Kolchak The Night Stalker
Season 01, Season 03
“They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…”
Writer: Rudolph Borchert, Dennis Clark
DIR: Allen Baron
Blurb: Kolchak battles unearthly enemies when deadly aliens who feed on human bone-marrow invade Chicago.
Scene 01: We open with Kolchak in the INS Newsroom, where he appears to be the only one working late in lighting which cannot get good on his eyes. He busy typing up a story as his voiceover tells us that he knew early that this story would be not only the most important of his career [which is really saying something], but the most important for the world.
He fought for the story, he tells us, harder than he had ever fought before because this one he knew was more just a “news story” - much more.
He goes on that he wanted people to know about it, so they could be prepared when it happens again. Always assuming you can be prepared for something… like… this….
Scene 02: We cut, assuredly in the past, to a cheetah in a bare bones cage that we would now recognize as inhumane to the animal, but hadn’t reached yet in the ‘70s.
This is Shanka, and she’s expecting her morning feeding. But the big cat is clearly bothered and upset by something. Perhaps even a bit frightened.
A windstorm invades the cat’s cell, driving her into a frenzy of fear, now.
And then it’s freeze-frame kitty-face.
Commentary: Hmmm. Okay. I kind of like this opening, except that I’m of the sensitive sort when it comes to animals being deliberately terrorized on screen. Mostly, because I’m not sure under what circumstances the animal has been trained to expect what is happening. I know that dogs are very good at understanding “playing” and can be trained to act, and be fine afterward when they get their treats/positive feed back. I also think horses fall into this category. I’m not sure about Cheetahs. So it bothered me a bit that the cat was being tormented, as unsure as I am that it understands ‘playing’.
The opening monologue is a bit ponderous and serious, while also being overblown and wordy. This part I can actually flow with though, because it does sound so very much like Kolchak.
Scene 03: We rejoin Kolchak of the past as he’s at this INS desk in the morning, going through envelopes. He complains that this was supposed to have started out as one of the happiest days of his life, Game 1 of the World Series in which his beloved Cubs made it to the series after a decades long dry spell.
But instead the day started out poorly.
Apparently his ire is being raised by his fussy co-worker, Ron Updyke, coming off of his unsuccessful and short term as a crime reporter [“The Ripper”]. What happened to his gig as the financial reporter isn’t mentioned. And Monique Marmelstein has returned from her attempted exile to New York.
Ron has been named the sports columnist for this Cubs run, and because he’s very dedicated, he has memorized every single detail surrounding the Cubby players and their history, which he can’t stop oversharing at every opportunity despite everyone else having their own stories to focus on.
Yeah, that is irritating. But what has really chapped Carl’s ass is that Ron was also supposed to have gotten a World Series Ticket for Carl through his press credentials and failed to remember that small detail, lost as he is in all of the other stats, players, yadda.
Carl confronts Ron about that ticket he was supposed to have come to the office holding, but seemingly is empty handed on.
Apparently, Ron had written some very, very unflattering things about a 207lb-all muscle, no fat- female roller derby player and she was going to throttle him until his neck snapped and his eyes popped out, until Carl intervened with his suave way with words. And all it cost Ron was THAT TICKET.
It turns out that Ron did get a complimentary ticket, he just wasn’t going to give it to Carl after all. But some threatening loosens his hold on it, to Carl’s delight.
Scene 04: Tony comes out of his office and asks about what is going on. Finding out that Carl is going to the game, Tony says that is too bad, as he’ll have to find someone else to cover the story of the cheetah. It doesn’t sound like a big deal and Carl goes to grab his jacket to get to the stadium, but something in Tony’s tone nibbles at his reporter’s instincts. He can’t leave without at least hearing about why a story about a cheetah at the zoo would have captured his editor’s interest.
In the meantime, Tony pretends that he’ll consider assigning it to Monique [which just seems really cruel to her aspirations, considering per passion to be a ‘real reporter’ we saw in ‘The Zombie’].
Carl tries to wave off the story as “yesterday’s news, and it was a missing panther” but Tony tells him that this time it’s a cheetah -- and it isn‘t missing, but dead.
And there were those deaths of animals that the zoo had just the previous week, too. Odd.
Well, since the Press Bus isn’t leaving quite yet, Carl does have some time to run out to the zoo - find out what is the weirdness - and make it back before game time. He snatches the assignment sheet from Tony’s hands, leaving Monique once again sitting at her desk watching her chance at a byline slip away.
[That was really a butthead move, Tony.]
Commentary: I don’t like this scene, and it’s not only because Monique again gets played. I just don’t find a zoo animal mystery to be the sort of thing that would cause a diehard fan, which Carl is implied to be, to miss the World Series opening game. It just doesn’t make sense, without the audience’s help reading between the lines. I can only think that Carl Kolchak, and I think this can work well for the character, has some sort of OCD impairment when it comes to mysteries.
He MUST investigate and solve them, whatever else is going on be damned. I can work with that, but I would’ve liked something a bit more immediate to be happening to justify the entire “Carl is never going to get to that game” ‘humor’ subplot than a zoo mystery.
Scene 05: In his car, racing to the city zoo, Carl listens to the pre-game on his car radio and stresses at getting back in time to go to the game.
