This inaugural episode of Kolchak: the Night Stalker begins with narration by Carl Kolchak as a pair of hotties from the 70’s get stabbed by the episode's titular Ripper.
The following morning finds Kolchak being lectured by his boss, Tony Vincenzo, over his conduct about the coverage of his previous story, a robbery where he might’ve, sort’ve behaved as if he were the police commissioner placing various people under arrest and commandeering a private vehicle. Kolchak’s punishment is to fill in for Miss Emily, the Independent News Service’s homespun advice column since she’s out on vacation for the week. One of the letters Kolchak bothers to read mentions a man in Wilton Park with x-ray eyes and a weird get-up. Foreshadowing! Kolchak leaves the office in a huff, unable to handle the strain of being an advice columnist.
In the mean time, another girl is murdered, this time a “masseuse” with a stuffed animal fetish. Kolchak hears a code 5 on his police scanner and races to the scene. A posse of policemen are chasing the Ripper across the rooftops but are unable to corner him. The Ripper then drops from the roof and manages to evade capture once again, completely unphased by point blank shots from police revolvers.
The next scene finds us back at the INS. In the dark room, Kolchak has his film from the previous night developed only to find he has no useful pictures. Vincenzo then confronts Kolchak about his Miss Emily letters being “too cynical” and also finds him writing about the recent murders instead of answering more letters. Vincenzo chastises Kolchak since the story belongs to his co-worker, Ron Updyke but his wrath is interrupted by Updyke’s return from the murder scene. It would seem that Updyke has not the constitution to handle writing about murders. The scene was apparently “horrible” and he asked to go home.
Carl rolls into the Police briefing late and asks all the hard hitting questions of the police captain, but Captain Warren stonewalls him completely. Upon the Captain’s exit, news of a letter, supposedly from the Ripper himself, complete with evidence that no one but the criminal could know about the nature of the crime, namely the state of the victim’s body. Kolchak then drags Jane Plumm, the reporter than received the letter, to a local diner in order to pump her for information. Here he learns that the kidneys were removed from the victim’s body, much like the original Jack the Ripper. Kolchak gives her the angle that cannibalism is involved for her own article.
Next, we cut to Sultan’s Palace, a themed massage parlor where another girl is killed. Updyke enters the parlor and finds a message scrawled on a mirror, but sees the body and immediately needs to run to the men’s room. Kolchak is denied access due to someone from INS already being inside, but happens upon a car accident nearby where a man claims to have struck someone in a cape while doing 30 mph but the guy up and walked away.
Back at INS, Kolchak is stuffing more Miss Emily letters in his desk. Vincenzo shows him Jane Plumm’s headline about psychopathic cannibal killers. It seems that Plumm has offered to meet the Ripper for an interview with a guarantee of his safety. Vincenzo finds a book on Kolchak’s desk about Ripper murders throughout the ages. Kolchak is again reminded that this is not his story but he claims he is only helping Updyke with his research since Updyke has become something of a “bibliophiliac”, and is public enemy number one at the library for all of his overdue books. Kolchak leaves to go do more research while Vincenzo finds all of his unanswered Miss Emily letters in his desk.
Jane meets with Kolchak at a café, and she talks about all the faux Rippers she has interviewed. Kolchak mentions that the Ripper always kills five women, leaving two women remaining. Kolchak also says that the Ripper will strike again in the same place so he leaves for Sultan’s Palace. Unfortunately, Kolchak’s attempt to find a place to hide inside the massage parlor is foiled by an undercover police officer. While being escorted away by the police, the Ripper strikes again, but the cops are ready for him, shotguns blazing but the Ripper escapes their grasp yet again only to be foiled by an electrified fence.
Kolchak is freed from police captivity, and schools Captain Warren about the juicy details about the Ripper but is interrupted when the very same Ripper escapes from the High Security floor. Vincenzo finds out that Jane’s paper hasn’t heard from her all morning. The Ripper apparently has a fear of the electric chair that went into use in 1908. It is then also learned that one of the Rippers that Jane was set to interview was in Wilton Park, which sets Kolchak darting out of the station and back to the office looking for the letter mentioning the man with the x-ray eyes. He traces the letter back to Miss Aginweiller, who points out that the strange man only goes out at night and met a woman that might have been Jane in the park that evening.
Kolchak investigates the house where the Ripper supposedly lives, and by that I mean he throws rocks at the window. He tries various doors around the house, where he spies a fuse box. Carl, the man on a mission, leaves and returns with tools to lay down the electrical trap for his eventual showdown with the Ripper. He breaks into the abandoned house and searches the place, finding a rack full of canes with swords sheathed within them. The Ripper returns, noticing Kolchak’s presence. Kolchak tries to hide in the closet to no avail (guess he forgot to hold his breath). He gazes upon the Ripper’s beardiness then accidentally dives from the broken staircase to the floor below. While attempting to escape he stumbles upon the remains of Jane Plumm. Kolchak dives from a window back to the pond where his trap was laid. The Ripper is electrocuted in a shower of sparks that also causes the fuse box to erupt into flames, burning the house to the ground.
Back at INS, Kolchak muses over the experience. When the pond was drained, nothing was found of the Ripper with the exception of a singular shoe. The shoe traced back to a store in London by the name of Peel’s Footware, but that particular style had been discontinued 70 years ago. Kolchak is convinced that no one would believe his tale, so he crumples the page from the typewriter and tosses it away.
|Air Date||Sept. 13, 1974|