Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1.10 – The Energy Eater

I did promise you good readers a look at the unbelievably awful sports coats that you can see in this show, and tonight, guest star William Smith is wearing an eyeball-bruising doozy. It was 1974. What could you do?

I had never seen “The Energy Eater,” co-written by Rudolph Borchert and Arthur Rowe, before tonight. It wasn’t syndicated; it was paired with “Firefall” as a sausage-linked TV movie. We all really enjoyed it, but I liked it best because it’s really unlike the usual format for a Kolchak story.

Our hero isn’t alone this time. When he realizes that a new hospital is covering up some strange deaths on the property and some absolutely bizarre structural failures, Kolchak starts gathering experts to investigate. Eventually, the hospital muckity-mucks have to admit – privately – that the story Kolchak has brought them must be true. There is a powerful, invisible force on the land where the hospital was built, and they have no choice but to deal with it in the way Carl prescribes. For once, our hero isn’t standing alone in a sewer or in a junkyard. Not that he’ll get the credit for it, of course.

Our son was most creeped out by a fabulous scene where Kolchak and William Smith’s character assemble a stack of X-rays that – without rational logic but with plenty of coolness factor for the TV – each caught a glimpse of the invisible beast. They assemble the X-rays like a jigsaw puzzle, revealing the size and the face of the beast. Well, part of its face, anyway.

And with that, we’ll return Kolchak: The Night Stalker to the shelf for a few weeks to keep things fresh, and to give our son a break from the scary stuff. But Carl will be back with more monsters in Chicago in mid-November, so stay tuned!

Buck Rogers 1.22 – Buck’s Duel to the Death

Holy anna, our son loved this episode. Our schedule got a little bent out of shape today, as it will again tomorrow, so he and I watched it earlier in the evening. He was still yammering about details hours later. It stars B-movie legend William Smith as a kingpin called the Traybor on a distant planet. And yeah, I mean legend. With 269 credits at IMDB, you’ve seen him in something. Smith is stuck under a silly toupee, but he looks like he could rip a phone book in half in 1980, and he probably still could, so you didn’t hear that crack about his rug from me, okay?

Anyway, I didn’t care for this one, again, and thought it was weighed down by two really appalling actresses, but our son loved all the fights. Talking and smooching was kept to a minimum, this one’s nothing but running down corridors and shooting bad guys. The Traybor has circuitry implanted under his skin, so he gets to fire surges of electricity at our hero and have a nicely satisfying brawl with him in the end. It’s an hour made to thrill younger viewers and clicked all of our younger viewer’s buttons.

Logan’s Run 1.6 – Half Life

This is a pretty good episode. It was written by Shimon Wincelberg, toward the end of his very long writing career – he’s probably best known today for his scripts for Star Trek and Have Gun, Will Travel – and guest-starred Kim Cattrall, toward the beginning of her very long acting career. It’s clumsy and simplistic, and the idea of a machine that splits people into “good” and “evil” versions while simultaneously copying their clothes is pretty darn silly, but it was entertaining enough. I really enjoyed the goofy disco lava light special effects generated by the machine, and the crazy kaleidoscope of Heather Menzies’ face, which looked like a bad acid trip, man.

As nice as it always is to look at Kim Cattrall, the really interesting guest star is William Smith, who was between recurring parts on several episodes each of Rich Man, Poor Man and Hawaii Five-O at the time this was made. Smith gets to play the leader of the ostensibly “good” community and the leader of the outcast “evil” community, but of course it’s the good guy who’s the villain and the cast-out who’s trying to do the right thing. It’s a great pair of performances, and, sensibly, the script may be about a silly machine, but Wincelberg was an intelligent enough writer to not hammer that point home.

We joked about the likelihood of splitting our son into two people. In a weird little coincidence, we watched this the same day that he saw an episode of the Teen Titans Go! cartoon in which Cyborg and Beast Boy start making magic duplicates of themselves so they could be lazy. We concluded that just one version of our son will do.