Friday, September 30, 2011
You might recall Duffy's Tavern did a show about world hunger (46-05-03 Archie Tells Everyone About World Hunger) which wasn't at all funny. As a matter of fact, it was quite frightening in a lot of ways.
The Adventures of Superman also did a serial about world hunger.
For fans of the shows, here's a little something for you, circa 1948.
Done 'panel style' and hosted by Jack Berry (you may remember him as being the host of 1970's TV's 'Joker's Wild' game show), the show was taped and then edited because the octagnerians would really speak their minds (I would love to hear the unedited stuff!)
I can't seem to find any of the show to listen to, which is a shame. It's a show I would really like to hear.
I found him on Phil Harris-Alice Faye show:
And I found on him on Fibber McGee and Molly, but as a policeman and not as his usual role...
Thursday, September 29, 2011
That shows you how times have changed. The world of technology and computers continues to change us all, giving us more and more information in less space and greater speeds...
When I was a kid, I remember my mom and dad talking about a 'Major Bowes.' To me, Major Bowes was someone who must have been in the military. I never asked about Major Bowes, I only accepted the fact that there was such a man....
Speaking of majors, both Danny Kaye (Seattle Mariners) and Bob Hope (Cleveland Indians) owned interests in Major League baseball teams...
One of my favorite films was "The Major and the Minor"; a fine film starring Ray Milland and Ginger Rogers...
The other day, I jotted down a list of kids in radio who eventually went on to TV and films: Walter Tetley, Dick Van Patten, Jackie Kelk, Dick York, Mason Adams, Bobby Breen - those are just a few.
The above is something I would go to bed with every night, in the early days of my memory - before I found the joys of OTR. I remember how much I enjoyed the shows I was on. Of course, later, when I found OTR, my own fantasy world I went sleep to went away. Not that I was ever sad about that. My show wasn't that entertaining, although I do remember "films" of myself running down the street and playing baseball and football (I'm sure whatever "audience members" who saw the show were bored to death, haha.)
As I have recounted on here before, I found the joys of Nightbeat, Lum and Abner, Broadway is My Beat, Our Miss Brooks and a few other shows in 1973.
[Interesting story about the radio I had when I was 9/10 years old. It melted. It melted when I went to the beach one day. I left it out in the sun and when I came back - maybe an hour later - it melted. It was the darndest thing. No one ever believes me, just like no one ever believes me when I tell then I grew corn from a wayward popcorn kernal in a sink in 1983, but that's another story...]
Old time radio changed the way I fell asleep. While I went to bed at 9 or 10 or 11 at night, I'd lie there listening to this "new thing" I had found. Instead of killing my imaginative dreams of my own show, I just imagined what was going on in the radio shows.
And though I've told this before, oh, how lucky I was to hear Nightbeat. Every night I waited for the announcer to say, "At _ o'clock, we'll play Nightbeat." Only every once in a while did that happen. It was one of life's sweet early joys.
To this day, I have no idea why I enjoyed that show so much. It certainly does not affect me now as it did then...
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
I know (from looking at the statistics) that very few of you visit the blog. But even if you aren't a fan of the series I think if you followed the blog, you'd get something out of it.
I spend up to 5 hours a day working on that blog. Most of that time is spent attempting to fix the sound the best way I can. It's not a simple case of running some program that automatically fixes it, because 90% of the time, it will not fix things. So I have to go in there and piece by piece, jot and tittle, fix what I can fix. Since I appreciate the show so much, I do what I do out of love for the show. I care about the quality.
The Mixed-up World of Uncle Fletcher.
Immersing myself into the show means listening to each shows 4 times before I write about it. Some shows may have 4 or 5 pages of notes, as I will listen in the evening curled up on a couch with pen and paper. I have just finished writing about the 100th show and I find it a bit of an accomplishment to be as involved in the show as I am. While Vic and Sade is not a soap opera or anything like a soap opera (as many think) it is kind of built like a soap opera in that there are many, many characters. I have documented each of the show's characters and even provided a photo "of them" - only, they are never heard, so they aren't actually real people. Thus, there is a database of fictional people, with photos and links to the stuff they have done.
I dare say I know as much about the first 100 surviving shows as anyone. And you too can find what I have learned just by exploring The Crazy World of Vic and Sade.
