June 7, 2012: Carl Kolchak is a true American hero, and even though he's a fictional character, he still means more to me than most of the people I know ... (excepting those who've vehemently supported SPACE CASE, and the thoughtful people who continue plugging my new Youtube video of course!)
Alternately known as The Night Stalker, Kolchak is the abrasive aging reporter who breaks stories involving vampires and other-worldly figures. Originally created by a weak writer named Jeff Rice in a hard-to-read novella, and portrayed by the ever-freckled Darren McGavin (the belligerent, beleagured "Old Man" in the classic film "Christmas Story"), he first appeared in a brilliant 1971/2 TV movie that featured not only the voluptuously vapid Carol Lindley, but Claude Akins and Simon Oakland as well. The subsequent short-lived TV series was supposedly the inspiration for Chris Carter's creation of "The X-Files, and McGavin was honored with a small recurring role on that show before his death (at some point, from something). Also, one of its main writers and story consultants was one David Chase, who went on to create "The Sopranos."
Kolchak the character is many things, but mostly -- for me -- he's the truth-teller that no one wants to believe. He's the voice of reality that everyone wants to silence and ignore. He's the gadfly that people wish would just go away. He's the conscious conscience who passionately fights for not only truth, but the vital need that it be dissemated.
One of the other things that I really like about him is that, despite his slightly crass demeanor, (which in television seems to lend itself to the caricature of an oaf), Carl's also extremely intelligent. W,hile he's intolerant of people in general -- or seems to be -- it's not without reason, because like so many of us, he's surrounded by idiots and individuals whose fear has robbed them of keeping strong convictions.
Further, despite his innate frailty, he's forever finding himself in supernatural situations that demand bravery. With morose resolve, he descends into the sewer to slay a swamp monster, crawls into an abandoned car to sew shut the mouth of a dormant zombie, slinks into the Seattle underground in search of a timeless serial killer, and, of course, (as certainly someone must remember), stands his ground against a sword-wielding headless motorcyclist ...
I love Kolchak, and give him significant credit for helping inspire me to become a writer. (Of course, some of you might use the word "blame.") And as I grew and went out into this weird, wild world stuffed with dangerous creeping people who dwell underneath all sorts of physical and spiritual rocks, the example of Carl Kolchak has often reminded me of the value of fighting for a righteous cause, arguing for an unpopular truth, even if all the odds are against you, even if the publications won't print the facts, and even if you're feeling all alone in the world ... again!
When last I checked IMDB.com -- the movie site -- I was happily astounded to see that a remake involving none other than my friend Johnny Depp was in development. It pleased me at the time, but now I'm not so sure. Despite what a grand actor like Johnny might think, there are some things that shouldn't even be touched or any attempts made to expand upon them or replicate their magic. He already made that mistake with Willy Wonka ... Beatles music is another example of that kind of thing ... I'm pretty convinced that Kolchak, The Night Stalker, is another ...
But so goes our stupid world, where the fetid winds of box office projections, egomania, questionable taste and the like all blow up my skirt.
Kudos to all who shared in the original creation of Carl Kolchak, and I pledge my ongoing allegiance to such a vigorous fine figure of truth, justice and the American Way.