Investigative reporter Carl Kolchak signs up with a Los Angeles newspaper to cover crime, and when his paper’s senior crime reporter, Perri Reed, arrives at the scene of a grisly murder after he does, his dismissive attitude automatically gets things off to a bad start. But even when the paper’s editor hands the story over to Perri, Kolchak refuses to end his own investigation. Perri is intrigued and more than a little disturbed when Kolchak seems to have solid information on the murder that comes from sources he can’t identify. Another attack leaves a woman near death and her young daughter goes missing, and again, Kolchak seems to know more than he’s letting on and won’t let go of the story.
Curious about her new colleague/competitor, Perri launches an investigation of her own, trying to found out more about Kolchak. The trail leads to Kolchak’s previous job as a crime reporter for a Las Vegas paper – and the still-unsolved murder of his wife in which he himself is still a suspect. A call to FBI Agent Fain has unexpected results – Fain arrives in L.A. to arrest Kolchak in connection with the very same murders he’s investigating. Even after Kolchak is set free again, Perri remains suspicious, especially when she learns that pursuing the grisliest, most bizarre crimes is a mission that Kolchak takes on even outside of work. He’s still trying to figure out who killed his wife, and why a red mark was left on her hand. The same mark has turned up on some, but not all, of the victims whose deaths Kolchak has investigated. Perri is sympathetic, but ultimately spooked, and tries to put as much distance as she can between herself and Kolchak – and when she’s about to become the next potential victim, that’s a decision she may not live to regret.
Season 1 Regular Cast: Stuart Townsend (Carl Kolchak), Gabrielle Union (Perri Reed), Eric Jungmann (Jain McManus), Cotter Smith (Tony Vincenzo)
written by Frank Spotnitz
directed by Dan Sackheim
music by Michael Wandmacher
series theme music by Philip Glass
Guest Cast: David Denman (Henry Gale), Ele Keats (Emily Gale), J. Marvin Campbell (Deputy), Timothy McNeil (Coroner), Clay Wilcox (Ed Medlock), Sarah LaFleur (Trish Medlock), Madeline Carroll (Julie Madlock), John Pyper-Ferguson (Agent Bernard Fain), Susan Misner (Irene)
Notes: Roughly 20 minutes into the pilot episode, as an in-joke, Darren McGavin appears as another reporter in Kolchak’s office; McGavin appeared as the original Kolchak in two 1973 TV movies and all 20 episodes of the subsequent cult classic TV series. His image, isolated from the original negatives and digitally inserted into the scene, was taken from the first of those movies, The Night Stalker. Producer Frank Spotnitz was one of the guiding lights of The X-Files, a show whose creator, Chris Carter, readily admitted that the original Kolchak: The Night Stalker had been a key inspiration for his series.
LogBook entry by Earl Green