Folks, Vic and Sade is the finest program I know to exist. Yes, Gunsmoke is great and The Six Shooter might be even better. We all know the simplicity of Fibber McGee and Molly works on so many different levels as does the more complicated Halls of Ivy. There are so many great things to say about the 21st Precinct and Dragnet and Suspense that it would be hard to know where to begin. But I tell you this from my heart, from someone who listens and re-listens and documents Vic and Sade daily: it is the best show that ever has existed.
I dare any of you to go to The Crazy World of Vic and Sade, grab the hand-fixed files (they are on the top left corner of the web site) and listen to those 9 minute episodes and not come away thinking the same way I do.
Writer Paul Rhymer was a genius in more ways that one. For instance, the show has incredible continuity. Through 100 shows, I think I have found TWO continuity errors. It's like the show is about real people.
And of course the show is hilarious. From Vic and his lodge rituals that can involve Sade (who hates the lodge) to young Rush and his fantastic stories or the tales in his 3rd Lieutenant Stanley books to half-nuts Uncle Fletcher, who is eccentric to begin with - there is a crazy world waiting for you.
I challenge you: listen to Vic and Sade. It will be one of the best decisions you will ever make.
5. Waldo Binney on the Life of Riley (Dink Trout) - I guess the main reason I don't like him is that he's annoying to me rather than being funny. The show survived fine without him so we know he wasn't crucial.
Another thing, he seemed to steal his character from the Irene Ryan character on the Jack Carson Show. The characters could be twins (male and female.) Besides, who wants to listen to someone complain all the time?
4. The Happy Mailman on Burns and Allen (Mel Blanc) - Mel Blanc was a man of 1000 voices and one of those voices was as the Mailman on the George Burns, Gracie Allen Show. While Mel Blanc was a superb imitator and original voice artist, he (generally) wasn't much of a comedian.
Of course, he seemed to flourish in that role on the Jack Benny show but I digress. As the mailman, he was one of many annoying, unneeded characters who would show up on the show in the early 1940's.
3. Margaret Davis, the landlady on Our Miss Brooks (Jane Morgan) - Jane Morgan always played the same kind of character, an elderly advice-giver; usually a maid or a landlady. It really matters not to me on what show or what what role she was in, I thought she was annoying. She is one of several reasons why Our Miss Brooks is low on my listening totem pole.
Her voice is grinding, but not near as bad as Portland Hoffa, who would easily make this list, except she was on a variety show (the various Fred Allen shows) and not a situation comedy.
2. Gloria the housekeeper on the Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (Bea Benaderet) - By far Bea Benaderet's worst role. She seems to portrays Gloria as having some sort of speech problem, perhaps a cleft lip. Sorry, but that's what it sounds like to me. Ultra annoying, unfunny, unneeded character.
1. Herman the Duck on Burns and Allen (Clarence Nash) - Clarence Nash was actually the voice of Donald Duck (and Daisy) at Disney for years. I suppose someone on the Burns and Allen show didn't think the Happy Postman was torture enough to listen to so they decided to bring in something more ridiculous and worse-sounding.
The fact is this: the show was one you could really immerse yourself in, even with the Happy Mailman but the stupid talking duck on the show simply ruins it for me. The duck and the Mailman were on during the same years. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Since the lodge is full of very stupid rituals and yet it's treated with such reverence, there is this comedy yin-yang that makes it almost impossible not to laugh along with Sade, who sees the lodge as a money pit and waste of time.
I've been thinking, "the lodge" shows up quite a bit on other old-time radio (as well as early television):
Amos 'n' Andy - We know that George Stevens is the "King Fish" because he is the head of the "Knights of the Mystic Sea" lodge. I really don't remember hearing about anything much that goes on there, but we know the lodge is a large part of the show.
Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet - Close listening will show that Ozzie is a member of an unspecified lodge. It's rarely mentioned.
Fibber McGee and Molly - Fibber is an Elk and the lodge comes into play in 3 or 4 episodes. He seems to take the lodge seriously but it doesn't seem to control Fibber's life.
Lum and Abner - Almost every male on the show (excluding Cedric) seems to be a member of the lodge. The lodge name is never mentioned (or at least, I've never heard it in the many episodes I have listened to.) For the most part, the lodge seems to be a place to borrow chairs from, more than anything else. Squire Skimp is a big muckity-muck in the lodge.
