her ten-year-old girl is abducted. Off to a great start.

  • There’s a brief cameo of Darren McGavin, the original Kolchak, in a newsroom scene, but it looked superimposed. I thought he was dead, but he’s apparently still among the living.

  • This new Kolchak has a dark secret. He's suspected of killing his wife. In the original made-for-TV movie, Kolchak's stripper girlfriend was killed by a vampire, but I don't believe he was actually a suspect.

  • This new Kolchak has the same joyless driven nature as Fox Mulder. But Mulder was occasionally amusing in his a deadpan way. It remains to be seen if Kolchak will develop a sense of humor.

  • Surprisingly, like the original Kolchak, this one doesn't use a gun. I am wrong (so far) on one of my hunches. For some ridiculous reason, when going in to the monsters' lair, he arms himself and his companions with electric cattle prods, of all things.

  • The Perri Reed character isn't a black version of Scully (so far), which is good. It's been done. She's not ultra-skeptical or science-oriented. Betcha she turns out to be a church-gal, though.

  • The first episode ends with no real resolution of what the monsters were. They seem to be werecoyotes that target pregnant women. Why? Who knows? Surprisingly, Kolchak chooses to not to report the supernatural angle of the story and writes it up as a simple unsolved kidnapping. It is Reed that argues that the public has the right to know the truth. A little role reversal there just to let the X-Files fans know they are going to try not to be exactly the same, I guess.

The Verdict:
  • It didn’t suck, and it has potential, but I think it’s on the wrong network. I don’t think ABC will stick with the show and give it time it will need to grow an audience the way that UPN or WB would.

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