There are instances when grain is visible in some shots but, given the otherwise extremely clean and sharp relief of the print, I can only assume that this is intentional. However, there is one time when a surprising amount of dirt and speckles afflict the left hand side of the screen in the episode entitled The Sea - when Kolchak's car is seen racing along - that seems to have slipped past quality control.
Overall, though, this is an excellent transfer.
Certainly, a horror show like Night Stalker could make plentiful use of blasting stingers and creepy noises from behind to enhance the atmosphere and make the skin crawl, but the mix seems sadly underused. Typically, it dominates the frontal array, but a wide and deep stereo presence and good steerage across the three speakers ensures that the show sounds vibrant, punchy and alive. Dialogue is always clear and never submerged by effects or score. Ambience flits left and right without being too showy or intrusive. And the piano-led theme sounds sublime. Music throughout the show is handled well and the disc maintains good high ends and a suitably throaty bass level. The sub is never going to thump across the floor with this track, but the assorted stingers and occasional acoustic aggression is delivered with a nice degree of weight.
The rears come into play quite often, with office babble and general hubbub neatly dished out to fill up the soundscape, but the spooky elements always seem to be a little underwhelming. We do get some growls, footsteps, whisperings and wind effects to spice up the atmosphere, but they sound more perfunctory than dynamic. There are certainly no whiz-bang, aural acrobatics to flash past your ears, though ... even during the big shootout in Part 2 of the two-part adventure. But the episode Malum does feature some cool Satanic chanting emanating from behind you.
The three Deleted Scenes hail from the Pilot Episode, Into Night and Three. But only the first one offers anything of interest, with a much more explicit and exciting attack of the Hell Hound upon Kolchak's car as our heroes flee the beasts' lair. None last more than a couple of minutes.
A Conversation With Frank Spotnitz (6.47 mins) reveals nothing more than his undying love for the original series and the TV movies that inspired it, with only lip-service paid to the background of the new show, it's big ideas and casting inspirations, the mythology that would steer it and the cool high-definition cameras that would give it life. Spotnitz mentions his work for Michael Mann on Robbery/Homicide and how he was keen to bring that visual sheen to this show, too. Overall, this doesn't really add much to our knowledge of a clearly troubled show and how it met its end at the whim of TV execs. It would have been nice to have heard some heartfelt ranting from someone who invested a lot of time and energy into something that he truly felt had potential.
There are also the scripts to the final un-produced episodes which can only be accessed via your PC. I have to admit that I haven't, as yet, had a gander at these. I can't say that I'm enthusiastic about reading what was going to happen, although they probably do shed a lot more light upon the mysteries of Kolchak's history.
Considering that the four unaired episodes have been termed as Bonus Features, this is actually a fair crack of the whip for a show that was axed midway through its first season.
Well, despite a lot of misgivings, I still think the re-vamped Night Stalker is worth a look. It has many faults, yes, but the show did not deserve to be axed so ignominiously. At least it attempts to update the formulaic, monster-of-the-week style that ended up hampering the original show. The irascible Darren McGavin is sorely missed - his little CG-blended cameo notwithstanding - and Stuart Townsend, whilst still likeable, needed a few more episodes to get fully into the swing of things and make the role his own. Still, Supernatural seems to have beaten Kolchak at his own game - being hip, atmospheric and unafraid to retain the weekly monster-mash.
The AV quality provides a ravishing picture, and even if the DD 5.1 isn't quite the surround experience we may have wanted from a spooky thriller, it still manages to enhance the show.
A brave failure, then. And one that seemed doomed from the outset.
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