As he’s driving, driving, driving, Carl hears over the cop scanner that there is an officer down. With this location only being a few minutes out of the way, Carl decides to swing by on that story first, then hit the zoo, and then get back for the game.
Scene 06: Okay, wait… By the time that Carl reaches the Officer Down location, the first inning is already in progress. SOOOO… the Press Bus to the World Series is only planning on arriving for the last half of the first game?!
[None of this makes sense as a subplot, is my point, and it’s really irritating me that I have to go through so much time to describe scenes having to do with this ridiculously empty subplot.]
So. At the Officer Down site, Carl nearly runs down a uniformed officer with a rifle in the parking lot. Because Carl is a reporter, he’s allowed to - again - run up into the thick of a police action, racing up directly behind the police lieutenant on site who is shouting orders to a few uniforms to get around the back.
We’re at an electronics store and Carl is told somebody has been killed inside. Carl races along the officers until he finds Precinct Captain Quill. He starts peppering Quill with questions about what is happening at this little ma & pa shop, but Quill is mystified himself how things went so badly.
There is a strange noise that builds up, and suddenly there is an explosive blast out of the electronic store wall! And it’s so powerful, it causes a cop to flip through the air, despite not being directly in its blast radius!!
More than that though, the noise continues to gain in amplitude, and suddenly a burst of wind -- like with the cheetah enclosure -- blasts everyone from the cop who was in the store and is now thrown out through the hole in the wall, to everyone in the parking lot around like they’re caught in a wind tunnel!
When everyone gathers themselves, though still conscious, they find several pyramid stacked bars of something that looks like silver, or iron bars in neat formation. These, while being gazed on by multiple witnesses, including Carl, dematerialize before their eyes.
Carl, the Captain and his officers stand about shell shocked by what they just witnessed. The Lieutenant tells Carl those bars were two tons of lead [And he knows the inventory in the shop how? And a mom and pop electronics store would have tons of lead stacked in their store, why now? WHAT??].
Captain Quill, trying to get a handle on his own thoughts, orders Kolchak removed from the scene. He’s marched past four gentleman in suits who share brief words with Captain Quill before rushing into a sedan.
They give off Men-in-Black vibes. And Carl is clearly getting the same vibe as I.
Commentary: This scene did start out poorly, and I was kinda rolling my eyes at Carl being able to go anywhere he wants just because “reporter” … even right in the middle of a hostage situation, but the scene turned around. The blow out of the wall, and the mysterious electronic hum, and the sudden hurricane force wind was all very neat.
Though, I think the dematerializing of solid objects was a bit too plain for the plausible deniability that Kolchak usually traffics in. And the ridiculous conceit that there would be tons of lead at this little store, and that the Lieutenant would recognize them on sight apparently is a bit too much to swallow.
And again, the subplot in the background about the World Series is just stupidly set up and used. How Ron would’ve been at the office, instead of at the game reporting is one mystery. Why the Press Bus wouldn’t be leaving for the game until it is half over is another one. Why Carl would’ve waiting until five minutes before the start of the game to inquire of Ron where his ticket is, also doesn’t make any sense.
It’s just a poorly written excuse to introduce the Carl-can-just-not-win humor.
Scene 07: Carl, annoyed at his being escorted away & missing the game now, drives off [presumably for the zoo story, despite lead dematerializing into thin air in front of his eyes seemingly being more urgent].
Driving, driving, driving [and thank you for the sun glare off of the windshield right in our eyes, Allen Baron].
Driving, Driving, Driving.
Kolchak’s radio continues to cut in & out of the game, with the radio picking up bits and pieces of a call in program. A man is complaining about a road being blocked off with no warning, black goo having covered his lawn that he can’t get cleaned up, and wanting to know what the city is going to do about it.
Carl continues to the zoo….
Scene 08: At the zoo, Carl takes a few photographs of the former Cheetah cage, while a maintenance worker sweeps up the straw. The bars of the cage appear to have been disintegrated, leaving the center of the bars missing and the tops and bottoms of those bars bent inward.
Carl’s voiceover complains about the reception problems happening with his radio receivers in his car, wondering if it is caused by the lead ingots in the area that vanished before his eyes.
Carl finds something on the floor of the enclosure, which appears to be a triangular blob of tar maybe, and wraps it up to stuff in his pocket for later examination.
Commentary: I’m really not liking this script, and the way that this mystery is focusing Carl on the zoo when LEAD INGOTS VANISHED RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS EYES at the electronics shop.
Why would this animal disappearance issue even rate a follow up after THAT??
We know it’s all related, of course, but Carl would have no reason to even remember a missing animal story after what he just got done witnessing! And I don’t see Carl simply leaving the scene while Captain Quill and his officers are pulling themselves back together… unless it was to follow, on a hunch, the mysterious men who left in that unmarked sedan, maybe.
I’m also finding it hard to believe he was the only reporter showing up to the dramatic officer down broadcast. Is he the only reporter with a police scanner??
None of these reactions are making any sense.
Scene 09: Carl’s next trip is to a small vet lab onsite, where he has the scientist start an analysis on the object he picked up from the zoo enclosure floor.
