RATING THE EPISODES : KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER Best and Worst Episodes

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Netflix On-Demand Classic TV: KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER Best and Worst Episodes

THE SENTRY episode of KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, the last episode of the short lived series and some would argue the worst, is actually a tense, atmospheric, well paced episode. What sinks it is the laughable ‘monster’ creation.

The director does what he can to underplay the ludicrousness of the ‘monster’, showing it as little as possible. I don’t think anyone would argue the monster creation was anything other than a pathetic disappointment even by 1970s standards, that someone should have been fired for.

It is so bad it makes the bargain basement cardboard creatures of early Doctor Who look almost good. Star Darren McGavin rightly pulled the plug on this series when he saw the quality not just dipping, but plummeting.

All that said, despite the poor monster design, this particular episode still works, and is quite engaging and fast paced. As opposed to the oft praised VAMPIRE episode, which I find to be plodding. A solid GOOD, and one that using CGI to draw in a better monster could only help. Grade: C.

THE SPANISH MOSS MURDERS- This is Kolchak at his best, as this episodes mixes the cutting edge dream experimentation studies of the day, with supernatural monster lore, to create a bigfoot sized dream assassin. Quite enjoyable and fast paced. Grade: B/B+.

THE KNIGHTLY MURDERS – the opening to this one does not fill me with confidence. An out of focus suit of armor dispensing out of focus death. But with the appearance of John Dehner as an erudite and forlorn and quixotic Captain, the stock on this episode begins to rise. Add the great Hans Conried as the curator and it becomes just a fun, enjoyable, well-written episode. Really enjoyable. B/B+.

HORROR IN THE HEIGHTS – A very imaginative and smart episode. Add the murder of Jewish elderly, rats, swastikas, Hindu spirits, death that comes like a friend, and the myth of the end of the world, and you have a particularly compelling and enjoyable episode. Of all the monsters that Kolchak has faced this one may be the most insidious. B+.

VAMPIRE – Just a plodding, overrated episode. The only thing this episode has going for it is the very ending, with the audacious, and possibly inappropriate visuals of a cross burning and staking as the solution to Kolchak’s problem.

In fact watching this series all together there is a lot of questionable but reoccurring Nazi and Klan imagery throughout (swastikas in CHOPPED, HORROR IN THE HEIGHTS and burning crosses in VAMPIRE). Grade: D-.

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CHOPPED – An incredibly fake looking headless horseman helms this poor man’s version of THE WILD ONE. Like VAMPIRE this is a plodding, boring episode. Another embarrassment of a monster design. Grade: D.

You can view the episodes for yourself courtesy of ON-DEMAND or buy the DVD at a savings here:
Kolchak – The Night Stalker DVD

The DVD is worth owning just to have the episodes HORROR IN THE HEIGHTS and THE SPANISH MOSS MURDERS always at your fingertips.

Come back for more RATING THE EPISODES!

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SUPERBOY THE SERIES vs SMALLVILLE

Superboy – The Complete First Season

I liked the first three seasons of Smallville. However from season 4 on of Smallville, I thought it became pretty god-awful and stayed that way. I would peek in on the occasional episode, I saw probably 5 or 6 of them across the remaining 6 seasons of the series. But every-time I looked in on the show, it just convinced me I was correct to stay away.

However rewinding the clock back to the late 80s, there was a live action Superboy series that managed to be fun for its full 4 season run. Called THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY, after 20years the series is finally available on DVD. At least the first season is.

The first season starts off for most of its run as very campy, really silly, stuff, though it’s still harmless fun, and it begins to hit its stride in the last several episodes of Season 1. But honestly it’s not till Season 2, that the show gets really friggin good. With a new actor playing Clark, and a better chemistry between all involved. And in seasons 3 and season 4 the show gets friggin GREAT, as Clark and Lois, in a show that predates the X-Files, intern at a Paranormal Bureau of Investigation handling all manner of oddities and monstrosities.

Seasons 2-4 are much more sophisticated seasons, and far better written than season 1, and of particular acclaim are some of the episodes with Luther and Bizarro and Metallo. Season 2-4 are better than any season of SMALLVILLE I’ve seen, and of course better than the atrocious LOIS & CLARK series.

These later episodes of the ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY are quite brilliant and quite touching. Particularly as the show winds to a close, due to an unfortunately forced demise. The demise is interesting in that the ratings were great, and two additional seasons were planned as well as movies, but Warner Brothers stepped in and sued the show out of existence.

And even today 20 years later, the whole series is not available on DVD. Warner Brothers wanting nothing on the market to show up their crappy SMALLVILLE. It’s a shame because the loser is the viewer.

So a series that doesn’t get its due, not just for being one of the best live-action interpretations of the Kal-El myth, but a highly influential show in terms of being the template for shows such as X-FILES, really deserves to have its other seasons on DVD.

But unfortunately all that is currently available is Season 1. I mean I recommend getting Season 1, like I say it’s good in places, but it is very much the adventures of a Superboy in High-school, Season 2-4 is a completely different, and better animal.

I of course have all the seasons available on VHS (sorry to rub it in! “But they are real… And they are Fabulous!” 🙂 [One of the few Seinfeld jokes I’ll quote. Michael Richards soured me on that show] I got them years ago, before the crackdown), but yeah a DVD release is definitely needed. In the interim Season 1 is available on sale for OVER 70% off!!!

At the price, it’s a no brainer. Grab your copy and thank me later. 🙂
Superboy – The Complete First Season

Get info about all four seasons here!
And here’s the latest discussion on the DVD fate of seasons 2-4. But in short Warner Brothers are, as always, the problem.

It’s just a dick move, to keep this great television hidden away from people for decades; to try and sell your sub-par garbage. It’s just sad.

Man, I have to go watch my episodes of Superboy Seasons 2-4, just to make myself feel better. (Yes, I am rubbing it in aren’t I?!! I’m so evil!!! But they are so good!!! :))

Superboy – The Complete First Season

Oh and for my money… Stacey Haiduk… BEST… LANA LANG… EVER!!! You don’t see it in the first season too much, but seasons 2-4 she…. (swoon)…. is the greatest :).. But seriously, she’s not annoying harpy, not a crying damsel in distress, not overbearing and bossy, she’s just perfect.

See for yourself.

TODAY’S RECOMMENDED MOVIE/TV Poster: X-FILES!

I love this poster/box art for the season 1 collection of X-FILES. Infact I like it more than I like the show.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the X-FILES television show but for me it overstayed it’s welcome with the unresolved Alien mystery thread. And the dynamic of disbeliever/believer between the two leads, becomes pretty hard to sustain after multiple seasons of various monsters.

Over time the central characters weren’t growing, you could pretty much transpose the dialog between them between any episodes, because it was always the same arguments they were having. Much like LOST it’s a show I got fed up with early in the series and dumped, because you got the definite impression it was a show the writers didn’t really know what to do with long term.

That said I always felt the done in one ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes of X-FILES worked much better than the stretch it out/tease Alien plot-line episodes. And those done-in-one episodes are the only episodes that are remotely of interest to me, and I think are the only ones that partially hold up to repeat viewing. It’s basically Kolchak’s THE NIGHT STALKER for the X Generation.