Kolchak Episode Guide


The following is an episode guide to the 20 episodes of the series. All information is from the author's own research and memories, and represents only his own opinions. Episodes are presented in order of original air date.

Regular Cast:

Character

Actor

Other Roles

Carl Kolchak Darren McGavin See Biography
Tony Vincenzo Simon Oakland (deceased) Black Sheep Squadron, Toma, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, Wild Wild West, many others
Ron Updyke Jack Grinnage Rebel Without a Cause
Emily/Edith Fenwick/Cowles/Cowels Ruth McDevitt (deceased) The Everly Brothers Show, Pistols N'Petticoats
Gordan "Gordy The Ghoul" Spangler John Fiedler The Bob Newhart Show, Cheers, Buffalo Bill, the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh
Monique Marmelstein Carole Ann Susi Something So Right, The Secret of My Success

(Note that Carole Anne Susi and John Fieldler are only in three episodes each. Thus, their status as "regular" cast members is somewhat debatable.)

The Ripper

Original Air Date:: 9/13/74

Writer: Rudolph Borchert

Director: Allen Baron

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

Ken Lynch Captain R.M. Warren Sgt. Grover on McCloud, Rear Admiral Gray in The Winds of War
Beatrice Colen Jane Plumm Etta Candy on Wonder Woman, Marsha on Happy Days
Ruth McDevitt Elderly Peeping Tom Ummm, Miss Emily in a number of other episodes
Mickey Gilbert The Ripper A police officer in Henry and the Hendersons, Mickey the Driver in Ghost in the Machine, still working as a stunt coordinator as of Mystery Men
Marya Small Masseuse Theresa in Puppet Master, Candy in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Roberta Collins Police Detective Susan Catazzo Lana in Hardbodies and Hardbodies 2
Clint Young Driver Willougby in Time Walker (i.e., MST3K's Being From Another Planet)
Dulcie Jordan Driver's Wife Female Guest in Kentucky Fried Movie commenting on house's odor
Cathey Paine Ellen Leslie Van Houten in Helter Skelter
Ike Jones Mail Boy Not much, although he has a brief part as a maintenance engineer in The Devil's Platform
Don Mantooth Second Policeman A couple of other Kolchak episodes, a POW in Uncommon Valor

Synopsis: A serial killer whose crimes match the violence and brutality of Jack the Ripper is active in Chicago. Only Kolchak believes that the killer actually is the seemingly immortal and indestructible 19th century serial killer.

Notes: Although much is made of the Ripper's super-strength and vulnerability to electricity, neither is explained in the story. This episode was the series premiere, although ABC originally advertised the following week's The Zombie in TV Guide. Ruth McDevitt is in this episode, but playing an old lady who writes to the "Miss Emily" column - paradoxically, she later plays Miss Emily (or Edith) herself! Given the generally high quality of the first ten episodes, this one is rather poorly scripted, vague and open-ended. The first two murders, which take place in about 10 seconds of quick slash and hack, don't bear much resemblance to the original grisly Ripper murders. However, the ending, a nice drawn-out nine minutes or so, is particularly suspenseful.

The Zombie (Top Five)

Original Air Date:: 9/20/74

Writer: Zekial Marko and David Chase

Director: Alex Grasshoff

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

Charles Aidman Captain Leo Winwood Colonel Bloodworth on M*A*S*H*, Jeremy Pike on The Wild, Wild West, narrator of The Twilight Zone series in 1985, the father in the original Twilight Zone episode "Little Girl Lost"
Joseph Sirola Benjamin Sposato Dominick on The Magician, Maro on Spin City, literally hundreds of radio and TV voiceovers
Val Bisoglio Victor Friese Danny on Quincy, Sal on M*A*S*H*
Antonio Fargas Sweetstick Weldon Huggy Bear on Starsky & Hutch, Flyguy in I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, Colonel Devraux in the MacGyver episode "Walking Dead" (and that only airs about twice a week on WGN too...)
Scatman Crothers Uncle Filemon Mr. Bloom in Twilight Zone: The Movie, Louie in Chico and the Man
Pauline Myers Mamalois "Marie Juliette" Edmonds Constance Riley in My Cousin Vinny
Earl Faison Francois Edmonds (The Zombie) No other regular acting career, but linebacker for the San Diego Chargers
J. Pat O'Malley Cemetary Caretaker Bert on Maude, Sam Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show
Gary Baxley Willie Pike The Humanoid in Primal Scream, stunt-coordinator for Sliders
Hank Calia Albert Berg Stunts in movies up through The Cherokee Kid and Hero
Roland 'Bob' Harris Poppy Minor roles and stunt work up through 1985, including The Goonies and Commando
Ben Frommer The Monk Sexton in Psycho II, Nogow in the Battlestar Galactica episode "The Magnificent Warriors"
Chuck Waters Jerry A couple of other Night Stalker episodes, a bank robber in Bronco Billy, stunt work up through The Mask of Zorro

Synopsis: Leading gangland figures are being killed, their spines "snapped like celery". Kolchak discovers that the common denominator is their involvement with the death of a Haitian immigrant, Francois Edmonds, who has been buried twice with chicken blood in his ears...

Notes: This episode remains one of the series' most effective mergings of the supernatural and the mundane. The zombie, who must rest in a place of the dead, hides in a hearse at a scrapyard, with Carl obliged to strangle it from a crane while burning holy candles on a hubcap. The zombie travels back and forth from its murder scenes by Chicago public transit!

