The humor in the first two thirds of this episode of the story was completely excellent. Even for this series it was above par.
Everything from the Tony's big break, to the hand of fate almost putting Carl where he needed to be - was beautiful story telling.
All the humor in the first part of the show completely evaporates once the menace appears and people start disappearing.
The ending of the story of this episode is very reminiscent of the X-Files series that would follow it a couple decades later.
The whole matter is swept under the rug, all the evidence suppressed, and any inconvenient victims simply go away.
The character of the werewolf in this episode is the most memorable by far, although ironically the other characters are all remarkably entertaining. They get all the comedy bits in this episode, while he gets all the drama.
The original \"Kolchak\" TV series had a hit or miss approach. Some of the better episodes such as \"The Spanish Moss Murders\", \"The Zombie\", \"The Vampire\" captured the right elements that made the first TV movie go over so well with just a hint of camp. This episode is poorly written with an awful looking monster even for 1974. While I enjoyed the show I remember when I first saw this pathetic and anemic episode wondering how the show could carry on for another 20 plus episodes. It didn\'t precisely because the worst episodes of the show had a tendancy to fall into the same pattern. Even the worst though was redeemed by the acting of McGavin and Oakland two pros that probably had to slog through worse material (although how anything could be worse than \"The Werewolf\" is beyond me).
Even Eric Braeden looks embarrassed to be in this episode. McGavin doesn\'t look much better but he had the sense to camp it up a bit.
This episode takes place during Christmastime in Chicago. Vincenzo is preparing to take his first vacation in five years: an assignment on the final voyage of the cruise ship Hanover. Unfortunately, auditors choose this time to review the INS books. So, Kolchak is sent in his place. Once aboard, Carl has to interview people about the practices of singles aboard ships like this. One of the passengers is a strange antisocial military man with a bite on his arm. What Kolchak dosen't count on is the appearance of a man-animal creature that attacks people and disappears. It is never said if these people are dead or alive. Kolchak uses his own brand of investigation and comes to the realization that there is a werewolf on board. Naturally, the captain of the ship dosen't completely believe him, but he must have some reservations when he tries to outrun the rising moon to shore. With the help of some of the passengers and crew, Kolchak has to make some silver bullets so he can kill the werewolf. At the end, we never find out if the werewolf died or not, but he was obviously wounded by the bullets. There is also some traces of government cover-up involving NATO. This was a pretty decent episode. This is also the second Kolchak episode that took place mostly outside Chicago. I also find it hard to believe when Kolchak says there is no record of any wolf attacks on this continent.
I thought when a Werewolf attacks people it is to feed on them, well not in this story. The Werewolf of \"The Night Stalker\" likes to beat people up and throw them around. Every time you see the Werewolf he punches people and throws them off of balcony\'s, but he never bites them like I thought was the main purpose of being a Werewolf. I know this sereis was made in 1974 and they were not going to get too graphic on television, but they could have at least had the Werewolf act like he is biting or eating the people he is attacking, not just smacking them around. What the Werewolf is doing is contradicting what Kolchak is saying, which is the Werewolf is feeding on the passengers of the ship. Other than that little mishap the episode is a good one as long as you can get over the \"Bully-Werewolf\".
If not my favorite of the series, this episode is certainly among my favorites. I think part of it was the change of setting. Instead of gritty Chicago (which, BTW, I like more than the Chicago of "Early Edition," just as I prefer the gritty '70s NYC to the cleaned up NYC of today), most of the story took place within the tight confines of a cruise ship. For once, Carl didn't take on the monster as a matter of choice, but as a matter of survival. He was trapped here, and if the crew failed to stop the werewolf (which they would, since they didn't believe in silver bullets), he and the rest of the passengers would have been at the mercy of the creature. Alas, the rest of the characters were stock. The skeptical captain was no more than a stand-in for the skeptical detectives and police chiefs Carl always fenced with and the mercenary purser replaced a mercenary coroner. And true to form for the series, the werewolf costume was one of the worst I've ever seen. Still, a nice change of pace.
I always enjoy this particular episode. It has a great mixture of suspense and comedy. Poor Vincenzo, cheated out of his Christmas time holiday cruise and forced to give up his ticket (and expense money) to Kolchak. And where does Carl find himself? On a singles cruise, with a super wolf. And has there ever been a better werewolf than Eric Braeden's Bernhard Steiglitz, with his broad brimmed fedora and luminous eyes piercing out from the shadows?
Otherwise, the real fun is watching Kolachak grow ever more exasperated with the singles set, especially with that icon of singles, Dick Gautier in the role of Mel Tarter!, cracking one lame joke after another. And poor Nita Talbot's Paula Griffin giving her copyrighted performance as the frustrated middle aged single woman, who all too obviously spends most of her life before the TV set, watching old movies.