It’s a ritual in these parts: I buy bananas, they don’t get eaten, I make banana bread with toasted coconut and macademian nuts. On Thursday morning, I had a spare hour and I stirred up two loaves of banana bread, while watching “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” on the SciF Channel.
For the young’uns . . . the ABC Movie of the Week was once a very big deal, kind of the HBO Sunday night lineup of its day. And one of the ones I remember most vividly was “The Night Stalker,” a vampire tale set in Las Vegas. The scene I remember most vividly centered on a woman in a parking lot, who turned out to have a Doberman in her back seat. The Night Stalker twisted the dog’s neck (off camera). Utterly terrifying. The second one, set in Seattle, wasn’t quite as good, but it still had its charms. The series had to work much harder and I remembered nothing. So I happened to make its reacquaintance on Thursday morning. It was funny about the newspaper business, in ways I probably didn’t aprpeciate before I worked on a #2 newspaper that had to be more creative about its resources. The boss (the guy from Sheriff Lobo? Definitely Sgt. Schrank of West Side Story) does irascible well. I liked the fussbudget co-worker, too.
Darren McGavin was perfect as the walking anachronism, the newsman who still wore a hat and pounded on a typewriter. I can see why they tried it again this season — and see why it failed. I’m not saying the remake was good or bad; I never watched it. But Kolchak was a 50s character in the 70s. How does one update that?
At any rate, I know it may not be what he’d like to be remembered for, but I remember it fondly. In fact, when odd things happen in my household — and ordinary things have been disappearing lately, with no logical explanation — I tap my inner Kolchak, the cynic who was never less than open-minded about the supernatural.
Pay your respects to McGavin or Don Knotts, if you like, in the comments.