They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be

Original Air Date:: 9/27/74

Writer: Rudolph Borchert

Director: Allen Baron

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

James Gregory Captain Quill Inspector Luger on Barney Miller, several Columbo episodes, MacDonald in the Matt Helm series, Senator Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate, Dr. Tristan Adams in the Star Trek episode "Dagger of the Mind"
Mary Wickes Dr. Bess Winestock Marie in The Father Dowling Mysteries, Laverne in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mrs. Squires in The Music Man, Zelda in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters
Dick Van Patten Alfred Brindle Tom Bradford in Eight is Enough, King Roland in Spaceballs
Maureen Arthur Woman Speaker A regular on the original Tonight Show
Fritz Feld Waiter Maitre'd in Mel Brooks' History of the World Pt. 1 and Silent Movie, Restaurant Owner in Barefoot in the Park (notice a trend developing...?)
Phil Leeds Howard Gough Dr. Harvey in Krippendorf's Tribe, Judge Boyle on Ally McBeal, Sid on The Larry Sanders Show
Len Lesser Crowley Uncle Leo on Seinfeld
Dennis McCarthy Security Guard Riley A couple of other Night Stalker episodes
Rudy Challenger Stanley Wedemeyer Remarkably little. In fact, is he even in this episode for more than a split second? Dawidziak lists him as a cast member, but his character doesn't have any dialogue that I can recall.
Keeter Hudson Gary Glanz Apparently nothing, although he is a stage manager in Firefall. Maybe he's Darren McGavin's nephew?
Tony Rizzo Leon Van Heusen Nothing that I can find, although he looks familiar. Anyone?

Synopsis: A series of animal killings at Lincoln Park Zoo put Kolchak on the trail of an invisible alien visitor that feeds on bone marrow, vomits digestive acid, steals electrical appliances, has the (literal) strength of a hurricane, generates strong electromagnetic fields, and needs lead to fuel its spacecraft.

Notes: The first of two low budget invisible monsters, and a rather inexplicable one. Despite its energy-like configuration, it feeds on solid substances and excretes digestive acids. This episode comes as close to featuring the entire cast as any: only Ruth McDevitt is absent, as her character has not been introduced yet. The episode's highlight is Kolchak describing the alien's eating habits to Vincenzo as Tony is having a free Italian meal he won on a bet. There are some convenient plot elements: not for the first time, Kolchak's camera hold the key to stopping the monster of the week. A neat foreshadowing of X-Files with its elements of mysterious government agents, cover-up, conspiracy, and an alien presence.

The Vampire

Original Air Date:: 10/4/74

Writer: David Chase

Director: Don Weis

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

William Daniels Lt. Jack Matteo The voice of Kitt on Knight Rider, George Feeny on Boy Meets World, Dr. Mark Craig on St. Elsewhere.
Kathleen Nolan Faye Kruger Dr. Galens in Valley of the Dolls.
Suzanne Charney Catherine Rawlins (The Vampire) Not a whole lot - Sylvia in Short Walk to Daylight, one of those TV-Movie earthquake-type movies, which I think I've seen once or twice.
Jan Murray Ichabod Grace Used to be a regular on Hollywood Squares, was a TV Host of a lot of 50's type stuff, and he was in some really bad movie (A Man Called Dagger, I think) as a Naxi scientist(!!), and he starred with Richard Kiel.
Larry Storch Jim "The Swede" Brytowski Who can forget Corporal Agarn in F-Troop! He was also "the Scoutmaster" in Without Warning a very Kolchak-ian 80's horror movie with an alien big game hunter that throws bean bags that stick to your body and dig in for a meal...ooh, scary.
Noel De Souza Chandra Some Hindu-looking roles, including most recently the Voyager episode "The Darkling."
Army Archerd Man Daily Variety columnist, seems to make a habit of playing himself in stuff like Murphy Brown, Ellen, California Suite, etc.
Selma Archerd Woman Married to Army Archerd, actually seems to have a career playing something other than "Herself". Is Nurse Amy on Melrose Place at least through '99.
John Doucette Deputy Sample Major Truscott in Patton, a couple of Wild, Wild West appearances, the sheriff in True Grit. Lots of Western roles back in the 60's and 50's. Kolchak seems to have been his last television appearance, although he continued doing movies until '86.
Milt Kamen Gingrich A regular on Sid Caesar's shows, and another one of those "veteran" actors McGavin hired regularly.
Stuart Nisbet Hotel Manager Most recently, a banker in Casino, also Bart the Bartender on The Virginian.
Bill Baldwin First Reporter Basically did a lot of TV Announcer-type roles in the 70's, so being a reporter seems appropriate enough.
Scott Douglas Second Reporter Major Taylor in Legacy of Terror, one of two Narrators in The Amazing She-Monster, which wasn't reviewed by the MST3K guys but probably should have been.
Alyscia Maxwell Third Reporter She plays a reporter (again) in The Knightly Murders, and not much else. Hey, if you got a role down pat...
Howard Gray Bellboy Nothing. Zip. Nada.
Jimmy Joyce Man Talking Another Kolchak "veteran," you can see him in Chopper (he's the guy who replaces Jesse White at the warehouse).
Biene Blechschmidt Elena Munoz Apparently nothing else of note
Betty Endicott Linda Courtner Ditto
Rand Warren Stacker Schumaker Even more ditto. Maybe this guy was actually a football player? Earl Faison doesn't get a listing either...
Tony Epper Andrew Garth Lots of stunt stuff, like Fire Down Below (ooh, he got to work with Steven Segal). Was Harley in the MacGyver episode "Three for the Road," which WGN somehow manages to air at least twice a week.
Anne Whitfield Girl Cookie's Fortune, which just started airing on cable. Other than that, lots of made-for-TV stuff. I gotta wonder if the IMDB has this right - she was supposedly in Gunsmoke back in '55, but plays a "Girl" in The Vampire in '74. Maybe she was a child star...but that would still make her about 29 in 1974. Would a 29-year-old really be a "Girl"? Hmmm...anyone know?

