|Darren McGavin as Kolchak|
|Simon Oakland as Vincenzo|
|Jack Grinnage as "Uptight"|
|Kolchak and Vincenzo as usual|
|Beatrice Colen as Jane Plumb|
|Mickey Gilbert as the Ripper|
Mute but menacing
Many factors combined to make Kolchak a short-lived series. The main problems were office politics, behind the scenes squabbling over production credits, and McGavin’s increasing disappointment with the progress of the series. He called it “Monster of the Week”, and when the ratings finally dipped, he was able to be released from his contract. I think McGavin had a good point. There is only so much you can do with a limited story type until it gets repetitive and loses the element of surprise. (A current television series, House, has been called “Disease of the Week”, but it has managed to stay interesting because of great ensemble acting and several side-stories unrelated to the medical issues.) It is really a shame that Kolchak could not be developed further. The character was unique, the writing excellent, and it would have been just as good without monsters. Unfortunately, once it started out that way, there was no turning back.
Despite its short run, Kolchak is well-remembered by many viewers. It was even the major inspiration for X-Files creator Chris Carter. He stated that besides his own creative ideas, it was not Spielberg’s movies or The Twilight Zone that inspired him, but Kolchak, particularly because he admired Richard Matheson's work on the show. Not a bad legacy for a brief but unique television series.
(The full episode of Kolchak - The Ripper is available on Youtube.)