Tuesday, October 02, 2007


A new communique from the reclusive novelist James Whorton, Jr. (author of FRANKLAND and APPROXIMATELY HEAVEN), who reports that he has been renting episodes of KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER. That old TV show also happens to be a sentimental favorite of both my brother and my wife. The last time I was in California, my brother had Tivoed (that is a verb, right?) every episode, and showed me his favorite scene, in which Kolchak has to shoot a monster - disguised as a gentle, doddering old lady - with a crossbow. As for Theresa, she made sure that the complete series on DVD was one of the essential items we brought with us to Oxford. Nor am I immune to the show's charms. I particularly admire Darrin McGavin's willfully eccentric lead performance, and retain a vivid childhood memory of the episode when a motorcycle-riding ghost was cutting off people's heads. As a fan of coincidence I am compelled to mention that McGavin came up in the class I taught today - specifically, the leg-lamp his character won in the film A CHRISTMAS STORY. "I feel as though I have been reunited with a long-lost family member," Whorton writes of Kolchak. He goes on: "McNeil and other people who watch UNDER THE YUM YUM TREE every day might like to be reminded that Carol Lynley played Kolchak's girlfriend Gail in the original made for tv movie. She tries to convince Kolchak that the killer is a vampire. Then she irons his shirt and he says, 'You iron a pretty good shirt there, Gail.'"