Saturday, February 28, 2009

And rounding out the month of Old Time Radio…

The Life of Riley

genre: family comedy w/funny neighbors
This one was hard to choose. I wanted to feature a family comedy, but couldn’t pick which one to focus on (the other suggestions listed below are all the runners up). I picked Riley because it really is one of the first rungs of making the archetype family comedy. The show follows the day to day of the Riley family. Chester A. Riley is the father/husband character who is a working stiff but wants to get ahead. He is a precursor to such TV husbands as Ralph Cramden and Homer Simpson. Loving and patient wife Peg makes sure the family doesn’t fall apart with Chester’s antics, and children Babs and Junior complete the all-American family of the 1940’s. What I see as the highlight of the show is the helpful advice of the strange neighbor character (much like Wilson from Home Improvement). Digger O’Dell is the Riley’s neighbor and he is "your friendly undertaker". The writers did some lovely puns and jokes about the funeral business and Jim Gillis did a wonderful job making the character funny and slightly creepy at the same time.

I hope everyone had fun with these and tried a few episodes from each posting. And I'll be getting back to posting about Mouse Guard and artwork etc. soon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Next on the Old Time Radio favorites…

The Whistler
genre: suspense/twist-ending/horror

Though this is one of the ‘lighter’ shows in this genre, it’s one of the best. The show always starts with an ominous 12 note whistled melody and the narration:

I am the Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many
strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the
shadows. Yes ... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.

The show would then go on with the Whistler narration the actions and inner thoughts of a character involved in some type of criminal activity. While we are mostly treated to the characters acting out their own lines, the Whistler will say things like “That’s right bill, and you thought you were so careful, but you didn’t think about your shoeprints. Many men must wear that shoe right Bill? You can’t be the only one…” expressing the doubts of the criminal to us the audience. The show almost always ends in a twist either because the criminal overlooked some detail or an ironic twist of fate changes the outcome.

Follow this link to 79 free episodes of The Whistler

If you liked The Whistler, I also suggest Lights Out, Suspense, The Inner Sanctum, or The Unexpected

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Continuing on with my favorite Old Time Radio shows, we come to...

Richard Diamond
genre: detective/hardboiled

The setup was simple and predictable, but in the best way, because it worked. The title character, Richard Diamond is a private detective in New York City. His redhead girlfriend Helen Asher calls him on the phone where they exchange some witty banter about Richard coming over to her Park Ave. Apartment that night. A client showing up cuts the call short. Diamond goes through his ‘$100 a day plus expenses fee’ charge (which always shocks the client) and the case gets going. Somewhere along the way the 5th precinct’s Lt. Walt Levinson and Sgt. Otis Ludlum (think commissioner Gordon and a loveable but dimwitted detective Bullock from Batman) get involved
In the end the case is solved and Richard goes to Helen’s and sings a song.
This show was great at combining crime, humor, action, romance, and singing.

Follow this link to 52 free episodes of Richard Diamond Private Detective

If you liked Richard Diamond, I would also suggest Boston Blackie, Broadway is my Beat, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, or Nero Wolfe

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Old Time Radio:
I am a big fan of Old Time Radio, and I think you should be to. My Dad was a little boy in the heyday of Radio, so he would share with us kids some old recordings of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy or Abbot & Costello. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I sort of ‘rediscovered’ old radio shows. On a late drive home, I stumbled on an AM station that was playing an episode of Richard Diamond Private Detective. I was hooked. I found that Old Time Radio is the perfect thing to listen to when I’m working. Both XM and Sirius radio have a station dedicated to it and there are several sites to find episodes online for free. So every Saturday in Feb. I’ll be sharing one of my favorite shows.

The Shadow
genre: crime solving (super)hero
“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men…The Shadow knows!” On September 26th 1937 Orson Wells became Lamont Cranston aka the Shadow for radio listeners of the time. The Shadow was already a popular character in the pulp magazine of his own name, but his radio persona became a new line of continuity for him. The radio show changed the character to have the power to “cloud men’s minds” both hypnotising them and making himself invisible to their eyes. This was, evidently, done to help speed along the show not spening narration time describing how the shadow was hiding or crouched or staying out of sight in general. The radio show also introduced the character Margo Lane as the Shadow’s love interest and crime solving companion.

Folow this link to 10 free episodes of The Shadow

If you liked the Shadow, I also fully recommend:
Superman, Challenge of the Yukon, or The Saint

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