Friday, December 08, 2006
Post Old-Time Radio
It's time we dug into the vast recorded archives here at the Library yet again. While dramatic radio ended its initial dominance of the entertainment field for good with the final 1962 broadcasts of SUSPENSE and YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR on CBS in the US, this was by no means the end of dramatic radio. In fact, just a couple years later, the great Fred Foy was announcing THEATER FIVE, a generally inventive New York based anthology series (My wife and I had the privilege of having dinner with longtime LONE RANGER announcer Foy a few years back. We discussed the greats he met due to his work on THE DICK CAVETT SHOW). In the seventies, there was a surprisingly dull DOC SAVAGE radio series and even a short, noisy FANTASTIC FOUR serial notable for its pre-SNL appearance of the great Bill Murray as the Human Torch! In other parts of the world, the concept of dramatic radio never went away at all, leading to a number of well done Canadian sci-fi adaptations including FAHRENHEIT 451 and COLOSSUS: THE FORBIN PROJECT. In the UK, there were actually serious 1990's adaptations of popular DC comics story arcs such as the Death of Superman and the Batman/Bane/ Azrael Saga. meanwhile, one of the quintessential British programs (or should I say "programmes?"), THE AVENGERS, turned up in the unlikely market of South Africa in the early seventies. Running as a daily serial starring Donald Monat as John Steed and the late Diane Appleby as Mrs. Peel, most stories were adaptations of the classic Brian Clemens TV series. The distinctive voices of Patrick Macnee and especially Diana Rigg were missed but their replacements coped admirably, aided and abetted by the familiar theme music and a narrator who often told more of the story than he perhaps should. Even more recently, the various BBC websites have offered new DR. WHO serials as well as rebroadcasts of various sixties and seventies radio dramas. I've forgotten the name but I recently heard one with Vincent Price (a fixture of forties/fifties radio in the US) and Peter Cushing! Keep your eyes--and ears--open for some of these niftypost old-time radio gems, especially on the Web where they turn up free on various pop sites from time to time.