And You Thought 21st Century Reporting was Dangerous

by Paul C. Binotto

© 2019

The threat of violence against Journalist is an ever-increasing and unavoidable fact in the 21st century. Contemplating the dangers of being a news journalist can even be a little scary for the uninitiated aspiring to a career as news reporter; even for the most determined and most ardent adrenaline junkies, (“[R]esearchers claim(ed) that 30 percent of the population is born with one of the thrill-seeking genes, and 20 percent with both”).

So for the other 70 percent of us, a little levity may be in order.

For those who may not recall, or are not old enough to remember, Kolchak: The Night Stalker  was a TV series that aired on ABC from 1974 to 1975, and included 20 episodes, and three that never aired due to the series’ cancellation. 

Marg Baskin perhaps provides the best description of the program’s running plot summary:

Carl Kolchak was a reporter for Chicago’s Independent News Service, and a trouble magnet for situations involving the supernatural. Kolchak turned his investigative skills to vampires, werewolves, zombies and all manner of legendary creatures, but in the end he always failed to convince his skeptical editor, Tony Vincenzo, that the stories weren’t products of Kolchak’s own overworked imagination.

Yes, a willingness to face danger and threat of violence has become a regrettable but unavoidable requirement in the 21st Century Journalist’s job description. That the risk becomes greater and more wide-spread each year, has become settled fact.  And, the unexpected situations where a journalists may encounter danger is shocking. Even covering a Bake-off can be quite dangerous.  

As the saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction”.  Ahh, but fiction is often more dangerous. After reading the synopsis of the twenty episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker that aired, I think you will agree that few reporters will ever have to approach the level of danger that Kolchak routinely faced almost daily on the police beat in the Windy City, Chicago. And, that this TV programr offered a very different meaning to the term, “Fake-news”.  I also think you will be thankful, as I am, that fiction is not fact. 

The Twenty Episodes

1) “The Ripper” – “Kolchak argues that a serial killer is actually Jack the Ripper”

2) “The Zombie” – “A grandmother seeks revenge for her grandson’s death by turning him into a zombie to do her bidding.” 

3) “They Have Been, They Are, They Will Be…” – “An invisible alien sucks down the bone marrow of its victims while it makes repairs and looks for directions home.”

4) “The Vampire” – “An overlooked victim of the Las Vegas vampire makes her way to Los Angeles and begins killing anew.”

5) “The Werewolf” – “In snowy Chicago the INS Christmas party is to send off Tony Vincenzo, but he gets audited instead, and it is Carl who gets to go on the singles cruise, where a werewolf goes on a killing spree.”

6) “Firefall” – “The ghost of an arsonist tries to take over a renowned conductor’s body as his doppelganger.”

7) “The Devil’s Platform” – “A politician on a meteoric rise murders his opposition through a pact with Satan which gives him the ability to turn into an invulnerable dog.”

8) “Bad Medicine” – “[B]ased on a Native American legend, a Diablero shaman spirit murders for jewels to pay back his debt and be released from his Earthly bonds.”

9) “The Spanish Moss Murders” – “A dreaming host conjures up the Creole legend of Père Malfait (French: “father [of] evil-doing,” originally an old French term for the Devil), a mossmonster (Richard Kiel) willing to kill anyone who threatens its survival.

10) “The Energy Eater” – “A hospital is built on reclaimed land inhabited by the Native American bear-spirit legend Matchemonedo which threatens to destroy anyone who inhabits it.”

11) “Horror In The Heights” – “A Hindu Rakshasa terrorizes a Jewish neighborhood.”

12) “Mr. R.I.N.G.” – “An android murders anyone that threatens its survival.”

13) “Primal Scream” – “Defrosted ancient cell samples discovered in the Arctic grow into savage prehistoric primates and go on a rampage.”

14) “The Trevi Collection” – “A witch (played by Dark ShadowsAngélique,” Lara Parker) desires to control the world of high fashion.”

15) “Chopper” – “Bent on revenge, a headless motorcycle rider murders those who wronged him.

16) “Demon In Lace” – “A succubus from ancient Mesopotamia murders young men to maintain her immortality.”

17) “Legacy of Terror” – “An Aztec cult seeks to resurrect the mummy of their god by murdering perfect people. Erik Estrada plays a chosen victim.”

18) “The Knightly Murders” – “To prevent the destruction of its home, the spirit of a Knight reanimates a suit of armor to kill those responsible.

19) “The Youth Killer” – “Helen of Troy returns to drain the youth out of unsuspecting perfect victims, sacrifices for the goddess Hecate, in her quest for immortality. Cathy Lee Crosby guests as Helen of Troy.”

20) “The Sentry”- “A lizard-man creature kills subterranean workers who have stolen its eggs.”

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