Tonight’s episode was “The Knightly Murders,” and David Chase was one of three co-writers, and it proved that while I may have said that I had seen sixteen of the twenty episodes, I really hadn’t. Not in full, anyway.
If you, dear reader, are in your fifties or older, then it’s possible that you first ran into this program on the The CBS Late Movie, which ran edited repeats of this series in the late seventies and early eighties. I first found the show on the Sci-Fi Channel’s Series Collection from around 1994. These were also edited, cut down to about 42 minutes to accommodate both commercials and the anthology show’s bumpers, which included soundbites from an interview with Darren McGavin. I wonder whether that full interview has ever been released.
Anyway, the Sci-Fi Channel’s editors had to chop out about six minutes from each installment, and I guarantee that they excised almost all of this wonderful scene between McGavin and guest star John Dehner, because I’m certain I would have remembered anything this delightful. Dehner is playing the police official of the week, but magically, this one hasn’t had it up to here with Kolchak. His captain is a slow and thoughtful fellow, prone to long speeches and long pauses, somewhere between Maigret and indolence, and he drives Kolchak bananas simply by talking too much about nothing at all. When a reporter presses him on what killed a fellow in his car, the answer isn’t “a jousting lance,” it’s “society.” As hilarious as Keenan Wynn’s yelling guy is, Dehner should have had this job almost every week, because Kolchak has almost no idea how to combat him.
The other amazing guest star this week is Hans Conreid, who plays a museum curator and who has the more typical task of bellowing at Carl. Conreid, as always, is completely wonderful to watch, but Kolchak knows how to handle loudmouths like him. It’s when somebody isn’t mad at Kolchak that our hero is out at sea.