While writing earlier this week about the sad demise of Jeff Rice--whose then-unpublished horror novel, The Kolchak Papers, spawned the wildly popular 1972 ABC-TV Movie of the Week, The Night Stalker--I started to dig through my file boxes for the 1974 Fall Preview edition of TV Guide. It was in that issue, I knew, that Darren McGavin’s hour-long drama based on the ’72 teleflick (as well as its 1973 sequel, The Night Strangler) was introduced. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the magazine--until this afternoon.
The page below comes from TV Guide’s September 7-13, 1974, edition. What we now remember as the short-lived series Kolchak: The Night Stalker is listed here simply as The Night Stalker--the title it carried through its first several episodes. Whoever penned the mag’s preview of McGavin’s Friday chiller had some fun with its concept. “This show is a scream,” he or she wrote. “And a moan and a gasp and a shriek. Not to mention eyes widening in terror, hands clutching throats, bodies slumping to floors, and figures lurking in shadows.” You can read the rest by clicking on this image:
The 1974 fall TV season had its bright spots: Valerie Harper’s Rhoda and James Garner’s The Rockford Files both premiered in September of that year, as
did Little House on the Prairie, Police Woman, and David Janssen’s underrated private-eye drama, Harry O. But that fall also welcomed short-timers such as The New Land (“a Swedish Waltons”), The Texas Wheelers (starring Jack Elam and Mark Hamill), and Clint Walker’s Kodiak, which cast the former Cheyenne star as an Alaska State Patrol officer charged with keeping the peace on 50,000 square miles of backwoods. Kolchak: The Night Stalker probably wouldn’t be remembered if it hadn’t become a cult favorite.
READ MORE: “Claim That Tune,” by J. Kingston Pierce (Limbo).