Kolchak/Vampire Photo

Synopsis: A female victim of the original Night Stalker, Janos Skorzeny, is accidentally revived. Moving to Los Angeles and taking up the life of a call girl, she appears unstoppable until Kolchak finds out and wrangles a trip to the West Coast to investigate.

Notes: An adequate sequel to the original The Night Stalker TV movie. One of the only two episodes to seemingly take place outside of Chicago: actually, 95% of the entire show was filmed in Hollywood with only a couple of minutes of Chicago footage used per episode. Kolchak's commentary on Los Angeles is priceless, as he wonders why the Capital Records Building look like a stack of pancakes. Ironically, Kolchak would move to Los Angeles in Mark Dawidziak's novel, "Grave Secrets."

The Werewolf (Bottom Five)

Original Air Date:: 11/1/1974

Writer: David Chase and Paul Playdon

Director: Allen Baron

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

Nita Talbot Paula Griffon Delfina on General Hospital in 1981-82, Camille in Puppet Master II
Henry Jones Captain Julian Wells Archnophobia, Falcon Crest, Phyllis, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Vertigo, a criminal mob boss on MacGyver, tons of other stuff
Eric Braeden Bernhardt Stieglitz Victor on The Young and the Restless, Colossus: The Forbin Project, the main Nazi bad guy in Rat Patrol
Richard Gautier Mel Tarter Hymie the robot on Get Smart, Robin Hood in Mel Brooks' When Things Were Rotten
Bob Hastings Hallem Commissioner Gordon in Batman: The Animated Series, Tommy Kelsey on All in the Family, the M.C. (appropriately enough) in The Poseidon Adventure
Dort Clark Gribs The sheriff in Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex...
Jackie Russell Wendy A snakewoman in Lair of the White Worm
Lyn Guild Lois Prysock Jack Weston's character's wife on the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street"
Jim Hawkins Jay Remy Not much - apparently did a lot of sound work, but also starred in the English series Emmerdale Farm. So this may not be the "right" Jim Hawkins, but what the heck - it gives us another Kolchak listing on the IMDB.
Ray Ballard Bernie Efron Appropriately enough, a coffee shop owner in the '86 horror movie Vamp
Heath Jobes Radio Man A makeup man in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls
Lewis Charles George Levitt The Chaplain in Birdman of Alcatraz, Achilles in The Three Stooges Meet Hercules, Pablo in Topaz
Barry Cahill Dr. Alan Ross Bigby in Grand Theft Auto, Major O'Neil in Centennial
Steve Marlow Sailor It's Called Murder, Baby

Synopsis: While covering the last cruise of an famous ocean liner, Kolchak must deal with a NATO soldier infected with lyncanthropy.

Notes: Despite (or perhaps because of) the location filming, the budget on this episode appears minimal, particularly concerning the low-quality werewolf costume, which we see far too much of. The ending is rushed, suspense is minimal, and Kolchak is isolated from his supporting characters for most of the episode. Henry Jones makes a good Simon Oakland stand-in (while also doing double-duty as the "cop of the week" (although he's a ship's captain, not a police captain). But he's no replacement for the original. The fact that he momentarily considers Kolchak's explanation (asking about outrunning the rising moon) makes for a nice moment of potential open-mindness, but the element is immediately dropped.

Firefall (Bottom Five)

Original Air Date:: 11/8/74

Writer: Bill S. Ballinger

Director: Don Weis

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

Fred Beir Ryder Bond Larry Atwood on Days of Our Lives, the silver-faced alien Taureg in the Time Tunnel episode "Visitors From Beyond the Stars"
Madlyn Rhue Marie Daphne DiMera on Days of Our Lives, Jean O'Neill on Murder She Wrote, Lt. Marla McGivers on the original Trek episode "Space Seed"
David Doyle Cardinale Bosley on Charlie's Angels, Grandpa Pickles on Rugrats, Bridget Loves Bernie, Capricorn One, General Hospital, and many more
Philip Carey Sgt. Mayer Philip Marlowe in the '59 series Philip Marlowe, Captain Parmalee in Laredo
Alice Backes Dr. Shropell The Twonky (ugh) and some Columbo movies
Patricia Estrin Felicia Porter Joan Barnard on Another World
Lenore Kasdorf Doctor Mrs. Rico in Starship Troopers, Pamela Geller on The Bold and the Beautiful, an ISN reporter on a couple of first season episodes of Babylon 5
Virginia Vincent Mrs. Markoff Ethel in The Hills Have Eyes (Parts 1 and 2), Daisy Maxwell in Eight is Enough
Joshua Shelley George Mason Bullets on B.J. and the Bear, Al Lewis in All the President's Men
Marcus Smith Young Man Not much...
Carol Veazie Mrs. Sherman Several Mayberry RFD and Andy Griffith Show appearances
Gary Glanz Bert, the Stage Manager Keeter Hudson in They Have Been... and not much else

Synopsis: A series of deaths by incineration are the work of the ghost of an arsonist, attempting to take over the body of a concert conductor he admired in life, becoming his doppelganger. Kolchak must force the ghost to accept its death by taking the corpse to the site of its murder.

