Directed By: Allen Baron
Written By: Paul Playdon & David Chase
Starring: Darren McGavin, Eric Braeden, Dick Gautier, Nita Talbot ...
Running Time: 60 min
Air Date: 01/11/1974
I have to admit I wasn't familiar with "Kolchak" before I saw this episode. It was well before my time, and I never happened to catch any reruns of it. But on the basis of this episode, I'd certainly be interested in seeing more of the show, as it really did appeal to me. It's well-made, and packed full of fast-talking street-smart dialogue and interesting characters.
The basic plot for this episode is that a NATO soldier is bitten by a wolf and begins to commit gruesome murders. Fairly boring and straight-forward, but if you place the action on a cruise liner under the full moon, then you have something. Kolchak is supposed to be writing a run-of-the-mill report on the last voyage of the cruise ship, but he soon gets suspicious when passengers are attacked by what seems like a wild animal. Armed with a shotgun and silver buckshots, Kolchak is prepared to kill the beast.
Even if it didn't have a werewolf episode, this series should be known to werewolf fans. Not only is it a fantastic and influential supernatural thriller, but the name Janos Skorzeny, the villain in Frank Lupo's series "Werewolf", came from the main villain in this show. It's also worth noting that one of the guest stars is called Nita Talbot. Well, I thought it was interesting ...
What we have here is a fairly standard seventies werewolf, along the same lines as the the Wolf Men in "Werewolf of Washington" or "Moon of the Wolf". The creature isn't particularly frightening, in fact it's comical more than anything, but since the show itself has something of a light-hearted feel it doesn't really matter all that much.
Kolchak suspects pretty quickly that what he's dealing with is a werewolf, since it's a full moon and all, and he knows that he must used silver bullets to kill it. The only silver objects on the boat are the buttons on the captain's dress uniform, which makes for any amusing sequence when he must sneak in and "borrow" them. He has them blessed by a sort of semi-priest character who happens to know a few latin prayers, then melts them down into silver buckshots (apparently this is standard training for reporters). The silver doesn't necessarily seem to have the desired effect, possibly because they weren't blessed properly, but he manages to dispatch of the monster all the same.
There's one scene where one of the guest characters refers to a werewolf movie, something alone the lines of "It was silver bullet ... No, I forgot ... John Wayne? ... Charlie Chan ...". I can only assume she was referring to Werewolf of London, in which the villain was played by Warner "Charlie Chan" Oland. As far as I know there was no werewolf movie called "Silver Bullet" prior to this episode.