Mel Blanc Show - Mel belonged to the lodge and greeted other members of the lodge with secret, silly stuff concerning, "ugga bugga boo" or something similar. I haven't heard the show in a while but I seem to recall his prospective father-in-law was a lodge muckity-muck and Mel was always trying to impress him and work his way up in the lodge. (By the way, I hate the show.)
As I mentioned earlier, early sitcom TV had it's share of lodge members. On the Honeymooners, Ralph and Norton were devoted to the lodge. Fred and Barney on the Flintstones (which was a knockoff of The Honeymooners) were also lodge devotees. And I know there were others.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
In this series, Jace Pearson (played by Joel McCrea) seems to have all the answers. No crime is unsolvable. Of course you know he's going to solve every crime - this is 1950's radio.
Is it fun? Yeah it is. Even though a lot of the stories seem similar, there's a Western flair in the stories that you don't get from the other real-crime shows on OTR. This at least makes the show different than Dragnet, yet the similarities remain. We get to "see" some of the behind-the-scenes crime fighting, such as lab work. The cases are based on real cases that happened in Texas, most seem to be from the 1920's or 1930's.
The one drawback - and it's a major one - is how bad the sound can be throughout the whole series. Very few of the files I have heard are easy to listen to. Whoever transferred them over from tape did a horrible job at it. The bass is booming and well, it just sounds bad most of the time.
It's really too bad because I like the series a lot. I've actually tried to fix the files but it's no use... I'll give the show 4.5 stars but since the files are all horrible sounding, it gets marked down to a 2.5. It can be a trying experience listening to the show.
There is a dark, stark difference in the first couple of years of the series and the other years. The beginning of the series is very serious. The two obvious things that are different is the music and the commercials. That blasted organ and the sugar-hyped commercial spokesman in the later years are at times completely non-existent and what we are left with is a somber and serious play about Clark Kent.
Although, after having said that, Superman seems to be more cartoonish than the later years and not near as strong. Sometimes it seems as though he cannot see through walls (maybe that came along later in the comics?) He had a tough time breaking a padlock in an early episode I heard yesterday. Come on Superman, it's a padlock!
Lois Lane is not the more aggressive figure of the later years, in fact she seems frail at times. I heard an episode yesterday where she told Clark, "I'm afraid." That's not the Lois of later years for sure. (And that's not Joan Alexander playing Lois either in the early days - not sure who it is.)
Julian Noa, who plays Perry White, is very serious. The hyper reactions to Jimmy Olson are not there. He is serious and somber -the world is about to end -Perry White.
And to me, this makes the first couple of years of the series as good as anything on radio. Not that the other years are terrible - they aren't, but there is a major difference in the tone of the series.
Monday, September 26, 2011
I really get lucky today because Gregg Taylor, the mastermind and do-it-all (or almost all) of Decoder Ring Theatre agreed to answer a few questions.
For those who have been on another planet, Gregg (who I guess will one day be a bazillionaire) writes and records the Red Panda and Black Jack Justice and has his hands in other things as well. While these series are modern, they are written and performed better than many old-time radio shows, in my estimation. They are honestly a joy to listen to.
I hope you will take the time to visit Decoder Ring's excellent web site and you can download all you want. You definitely need to check it all out - as it's all good stuff, that's a promise.
Gregg Taylor: Well, yes, it was exactly that. I've always loved old-time radio, having grown up with a station nearby that played the old shows. I worked on a few projects geared toward old-time radio, but it was really the mp3 revolution that made the Decoder Ring Theatre shows possible... now at last you weren't hearing odd episodes here and there, but able to really jump in with both feet and listen through hundreds of surviving episodes in series after series, and really get a feel for how this was done back when radio drama was the dominant popular art form. Of course, like a lot of OTR fans, I also have a love for the classic adventure pulps and golden age comics, so both of those had a hand in the Red Panda's development as well.
OTR BUFFET: I've heard about 35 of the Red Panda shows. I thought they were excellent - so much so that I long ago voiced my approval for you guys on my blog. The Red Panda and Flying Squirrel are superheroes - but they seem to be a cross of several superheroes. For instance, it seems the Red Panda is a cross between of The Shadow, Batman, Kato and maybe a few others. Is that about right? How would you describe the Red Panda and Flying Squirrel?