Notes: Poorly paced and edited. The episode has some mildly impressive pyrotechnic effects. However, the plot is more of a mish-mash than usual, and there are several lapses. We are told over and over again that the victims must be sleeping to be killed by the doppelganger...yet one dies while driving a car through downtown Chicago! To prove his case, Carl rattles off a list of spontaneous combustion cases, which has nothing to do with the case of ghostly possession at hand, unless they were all done by the ghosts of arsonists as well. The motive behind the killings is also unclear - why is the doppelganger killing off those close to Ryder Bond, the conductor? David Doyle is curiously subdued as a Kolchak contact of the week. Considering the usual hammy performances by actors in this role (Jim Backus in Chopper, everybody in The Knightly Murders), Doyle just sits there.

The Devil's Platform

Original Air Date:: 11/15/74

Writer: Donn Mullally

Director: Allen Baron

Actor

Character

Where have I seen them before?

Tom Skerritt Sen. Robert W. Palmer Dallas in Alien, Sheriff Bannerman in The Dead Zone, Cmdr. Metcalf in Top Gun, Sheriff Brock in Picket Fences, Evan Drake on Cheers, many more.
Ellen Weston Lorraine Palmer Betty Harrelson in S.W.A.T., Robin Fletcher #5 in The Guiding Light, Dr. Steele in Get Smart, late wrote TV movies such as The Beat Goes On: The Sonny and Cher Story
Julie Gregg Susan Driscoll Finella in the Batman episodes "Fine Finny Friends" and "Batman Makes the Scene", Sandra Corleone in The Godfather.
Stanley Adams Louie the Bartender Cyrano Jones in "The Trouble With Tribbles" on Star Trek, Fred Hurley in the original Night Stalker movie, Captain Courageous on Batman, two episodes of the original Twilight Zone ("Garrity and the Graves" with John Dehner, and "Once Upon a Time"), a truck driver in The Norliss Tapes, Lt. Harding in North by Northwest, Rusty Trawler in Breakfast at Tiffany's, Perelli in Requiem for a Heavyweight.
John Myhers Sen. James Talbot Senate leader in History of the World: Part 1, many 60s and 70s TV shows and low-budget movies.
Jeanne Cooper Dr. Kliner Katherine Chancellor on The Young and the Restless, Liz in the original Twilight Zone episode "Mr. Denton on Doomsday, Gladys Becker on L.A. Law (she's the mother of Corbin Bernsen, who played Arnie Becker).
Robert DoQui Park Policeman Sgt. Reed in the Robocop movies, a Klingon on Deep Space Nine, minor roles in dozens of TV shows and movies up to the current day.
Bruce Powers First Policeman Peters in Mr. R.I.N.G., Cmdr. Bryce in Horrof the Blood Monsters.
Ross Sherman Second Policeman Stunt man mostly, worked up through 1986 in The Check Is in the Mail....
Sam Edwards Mailman Mr. Anderson in Little House on the Prairie, Red in The Beatniks (spoofed on MST3K), many 50's, 60's and early 70's TV shows and movies..
William Mims Officer Hale Mayor Potts on Petticoat Junction, General Grant on The Beverly Hillbillies, numerous TV appearances from 1957 to 1984.
Keith Walker TV Reporter Irving Walsh in The Goonies, also played a reporter in Bad Medicine and The Sentry.
Bill Welsh TV Announcer Announcer for the Tournament of Roses Parade for many years, usually played an announcer or news caster in movies like The Atomic Kid and Dragstrip Girl.
Ike Jones First Maintenance Engineer Not much, although we saw him as a mailboy in The Ripper.
John Dennis Second Maintenance Engineer Minor roles in 50's, 60's, and 70's TV, Sid in The Oscar, a crew chief in Lt. Robin Crusoe, USN, Wagner in Soylent Green, an orderly in High Anxiety.

Kolchak/Devil's Platform Photo

Synopsis: A rising young politician's enemies are dying all about: his Satanic connections may have something to do with his meteoric rise towards the Presidency.

Notes: This episode lampoons everything from politics to religion. We finally get to meet Ruth McDevitt, whose trip to the Vatican provides Kolchak with a much-needed bottle of holy water blessed by the Pope, and a new hat which he can't stand. The episode has probably the sharpest dialogue of the series. The plot kind of meanders, however, and the limits of Palmer's satanic abilities are never really set. Carl doesn't do much, and defeats Palmer through sheer luck more than anything.

Bad Medicine

Original Air Date:: 11/29/74

Writer: L. Ford Neale and John Huff

Director: Alex Grasshoff

Actor

Character

Ramon Bieri Captain Joe Baker
Alice Ghostley Dr. Agnes Temple
Victory Jory Charles Rolling Thunder
Richard Kiel The Diablero
Marvin Kaplan Albert Delgado
Lois January Mrs. Rhonda June Marsky
Barbara Morrison Mrs. Luci Lapont Addison
Riza Royce Mrs. Charlotte Elaine Van Piet
David Lewis Auctioneer
Dennis McCarthy Ballistics Man
Troy Melton Desk Officer
Keith Walker First Reporter
Bill Deiz Second Reporter
Bob Golden Police Detective
Ernie Robinson Chauffeur
Arthur Wong Auction Attendee
Morris Buchanan Night Watchman

Synopsis: A trail of stolen jewelry and bizarre deaths puts Kolchak on the trail of a "diablero", a magic-wielding, shape-shifting Indian medicine man doomed to roam the earth on an eternal quest to repent his sins by amassing a fortune in jewelry.