He asks “casually” about the dead leopard found last week and she gets a stiffened spine, but answers that the big cat had a heart attack. Carl follows up on asking about the cheetah, which also had a mysterious heart attack.
[Commentary: Okay, this script is really annoying me. I keep having to go back and make corrections to my descriptors because they keep changing the details. We were specifically told that the ‘leopard’ was missing during Tony and Carl’s discussion about the weird occurrences at the zoo. But now, Carl mentions the leopard’s death. We never had a scene where the leopard had been found. And the script wasn’t altered prior to filming to change the leopard to having been found dead, rather than having it missing.
These small things: The lame subplot‘s construction, the zoo’s happenings being ill-defined and the details we do know being changed from one scene to another, the electronic store happenings being forgotten to focus on animals dying of heart attacks, Carl not being far more interested in the strange suited men talking to Captain Quill, the complete lack of follow-up on this officer down call and what happened to the cop… it’s all giving me a bad feeling that this script was behind production schedule and only half-baked when filming started.]
Carl asks to use her phone, and while dialing whatever number he was looking up in the phone book during this discussion, he mentions a panda that had also died the week before. Dr. Bess Winestock repeats “heart attack” and she’s clearly as bothered by this rash of unexplained medical ailments as Carl is now.
Carl’s phone call is to the producer of the talk radio program that was interrupting the Cubs’ game broadcast over his car radio. He’s asking about the man complaining to the news show about black tar covering his yard without explanation, which he is wondering [presumably] might match the substance he picked up from the Cheetah pen.
Strangely, the program producer claims that no such caller was featured on that day’s show, even after Carl insists the was listening, and the caller was cut off in mid-sentence. He’s unable to get any information and hangs up the phone puzzled.
Carl next tries the City Roads Department to see if he can glean any information about work being done on Mariposa Way… the street that was complained about being closed to traffic without prior warning. Dr. Winestock continues to pick at and study under her microscope the tar-like substance Kolchak brought in. They claim they have no record of any work being done on Mariposa Way, and when he tries to insist he heard a complaint about it on the radio, they abruptly hang up on him.
Scene 10: Carl, having received no satisfaction from the radio program or the city department, travels out to Mariposa Way himself for a look.
He finds definite evidence of the smelly tar in the lawn, across the fountain decoration and in the bushes of the home, though no sign of recent road work. The man who owns the home complains at the clean up response of the city, despite their prompt action. He reports that within an hour of his phone call to talk radio, four trucks from the street department arrived with shovels, chemical spray that is killing his lawn, and finally flame throwers! They burned the crap out of his bush and tree, and nearly caught is house on fire.
The man goes on to complain about the state of the neighborhood, bringing up that crime has recently increased as well as the nightmare with the street department, who denied to his face that they were responsible for the stinky asphalt left all over his property. He points out a broken second storey window of his neighbor and goes on to describe how ‘Henry’ was listening to his stereo with headphones just the night before. Someone broke out the window, and snatched up the stereo, right while he was listening!
The police found the chassis of the stereo in the backyard, but the thieves had taken all of the electronic guts of the thing. Henry was lucky he didn’t get himself hurt or worse by someone that brazen.
He then shares that a cat-lady a few houses down had five of her cats killed in one night, with nobody caught. With Mr. Brindle having to run, Carl is left with more half-information which isn’t clarifying what is going on lately in Chicago. As he’s returning to his car, he finds another splotch of tar-like rock on the lawn, similar to what he found under the straw in the Cheetah enclosure.
Scene 11: Carl drives on some more, turning a corner and happening to drive past a man whose story he’ll be covering shortly. The man is a parolee with no money, hanging outside of a movie house with few prospects.
Peter Hudson is reduced to being a purse snatcher.
[I’d feel more sorry for his victim is she wasn’t wearing that fugly dress… she kinda had it coming, karma-wise for assaulting my eyes. Although really, it should’ve been her companion whose dress pattern and vomit of mixed colors burned my retinas.]
Pete gets away with his purloined bag and races into a condemned building to hide and see what the purse will give him. He finds to his delight though a much more lucrative prize… electronic equipment seemingly left there rather foolishly by parties unknown ready for the hocking. Good thing too, because the woman’s bag was a complete bust.
Alas for rather handsome Peter and his nicely shaped butt, he’s not alone with his new ‘wealth’. For a POV CAMERA IS THERE… AIIYYEEE!!
Pete gets the fan-effect in his long hair, some unfortunate grimace-face now preserved through a screen cap, and then an early end to his probation. He doesn’t even get himself a short scream of horror as release.
Scene 12: Back with Carl, he’s still driving with the radio interference which we can now put down to alien influence surely. He returns to the vet lab at the zoo to show Dr. Bess the latest chunk of tar-stuff.
He delivers the chunk which he describes as exactly like the bit that SHE picked up at her zoo.
[NO! No, script. She didn’t. Carl brought her the other hunk of stuff after HE picked it up. *sigh* There had been zero indication that other bits of this substance had been found independently by the zoo staff before now.]
She shrugs this off, but Carl tells her about picking it up from across town, far away from the zoo. He asks her for an analysis and compare with the earlier sample, which she tries to blow off. But Carl tempts her with box tickets to Game 2 of the Series if she’ll help him out.
