Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Season 1 Episode 1

The Ripper

Aired Friday 8:00 PM Sep 13, 1974 on ABC
out of 10
User Rating
61 votes

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Episode Summary

A serial killer who preys on women haunts Chicago, and Kolchak comes to believe that the killer is the original Jack the Ripper, a seemingly immortal killer who has slain women in many cities over the last century.

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  • Is Jack back? Certainly seems that way, to Kolchak at least. The windy city is dealt a series of death blows by a night stalker who targets scantily clad women with surgical precision.moreless

    \\"The Ripper\\\" expertly sets up this series, deftly blending horror and humor while giving Darren McGavin to carte blanche to develop the role of his career with equal parts charm and cunning. Though Kolchak would affect authority members like an indestructable mosquito at a family barbeque, his unquenchable desire to dive headlong into the supernatural terror pool that bubbled underneath the surface of our genteel society (circa 1974-75)was contagious, and part of what made these stories score scary points was McGavin\\\'s decision to flesh out Kolchak\\\'s fright, rather than play him as yet another drip-dry good guy crime fighter, ala \\\"Mannix.\\\"

    With no disprespect to Mike Connors or his fans (including yours truly), the choice to keep Kolchak in the underdog camp was wisest, as we in the audience crept down those dark hallways towards uncertain danger,our fear all the more compelling because we were going without an all-purpose hero to guide us.

    Two minor complaints here: The newsroom is a bit, ummm, UNDERstaffed, considering its location (this is Chicago, not Bakersfield, after all!) and the ill-fated girl reporter well-played by Beatrice Colen (then hot as \\\"Happy Days\\\" regular Marcia, the roller skating drive-in waitress at Arnold\\\'s,)endures insult added to injury by several characters, including Kolchak, who glibly and incorrectly categorize her as a \\\"fat\\\" chick.

    Why? Wasn\\\'t the character\\\'s ding-a-ling naivete enough? Wasn\\\'t, say, Lulu Roman of \\\"Hee Haw\\\" available? But I digress...

    Meaningless trivia buffs take heed: \\\"Policeman\\\" is played by Donald Mantooth, younger brother of Randolph, then in the heat of his teen-idol phase playing Fireman Johnny Gage on NBC\\\'s top-rated \\\"Emergency!\\\"series.

    (Donald)Mantooth was apparently a contract player for Universal at the time and though he never hit it big, he made his presence known, with minor guest roles on \\\"Columbo,\\\" \\\"Quincy M.E.,\\\" \\\"Knight Rider,\\\" and yes, \\\"Emergency!\\\"

    Don also made his way to the big screen in tiny increments, appearing in \\\"Earthquake!\\\" and \\\"Uncommon Valor.\\\" Wonder where he is today?

    Maybe we need a dogged detective on the case, someone like Kolchak.....moreless
  • Incredible episode with a great story, awesome acting, just terrific.

    Starts off with a series of murders, instead of leading with jokes.

    First viewers witness - well, almost - a couple of murders of beautiful, young women by a mysterious figure in victorian upper class ultra formal night-on-the-town attire.

    Kolchak narrates these tragedies with a voice over, as if it is dictation played back from his tape recorder, or the whole scene is being recalled for one of his "news stories".

    Kolchak is appointed to sub on another columnist's column until they return from sick leave the next week. Unfortunately, for Tony's peace of mind - Kolchak gets a lead on one of "his" type of stories. So he dashes out of the office.

    The back story on this episode was pretty interesting.

    Dapper man in upper class, anachronistic attire is a sinister killer of young women. His origins prove very interesting and show the writer's creativity.

    It also shows the writer's ability to weave allusion into the plot to create a novel twist to an age-old story, making a terrific new one.moreless
  • A worthy debut

    Fans of \"The Night Stalker\" and its sequel, \"The Night Strangler,\" were no doubt thrilled when the stars and moon aligned and investigative reporter Carl Kolchak and his uncanny penchant for embroiling himself in otherworldly scrapes returned to the airwaves as a weekly ABC-TV series.

    This pilot episode, centered on Jack the Ripper loose in Chicago in modern times, mostly delivers the goods and a few chills. Basically keeping the spirit of the original movie alive, the episode is solid, but there\'s nothing extraordinary here to recommend it other than for the sake of it being the first chapter in the all-too brief series.

