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Kolchak: The Night Stalker is an American television series that aired on ABC during the 1974-75 season. It featured a fictional newspaper reporter – Carl Kolchak, played by Darren McGavin – who investigates mysterious crimes with unlikely causes, particularly ones law enforcement authorities won't pursue. Often these crimes involve some element of the supernatural or science fiction, such as fantastical creatures.
The series was preceded by two television movie, The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973). While the series only lasted for one season, it remained popular in syndication, and is often credited as the inspiration for the popular television series The X-Files. Following The X-Files' success, the franchise was resurrected in 2005 in the form of a second television series with a new cast and characters, as well as subsequent novels and comic books.
The entire series is available in syndication and is occasionally rerun on the Sci-Fi Channel under its original expanded title, Kolchak: The Night Stalker. In 2008, it began running on Chiller TV. It is also available on DVD.
The Kolchak character originated in a novel, The Kolchak Papers, written by Jeff Rice. In the novel, Las Vegas newspaper reporter Carl Kolchak tracks down and defeats a serial killer who turns out to be a vampire named Janos Skorzeny. Although the main protagonist in the novel uses the name "Carl", the book reveals that his birth name is "Karel". At the time it was optioned for the screen, the novel was unpublished. Once the series attained some popularity, the original novel was published by Pocket Books as a mass-market paperback original under the title The Night Stalker with a Darren McGavin photo cover to tie in with the movie. The book, as well as the novelization of the second television movie, was republished by Moonstone in 2007 as an omnibus edition called The Kolchak Papers.
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