Gregg Taylor: You know, back before it becamse considered "realistic" for people with fantastic powers to walk around moaning "why oh why was I cursed with these terrible superpowers", it wasn't at all out of the popular imagination that a wealthy man might devote his life to protecting the innocent and punishing the guilty. Heck, if I had a fat stack of cash, I might do it myself. So yes, heroes in the "wealthy young man about town" mold are definately the model for the Red Panda. He has elements of the Green Hornet, of classic Batman, of both the radio and pulp Shadows, who were very different. But there's also a good deal of Will Eisner's Spirit in him... less grim around the edges than he might have been. As for Kit Baxter, his trusty driver who joins him in his fight as the Flying Squirrel.... she has elements of Kato and Robin to her makeup, as well as being the genuinely strong partner that I always wished the Lane girls (Margo and Lois) could have been. I'm wildly biased, of course, but she may be my favorite female superhero. In many ways we have really been telling her story all this time. There is also a fair amount of Dr. Who in the show, mostly revealed in dialouge, and obviously heavier in some episodes than in others.
OTR BUFFET: It's really astounding that you write as much as you do and well as you do. Plus you are an actor and I know you do a promotion for Decoder Ring and...well, are you sure you aren't Orson Welles? Do you write all of the shows by yourself?
Gregg Taylor: Ha! In truth I do much more of the writing than Orson really did, but also without his spectacular success. But I appreciate the comparison, even if it is only properly contained within a thought constructed like this: "Gregg Taylor, unlike the much more fabulous Orson Welles..." But Orson also didn't usually work a full-time job either, so I suppose he had more time to be fabulous.
I write the Red Panda stories and the Black Jack Justice mysteries. We do six or seven episodes a year under the "Showcase" banner, and those aren't mine (well, okay, I wrote one). Of 155 episodes released by Decoder Ring Theatre at time of writing, I wrote 117 of them. To date I've also released 3 pulp adventure novels set in the Red Panda continuity (the Tales of the Red Panda books) and the first Black Jack Justice novel is waiting for a cover, and will soon be out. Clearly I need to get out more.
OTR BUFFET: Can we assume that Clarissa Taylor (the Red Panda's sidekick, Flying Squirrel) is in reality, your wife?
Gregg Taylor: Yep, sorry fellas. I had just started dating Clarissa when I was writing the Season One scripts, and I wrote Kit for her. I worked fairly quickly on both fronts and we were married about three months before we started releasing the shows.
OTR BUFFET: When I listen to the show, I hear a lot of humor - all different kinds! There are puns, slapstick etc. Where do you get your inspirations for the humor and how long does it take you to write a script?
Gregg Taylor: Depends on the script, but obviously when you're averaging about 18 scripts per year, plus other projects, plus directing, mixing and editing the shows, plus working for a living and having two kids, you've got to get used to a certain pace. Black Jack takes longer to write, mostly because your pallate is less unlimited with a detective show. They don't work "for justice" they work for money, and there's a fairly limited range of tasks a private detective can be hired to perform. And you can't talk your way out of a situation with some mock-scientifc gobbledygook. Anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks I guess. Some scripts just come out funny. Black Jack will usually have 1 episode a season that is essentially a 1 act farce. Those are fun to write.
OTR BUFFET: I also hear sexual innuendo in there - but it's all done very carefully and cleverly. I want to tell you that I appreciate that - because I know kids are listening. You say what you want to say but you do it very nicely!
Gregg Taylor: Again, it's the OTR influence. Yes, we get away with more than they ever did, but I try and conform loosely to the broadcast standards of the era.
OTR BUFFET: Who is it listening to your shows? Is it children? Fans of old-time radio? The current generation?
Gregg Taylor: All of the above. I'm always very proud of the number of kids listening, and the number who find their way to classic OTR because of time spent with the Red Panda. I also appreciate that when I look at contact lists of our supporters, they are usually at least 50% female. Superhero and detective stories usually inspire something more like a sausage party, fan-wise, so I think we must be doing something right.
OTR BUFFET: From the time you start recording an episode, how long does it take to finish (on average?)
Gregg Taylor: We'll record the guts of a number of episodes in a single day, and I plug away at them until they are done. We're not that effects-heavy, and that's by design. The effects are there to support the story, not the other way around. That's what I like as a listener, so that's what I create. Usually by the time I finish writing a set of scripts, I am desperate to start mixing again, and by the time I finish I'm sick of it and ready to write. There's such balance in nature, man.
