|Season 1, Episode 1|
|Air Date:||September 13, 1974|
|Written By:||Rudolph Borchert|
|Directed By:||Allen Baron|
|Guest Cast:||Beatrice Colen|
|The Night Strangler||Goodnight Sweet Skipper|
A series of murders has the residents of Chicago terrified. Young women are being brutally slashed to death by a mysterious man who seems to possess superhuman strength and properties. The murderer is especially brazen; one girl, a go-go dancer, is killed in her dressing room. The club's bartender and bouncers all confront her assailant, but he hurls them aside like rag dolls. Another young woman is attacked as she walks along a semi-deserted street, the killer leaping onto the sidewalk from an impossibly high fire escape. The murders bear all the same qualities as those committed by Jack The Ripper.
Angry with Kolchak because of the way he constantly makes enemies at the police department, Vincenzo assigns him to fill in for Miss Emily's advice column while she is on vacation. Even worse, he assigns the Ripper case to Updike, which infuriates Kolchak. Kolchak pursues it anyway, latching onto a Ripper sighting that he overhears on his police scanner. The cops have the Ripper cornered on top of a building, but as Kolchak snaps pictures, the Ripper takes numerous bullet hits, wards off any policeman who dares approach him, and finally leaps to the sidewalk from the top of the building. Not only is he unharmed, he destroys a police cruiser in the process and escapes. Kolchak's photographs are worthless, since his flash didn't illuminate much, but at a press conference he gets an unexpected lead: the Ripper has sent a letter to a rival newspaper, directly contacting one of Carl's associates, Jane Plum. Jane bargains with Kolchak for information and tells him that the Ripper refers to himself as the authentic "Jack the Ripper". She has researched the phenomenon and feels it is a contagious psychosis; she has discovered that Ripper-style murders have been occurring throughout history, worldwide, separated by decades and always sticking to a similar pattern.
Another murder occurs at a massage parlor; Ron is unable to follow up on it, repulsed by the details of the killings. Kolchak tries to visit the crime scene immediately after the slaying and is turned away; instead he meets an elderly couple stopped in traffic just outside. The man's car has been damaged, and he claims the front end was crushed when he slammed into a pedestrian.
Vincenzo sees Jane's byline in the rival paper and is shocked by her angle on the story ("cannibalism!"), unaware that Carl has given her the idea. Carl tells Vincenzo that he is helping Updike by researching Ripper murders. He neglects to tell the boss that he has ignored the Miss Emily letters; Vincenzo finds them all stuffed into Carl's desk.
Jane prints an offer to meet the Ripper on his own terms, but Carl is concerned; he feels the murders are too similar. He draws a connection to an incident where a Ripper murderer was sentenced to be hanged in Germany; the attempt failed, but Carl sees an image in one of his blurry photographs of the Ripper: a rope burn on his neck. Jane says that it's impossible for all of the murders to have been committed by the same person, as it would make him over 130 years old.
Carl decides to stake out the massage parlor; the murder patterns of the past dictate that the Ripper will strike in the same place again. Instead, Carl is nearly arrested when the undercover police officer misunderstands his intentions and arrests him for a lewd proposal. Fortunately for Kolchak, the Ripper strikes immediately afterwards and attempts to murder the police officer. She and her partner ward him off and he takes off running, resulting in another police chase. This one ends in his capture when the Ripper attempts to leap onto an electrified fence.
Carl is now convinced that the killer stalking the streets is Jack the Ripper himself; he has uncovered news articles about numerous attempts to execute The Ripper throughout the decades, all of which failed. The police treat Carl as if he is insane, and in fact they have captured The Ripper and incarcerated him. But even as they speak, the Ripper rips the large maximum security door out of the concrete wall of his cell, escaping once again. The police are still in denial and begin searching for an accomplice that they feel has sprung The Ripper from jail.
Carl realizes that he must face The Ripper alone if anybody is going to stop him, and he tries to figure out where The Ripper could be living. Ironically, the answer lies in the Miss Emily column. Carl recalls one of the first letters he read that week, written by an elderly woman who claims her neighbor has "x ray eyes" and goes out in the evening wearing a funny suit. Kolchak traces her and visits her home, and she reveals that her mysterious neighbor lives in a spooky, rundown house near her own.
Through his research, Carl theorizes that the only thing that can harm The Ripper is electricity; that is why the police were able to subdue him after he touched the electrified fence. Carl rigs a trap for The Ripper and then sneaks into his house. While he is in there, The Ripper comes home and confronts him. In the struggle, Carl discovers the body of Jane, who has indeed fallen victim to the supernatural psychopath. Kolchak gets The Ripper to chase him through the grounds of the house, leading him directly into his trap: a small bog of water that Carl has rigged with electricity. Throwing the switch, Carl electrocutes The Ripper, resulting in a huge fire that destroys all of the evidence of the incident. Before fire can consume it, The Ripper's body disintegrates, and Carl's only souvenir is one of the Ripper's shoes. Carl phones the British manufacturer and discovers that the particular style of shoe went out of production over a hundred years ago. (synopsis written by GroovyDoom for IMDB)
- Darren McGavin ... Carl Kolchak
- Simon Oakland ... Tony Vincenzo
- Beatrice Colen ... Jane Plumm
- Ruth McDevitt ... Elderly Woman
- Jack Grinnage ... Ron Updyke
- Ken Lynch ... Capt. Warren
- Mews Small ... Masseuse (as Marya Small)
- Don Mantooth ... Policeman (as Donald Mantooth)
- Rob Berger ... Mail Boy (as Robert Bryan Berger)
- Roberta Collins ... Det. Cortazzo
- Clint Young ... Driver
- Mickey Gilbert ... The Ripper
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
- Paul Baxley ... Cop in Alley (uncredited)
- Denise Dillaway ... Debbie Fielder (uncredited)
- Dulcie Jordan ... Driver's Wife (uncredited)
- Cathey Paine ... Ellen (uncredited)
- About 19 minutes in, when Kolchak is arguing with his editor 'Tony Vincenzo (Character)', played by Simon Oakland, there is a picture of Maj. Gregory "Pappy" Boyington behind Simon Oakland's character. Simon went on to play Brig. Gen. Thomas Moore in the TV series _Black Sheep Squadron (TV Series 1976-1978)_ a few years later.
- When Kolchak escapes the Ripper's home, there is a brief glimpse of the killer's face: brown hair with a drooping mustache and a beardless face. This corresponds exactly to the known descriptions of Jack the Ripper, according to witness statements from 1888.
- Though actress Ruth McDevitt is credited only as "Elderly Woman", her character is actually given a name in dialogue - Miss Eggenweiller (no spelling shown) Ruth McDevitt would later join the regular cast as "Miss Emily Cowles", the columnist to whom "Miss Eggenweiller" had written in this episode.
Carl Kolchak: [reading a letter to Miss Emily] Dear Miss Emily, the three dumbest things in the world are you, your column, and your paper. I am overwhelmed by the accumulated dumbness. PS Do you know of a cure for acne? A friend of mine has it.
- The Ripper at Internet Movie Database