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03 June 2006 @ 07:23 pm
Night Stalker DVD Review  
from ugo.com

Night Stalker: The Complete Series DVD
Review by Troy Rogers, contributing editor

Stuart Townsend stars in a modern day remake of the original '70s Night Stalker series, made famous by the late Darren McGavin in the role of Carl Kolchak. Produced by X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz (who also worked on Millenium and The Lone Gunmen), Night Stalker follows Carl Kolchak as he pushes forward on an obsessive hunt for his own wife's murderer and discovers that his imagination is no match for the evil that truly lurks in the dark. Paired with skeptic Perri Reed (Gabrielle Union), television's favorite crime reporter will stop at nothing to uncover the supernatural side of the night.

The obvious difference between the old and the new is the visual appeal, with the new Night Stalker series presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, filmed with new cameras that haven't been used in television before. Whether the characters are out in the desert or inside an office late at night in L.A., every single frame looks picture-perfect as far as transfers go. Not to be outdone, the audio equally stellar with an agressive and deep Dolby Digital 5.1 track. The scary relentless action, combined with the profound depth of the track, will put you right in the middle of Kolchak's adventures in no time at all. Whether you're along for the ride as he tears up the black top in his sweet Mustang or you're fighting off a herd of hell hounds, all of the sights and sounds effortlessly blend together.
Considering that the show was canceled during its first season run, you wouldn't expect to find a lot of bonus features. Surprisingly, the set offers quite a bit of goodies, which is the way it should be, seeing how the original series became such a cult classic. We get two audio commentaries, the first with executive producer Frank Spotnitz, director Daniel Sackheim and producer Michelle Maclaren for the pilot episode. In this track we learn that the opening voiceovers pay homage to the original series, which had Kolchak talking into a tape recorder. The mark on Kolchak's wrist is also explained in the commentaries. The second commentary track on the episode "The Sea" features Frank Spotnitz with producers Daniel Sackheim and John Peter Kousakis, where they explain how the episode was painful because it's really the second part of a two-parter that wasn't aired. Other highlights include details on how the location at the store was actually on a sound stage and the four bikers in the episode were supposed to represent the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.
Also included in the set are three deleted scenes, which feature a longer scene of the hell hound attack from the pilot, a scene from the episode "Into the Night," where we first meet Kolchak's source at the morgue and an alternate version of his visit to the morgue. The next feature, "A Conversation with Frank Spotnitz," offers a brief interview with the remake's creator as he explains that the show is frightening for adults but it also appeals to young adolescent boys because it centers on monsters. Also, the new Night Stalker was canceled after only six episodes and the DVD includes the remaining four episodes, "The Sea" (part two of "The Source"), "Into the Night," "Timeless" and "What's the Frequency Kolchak?" The final bonus is a cool option of printable scripts for two unproduced episodes, "Ascendant" and "The M Word."

It's not even a question for Night Stalker fans, or even followers of Frank Spotnitz' work, that this set is a keeper. Although this series didn't find its legs, it's still a decent effort by one of the best TV writers in the business. For those of you who don't know about the series, take the time to check out the original series and then this one; you won't be disappointed.