Notes: Richard Kiel is effective if you buy him in the role of a Hopi medicine man. Going against the show's general policy, we see a lot of him. However, his looming presence, non-speaking role, and chilling background music don't deter. Another mix of the supernatural and the mundane: the cliff-dwelling diablero takes up residence in the unrented office space of a new 40-story building. Once more, there are some very convenient plot elements: the diablero in the museum display is identical to what Kolchak sees, and the reporter's camera saves the day once more. Ramon Bieri plays Captain Joe Baker in this episode, but plays Captain Webster in Legacy of Terror (see below).

The Spanish Moss Murders (Top Five)

Original Air Date:: 12/6/74

Writer: Al Friedman and David Chase

Director: Gordon Hessler

Actor

Character

Keenan Wynn Captain Joe "Mad Dog" Siska
Severn Darden Dr. Aaron Pollack
Richard Kiel Pelemafait (or Peremalfait, if you prefer)
Johnny Silver Pepe LaRue (aka Morris Shapiro)
Ned Glass Joe, the apartment manager
Randy Boone Jean the Fiddler
Virginia Gregg Dr. Hollenbeck
Bill Diez First Reporter
Frieda Rentie Second Reporter
Brian Avery Record Producer
Rudy Diaz Sgt. Villaverde
James LaSane Officer Johnson
Maurice Marsac Henri Villon
Roberta Dean Michelle Kelly

Synopsis: Dream research experiments accidentally unleash a childhood Bayou legend from the mind of a subject: a swamp creature known as "pelemafait" which crushes its victims to death and leaves them shrouded in spanish moss. Kolchak must track it to its sewer lair and destroy it with a spear taken from a bayou gum tree.

Notes: An interesting twist, since there is for once a relatively reasonable explanation why a strange monster is in Chicago - it's not a monster itself, but a dream representation of a monster. Richard Kiel is almost unrecognizable beneath the monster outfit, but his towering appearance is very effective given the creature's fleeting appearances throughout the episode until the final showdown in the sewers. Keenan Wynn plays Captain "Mad Dog" Siska for the first of two times (see Demon in Lace), and is perhaps the best policeman of the series. He is actually willing to (almost) take Kolchak at his word about the nature of the murders. At the same time, Kolchak single-handedly manages to demolish months of Siska's group therapy and Wynn goes hysterically overboard portraying the results.

The Energy Eater (Bottom Five)

Original Air Date:: 12/13/74

Writer: Arthur Rowe and Rudolph Borchert

Director: Alex Grasshoff

Actor

Character

William Smith Jim Elkhorn
Elaine Giftos Nurse Janice Eisen
Robert Yuro Captain Webster
Robert Cornthwaite Dr. Hartfield
Michael Strong Walter Green
Tom Drake Don Kibbey
Joyce Jilson Diana Lanier
Michael Fox Frank Wesley
John Alvin Dr. Ralph Carrie
Receptionist Ella Edwards
John Mitchum Janitor
Melissa Greene First Girl
Dianne Harper Second Girl

Synopsis: Construction workers begin to die on the site of a hospital construction. Months later, patients begin dying in the newly-constructed clinic. What's responsible? A "matchemonedo", an Indian bear-god woken from its hibernation by the excavation.

Notes: Another invisible monster. This episode ends poorly, but has one extremely effective scene: the two brief glimpses of the creature. The latter remains, in this author's opinon, one of the most chilling moments of the series, as Kolchak and Smith's character fit together X-ray plates like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to form a picture of a literal "eye of god" 10' high. It doesn't make much sense, but boy is it impressive. This episode is commonly seen stitched together with Firefall as the TV movie Crackle of Death. Captain Webster appears for the first time, played by Robert Yuro, even though Ramon Bieri (previously Captain Baker) would have the same name in Legacy of Terror, Dawidziak's "Kolchak Companion" talks about the visits to impressive construction sites, but one wonders if he's bluffing: other then a brief flash of sites over the opening narration we don't see anything, and they're hardly filmed in any kind of impressive manner. There are also several plot holes. What do the (off-screen) deaths of the Indian construction workers have to do with anything? If Matchemonedo killed them, why didn't it kill the non-Indians who were brought in later to finish the project? And why did the workers fall to their deaths instead of having the energy sucked out of them? Worse, writers Arthur Rowe and Rudolph Borchert seem to have blood plasma and energy plasma confused. And director Alex Grasshoff fails whatsoever to capture the menace of an invisible creature in the manner that Allen Baron did in They Have Been...

"Horror in the Heights (Top Five)

Original Air Date:: 12/20/74

Writer: Jimmy Sangster

Director: Michael T. Carrey

Actor

Character

Phil Silvers Harry Starman
Abraham Sofaer Elderly Rakshasa Hunter
Murray Matheson Lane Merriott
Benny Rubin Julius "Buck" Fineman
Barry Gordon Barry the Waiter
Shelly Novack Officer York
Herb Vigran Sal Goldstein
Ned Glass Joe
Jim Goodwin Frank Rivas
John Bleifer Charlie
Eric Server Office Boxman
Naomi Stevens Miriam Goldstein
Robert Karnes Officer Thomas
Paul Sorensen Officer Prodman

Synopsis: A cowardly Hindu demon, a rakshasa, preys on the elderly by taking on the image of the one they trust most, and then eating them. Only Kolchak, armed with a blessed crossbow given him by an elderly monster-hunter, can put an end to its existence.

