Shortly after we moved to Chattanooga three years ago, I got a part-time job at a good non-profit agency, and one afternoon, I was bringing some of our clients back to the house. One of the clients mentioned she’d received a gift of a season of Justified. By chance, I’d been in Walmart earlier picking up something my boss had ordered and noticed a rack of ’70s TV comedies, just about all of Norman Lear’s and Garry Marshall’s hits, all dirt cheap. (Sadly it was Walmart and sadly it was only the hits. We’ll never see Hot L Baltimore on DVD, will we?)
So I mentioned my trip to the store, just in a “TV on DVD is so cheap these days” way, and another client started reminiscing about McCloud, of all things, which was one of her favorite shows as a girl. Then she said “But my favorite show was one nobody ever heard of. It was called Night Stalker.”
I said “Kolchak: The Night Stalker! I know that show. It was a great one.”
She exploded. “That was the best show ever! Nobody ever believed him and he was all up to everything! He’d be down in the sewers and all by himself because nobody believed him! He was always wearing that hat and looking for vampires in the sewers. That was my favorite show! I had nightmares for weeks and weeks watching Night Stalker! I never met anybody who knew the Night Stalker before!”
“If you don’t mind my saying so, you must have been very small when the Night Stalker was on TV.”
“I was! That’s why I had nightmares! I didn’t sleep right the whole time that show was on. You know when Matlock started, I said ‘That man’s got a seersucker suit like the Night Stalker,’ and he did, didn’t he? And nobody knew who the Night Stalker was!”
I’d like to meet that client’s mother and ask her what in the name of heaven she was thinking letting that poor little girl watch that show.
* * *
But as a weekly series, I feel like The Night Stalker – they didn’t add the Kolchak: until week five, I think – led with one of its weakest installments. Rudolph Borchert wrote or co-wrote five of the twenty episodes, including some very fun ones, but this one is too much of a retread of the two movies, which wouldn’t have been quite so obvious had the second one not been a retread of the first anyway.
Our son thought it was creepy, but not particularly scary. A lot of the context sailed over his head. We had to explain that our heroes have landed in a very low-rent news agency with a lousy location next to Chicago’s elevated – and noisy – train, and that Carl’s most recent incident of aggravating the cops has had him demoted to writing the news agency’s “Dear Emily” column. I enjoyed the characterisation, the humor, and the direction, even if the plot was nothing new.