Friday, October 14, 2005

TV Review: Night Stalker: "Three"

The highest compliment I can pay last night's episode of Night Stalker, titled "Three," is that it was late X-Files quality good. Like from the eighth season or something. It wasn't Mulder/Scully good, but it was clearly Doggett/Scully good. And let's face it, that's not bad for an episode so early in the series run.

There was a moment in the midst of the action last night, however, when I really missed Mulder and Scully. You see, Kolchak (Townsend) and Perry Reed (Union) sat in Kolchak's car together investigating a series of deaths centering around a college initiation rite and a secret society. For a moment, the characters stopped talking exposition about the plot, and actually espoused distinct world-views. Kolchak - perpetually a loner - started talking about how much he hates secret societies and commented about how they are merely excuses for elitism and exclusionism. By contrast, the more social and happy Perry replied that in secret societies, you make friends for life, people you can trust more than anybody else. Turns out she's a member of a secret society, herself!

The specifics of this conversation aren't important. What's important is that for a few shining moments, these characters in a horror TV series revealed their perspectives and insights on an issue that had nothing to do with ghosts or goblins. It was a personal, and amusing moment. It had social value, and there was a sene of joie de vivre in the proceedings. Nicely done.

And yet as I watched it, I couldn't help but realize that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson would have hit this material right out of the park. There would have been layers upon layers of subtext: romance, intellect, annoyance, anger. In the hands of Townsend and Union, the vetting of the conversation was merely good, a solid "B" - the best character moment in the series so far - but nobody could perform this kind of banter like Duchovny and Anderson did. The stars on Night Stalker should practice.

That established, this was still the best episode of Night Stalker aired thus far. Near its climax, it featured a superb (and actually SCARY) flashback of a terrible family crime. This flashback came replete with an axe, children in danger, and bloody shoes. It was very, very disturbing, and edited as if straight from an R-rated feature film. This flashback raised the quality of the episode above the standard horror stuff. Very nicely done. It also fits in with the earlier two shows. Unlike the original Kolchak, it doesn't seem that we'll be encountering vampires and werewolves, but rather supernatural crimes that evolve from human sins. That's an intersting take, and different from your run-of-the-mill supernatural program.

I haven't heard anything about Night Stalker's ratings recently. I will say this, I'm still enjoying it more than Supernatural, and if it keeps on this track, maybe it really will be this decade's X-Files. At least at the eighth-season Doggett/Scully level. That's better than nothing...

5 comments:

  1. I liked last weeks episode the best I thought that one was the best so far

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  2. John,

    Thanks for your e-mail!

    I can't jump on the NIGHT STALKER bandwagon... at best, it's warmed up leftovers from THE X-FILES, and that sums up the painful last seasons of that show (through no fault of the Patrick-Gish pairing, which could've been interesting had the producers not hamstrung the show with Scully and Mulder characters who were obviously alien duplicates, since they certainly weren't the characters we'd spent seven years with).

    Been there, seen that.

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  3. I think a lot of viewers share your opinin, Robert. I'm still hanging on with hope, and lookin' for the good in the new Night Stalker. We'll see how it goes.

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  4. the idea of kolchak as a sexy young thing gives me the creeps, though not in the good way the original series did. i'm going to have to wait for one fine day when mcgavin is out of my mind to give this new one a chance.

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  5. Ahhh - the consensus on the blog seems to be that the new Night Stalker isn't all that! Can cancellation be far behind?

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