OTR BUFFET: When I listen to the Red Panda series, I get such a vivid picture of what is going on. I know you have the pulp version - what about animation? Any chance we will see that from you in the future?
Gregg Taylor: Yes. There is a chance. I would love to see that happen, but it's a huge undertaking. It would make an awesome cartoon, no question.
OTR BUFFET: Can you tell us about the other series at Decoder Ring?
Gregg Taylor: Well, the only other "unlimited" series is Black Jack Justice, a noir detective series inspired by Sam Spade, Richard Diamond, Philip Marlowe and the like. Except that the narrative voice is split between Jack Justice and his partner, Trixie Dixon, girl detective. So you have, in essence, his & hers detectives who don't like each other very much often contradicting each other in their own visons of how the case unfolds. It's fun. There have been a number of nice short-run series contained iunder the Showcase banner, comedy, western, science fiction and some Suspense-style anthology shows. We like to mix it up.
OTR BUFFET: Thank you again, Gregg!
Gregg Taylor: Awesome, thank you.
[Thanks to Radio's Revenge's Peter Church for helping me supply questions!]
America really seemed to change about the time I was born - which was when John F. Kennedy was assassinated. I believe people began to understand or at least some believed that the US Government was lying to them.
We know now that the US Government has lied thousands - maybe millions of times. I dare say that few of us reading this actually trust the government of the United States anymore.
But back in the Golden Age of Radio, people not only trusted the US Government, they wantonly laid down their lives for it.
But today? For goodness sake, even Superman has given up his US citizenship.
No, I'm not trying to get into a political discussion here but when I listen to OTR I think about how uninformed the people were.
And that's as far as I am going with this one. :D
Look around, thre are few new blogs or websites around that deal directly with OTR. I believe my blog is the only one that does so daily. There are other important websites out there that deal with a specific show but what about all the other shows?
Sunday, September 25, 2011
Saturday, September 24, 2011
You can follow all the updates via Twitter, RSS or the red Twitter window on this blog.
So now you know.
[Not to be used with the GAOR no-no word, stink.]
Friday, September 23, 2011
However, I do plan on starting up again, maybe as early as omorrow, so keep those breeches on.
I'll also update Peabody's Peabrain when I listen to Lum and Abner as well.
It seems like everybody did it.
It would probably be easier to make a list of performers during that time who didn't ever do a blackface act than one who did.
I have no idea who these people below are. But whoever they are, they look like monkeys.
When I first started the blog, I had no idea that in 10 months, there would be well over 2000 posts on this blog and the others I do - all related to this one.
I would have never guessed there would be a dictionary (The Lum and Abner variety) which is about half finished. (For those who don't know, there is a lot that goes into writing a dictionary!)
Who knew there would be 100's of sound clips? When this blog started, I had never heard of Vic and Sade and now I spend 2-5 hours a day on a blog devoted to the show.
When this blog started I didn't know how to clean up audio files. Today, I'm better at it than I was yesterday.
There are now close to 3000 articles posted on all of my blogs put together. That's in almost 10 and a half months time - or about 300 days. That's an average of 10 articles a day.
Some days there isn't much going on at the Buffet. I try to stuff the Buffet with news and other things but there are days when I simply cannot find any news or I am exhausted from running the other blogs or exhausted from looking for news. I don't think any of you realize how many hours a day I spend researching/blogging. I get up around 3:30 each morning to be able to do this.
Thank goodness for the people who agree to be interviewed and return them to me. For every interview you have read on the Buffet, there are 2 more that never came back. But the interviews have been awesome. I have learned a lot and met some wonderful, wonderful people.
There's some time involved in coming up with questions for people. Thankfully, I have a lot of friends who now help me with coming up with questions for my interviews - all I have to do is ask and they seem to come through.
My friend Boston Blackie is always there for me. I can bounce ideas off of him or ask him to write something; the man is always there to help. He's been there since day one. He encourages me, he sends me links, he writes comments to the blog - without him, I think I might have given up long ago. He's not only been a big help, he's been a friend. His wife even gives her opinions - and I want to thank her as well. You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.
To all of you others out there who do the same things - send me links and material, those who comment, those who send me email, those who contribute in any little way, I appreciate you and the things you do.