    Also of note: Ruth McDevitt makes a guest appearance, but not as Miss Emily, the character that would make her a fan favorite beginning several episodes later.moreless
  • Jack is back!

    This is definitely one of the best episodes of Kolchak: The Night Stalker. This episode reminds me of "The Night Stalker" but with Jack The Ripper as the villan. Jack has supernatural powers with amazing strength and is on the prowl in Chicago. Carl tracks the Ripper's history over the years in different city's starting in London where the original murders took place. Kolchak figures out that only five murders occur before the Ripper moves on to a different location and he races to find him before the fifth murder happens. This is a lot of fun and it is the first episode of the sereis.moreless
  • Meet Carl Kolchak: reporter resident of Chicago who spends his freetime battling the supernatural.

    In the pilot episode, Kolchak pursues the story of a murderer who stalks Chicago killing in the same fashion as Jack the Ripper: the notroious London killer who was never caught. Even though Carl wants to pursue this story, he gets opposition from his editor Tony Vincenzo. With an employee out of town, Kolchak is assigned to answer the advice column. When the police get the Ripper cornered, bullets don't hurt him and he survives a jump from a four or five story building. Obviously this guy isn't human. As Carl investigates, he learns that there have been other "Rippers" throughout history in other places around the world. It is thought to be a homicidal psychosis, but Carl concludes that they are all the same guy. I find it very amusing that whenever Carl tries to convince someone of his story, nobody believes him. I guess when people confront something that their experiences don't confirm, they choose not to believe it. This was probably one of the best pilots for the 1970's. It was ahead of it's time.moreless
Mickey Gilbert

Mickey Gilbert

The Ripper

Guest Star

Beatrice Colen

Beatrice Colen

Jane Plumm

Guest Star

Ken Lynch

Ken Lynch

Captain R.M. Warren

Guest Star

Jack Grinnage

Jack Grinnage

Ron Updyke

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (4)

    • Although it's claimed the Ripper here performed surgical mutilations on his victims just like the original, the only weapon he ever uses is s a sword cane, with which it would be impossible to perform such mutilations.

    • Historically, the electric chair was first used in New York in 1893, not 1908 as stated here.

    • There are several historically inaccurate facts given about the real-life Jack the Ripper in this episode. He never struck twice on subsequent nights at the same place, and he never wrote any rhyme such as that credited to him here.

    • Ruth McDevitt plays an elderly old lady in this episode, writing a letter to Miss Emily. McDevitt would later play Miss Emily herself in later episodes. Carl doesn't comment on the uncanny resemblence, however.

  • QUOTES (5)

    • Carl: (opening narration) If, by chance, you happened to be in the Windy City between May 28th and June 2nd of this year, you would have had very good reason to be terrified. During this period, Chicago was being stalked by a horror so frightening, so fascinating, that it ranks with the great mysteries of all times. It's been the fictional subject of novels, plays, films, even an opera. Now, here, are the true facts…

    • Carl: For reasons I have never been able to understand, Vincenzo has always confused my reporter's clever ingenuity with what he calls high-handed lunacy.

    • Jane: You think you get screwball letters in the Dear Emilys? I am personally interviewing guys who claim to be the Ripper. I'm up to number nineteen.
      Kolchak: You are being very foolish, Jane. You are being dumb, Plumm.

    • Masseuse: Are you a tennis player?
      Carl: Uh, what? No. No. Why?
      Masseuse: Because your shoes are so funny.
      Carl: I run a lot.

    • Kolchak: (closing narration) And here's the postscript. When they drained that pond, they found nothing - nothing but some old clothes. For some reason, the police suddenly decided they wanted those... and my head. I don't know how Vincenzo will handle the charges of arson and malicious mischief lodged against me by Captain Warren, but that fire was a big one - a six alarmer. A blast furnace couldn't have done a better job. Everything gone - the house, my story, the evidence. Like they say, ashes to ashes. One thing survived the inferno, however. There's enough of it left to read the name of the maker. Peele's Footwear, London, Southwest 1. They're still there, of course, but they don't make this style shoe anymore. It was discontinued over seventy years ago. Seventy... years... ago.

  • NOTES (2)


    • Captain Warren
      A deliberate in-joke on the writer's part: Sir Charles Warren was one of the primary investigating officers in the original Ripper murders.