Genre: Crime, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Thriller
There are things in the dark, things adults dismiss but children are right to fear.
Partly as a treat for those who have arrived here as fans of the original 1974 Kolchak: The Night Stalker, we are including write-ups, information and links to both TV series.
Carl Kolchak is an endearing, inquisitive and gifted news reporter. He is also blessed with the knack of being able to enrage authoritative types when they bulk at facts simply because any man in his right mind would find the facts incredulous. Since his first baptism of paranormal fire, locked into battle with a real life vampire (1972) or beast (2005) our Carl Kolchak swiftly learned that not all tales children hear should be written off as fable nor fantasy. And unless he can motivate these same authorities into taking action when all evidence screams the existence some unorthodox legend, he knows the burden of saving the city folk in each episode would fall to him.
History: The Night Stalker 2005
Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files Executive Producer and Writer for eight years) recalls from those more impressionable years of his youth that nothing struck me as deeply as The Night Stalker. Moreover, it is no secret that Screen Writer Chris Carter, also credits The Night Stalker as the prime inspiration for his creation of The X-Files series.
We move forward in time to July 2004, a Mark Pedowitz (Touchstone Television president) was trusting that a question placed to Mr. Frank Spotnitz for deliberation would be nought but a courteous gesture to a foregone conclusion. The question being would he be interested to revisit a new series based on this aging classic TV movie (The Night Stalker  - more below).
By the 1st of September, and as the ink was drying on this deal, Frank Spotnitz pondered on one question that had remained unanswered since 1975. One that was not a foregone conclusion but a mystery to this very day. What caused the momentum of the TV series flail?
To tackle the issue, Frank Spotnitz floats new angles for the show. One that raised eyebrows was to have Kolchak as a disgraced TV personality with a penchant for the supernatural. Touchstone warms to the ideal with the view of casting a fifty-ish cable-news reporter, as Kolchak. But October finds a newly appointed Steve McPherson at helm of ABC, who also warms to the pitch but freezes on any mention of a fifty-ish cable-news reporter. It was this decision which would open the door and lead to the casting of Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak.
Frank Spotnitz takes a step back to visualize a fresh concept. Keep Kolchak as a young newspaper reporter capable of integrating some logic to show how he happens upon these weekly unprintable stories. To give Kolchak a rich emotional life and some form of personal connection that gravitates him toward these stories. Finally, mid January 2005, the ABC greenlights the pilot.
Gabrielle Union is the first named star signed to the project. A new major problem was looming. With less than two weeks left before filming begins, and with over 100 actors already auditioned for the male lead, we still have no Kolchak.
Frank Spotnitz again considers his list of movie-only actors in the hopes of perhaps swaying one of the talents toward this Television Series. One of personal interest is the actor who played the role of Dorian Gray in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Get Dorian, Stuart Townsend.
Luck would have it that Stuart Townsend used his same agency. Luck would have it that Stuart Townsend was able to read the script that very same day. Luck would have it that Stuart Townsend loved the script and after consulting with some of his peers, happily came on board. We have a pilot!
Unfortunately, the show was given the same time slot as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Football. A slot which saw a number of shows become one season only shows. It is sad we didnt get to see Frank Spotnitz play out his full vision for the series, but we did get a bunch of very interesting stories.
But of course, the legacy of Carl Kolchak wont go away. It is too inspirational. Let us say you listen to the haunting intro music of this 'Night Stalker" series, and then say you listen to the intro music to the 'Fringe' series season one, perhaps you'll notice something you haven't noticed before...
History: Kolchak: The Night Stalker 1974
It was midnight. October 31st, 1970. Writer Jeff Rice, who long had the ambition to pen a contemporary vampire story and/or base a story in and around Las Vegas and who had decided to entwine the two ideas, did purposefully pound out the closing paragraphs on a work he titled The Kolchak Papers. The story of tells of a Karel Kolchak (Carl to those who knew him best), a Las Vegas reporter hot on the trail of a real pain in the neck blood thirsty serial killer.
Though publishers showed little to no interest in The Kolchak Papers, it was an inspired agent named Rick Ray who re-read it over and suggested it may have more appeal to movers, shakers and the breed of movie makers instead. Having essayed the niche, Jeff Rice's Kolchak Papers became a coveted proposition when extreme interest at the ABC Network offices resulted in form of one Richard Matheson who began almost instantly adapting the story to screen.
August of 1971 saw filming begin and by early January of 1972, The Night Stalker movie premiered smashing all the TV ratings records of its time.
To capitalize on this phenomenal success, and with a real life twist, it was Richard Matheson with his story telling prowess who would pen the sequel The Night Strangler with Jeff Rice adapting this screenplay into a novel. And again in Janurary, one calender year later (1973), the TV movie The Night Strangler premiered and again demonstrated superior popularity with audiences.
It was these events that precipitated the birth of an awesome classic cult television series, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. And for one hour (weekly) all those viewers in TV land were poked, prodded and probed with a combination of fantasy, fiction and fact, awakening them from shallow shells, or alternate hells, as the very boundaries of all they once earnestly believed was progressively torn asunder and made to lay there, bare, exposing the very essence of their gooey stuff inside.
Season 1 comprised of 20 episodes and first aired in 1974-1975 on the American ABC network. And though the series has been cited as being a major inspiration to many brilliant minds in the industry of film and TV since and continues to do so to this very day, it is with amazement we inform you that due to low viewer ratings, an axe wielded by stagnant minded dollar driven executives, perhaps reluctantly, but definitely knowingly severed the production budget from one Kolchak: The Night Stalker series leaving it distressed and destitute but still destined to be but a single solitary seasoned masterpiece that would inspire the cream of creative writers for many decades to come.
How can this be you might well ask. Well, no doubt we could search and find cognitive explanations which could either subdue or quell the yearnings of even the most inquisitive of minds, or, perhaps it is you that will answer the call. Else the best i can offer you is this... There are things in the dark, things adults dismiss but children are right to fear.
Common Q and A and tid bits
The original Carl Kolchak, (Darren McGavin) declined an offer from Screen Writer Chris Carter when asked to appear in The X-Files as Carl Kolchak. However, Darren McGavin did agree to appear in several episodes as Arthur Dales, a retired FBI agent whom is also known in the series as the Father of The X-Files.
Yes, the original Carl Kolchak, (Darren McGavin) does appear in the 2005 Night Stalker series. And if you are attentive whilst watching the pilot episode, a little more than fifteen minutes in, you may happen to spy one vampire hungry Darren McGavin (who perhaps hasn't even aged a day) sporting a seersucker suit in the newspaper offices casually packing a wooden stake and heavy mallet into his trusty antiquated carry bag...
Moonstone Comics, 2002. Book stores were able to stock a series of Kolchak graphic novels originating from the company which also happen to included one issue which was personally adapted by the Moonstone editor Joe Gentile himself and lifted from a legendary 'lost' TV episode script. November 2003, Moonstone Comics released the Kolchak comic book series which is set in today's world with an unaged Carl Kolchak doing his bit clean the streets.
Nicolas Cage credits Kolchak: The Night Stalker for his inspiration in producing the new TV series, The Dresden Files, about a private detective/wizard who investigates crimes involving the supernatural.