I am very thankful to my anonymous friend at the Cobalt Club who helps me by letting me use his finds and helping me almost weekly identify things I am unable to identify. Your kindness and class is overwhelming and I want to thank you. You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.
A very special thank you to Jim Beshires of OTRR who has allowed and given me all kinds of freedoms and kindnesses and has been a friend since the day I met him. You know I am here for you to help you when you need me.
To all of you others that I know I have forgotten, there are so many of you - thank you all.
And to you that take the time to read this over the various other blogs, thank you as well. Thanks to all the Tweeters out there who retweet my stuff!
Why am I doing this? Am I going to die soon? I hope not!
But one never knows about tomorrow. I just wanted you people to know I do appreciate you.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
I recall vividly listening to the show late at night at 10, 11, 12 years old - and being frightened as I hid beneath the covers!
There is a very well-done website out there that explores the show and I am honored to have with me, Paul, the fellow that runs the site. After months of trying to track him down, I finally got a hold of him and here are the questions asked and answered:
OTR BUFFET: Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me. I've actually been trying to get a hold of you for about six months but I simply could not find a way to reach you.
OTR BUFFET: Between the 2 narrators/hosts, can you point out the strength of each and which one you liked more? Do you have the total of episode hosted by each?
OTR BUFFET: What is your favorite genre of the anthology?
OTR BUFFET: When I think of the series there are 3 or 4 actors and a few actresses that come up quickly in my mind. Which actors and actors do you associate most closely with the series?
OTR BUFFET: Can you name a few really good episodes and why they stand out?
OTR BUFFET: I'll be honest with you. When I listen to CBSRMT then thing that makes the biggest impression on me are the horrible 1970's commercials. How do you feel about the commercials? Do you know of anyone editing those out and just leaving the play?
OTR BUFFET: Other than Mercedes MacCambridge and Mason Adams, which other Old-time radio stars showed up now and again on the series?
OTR BUFFET: What do you think the main difference is between CBSRMT and the shows from the Golden Age of Radio?
OTR BUFFET: Any idea who wrote the theme music to the show?
OTR BUFFET: Were most of the stories for the show written for the show or were they reworks of other scripts?
OTR BUFFET: With all of the old Time Classic radio we have available to us, why was The Mystery Theater so well received?
OTR BUFFET: How well did it hold up with regard to writing and acting values in comparison to older shows? If favorably, why did it do so well?
OTR BUFFET: Why do you think CBSRMT succeeded when Theatre Five (1973) - which was 30 minutes shorter and seemed to not dwell so much on sci-fi or the supernatural, failed?
OTR BUFFET: Could a new show such as The CBS Mystery Theater even make it on the air today?
OTR BUFFET: Thanks Paul for the time and the answers!
[Many thanks to friends Jon at OTRCat, Larry Gassman (Same Time, Same Station) and "Boston Blackie" for helping provide questions.]
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
He's from Canada, a place that seems to be swelling these days with people putting on their own radio productions. I thought that it is about time I spoke to some of these people up north and found out what's in the water up there (or should it be, "ice up there?") Regardless, Canada seems to be on the cutting edge of original dramatic programming, be it for fun or profit.
Peter has been kind enough to take time out of his schedule to clue us in on what's going on with his radio dramas and we get to read it first hand, from this actor's point of view.
OTR BUFFET: Thank you Peter for joining me and doing this interview. First of all, tell me about how you first got into OTR and some background on some of the shows that intrigued you.
OTR BUFFET: I have enjoyed your website and the podcasts and the original work done there. You have your own studio, that's awesome!
OTR BUFFET: Where do you get your stories?
OTR BUFFET: Are your plays always detective-based?
OTR BUFFET: Which OTR detective has influenced you the most?
OTR BUFFET: What's your ultimate goal in doing these broadcasts?
OTR BUFFET: From my view, it seems like there is a lot of podcasting and original radio theater out of Canada. What's the deal up there?
