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Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Season 1 Episode 8

Bad Medicine

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Nov 29, 1974 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
46 votes

By TV.com Users

Episode Summary


A series of apparent suicides among high-society matrons coincides with a bizarre jewel theft by a towering Indian who mysteriously disappears when cornered. Carl must learn who the tall Indian is, why he's stealing gems and slaying their owners - and how to stop him forever.

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  • Humor elevates this episode over its weak menace.

    Though Richard Kiel's first appearance as the Diablero is unintentionally hilarious, this episode does generate a few chills...but I like it more for the interactions at INS and Kolchak's attempts to manuever around the cops for information.

    The monster-of-the-week is the Diablero, a vengeful Indian spirit doomed to roam the earth in search of a series of gems. He needs to kill several blue-bloods in Chicago to get them, and Kolchak gets intrigued when he sees an eight foot Indian survive a shootout with the cops and jump off a building to disappear.

    Tony, Uptight and Miss Emily all shine in this hour (Tony in flannel pajamas waiting for Kolchak to come back to the office; Ron being suckered into believing the fake invitation; and Emily's yelp as Carl cannibalizes another phone book). These moments, along with some very dry humor at the crime scenes, keep the action moving along through what is ultimately a bland monster story. Whenever the monster has a specific set of victims, the suspense drops - I prefer "The Ripper" or "The Vampire," when the killer could strike anyone, anywhere.

    The final showdown? Not too dazzling, but setting it in the top floor of an abandoned skyscraper was moody.moreless
  • A cursed Indian medicine man steals and murders in Chicago.

    Kolchak begins the episode by investigating the mysterious deaths of two of Chicago's wealthiest women. It was ruled a suicide, but Kolchak suspects otherwise. On the way to buy some new clothes, he gets diverted by the news of a robbery/homicide at a gem exchange. Upon arriving he sees that a giant Indian with a coyote was responsible. The Indian escapes by jumping off the roof and disappearing. Kolchak learns that the outfit the Indian was wearing is the costume of the Diablero, a tribal sorcerer who could transform into a crow or a coyote. After another murder, and discovering black feathers at the scene, Kolchak is convinced that the Indian is a Diablero. While at a gem auction, the Diablero kills several people. Kolchak escapes because he takes a picture using a flash. A wise Indian tells Kolchak that the eyes are how the Diablero casts his spell on people. As usual, the police are don't believe him. Also, the Diablero is under a curse to build up an eternal treasure. After learning how to kill the Diablero, Kolchak sets out to find it's hiding place and kill it. Apparently, the Diablero belonged to a tribe of cliff-dwellers. So, Carl has to find a really tall place where the Diablero might be staying. Kolchak finds the place from one of Ron Updyke's articles on a high rise building in downtown Chicago. This episode is a Kolchak classic. The scene where he is walking up those flights of stairs is probably the hardest part of his mission. I also like the part when Carl leaves to buy new clothes and Miss Emily exclaims, "Finally"!moreless
  • Who would have known that--three years in what was then the future--the supernatural menace of this episode would achieve cinematic immortality as the Bondian hitman, "Jaws?"

    That's right! Megalithic actor Richard Kiel played the Diablero (an evil shaman of Native American mythology), before appearing in "The Spy Who Love Me" as the metallic-toothed henchman of eco-terrorist Karl Stromberg. And, I'll confess: I found him suitably scary in the role, the first time I saw this ep.

    But, I also loved it for the touches of levity laced throughout. For example?

    KOLCHAK (trying to crash a private jewelry auction): "The name is Kol...worth. Carl Kolworth!"

    SNOBBISH BUTLER (being sarcastic): "Any relation to the Woolworths?"

    KOLCHAK: "Only distantly. They dealt mostly in wool. And, we...dealt in coal."

    The biggest laugh of all, however? When I saw a SCIFI Channel re-run of this, last year, I made a hilarious discovery. The chant being done by the Diablero, in that half-finished skyscraper, is "E-I-E-I-O" from "Old McDonald!"moreless
Ramon Bieri

Ramon Bieri

Captain Joe Baker

Guest Star

Richard Kiel

Richard Kiel

The Diablero

Guest Star

Alice Ghostley

Alice Ghostley

Dr. Agnes Temple

Guest Star

Jack Grinnage

Jack Grinnage

Ron Updyke

Recurring Role

Ruth McDevitt

Ruth McDevitt

Emily Cowles

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • They finally settle on "Emily Cowles" for Ruth McDevitt's character in this episode and stick with it.

    • When Carl thumbs through a phone book for "kennels," the page is torn out but on the next page there's an ad for garage door owners. Alphabetically, that doesn't work out. Even if he was looking under "Guard Dogs" (which he also mentions) it still doesn't work since "gu" comes after "ga".

    • Why doesn't Carl have any pictures of the diablero? He took pictures of it at the jewelry exchange and the auction. But he doesn't show them to Rolling Thunder when he's trying to describe it.

    • You can see the dog killed by the diablero move as Carl takes its picture (in the second shot of the dog).

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Kolchak: F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "The rich are different than you and me." They sure are. They got more money. But there wasn't enough money in the world to save some of the members of Chicago's upper crust from a fiendish force so dark it can only be called diabolic.

    • Obnoxious Staffer: Quality...I could have shot that better with shoebox and a pinhole! To think I stayed here all night to develop...that!
      Kolchak: Why don't you stay a little longer and develop a personality?

    • Kolchak: Dr. Temple, I seek information about Indians. Now, I don't know the difference between a Chippewa and a Chippendale...

    • Auctioneer: And your name is, sir?
      Kolchak: Kol…worth. Carl Kolworth.
      Auctioneer: Any relation to the Woolworths?
      Kolchak: Distantly, yes. They dealt in wool, we dealt in coal.

    • Captain Baker: "Diablero"? Now what is that - an Italian sport car?

    • Kolchak: (closing narration) Those prized stones, worth millions, billions, over 300 years of treasure claimed by the Diablero, the crown jewels of Queen Elizabeth, the Star Sapphire of Nicholas the First, the Firestone Diamond of Bonaparte and Josephine, to name but a few. None of them have ever turned up in any market in this world. Only one thing remains. The detectives won't admit it, of course, but somewhere, locked deep in the evidence files of the Chicago Police Department, is a handful of black feathers.

  • NOTES (2)


    • The Joliet State College of Barbering
      Described in the context of an ex-con, Carl is undoubtedly referring to the Illinois State Prison at Joliet. Like most correctional facilities, it provided vocational training in the hope that inmates with skills won't return to a life of crime. Presumably, Al Delgado learned barbering there.