Our son hesitantly asked whether this morning’s episode of Kolchak would be a scary one or, like the UFO story, a silly one. I demurred, of course, because I think almost all of them are both scary and silly. “Bad Medicine” gave him a good case of the shivers, but he told us that he really liked it. This week’s beastie is a Diablero, a native American sorcerer who is under a centuries-long curse, and who can transform into a crow or a coyote.
But for all the scary monster business, “Bad Medicine” features two of the funniest scenes of the series. There’s a great bit in the office where Kolchak is trying to find a listing in the phone book, but every copy in the office has been vandalized, and the necessary page ripped out. It’s brilliantly funny, but it’s bettered by a hilarious scene in which Ramon Bieri, who plays this week’s cop who’s had it up to here with Kolchak, challenges our hero on the actual motive behind the strange killings, and Carl, for what must be the first time in his career, is left without a smart-aleck answer because he’s absolutely speechless.
Joining Bieri in the guest cast this week, there’s Richard Kiel as the Diablero, and of course our son still somehow failed to recognize one of the tallest actors in the business despite seeing him several times. The wonderful actors Alice Ghostley and Marvin Kaplan also have brief appearances. They definitely should have used both of them again. Kaplan plays a former fence who’s trying to go straight after seven years in the old Joliet Pen, but he still hears things, you know. If this show wanted a regular guy-who-knows-things for Carl to consult, Kaplan would have been terrific.