She complains that if she did do it, he’d used the results to print some crazy story. Carl asks why she’d care, unless she was told specifically not to assist him by somebody. The look on her face suggests that maybe somebody had stopped by to suggest that she not encourage the reporter.
But Carl is wheedling and he overcomes her resistance. It’s easy to understand, once she starts talking. She reports that the tar-like substance she analyzed earlier contains the digestive juice, hydrochloric acid, and animal bone marrow.
She further tells him now that the animals who died of a ‘heart attack’ had puncture wounds at all of their bone joints, and had somehow been relieved of all of their bone marrow!
Carl considers this for a moment, and the shocked, asks if she’s suggesting that somebody ate the bone marrow. She confirms that her results suggest somebody ate the bone marrow and then threw up afterward. He’s holding a chunk of barf.
This leads to a question of why in the world anyone would do this, but there isn’t an answer at the moment.
Commentary: I liked this scene. It was a bit awkwardly acted during the “convince the authority figure to help me” part of the scene, but I really enjoyed where it led. The discovery of what the chunk of goo actually is was creepy and that was definitely welcomed.
But it does lead to the issue of the barf all over the lawn of Mr. Brindle. It seems like barfing all over the place would be a really dumb thing to do if the aliens are trying to keep a low profile. And I find it ridiculous that five housecats being consumed could’ve filled the entire yard… which at least seems to be the suggestion. The aliens must’ve been power spewing the like of which you’d usually only see in an OTT comedy.
But I liked the disturbing tone that the scene leaves Carl and Bess on.
Scene 13: Carl returns to the Independent News Service offices just as Game 1 of the Series ends, with Kolchak having missed the game [which the Cubs seemingly lost to the Red Sox, 1-0 anyway].
In the photography dark room, Monique helps Carl develop his pictures from that day, while also [clumsily] mentioning his use of infrared film which he explains away as having been the only film he’d had with him.
The developed photographs reveal not much of anything, but there is a series of black, large dots across the image… almost like a force field of some sort, though Monique describes his photos as garbage. She’s ready to just throw them all away, but Carl insists that she print a full set and lock them away.
Scene 14: That night, Carl drops in on his morgue contact -- he of the Stiff Lottery, Gordy Spangler [from ‘The Zombie‘ also].
Carl asks about the autopsy report on the guard [now, not a police officer] killed at the electronics store. Gordy makes him buy another entry in the next Stiff Lottery first.
The actual Coroner interrupts before Gordy can give any information to Carl, but he seems very open to giving Kolchak what he wants without the song & dance that Spangler gives him. The Coroner looks at the autopsy file, describes the victim, and offers that he had a fatal heart attack sometime before the police’s arrival.
But as he’s reading the “results” to Carl, Gordy catches his eye and shakes his head silently at what he’s being told. The Coroner ‘reads’ that there wasn’t anything else unusual found about the body’s condition. Gordy however, lifts a tape from the file cabinet and flashes it at Carl, which presumably has the live recording done during the autopsy and will reveal facts not in the written report of interest.
Carl tries to look into the body locker, but Gordy cuts him off and tells him that isn’t permitted. While Carl’s back is blocking the Coroner’s sight, Spangler passes the tape off to Carl, while the Coroner is telling him that it’s against protocol for reporters to see the deceased post autopsy.
Kolchak apologizes for his “reporter’s zeal” in being disrespectful toward the dead’s remains and shakes the Coroner’s hand before rushing out to find out what is on the tape Gordy slipped him.
Commentary: I liked the way that this scene was handled, because Gordy Spangler - unethical as he clearly is - at least has an interesting personality. I like the way that Darren and John Fiedler [yes, the voice of Piglet] play off of one another.
What I can’t believe is that I’m only 22 minutes into this. It feels like twice as long, probably due to the script problems I’ve described and the empty driving, driving, driving scenes.
Scene 15: Kolchak slips down the hallway to listen into the tape Gordy slipped him.
The actual autopsy specifically states that there is no evidence of heart attack on opening the body, and a moment later, the Coroner is pointing out to his assistant that there isn’t any marrow in the bones.
Scene 16: Elsewhere, we join Carl’s voiceover from later describing our unfortunate victim to be. Leon is a television repairman, but he’s also an avid communications and mathematics fan. He’s created his own mathematically based language and nightly sets up remote communications equipment in out of the way places in an attempt to reach aliens.
It’s deeply sad that his life’s dream of communicating with non-terrestrial, sentient life is actually about to come true…
As Leon is speaking into a microphone, in which the words are converted to mathematical formulas for transmission toward space, a wind blows through the bushes and grasses nearby.
His removes his headphones as something apparently visible captures his attention. Crawling away in desperation, he ends up screaming himself to death as POV CAMERA closes in on him.
Commentary: Okay, like with The Zombie, also [there are a lot of links to that episode thus far], it’s a bit annoying to have all of the deaths occurring via freeze frame. You’d think we’d at least get a corpse lying on a slab drained of color and maybe with deep, bruising punctures out of this. But not thus far.