Notes: Written by Jimmy Sangster, who penned several Hammer/Dracula movies in the 60's (but also the abominable 60's turkey The Crawling Eye, so let's not get too worked up about him). Considered the best episode of the series by many. This author believes there are several contenders, but concedes it is an excellent episode. The episode drags a bit, and the ending is painfully abrupt. McGavin downplays his Kolchak persona here, seeming almost bored. Still, it's a pleasant change from his usual ranting lunatic "You've got to believe me!" attitude. Meanwhile, Simon Oakland's Vincenzo actually acts like a editor - displaying an interest in Kolchak's original elderly-abuse piece, and standing up to the police for his errant reporter. This episode probably represents the peak of the show in terms of quality writing, acting, and direction all coming together at one time. In a show not known for its continuity, Ned Glass plays the same character that Carl fast-talks two episodes earlier in The Spanish Moss Murders. He wonders why the reporter looks familiar. On the other hand, Miss Emily is working as a temporary on the letter column that supposedly was hers in the first place way back in The Ripper!

Mr. R.I.N.G.

Original Air Date:: 1/10/75

Writer: L. Ford Neale and John Huff

Director: Gene Levitt

Actor

Character

Corinne Michaels Dr. Leslie Dwyer
Bert Freed Captain Akins
Craig R. Baxley R.I.N.G.
Julie Adams Mrs. Avery Walkers
Henry Beckman Sen. Duncan "LaBeau" Stevens
Robert Easton Bernard Carmichael
Myron Healey Colonel Wright
Don 'Red' Barry Tyrell Security Guard
Peters Bruce Powers
Maidie Norman Librarian Miss Byrett
Vince Howard Policeman

Kolchak/Mr. RING Photo

Synopsis: An android with artificial intelligence kills its creator when threatened with dismantlement. Kolchak and the government both become involved in the search.

Notes: A mediocre episode rescued from the Bottom Five by only a few brief touches. One is Kolchak's transcription of the story from his rapidly fading memories, due to the government's administration of a Prisoner-esque drug. Another is the surprisingly sympathetic portrayal of the "monster". Its attempts to gain a philosophy, and its ethical confusion when Kolchak asks it who had a greater right to live, itself or its creator, help to lift the plot out of the "monster of the week" re-tread the show never really overcame. There's also only one real death not counting R.I.N.G. itself (and one implied one - a postman). The episode is somewhat humorless compared to others, because of the somber tone set by the opening. Still, there are a few hilarious moment, when Kolchak confronts a double-talking guard, and an insistent undertaker (that's "cosmetologist") who insists on being properly titled. An amusing trivia note: the postman shares an interest in one of Carl's favorite foods: chili (we see the reporter ask for it in The Ripper). Another famous TV sleuth with a passion for chili: Lt. Columbo.

Primal Scream

Original Air Date:: 1/17/75

Writer: Bill S. Ballinger and David Chase

Director: Robert Scheerer

Actor

Character

Pat Harrington Jr. Thomas Kitzmiller
Jamie Farr Jack Burton
John Marley Captain Maurice Molnar
Gary Baxley Humanoid
Katherine Woodville Dr. Helen Lynch
C. Lindsay Workman Dr. Fisk
Regis J. Cordic Dr. Peel
Jeannie Bell Rosetta Mason
Byron Morrow Dr. Cowan
Paul Baxley Dr. Jules Copenik
Chuck Waters William Pratt
Barbara Rhodes Kitzmiller's Secretary
Al Checco Nils
Craig R. Baxley Robert Gurney
Sandra Gould Landlady
Vince Howard Policeman
Arnold Williams Barney
Paul Picerni Humane Society Man
Barbara Luddy Woman

Synopsis: Not much. Cell samples brought back from the Arctic by an oil conglomerate conveniently thaw out and somehow spontaneously grow into savage primates. They then go on a rampage.

Notes: The plot is pedestrian, the ending is vague, and the primates' weakness to fire is pretty boring. The highlight of the episode is Ron Updyke telling a story about a "piecost". "What's a 'piecost?'" Vincenzo asks. "Eighty-nine cents." Still, there are a few good moments. At the beginning of an interview with a corporate PR man, Kolchak thoughtfully takes a moment to adjust his socks! Vincenzo once again gets to act like an editor actually enthusiastic about getting a story out.

The Trevi Collection (Top Five)

Original Air Date:: 1/24/75

Writer: Rudolph Borchert

Director: Don Weis

Actor

Character

Lara Parker Madelaine
Nina Foch Madame Trevi
Bernie Kopell Doctor
Priscilla Morrill Griselda
Richard Bakalyan First Hood
Henry Slate Second Hood
Marvin Miller The Lecturer
Chuck Waters Mickey Patchek
Dennis McCarthy The Figure
Henry Brandon The Man
Peter Leeds Photographer
Beverly Gill Melody Sedgwick
Douglas Fowley Superintendent
George Chandler Model Agency Manager

Synopsis: A series of deaths in high fashion (by cat, mannequin, and scalding water) leads Kolchak to the conclusion that black witchcraft is being used by someone. But is it the mysterious Madame Trevi? Or one of her models?

