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Night stalking

All right, as promised, I watched "Night Stalker" last night.

First of all, I found I really enjoyed the show. But it was next to impossible to think of Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak. Kolchak is a gregarious, fifty-ish newshound, pleasant and back-slappingly affable. Even though a bit sleazy, he's the kind of guy you'd like to have a beer with... or seven. Last night's Kolchak, by contrast, was a brooding, sardonic, twenty-something metrosexual. (And how the hell did he afford that house?)

I'd read enough of the advance reviews to know that the original Carl Kolchak (Darren McGavin) was going to make a brief cameo appearance thanks to the wonders of digital technology. That was a nice touch, but I found it to be an almost painful reminder of how flat and uninteresting the new Kolchak is compared to McGavin's character.

All that being said, however, I thought the writing was strong and the story was decently filmed and acted. It's sort of an "X-Files" meets "The Fugitive" kind of a thing. It deftly avoids the fatal "monster of the week" flaw that plagued the original series, but I hope it also manages to avoid the "X-Files" pitfall of attempting to wrap up everything into one vast, overarching uber-conspiracy. In fact, if the writers are not careful, the entire series could easily devolve into an "X-Files" clone, especially given Kolchak's partnership with a (how's this for originality?) smart, skeptical woman who provides a reality check for some of Kolchak's more outlandish theories.

Still and all, I liked the first episode very much, and I plan to watch again. I think I'll like it better, though, when I stop trying to pretend that the protagonist is Carl Kolchak.

UPDATE: My source at ABC tells me the "Fast Nationals" for "Night Stalker" were disappointing. It got trounced by "CSI," apparently, but I guess that didn't come as a huge surprise. Hopefully, Kolchak will be given time to build an audience.