And with all of the animals wandering around, why are the aliens bothering with the attention grabbing killings of people, now?
And is POV really going to be the only indication of alien presences throughout this whole episode?
Scene 17: Later, Carl joins a press conference already in progress being held by Captain Quill.
Quill is going on about “nascent suspects” and their arrest coming up for… um…. He checks his watch, only to find that it has stopped.
Quill brings up the Raydon Electronics Corporation that is involved in the series of events lately, which he uses as an excuse not to take questions at this time. He cites national security due to the Corporation in question being involved in the defense industry when it comes to missile guidance systems. It was their guard who was killed at the electronics store incident. And from them was the theft of the lead ingots being investigated, making the guard’s death not just an unfortunate medical emergency, but a felony as it happened during this theft [which I’m actually filling in because the actual scripting haphazardly glides over all of this, and what Captain Quill is actually talking about, in a confusing way].
Carl demands the attention of the Police Captain, and brings up the rumors of puncture marks found on the dead guard’s body that remain unexplained. Quill takes a deep, impatient breath at more of Kolchak’s ridiculous questions… especially when they involve information he should not have. He claims there is no basis for any such rumors. Carl brings up the ingots that vanished and asks if they were “just misplaced”, knowing that the Captain and he witnessed with their own eyes the same thing. Quill says he doesn’t have any reason at this time to believe anything else.
Kolchak brings up, without saying it outright, what they witnessed, but [James] puts him on the spot to tell everyone gathered just what he did witness. Carl hems and haws about it, realizing he’s going to be discredited if he actually admits to the truth in front of his fellow reporters. He chooses to simply glare at Quill’s bullshit while the Captain wraps up this press briefing by reminding the journalists of their responsibilities in not fabricating wild stories.
Annoyed by this, especially Quill’s not so subtle threat toward Carl’s journalistic credibility, he brings up all of the neighborhood robberies of electronic equipment, a rash of which has been taking place in the same area as the Corporation’s theft, including the mom and pop electronics shop. Quill pretends not to understand Carl’s point and mocks that reputation he already has for outlandish questions. But Carl responds that over the last few days, electronic parts seem to have become as valuable to somebody as diamonds… or as bone marrow….
Carl notices the Captain look at his watch with a puzzled expression again, and looks at his own watch… only to also find it had been stopped this entire time from the moment that he’d been at the Raydon Electronics store where whatever happened had happened.
Kolchak now… well… fills in something that must’ve happened off screen because he mentions that all seventeen wrist watches that had been at the police action days ago had all stopped, as if they’d been hit with an electromagnetic pulse.
Commentary: OH JEEZUS… THIS SCRIPTING!
This is just a fucking mess.
Okay. This is the first we’re hearing about some defense contractor corporation being involved in any of this. The “officer down!” call has turned out to be a security guard, which I’m not convinced would’ve been handled as an “officer down code” over the radio.
I have no problems seeing Raydon having both a defense contractor division and also providing civilian use electronic goods, and can even easily accept that they’d have stores for the civil market for their products. This does NOT explain how they’re keeping solid lead ingots by the ton in a small electronics store! Which it very clearly was when Carl arrived to cover the police action going on.
The entire ‘stuck watches’ is only now being revealed suddenly, just like the rash of animal deaths at the zoo were just suddenly data dumped by Dr. Bess, and the clumsy voiceover of Kolchak’s that all of the officer’s that were at the store during that bizarre occurrence stopped, when we’ve seen ZERO evidence that Carl even talked to any other police. Especially since he’s been so focused on animal ‘heart attacks’ rather than electronics heists. And though Carl is telling us about people turning up dead in retrospect, we’re not seeing anything about this being public knowledge -- even by the police -- who are still focused on the dead guard’s heart failure and there isn’t anything about Carl wanting to question the two other bodies in the same condition as the electronics store guard.
There is also nothing about the gunk he’s had analyzed that show animal bone marrow and stomach acid being left around the city [even in a scene where he would question Quill about what is really happening privately], or the animal zoo deaths that are looking very much like their dead people.
It is almost like the entire zoo story is divorced from the electronics story, despite the two being interrelated with one another. The adding things in retrospect which we should’ve seen Carl discovering is starting to piss me off a bit, and the bit player/INS co-workers stuff is entirely empty.
And the pacing is problematic because I have to keep stopping to say, “Wait… what was that? When did that happen?” and “No, that isn’t what happened before Kolchak! You’re describing things differently than what we were witness to!”
It’s no wonder I had zero memory of this episode at all. It would’ve been too much work untangling what is actually happening for my kiddie brain with all of these script holes and errors.
Scene 18: Kolchak returns to the INS newsroom. There he discovers Vincenzo weirdly being served dinner by a waiter, with candle light and white table cloth and champagne. By himself.
It turns out to be because Tony had a bet with the Times over the Cubs game, which Tony won by betting against the home team. Carl is too on edge over the building story he has going on to vilify Tony over that right now.
Carl goes on to tell Tony that his big story is about Quill covering up odd goings on around the city, that starts with a ton of lead ingots vanishing from sight right before their very eyes. The stone wall that blew out without any sound [not quite true, there was an electronic hum, but that is minor and may even not have been audible to the characters at the time], and then there is the dead guard with the marrow sucked out of all of his bones.
Tony grimaces around his mouthful of food. Carl tries to beg off on sharing the details of the deaths that Quill won’t talk about, but Tony assures him he has a cast iron stomach and should go on and lay out the entire story he’s following for him.
Carl goes on to tell him about the zoo animals being missing their bone marrow, while the waiter overhears and Tony is getting more queasy. Especially the details about the rancid smelling, greenish-black bile stones left behind at the scene.
Kolchak finally tells him that the bile matter isn’t found anywhere else on Earth [which, we saw no proof that Carl was investigating that deeply], and Tony exclaims that he knew Carl was on his way to some cockamamie story. Carl tells him he’s got proof to share and rushes off for it.
Scene 19: But while he’s stepped out of the office, two of our Men-in-Black arrive for a chat with Tony Vincenzo.
Scene 20: Meanwhile, Carl is searching file cabinets for the photographic evidence that he asked Monique to print and hide. Monique is hiding in the bathroom stall, which is where the cheap little office has to have the file cabinets, apparently.
She refuses to come out, as she admits she had to give away the photos to the Men-in-Black because they had official credentials. Plus they threatened her with an IRS Audit, which she could never pass because she sort of skipped over filing a tax return like, ever.
She tries to assure Carl that his pictures didn’t really show anything anyway, after they dried, they looked like fakes, so… uh… not valuable?
He punches a box in frustration.
Scene 21: He returns to the INS Office, just in time to see the waiter taking away the dinner Vincenzo was supposed to be enjoying, and the two suited men that Monique just described rushing away.
In Tony’s office, Carl sees his tape recorder sitting on Tony’s desk. It’s emptied of the tape with the real autopsy. Kolchak is livid that Tony is helping Raydon security goons to cover up what is happening.
Tony practically begs Carl not to pursue this, reminding him of the last times that they started digging into stories that nobody wanted told and where it has left them.
Commentary: Finally! I’ve been really disappointed that the series has practically pretended that the movies didn’t happen, despite Tony and Carl working for such a rinky-dink new organization specifically because they were hounded away from more respectable employers.
And though nothing here is explicitly brought up, it is a broad enough scene to fill in that Tony is thinking about how much further his career could collapse by crashing into powerful interests who don’t want the more mysterious corners of the world uncovered.
And I love the pat on the shoulder that Carl gives to Tony, sympathetic with his obvious conflict and his fear over what may happen to them this time if they don’t drop the whole thing. It was a nice, quiet moment for a change when I expected yet another iteration of their usual blustery, shouty dance.
I also was happy to see the autopsy recording brought up here, because all through the search for the inconclusive photos, I was wondering why Kolchak wasn’t playing the coroner’s recording for Vincenzo instead. That question still isn’t really answered to my satisfaction, but I had really thought it was going to be a dropped thread that they’d forgotten about.
Scene 22: Out in the dusky evening of Chicago, Carl is wandering in near-defeat.
He voiceovers that trying to cover a UFO story, trying to report a UFO is impossible because there isn’t a single government entity in existence that will admit to be even interested in the topic.
Kolchak goes to the only place he feels he can talk about what he believes is going on. A flying saucer experience support group.
A woman is telling her story, but her tale is being served a cocktail and an ‘smart looking alien leader’ getting fresh with her doesn’t seem all that credible. Carl instead asks an elderly member if anyone at the group has reported a UFO within the recent few days.
There was… by the already seen unfortunate, Leon.
Commentary: Okay, I really did think that Carl was experiencing a touch of hopelessness and that was the reason that he was seeking out this group of people. It was nice that his demeanor was to put Tony at ease about his own weakness in not resisting being silenced. I like that touch of characterization and that Carl, of course, is not to be stopped.
Scene 23: Carl goes out into the middle of nowhere, where the somewhat paranoid Leon lives in search of his account.
Carl finds Leon’s equipment, and very shortly after, Leon’s remains.
Kolchak glances around, not sure how to proceed without being able to talk to Leon. But then he notices his tape recorder lying nearby and gives it a rewind.
What he hears is Leon broadcasting Earth’s position in the solar system. He offers to address any listeners in “Mathematico”, which he describes in a bit of hubris as a universal language. But before we can hear any of this amazing language, he starts yelling in fear instead.
In the background is the loud humming heard at the electronics store.
Scene 24: Carl, convinced that electromagnetism is the key to finding where the aliens are, due to the watches incident pulls out a compass. The dial isn’t pointing to true north, indicating some sort of interference in the spectrum. Carl uses this to wander the deep, dark woods.
His compass leads him to an area, where he suddenly feels the ill-wind of implied doom.
Now convinced that something he couldn’t see passed over him, he starts heading up a steep incline after the direction of the wind’s movement over him.
Scene 25: Presumably this is leading to the planetarium we now join, where a security guard has just found another elderly guard lying slumped in a row of seats, apparently deceased.
While he calls in for assistance, the planetariums telescope begins to move on its own as its knobs and settings are controlled by an invisible source.
Meanwhile, Carl has reached the top of the incline, to find himself on the planetarium’s grounds.
He continues following his compass heading, finding it leading him to an ajar door leading into the planetarium complex. He takes a deep breath, wipes at his brow, and moves on into the building.
Scene 26: In the planetarium theater, he sees the star field program running and shifting against the projection ceiling. The light projector continues to move about under - seemingly - its own direction.
On the floor in the forefront in the aisle lies our security guard who called for help, not moving. Carl doesn’t appear to notice him. He sees the elderly guard slumped out in the row of seats and heads over to wake him up, only to discover that he’s dead.
As Carl starts twigging onto the fact that he’s in some trouble, the dials continue to fiddle around.
He glances at his compass and follows its reading down the aisle toward the control system.
Starting to see shifting shadows at the projector controls, Carl starts backing away. But the ill-wind is kicking up now!
Carl is knocked to the floor, as he continues snapping his camera flash at whatever he sees/senses crowding over him.
Taking a flash bulb in the eyes, and with the police/ambulance sirens blaring closer, whatever is nearly pinning Kolchak to the floor suddenly vanishes… leaving him shaken by this close encounter.
Commentary: And yes, apparently this electromagnetic field is going to keep our aliens completely cloaked throughout. Which is a bummer.
And I don’t understand why we were seeing Leon’s demise and being told about it in voiceover long before Kolchak actually discovered the body, as if it had already been found at some point. Even taking that this whole thing is being told in flashback from Carl at his INS typewriter, Leon’s death still seems out of place prior to Carl actually becoming aware of it.
He’s telling the story out of linear order, which may explain some of the noted oversights in this tale.
But that seems like a really poor excuse from me to try to correct/justify what has simply been an mediocre, confusing and disjointed script.
Scene 27: The police arrive to the planetarium, and lo and behold, Captain Quill is leading the charge himself. Which Carl is very definitely not comforted to find.
Carl tries to warn them off from approaching the lights console, but they don’t listen.
As Quill approaches, demanding the lights, his officers suddenly come under attack and begin being thrown, pushed and tossed away from the control panel.
Quill orders his men to retreat back, while Carl tells [James] that whatever is in the room with them was studying star maps above their heads. He also tells him about the creature being repulsed by his camera flash.
This gives [James] an idea and he rushes off for something, leaving his officers and Carl staring at what appears to be an empty room in front of them.
Scene 28: Out doors, Quill rushes over to an unmarked sedan containing our Men-in-Black, where he confers with them about the situation ongoing, though we don’t hear the conversation. Presumably, he’s telling them about the creature’s weakness to bright light and Kolchak reporting that infrared film helped him to capture the images confiscated by them earlier.
He then shouts to his men surrounding the building to get some vehicles with bright lamps up to the building where they can bathe the entrance in bright lights.
Scene 29: Meantime, in spite of what they’ve already seen, more officers choose to approach the planetarium’s theater control panel with Carl telling them not to do that and looking frustrated.
There is some more ill-wind, and police bodies sent tumbling back across the room, including into Carl who is again knocked to the aisle floor.
He feels the presence rush out of the theater doorway and runs after it.
Commentary: And none of this can be very exciting because we don’t get to see anything except stunt people tossing themselves through the air and a just off-camera wind fan.
Scene 30: Outside, Carl rushes down the steps where more police officers are picking themselves up from whatever it is that is rushing around invisible.
Somehow a fire was started in the background.
Captain Quill shouts at Kolchak that he’ll see his reporting career terminated in Chicago and complains that his brilliant idea of chasing it off with lights only got it irritated and violent.
Lieutenant rushes up to report that the Men-in-Black want to talk to him, while also glaring at Carl.
Commentary: Whatever. I really don’t like anything about this episode or the way it’s filmed and I want it to be done so I can get this posted and move on.
And why does James Gregory sound like he’s drunk off his ass?!
Scene 31: Carl looks around at a loss and then rushes back into the planetarium. He looks around and flashes another photo. He hears the whining of his flash recharging and gets an inspiration.
Scene 32: Rushing back outside, he again waylays [James] where he tells the police captain that the flash did save his life, but it wasn’t the light. It was the high pitch whine of the flash’s recharger that chased it off.
James Quill is super-duper irritated now though. He tells Kolchak that the Men-in-Black are going to take care of him but good. Carl tries to argue with him to tell the men from Washington how they can drive the alien off before more die, but Quill gets into his car and slams the door shut against him [and Mr. Gregory is still sounding and swaying like he’s gotten himself blotto at some point].
The Captain is driven away, with Carl not knowing if he’s going to report his theory, and the Men-in-Black’s car is already missing from the scene, so Carl can’t inform them himself.
Scene 33: Carl returns to his own car in the woods. Leon is left to be taken care of by the wild animals who come across him.
Carl drives, drives, drives.
But as he does so, he notices with a chill that his dashboard compass is doing the funky dance. He stops to stare at his compass, which is now spinning so wildly that it actually breaks into pieces.
He glances around, momentarily fearful, but chooses to get out and explore again despite having gotten way too close to this thing already.
Scene 34: Carl goes wandering through the dark woods, using his hand compass to try to track down where the alien/force has gotten to and what it is trying to do.
He comes across a small, circular craft..!