Notes: The third of the "human" monster episodes (with The Devil's Platform and The Youth Killer), this episode is clever, different and unique. It benefits, like The Devil's Platform, by giving evil a human face and some dialogue. There is both a newsroom subplot (Kolchak's has to deal with the Mob wanting some information from him), and a plot twist or two (Kolchak is tricked by the evil witch into destroying the good witch's power). The animated mannequins are effective except for a few glitches, although perhaps not as frightening as Kim Cattrell in "Mannequin." With the various unusual plot elements, and absent the usual "cop of the week", this episode is perhaps the best realization of Kolchak creator Jeff Rice's vision of a show where fighting a monster every week wasn't the focus of the show. At the very least, it neatly sidesteps the repetitive elements of the show's format.

Chopper

Original Air Date:: 1/31/75

Writers: Steve Fisher, David Chase, Bob Gale, and Robert Zemeckis

Director: Bruce Kessler

Actor

Character

Larry Linville Captain Jonas
Sharon Farrell Lila Morton
Jim Backus Herb Bresson
Jay Robinson Professor Eli Strig
Steve Franken Neil, the Morgue Attendant
Steve Boyum Harold "Swordman" Baker (The Headless Motorcyclist)
Jesse White First Watchman
Jimmy Joyce George, Second Watchman
Joey Aresco Electric Larry
Jim Malinda Snow White
Jack Bernardi Otto
Jimmy Murphy Beaner
Ralph Montgomery Claude
Fern Barry Mrs. Rita Baker
Brunetta Barnett Nurse
Frank Aletter Norman Kahill

Synopsis: When a cemetary is excavated, the head and body of a decapitated motorcyclist are separated, causing the specter to steal an antique motorcycle and begin decapitating those who were responsible for his death decades ago.

Notes: Written by Robert Zemeckis, who later won an Oscar for directing Forrest Gump. Despite the horrendous F/X of the cyclist (who must have been 9' tall before he was decapitated) and the silly-sounding concept, the episode is actually fairly entertaining. In a series where the premise was to show the monster as little as possible, we definitely see too much of the goofy-looking headless cyclist. Watching Backus as a motorcycle dealer ranting about his WW2 experiences with the Japanese is worth the price of admission. However, Kolchak haggling with a cycle gang over the casket of one of their members is also amusing. Overall, Zemeckis' enthusiastic and satiric writing balances the bad F/X to produce a slightly above-average episode. Probably the most underrated episode of the series. Still, there's such a thing as going to the opposite extreme. The episode isn't nearly as good as Cy Chermak or Dawidziak in his "Night Stalker Companion" represent it, either. One wonders if they didn't do a little re-evaluation between the 20th and 25th anniversay Companion based on Zemeckis' winning of an Oscar).

Demon in Lace

Original Air Date:: 2/7/75

Writers: Stephen Lord, Michael Kozoll, and David Chase

Director: Don Weis

Actor

Character

Andrew Prine Professor C. Evan Spate
Keenan Wynn Captain Joe "Mad Dog" Siska
Kristina Holland Rosalind Winters
Carolyn Jones The Registrar
Jackie Vernon Coach Toomey
Milton Parsons Dr. Salem Mozart
Teddie Blue The Succubus
Ben Masters Mike Thompson
Maria Grimm Maria Venegas
Stephen Stafford Craig Connelly
Snag Werris Don Rhiner
Carmen Zapata Spanish Woman
Carlos Molina Landlord
Margie Impert Betty Walker
John Elerick Mark Hansen
Davis Roberts Coroner

Kolchak/Demon in Lace Photo

Synopsis: College men are dying of heart attacks. Apparently they are being frightened to death during sex by a succubus, a female demon that possessess the bodies of recently deceased women. The revelation of her true nature during sex kills them and feeds her. Her existence is tied to a priceless Mesapotomian tablet, which Kolchak must destroy.

Notes: Very little to recommend it, but not too harmful either. As close to an "average" episode as the series ever produced. Stitched together with Legacy of Terror (see below) to make the TV-movie Demon & The Mummy where, like Crackle of Death, it is pretty much rendered unintelligible as the two plots are freely edited together. Keenan Wynn, after a high-class performance in The Spanish Moss Murders, is rather subdued here. Carolyn Jones as The Registrar demonstrates once again her flair for comedy when she engages in a duel of double-talk and acronym-spouting with Kolchak when he attempts to get information from her.

Legacy of Terror

Original Air Date:: 2/14/75

Writer: Arthur Rowe

Director: Don McDougall

Actor

Character

Ramon Bieri Captain Webster
Eric Estrada Pepe Torres
Pippa Scott Tillie Jones
Victor Campos Professor Jamie Rodriguez
Mickey Gilberth Nanautzin, The Mummy
Sorrell Brooke Mr. Eddy
Sondra Currie Vicky
Merrie Lynn Ross Nina
Dorrie Thomson Lona
Craig R. Baxley Rolf Anderson
Robert Casper Professor Jones
Udana Power Captain Madge Timmins
Ernest Macias Andrew Gomez
Scott Douglas Major Taylor
Pitt Herbert Medical Examiner
Gene LeBell Officer Olson
Carlos Romero George Andrews
Mina Vasquez Rita Torres
Alma Bertran Mrs. Torres

Synopsis: Physically-superb men and women are being killed, their hearts cut out with a dull blade. Each victim is found on a higher and higher prime numbered flight of stairs. Kolchak's investigation turns up a bizarre cult based on Aztec religion that seek to revive their mummified god at the correct celestial alignment. To prevent the mummy's resurrection, Kolchak must prevent the sacrifice of their fifth, "perfect" victim on the highest flight of stairs in Chicago.

