Thursday, May 02, 2013

Tales of Conspiracy Have Always Sold Well

Long before agents Mulder and Scully tracked aliens and monsters through a byzantine maze of government secrecy, corrupt corporations and assassinations by everyone from the Smoking Man to the Internet, intrepid fallen-from-grace Chicago newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak was outflanking pig-headed editors and stonewalling official run vampires to ground on the mean streets of pre-family-friendly Las Vegas.

Also the fictionalized snapshot into craft of pre-internet, pre-blogger, pre-smartphone-video, pre-laptop journalism circa 1974 makes for a fascinating time capsule.

Fun facts about The Night Stalker (Or Kolchak: The Night Stalker for you lovable pedants):

  • It was based on an unpublished novel by Jeff Rice (when was the last time that happened?).
  • It was adapted for teevee by the astonishingly prolific Richard Matheson, who wrote (among other things) 14 scripts for the original Twilight Zone and the vampire apocalypse novel I Am Legend which has been made into a move three times and to which virtually every modern vampire/zombie apocalypse novel, movie or teevee series owes a debt.
  • And speaking of debt, a character named "Senator Richard Matheson" appears in The X-Files a few times. This was Chris Carter's public tip-of-the-hat to Matheson's influence on the show, in the same way that Babylon Five's favorite malevolent Psi Cop "Alfred Bester" was named by J. Michael Straczynski to honor the author Alfred Bester, who dove heavily into the idea of telepathic police in his 1953 novel, The Demolished Man, which is still a terrific read 60 years later but which you will never hear about until someone at The Daily Beast "discovers" it :-)


zombie rotten mcdonald said...

The Demolished Man is great, but I simply love The Stars My Destination.

a said...

Drifty, I LOVED The Night Stalker! Darren McGavin was terrific, and I loved his crusty editor.

Good stuff.

Hamfast Ruddyneck said...

Matheson also wrote the memorable early classic Trek episode "The Enemy Within".

As great as that episode was, it contained three glaring flaws.

When the transporter was broken by the alien ore which had a peculiar magnetic field, why didn't they just use one of the other transporters to bring back Sulu and his men? Not counting the cargo transporters, there are NINE transporters aboard a Constitution-class heavy cruiser. I know! I STILL HAVE THE BLUEPRINTS!!! -_^

Or if the ore had khested some kind of central node, thus disabling all the transporters, why not send a shuttlecraft? (Of course, the real answer is that the real-world shuttlecraft model wasn't ready yet.)

Finally, how in the Great Bird's holy name did the transporter create two Captain Kirks and two doglike alien critters out of one of each? That extra matter had to come from somewhere. Did it transmute some of the elements in the planet's atmosphere? Did it transmute energy itself? (E = mc2)

Hmmm, maybe that was the origin of the replicator...

Live long and prosper. ^_^

ChiefD said...

With the lovely Carol Lynley!

BruceJ said...

To this day that frikkin' bit of doggerel from The Demolished Man that the bad guy uses to fool the telepaths pops up as an earworm in my head at times...

John Polansky said...

"The`Star My Destination" is a novel that should -NEVER- be made into a movie or TV series.
Darren McGavin, as Carl Kolchak, is an example of a actor committing to an absurd premise to entertain.
Richard Matheson's name is synonymous with good TV writing.
Discussing ST:TOS plots is why chat room were invented.

Cliff said...

Never heard of Demolished Man?

Please, I read Alfred Bester back before being a nerd was cool.
(And reading still isn't cool - that's way too much work for this era of Twitter and Michael Bay movies. *shakes cane at kids*)