Naturally, he decides to wander as close as he can to it. He creeps up to it to touch it and finds the door slightly ajar. He attempts to open it up enough to… get inside? But the door is stuck and he’s not strong enough to open it further.
So, instead he steps back and readies his camera to get photographic evidence [although truthfully, there isn’t anything about this craft that screams particularly alien; this could easily have been constructed by human hands as a playground jungle gym, or as a practical joke… or a television episode about aliens prop].
Suddenly, Carl gets a look of horror on his face as he sees ‘something’ coming at him.
Scene 35: Kolchak takes off for his car at a moderate walk while behind him, something chases with the ill-wind blowing ahead of it.
The creature again has Carl dead-to-rights, and despite his desperately clicking his flash for its whine, the alien appears to continue closing on him.
It’s right on top of him, when apparently the whine finally does drive it away.
Scene 36: From a moderate distance now, Carl sees the door of the craft suddenly open.
As he stumbles forward a few steps to try to get more shots of the craft, he sees the small ship dim and then vanish from sight.
Scene 37: Which brings us back to our beginning, with Carl sitting alone and typing his tale. He goes on to type that they tried to make a park out of the area where Leon died but nothing would grow.
And though there was the shape of a saucer burned into the grass there, if you want to see it, you’ll need to hurry. With a grin of amusement, he types that the Parks Commission decided to very suddenly begin a costly land reclamation project there.
He reports that they’ll be filling in the exact spot where he saw the saucer with concrete.
Carl goes on to speak aloud to himself, reading the closing of his article. He assures his audience that he hasn’t heard a peep from the boys in the sedan. “Yet.”
The Good: I liked that we saw the recurring characters, Ron Updyke, Monique Marmelstein, and Gordon Spengler.
I did like the first scene with the alien presence busting out of the electronics store through the wall and everybody, Carl included, being flattened and tossed around by a powerful invisible force.
I do like John Fiedler's work as Gordy the unethical morgue attendant. And I liked the scene where he was indicating to Carl that the coroner was lying his ass off.
I did like that moment... just a moment... when Carl recognized just how much Tony Vincenzo has already lost because of Carl's continued exploration of things that powerful people don't want publicized and his support of him, due to Tony's real value of him as a friend. And he chooses not to argue the point, and to let Tony off without getting any more involved.
The Bad: Although I liked seeing Monique do something useful by processing the photography, but it really is another missed opportunity to play on her desires to be a reporter by not giving her more to do again. And I really hated Tony a little bit by teasing her with a story, when he knew he was giving it to Kolchak.
The script. There is so, so much wrong that I could fill a page repeating all of the problems I had with it. Instead, I'll just direct you back to the review. But it starts with 2 tons of solid lead ingots being held at what is very obviously a mom and pop electronics store, and goes downhill from there including but not limited to past information being revised off the cuff, Men-in-Black that barely do anything, information that already happened at some point suddenly being data dumped out of nowhere, mysterious events like everyone's watch stopping at the same minute only being mentioned much later to provide a clue to Kolchak, the problem that comes with dozens upon dozens of people seeing things that can't be explained and yet everyone without exception keeps their mouths shut about it, characters who you would think might be important like Dr. Bess suddenly vanishing from the story and the problems that come with your monsters being totally invisible and indicated with nothing but an off-camera blowing fan. UGH.
There is a big problem in tying together the electronics thefts, the tar-rocks that turn out to be something much more indicative, and the reported animal nabbing/deaths. The script just doesn't do well in connecting these events together in a way that is logical for Carl to pursue as part of one story.
Also, Mr. Brindle's entire yard being covered in smelly tar just doesn't make logical sense when we learn just what the tar is actually composed of. Nor does it make a lick of sense that the "road commission" would arrive with flame throwers and have that NOT raise a helluva lot of eyebrows and extensive reporting on what the hell that was supposed to be about. Uh... maybe Game 1 of the Series was JUST THAT distracting?
The timing about the unfortunate Peter Hudson and Leon Van Heusen's deaths in Carl's tale is also really a problem. Carl tells us about Leon's death long before, chronologically, Carl finds his corpse and there is no indication at all that Peter's body was actually found or that his method of death was recognized as the same cause as the security guard before him.
The pacing is also a real problem, noticeable when you're barely half way through the story and nothing has really been revealed about what is going on.
The scenes at the planetarium were excruciatingly slow, and something was going on with James Gregory's acting because I would swear he was either drunk, or was having a stroke.
Other Thoughts: The entire World Series thing felt superfluous, and I hated it. It was clearly just an excuse to gives some lines to his co workers but it had nothing to do with anything, and took up too much screen time. The only reason it isn't in the bad, is because it was harmless enough and I did like Carl's scene threatening Ron.
The setup for this one is a bit clumsy. And that's before the real script issues present themselves. It just didn't seem like the story that Tony was teasing would be enough to interupt Kolchak's plans to catch the Cubs.
While I won't put it in the bad, there was too much time being burned up with Carl driving and walking around.
The Score: Oh, man. I hope this is the worst one of the bunch! It is truly dull and just too disjointed in using the story's elements.
1.5 out of 5 stars and an anti-recommendation.