Peter Church: Hey - that’s great to hear! Perhaps it’s our colonial roots... the BBC is, of course, still a leading force in contemporary audio drama, and our own CBC in Canada was a huge contributer to the Radio Play Revival of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and, even now, produces a strong series called ‘Afghanada’ that follows a fictional Canadian military unit in Afghanistan. Or perhaps it’s simply the fact that Canadians have to stay indoors during the winter, so there’s not much else to DO in Canada from November to May! Regardless, I give thanks to the radio broadcasters that faithfully play OTR in order to snare new listeners, just like CHQR 770 in Calgary did for me (http://www.qr77.com/landing/hostsandshows.aspx). And I think you’re right – Canada does have a very rich supply of original radio theatre. For example, outstanding new fiction is podcast 3 times a week by our friends at Flashpulp (http://www.flashpulp.com)! That’s a tremendous commitment for people that rely only on listener support. Likewise, Decoder Ring Theatre (www.decoderringtheatre.com) and The Boneyard Man have built up an extremely loyal fan-base over years of broadcasts and live performances.
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Often you hear, "In that hugely-populated northeastern U.S. city" or "On the outskirts of that Western metropolis" - just tell us the name of the city already!
On Vic and Sade, there's a whole army of neighbors the Gooks had - yet until the show reached dire straits during the war, we never heard of them. Yet most of us know them by name.
Fibber McGee talked of Fred Nitney all the time; Fred was his old Vaudeville friend yet we never hear from him. Same goes for other characters on the show, such as Sweety Face, who was talked about on most every show, yet we never ever hear from her.
On the Great Gildersleeve, how many times did we actually hear from Leroy's pal, Piggy Banks? Maybe once - if that.
On the Jack Benny Show, how little did we hear from Remley, Phil Harris' guitar player? Barely if ever but there was a time when we heard about him almost every week of the show. Mary had a mother who wrote letters that Mary read but when did we actually hear her? Mary's sister Babe was 100% real but she was rarely ever on the show.
Fred Allen used to heckle a man named Hodge White that never said a word.
Bing Crosby and Bob Hope focused a lot of jokes on Crosby's kiddos and his horses, yet when did they ever appear on radio? (Rarely.)
Milton Berle liked to talk about his wife or old girlfriend named Cynthia, but when did we ever hear from her?
Monday, September 19, 2011
One of those shows is My Friend Irma. Now I know some of you like the show - and hey, I'll be the first to admit that even I LOVE THE THREE STOOGES.
However, My Friend Irma is not the Three Stooges.
What we have here is Irma, who did such a good job of playing a completely ditzy blonde that she was typecast forever afterwards. I actually feel sorry for her because everything I have ever read about her is positive and she was not a ditzy blonde in real life. As a matter of fact, she was a "blonde bombshell."
|Marie Wilson (Irma)|
And to me, it's not funny. Irma has her funny moments (I suppose) but I think what makes it not so funny are the even more not-so-funny supporting characters.
One of those actors is John Brown, someone I love in everything he does - but here, he's tepid and while not awful, just not funny. He plays Irma's "boyfriend" but he treats her awful and never works. He's a bum but he's a bum that's almost as dumb as Irma. He knows the street, maybe, but he's dumb. And not funny.
The same goes with the other actors involved. Jane Stacy, the level-headed roommate of Irma (played by Cathy Lewis) is too straight with no sense of humor and little personality. As a matter of fact, she's a little snooty. And oh, she's definitely not funny.
Mrs. O'Reilly the nosy landlady and Professor what's-his-name; they pop in now and then to see what kind of mess Irma has gotten herself into - they sound they like they are straight out of a 7th grade Junior High School comedy. And oh, they aren't funny either.
I've endured at least 20 episodes of this nonsense and that's at least 19 more episodes than I needed to endure.
A one half star rating - if that, I'll give it. It's not even a time-killer. It's just something I have tried to endure so I could write about it.
Sure, that's 60% not covered but of that 60%, most of it is stuff we probably wouldn't to hear anyway and probably 75% of it is music.
At any rate, there have been some fine performances along the way. It is often pointed out on this website how great Orson Welles was and I like to think of Lurene Tuttle as being a female version of Welles. And you know I like Agnes Moorehead but I probably like many others just as much.
I mentioned those 3 actors specifically because they are about fourth of the dozen or so actors and actresses I can recall playing star dual roles in OTR.
Well I heard another one not too long ago. Sometime, check out Frontier Gentleman and episode "Belljoy's Prisoner" (580608) when versatile John Dehner plays J.B. Kindle, the Frontier Gentleman and a crazy fat guy from the backwoods. It's pretty good stuff. Two completely different roles and done so well, it's hard to imagine they are the same man.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Here's one I found today of Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa, announcing the return of their show off summer vacation in 1948: