Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Real Kolchak, Fall TV, and Love From Russia

*Hangs head in shame* Every few days, that's what I figured. And here it's been a couple of weeks since blog number two. Things do tend to get away from me, especially when I'm neck-deep in another world. I've been, as noted last time, on the Road to Perinthia, and it's both rough terrain and a wondrous, distracting place. So I haven't managed to get back here in a bit . . . yet somehow I've managed to watch some of the new television shows. Just a few, mind you.

I've latched on to two shows that made their debuts last year but that I somehow did not really discover the quality of until now. House, and Veronica Mars. Excellent stuff. The jury's still out on Invasion, though I like the way it's building. HBO's Rome and Extras are entertaining as hell in entirely different ways.

Then there's Night Stalker. It's based, as some of you may know, on a 1970s tv series called Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which was in turn based on two television movies featuring the character, written by the immortal Richard Matheson. (And the first of those based on an unpublished manuscript by Jeff Rice.) Anyway, enough history. Point is this: the original Kolchak lasted twenty episodes and changed my life. Without that wonderfully creepy show and the performance by Darren McGavin as Kolchak, I would probably have ended up in a very different line of work. I was very young then, but I remember my father waking me up so I could watch the show. "Chopper," an episode featuring a headless, vengeful biker, is a bit silly upon rewatching, but back then it scared the crap out of me. There are other episodes that even to this day are genuinely terrifying, but even those that haven't held up over time still have the charm and wit and atmosphere that made it so enjoyable then.

The original twenty episode run of Kolchak: The Night Stalker has finally come out on DVD. Around my house, there is much rejoicing. It's also very inexpensive, and I urge you to go out and pick it up, sit down and enjoy. In fact, pick up the double feature DVD of the original two tv movies, The Night Stalker and The Night Strangler. Worth every penny.

As for the new one . . . I watched the pilot. That was enough. I went in with an open mind, but sadly, the plotting is weak, the monsters are pitiful, and the lead actor and actress are entirely without the gruff, warm, earnest charm of the original.

Stick with the real Kolchak.

****

Anyway, the other thing making me smile this week is some love from Russia. Nothing to do with James Bond movies, I'm afraid. In the past year, Bantam has sold Russian publication rights to two of my novels--WILDWOOD ROAD and THE BOYS ARE BACK IN TOWN--to Russia. With that interest, I recently was able to secure an agent in Russia. In a matter of weeks, he's sold the Russian rights to four of my books; OF SAINTS AND SHADOWS, ANGEL SOULS AND DEVIL HEARTS, STRANGEWOOD and THE NIMBLE MAN (with Thomas E. Sniegoski). Aside from the obvious business element, there's something about this that really intrigues me. Russia may not be as beautiful and mysterious as it is in my mind, but that's how I think of it. It's my hope that the books will do well and that the Russian publisher will invite me for a visit. What a pleasure that would be.

Thanks for listening. Hopefully I'll be back soon.

****

READING: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King
WATCHING: The Upside of Anger with Joan Allen and Kevin Costner, Kolchak the Night Stalker
LISTENING: Bonnie Raitt's Souls Alike and Liz Phair's Somebody's Miracle
WRITING: Ghosts of Albion: Witchery
RECOMMENDING: Berserk, by Tim Lebbon

4 Comments:

Blogger claris said...

slacker!

and I so totally got your envelope in the mail. ha!

;)

10:34 AM  
Blogger Feena said...

Glad you're back, Chris, and that's great news about Russia. I've got some of the old Night Stalker videos and they're great.

And one of the best things in your blog?

The words "WRITING: Ghosts of Albion: Witchery" :-D

12:38 PM  
Blogger Little Willow said...

Thanks for sharing. It's neat to know another of your inspirations. :)

GO RUSSIA.

6:50 PM  
Blogger Maryelizabeth said...

oooh, and getting one's books in Cyrillic is so spiffy, too!

Yay for "Veronica Mars" and "Rome" and "Extras" viewing, too

9:18 AM  

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