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News >  Features

New ‘Stalker’ takes itself very seriously

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

Tonight, ABC dusts off a cult thriller from the Pet Rock era. Based on a successful TV movie starring Darren McGavin, the weekly drama “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” ran from 1974 to 1975.

A reporter for a Chicago daily paper, Kolchak’s beat took him on frequent trips into paranormal territory, where he encountered zombies, werewolves and even a crooked politician who literally sold his soul to the devil. Hey, this was the time of Watergate.

The new “Night Stalker” (9 p.m., ABC) is set in Los Angeles, where mysterious new reporter Carl Kolchak (Stuart Townsend) arrives to investigate the disappearance and murder of a pregnant woman who appears to have been dragged by someone or something to a remote desert location.

A rival reporter, Perri Reed (Gabrielle Union), finds it odd that Kolchak has developed so many “leads” in so short a time, but she (and we) soon discover that Kolchak is tragically acquainted with the case, having lost his own wife under similarly grisly and mysterious circumstances.

Authorities back in Las Vegas, the scene of the crime, harbor suspicions that Kolchak could be his wife’s killer.

The original “Night Stalker” featured some wisecracking and offbeat humor that would inspire the writers and creators of “The X-Files,” but the new incarnation takes itself terribly seriously. In fact, Townsend’s Kolchak seems hypnotized or clinically depressed.

He and Reed share zero chemistry.

The only mystery left for this “Night Stalker” is how long it can survive in a tough time slot: If viewers want dark, murky, bloody and morbid fare, they’ve already got “CSI.”

“Everwood” (9 p.m., WB) enters its fourth season with a surprise wedding between two cast regulars. It would be unfair to reveal just who’s getting hitched, but it’s safe to say it’s not Andy (Treat Williams).

He’s still pining for Nina (Stephanie Niznik) and hoping her fling with fellow restaurant owner Jake (Scott Wolf) is just a phase. This love triangle will be resolved before the night’s out.

But again, it just wouldn’t be right to spill the beans.

Season premieres

Sydney learns she is carrying Vaughn’s baby on “Alias” (8 p.m., ABC).

Clark visits the Fortress of Solitude on “Smallville” (8 p.m., WB).

Grace mulls an affair with a married man (Eric Stoltz) on “Will & Grace” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

Martin comes under fire on “Without a Trace” (10 p.m., CBS).

Other highlights

Chris has a crush on his tutor on “Everybody Hates Chris” (8 p.m., UPN).

A rocker dies after a night of excess on “CSI” (9 p.m., CBS).

Donald Trump hosts “The Apprentice” (9 p.m., NBC).

The gang parties like it’s 1989 on “Reunion” (9 p.m., Fox).

A surrogate mother’s baby is in peril on “ER” (10 p.m., NBC).

Scheduled on “Primetime” (10 p.m., ABC): an interview with George Clooney; “faith based” investment schemes.

Cult choice

A wealthy woman hires a retired kung fu fighter (Chuck Norris) to protect her from nefarious ninjas in the 1980 martial-arts thriller “The Octagon” (10 p.m., AMC).

Series notes

Jeff Probst hosts “Survivor: Guatemala” (8 p.m., CBS) … Coping with a child actor on “Joey” (8 p.m., NBC) … Marissa adjusts on “The O.C.” (8 p.m., Fox).

Late night

Dr. Phil McGraw and Roger Federer appear on “Late Show with David Letterman” (11:35 p.m., CBS) … Jay Leno hosts Matthew McConaughey, Angie Harmon and Supergrass on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC).

Jessica Alba, Jeff Garlin and Sheryl Crow chat on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” (12:35 a.m., NBC) … Craig Ferguson hosts Fran Drescher; Robert David Hall and Jo Dee Messina on “The Late, Late Show” (12:37 a.m., CBS).

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