Notes: This episode reads like someone's dissertation paper gone wild. In a sense, this makes the episode more effective: the numerous and painstaking Aztec mythological references bolster the show's "believability" factor. The perfect victim is granted his every wish, is accompanied by three women named after Aztec wind goddesses, and must master the flute. The conspiracy/cult angle and the downplaying of the "monster" angle also lend themselves to the show's effectiveness. It suffers from its editing into Demon & The Mummy (see Demon in Lace above) and needs to be seen in its original form to be appreciated. Ramon Bieri (Bad Medicine) plays Captain Webster in this episode, despite being called Captain Baker in that episode. There was a Captain Webster (in The Energy Eater), but he was played by a different actor. Go figure. Also, if the mummy looks vaguely familiar, it's because he's played by Mickey Gilbert, who portrayed a much more debonair Ripper in the episode of the same name.

The Knightly Murders (Top Five)

Original Air Date:: 3/7/75

Writers: Michael Kozoll and David Chase

Director: Vincent McEveety

Actor

Character

John Dehner Captain Vernon Rausch
Hans Conreid Mendel Boggs
Shug Fisher Pop Stenvold
Robert Emhardt Roger, Coat of Arms Dealer
Lucille Benson Maura
Lieux Dressler Minerva Musso
Sidney Clute Bruce Krause
Bryan O'Byrne Charles Johnson (Butler)
William O'Connell Brewster Hawking
Alyscia Maxwell Freshman Reporter
Ed McCready First Reporter
Gregg Palmer Sergeant Buxbaum
Jim Drum Leo J. Ramutka
Don Carter Lester Nash

Synopsis: Ward bosses and decorators are being killed off with medieval weaponry. The source: the haunted armor of a "Black Cross" Knight, whose museum is going to be converted to a discoteque. Who can blame it for killng those responsible?

Notes: A purely average episode in basic concept, there are dozens of little moments that make this episode. Dehner is hilarious playing the cop of the week, doing a dead-on Edward R. Murrow impersonation and going off on tangents from WW2 commandos with crossbows to the chamber recitals he sits through with his wife. Other highlights include a mom & pop heraldry store trying to sell our intrepid reporter a "Kolchak Coat of Arms," and Kolchak having to act as biographer for an antique pawnshop owner. McGavin gets to play a literal white knight, since Kolchak has to wield a blessed axe to defeat the Black Knight. We also get a rare glimpse of the heroic Kolchak when he is present at one of the murders as it takes place (a unique occurrence - he's typically there after the fact), and unhesitatingly tries to stop the Knight from cutting one of its victims in half.

The Youth Killer (Bottom Five)

Original Air Date:: 3/14/75

Writer: Rudolph Borchert

Director: Don McDougall

Actor

Character

Cathy Lee Crosby Helen of Troy
George Savalas (Demosthenes) Kaz Kazantarkis
Dwayne Hickman Sergeant J. Orkin
Bella Sarkof Kathleen Freeman
Michael Richardson Lance Mervin
Penny Stanton Lance's Mother
James Murtaugh Landlord
Eddie Firestone Obnoxious Conventioneer
James Ingersoll First Young Man
Reb Brown Second Young Man

Synopsis: A series of unidentified elderly bodies are turning up around Chicago. Kolchak discovers that they were in fact young swingers who all were members of an exclusive dating club run by a hauntingly attractive woman who a local Greek taxi driver conveniently recognizes as Helen of Troy.

Notes: As preposterous as it sounds. Crosby's performance as Helen is horribly wooden: she was obviously cast based on her looks rather than her acting ability. Crosby ruins every scene she is in. The scenes without her are fairly humorous, effectively demonstrating how the show sustained itself more on humor than horror. Strong evidence that the show was near the end of the season and on its last legs. Again, some spotty writing. Why does Helen's patron goddess, Hecate, wait until Carl points out that Helen sacrficed an imperfect one-eyed victim? Why does Helen threaten to sacrifice the physically imperfect Carl? When even the main character can point out the flaws in the villainess' reasoning, you know there are script problems. Where's Kevin Sorbo when you need him?

The Sentry (Bottom Five)

Original Air Date:: 3/28/75

Writers: L. Ford Neale and John Huff

Director: Jerry Fielding

Actor

Character

Kathie Browne Lt. Irene Lamont
Tom Bosley Jack Flaherty
Craig R. Baxley The Creature
Frank Campanella Ted Chapman
John Hoyt Dr. Beckwirth
Albert Paulsen Dr. James Verhyden
Frank Marth Colonel Brody
Margarety Avery Ruth Van Galen
Kelly Wilder Receptionist
Tom Moses Dr. Gordon
Greg Finley Dr. Phillips
Cliff Norton Arnie Wisemore
Keith Walker First Reporter
Bill Deiz Second Reporter
Lew Brown First Detective

Synopsis: In an underground archival facility, strange geologic nodules are found. Their discovery coincides with a series of grisly murders which Kolchak discovers are the work of a lizard creature protecting its young.

Notes: The last episode of the series. The story is told in flashback as Kolchak flees the creature, then pauses to narrate what has gone before while waiting for the monster to catch up to him. This does allow for a minute or so of padding since we see the same footage of Kolchak's flight twice. The episode rather obviously "borrows" *ahem* from the Star Trek episode "Devil in the Dark," and the "Sentry" looks like a low-budget costume you might see a fan in at a science fiction convention. A depressing note to end the series on. Only Kathie Brown's role as Lt. Irene Lamont gives the episode any value. One suspects she and McGavin have had lots of practice at this kind of back-and-forth sparring.


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