Friday, September 30, 2005


When a TV series is wholly remade with a new cast and updated to reflect the current times, the show is automatically relegated to the alternate TV dimension of Earth Prime Time Delay. This is because Earth Prime Time (Toobworld) already has the original series as a segment of the TV Universe.

From there, the show might be then forewarded to yet another alt. dimension, as might be the case with the new version of 'Battlestar Galactica'. (Some of the recastaways were now women - Starbuck and Admiral Cain, for example - and could be part of an estrogen-driven dimension as found in 'All That Glitters' and an episode of 'Sliders'.)

Last night, a new version of 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker' premiered; its title now truncated to just 'The Night Stalker'. The only connection to the old series was in the names for two of its main characters - Carl Kolchak and Tony Vincenzo.

Kolchak was no longer a rumpled, middle-aged schlub scrounging for his news stories out of a dumpy newsroom and an even dumpier apartment. Now the reporter was a catalogue fashion model just past his prime, who worked for the L.A. Beacon instead of the "I.N.S."

Tony Vincenzo valued his friendship with the reporter and trusted his reporting skills; whereas in the original, Kolchak was a thorn in his editor's side.

And Kolchak's background - a previous life in Las Vegas shrouded in mystery, - differed in that his wife had been murdered by some kind of were-creature; while the original Kolchak was a bachelor who battled a vampire.

For all that the show was markedly, radically, totally different, I don't even see why the producers even bothered with retaining the names of the characters. They should have just gone whole hog and created an entirely new show.

Actually, I can understand though why they kept the title after reading about Roy Huggins and his negotiations to bring 'Maverick' to Television. (ABC was too cheap to pay for original ideas; so Huggins had to take his truly original character of Bret Maverick and insert him into the plot of a novel already owned by ABC. Thus the pilot of episode of 'Maverick': "War Of The Silver Kings".)

If ABC wanted to save a few quatloos because they already owned the rights to the Jeff Rice novel, that's fine. 'The Night Stalker' is both generic and specific and can refer either to the protagonists or to the creatures he hunted. They should have jettisoned the actual connection to Darrin McGavin's character, because Carl Kolchak, he's not.

But just because I've banished this new version of 'The New Stalker' to Earth Prime Time Delay, that doesn't mean I've abandoned my interest in the role it plays in the TV Universe. In fact, there are at least two other points of interest in the pilot which appealed to my theories of Televisiology.

Film at eleven...


No comments: