The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio The great ones are back in action.

31Oct/090

Carter Brown: It’s Australian for Vintage Radio

I recently came on a quite interesting discovery in my continuing journey to find the best old-time radio detectives: Australian Detective Series Carter Brown.

Carter Brown isn't the name of a detective, rather its a pseudonym for an author, or actually several authors of detective fiction in Australia. The primary user of that pseudonym was Alan Geoffrey Yates. In the 1950s, according to the University of Queensland News, imported American cultural items were banned from Australia allowing them to produce many American-style dramas.

The Carter Brown Mystery serials were the Old Time Radio Detective equivalent of the Spaghetti Westerns. The two serials I listened to were set in the United States, featuring Australian actors playing Americans. Overall, in the two serials I've listened to so far the actors and writers were quite proficient giving few clues that this wasn't really released from a big American city.  The main thing that stood out was when one of actors referred to getting "Petro," a term an American wouldn't use. However, that's somewhat nitpicky. I could imagine what an Englishman would say about some of our efforts to recreate Great Britain.

The theme music to the show is incredibly catchy with a great celtic beat. The dialogue is crisp and up to date. I had to do a couple searches to make sure this wasn't one of those mis-labeled "old time radio shows" that was really performed in the 1980s. But it was written in the '50s, which made it quite impressive. Unlike, most American detective shows that were half hour dramas, Carter Brown mysteries were four part serials, allowing for more complex plots to develop.

Regarding the suitability of the shows, I've never read the Carter Brown books, but the radio shows fall safely into PG-territory as most vintage radio detectives do.

While Carter Brown mysteries doesn't easily lend itself to be included as one of our "Detective" shows given that they changed detectives every serial, it was still a worthwhile discovery.

30Oct/090

EP0005: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Milford Brooks III Matter (The Dick Powell Cut)

Johnny Dollar is retained to protect a man who has threatened suicide after making a notorious gambling kingpin the beneficiary on his life insurance policy.
Original Performance Date: December 7, 1948 (never aired)

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Jim Widener shares the many voices of Johnny Dollar.

28Oct/090

EP0003: Let George Do It: The First Client

On his first day as a Private Detective, George Valentine gets his first client-a famous writer who tells him he's about to be murdered and collapses on the spot. The body then vanishes, leaving George to find out what happened.

Original Production Date: May 14, 1946

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27Oct/090

EP0002: Pat Novak for Hire: Go Away Dixie Gillian

Pat Novak is hired to frighten a man named Dixie Gillian, but when an empty gun goes off, he finds himself facing a murder charge.'
"You couldn't hold a moth with a searchlight."-Pat Novak to Hellman
Original Air Date: November 24, 1946

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26Oct/091

EP0001: Box 13: The First Letter

Dan Holiday answers a letter in Box 13 in response to an ad he placed seeking adventure. Holiday gets more than he bargained for.

Original Air Date: January 7, 1948

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25Oct/090

Who in the World is Listening

From Blubrry.com, a chart of where our listenership is coming from:

So of our first 500 unique downloads, 86.1%  from the U.S. and a total of 92.4% come from North America when Canada is added and 96.4% from English speaking countries when we add the downloads from Britain and Australia. A tip of the cap to our German friends for generating the most downloads from a non-English speaking country.

One thing is inaccurate about the pie graph. The 1% for Thailand actually includes downloads for 3 countries: Two unique downloads each for Thailand and Morocco and one unique download from Italy.

Other interesting facts: even though the majority of the audience (52.3%) is using Windows, a substantial portion of you (43.7%) are using a Mac. Which isn't a surprise given how popular Itunes is as a source of downloads with 80.6% of all downloads coming from Itunes and with another 5% going to I-phones, I'll have to say a hearty thank you to the Apple Corporation. It should be noted that 7.4% of downloads are going to a Zune player.

However you're listening and from whatever part of the world, thank you. And if you've not yet signed up to subscribed to this series featuring some of radio's greatest detectives, I invite you to do so.

24Oct/090

How Would You Like Your Detectives Boiled?

The phrase, "Hard Boiled Detective" is well-known to include private eyes like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe. These tough hombres don't shy away from a fight, have a downbeat outlook on life, and operate in a gritty, seamy side of  the world. They're known for the fast fists, and fast mouths.  Johnny Dollar (coming this Friday)  is from the hard boiled school, and so is Pat Novak (coming this Tuesday).  One might say Novak is overboiled, but I digress.

I've found out though that there are so-called soft boiled detectives, who are viewed as being more intellectual in solving their cases, not needing to get tough because of their keen reasoning skills. Sherlock Holmes (Thursday) fits into the latter category.

But what about Dan Holiday in Box 13 (coming Monday), or Let George Do It (coming Wednesday.) How do they figure? It depends on who you ask.

OTRCat swears Dan Holiday is a hardboiled detective, but that doesn't seem to fit Holiday's overall character. He can be sarcastic, but also goes multiple episodes without using his fists and doesn't pack heat.

No one's even willing to place a marker on where George Valentine falls on the spectrum as he usually uses his mind, but isn't afraid of using his fists.

Detectives we'll meet in future series have created even greater confusion.  OTRCat claims that both Barrie Craig and Richard Diamond are hard boiled all the way.

However, in a poll of Thrilling Detective readers, Richard Diamond finished as the second in a poll for most soft-boiled detective because he sang. Of course, those who have met with Diamonds fists sing a quite different tune.

Barrie Craig actually made fun of hard boiled detective novels. He is openly philisophical and even at times philanthropic, and generally the type of guy you'd like to have over for dinner.  Of course, if you cross him, he can take you down with style.

And the soft boiled category has its problems, too. A broad category that puts geniuses like Sherlock Holmes and Nero Wolfe in the same class as the somewhat clever Mr. and Mrs. North and that lovable single father detective The Big Guy.

Of course, most people will admit that some detectives won't fit easily into either category, but will still try to jam detectives into a category that may not fit. My thought is that there are many unboiled detectives on radio.

I think of Holiday, Valentine, and Craig as the type of person you might hire as the family detective (if people hired detectives like they do doctors and lawyers): Decent, honest, hard-working,  and generally peaceful folks who could live next door, but who can be counted on in a pinch and when force is called for, will act decisively. While I enjoy the outrageous hardboiled nature of Pat Novak and the mental methods of Holmes and Wolfe, the most real detectives to me are these unboiled detective because they have many counterparts in the real world. Look on your local police force and you'll find more people like Dan Holiday and Barrie Craig than you will people like Sherlock Holmes or Sam Spade.

21Oct/090

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21Oct/092

Old Time Radio Clippings

I did a search on Google and found some pretty fascinating Old Time Radio news articles on Google News reader.

Kit MacFarlane has a fascinating piece on the Pete Kelly's Blues Old Time Radio show. You rarely get this much detail on a show, so enjoy. We'll probably end up doing "Kelly" in a few years.

The Washington Examiner notes that 79 years ago Monday, Sherlock began its radio run.

Chuck Miller blogs about the CBS Radio Mystery Theater with some interesting thoughts on Copyright status, alleging the shows are not in the public domain. I don't know if he's totally correct. You can debate whether the shows made before January 1, 1978 are in the public domain, but those made after January 1, 1978 aren't. However, CBS has shown little interest in enforcing its copyright and if CBS doesn't care, no one else will either. Even if Mystery Theater were considered "in the public domain," it wouldn't matter much for this show as we don't really do Anthology shows here.

A couple stage productions of Old Time Radio were in the news. "Meet me in St. Louis" was premiered by "Fake Radio Los Angeles" to a generally favorable review in the Times. Los Angeles Theater Works visited Asheville, North Carolina and performed two old time radio plays including the panic-inducing War of the Worlds. The performance featured John DeLancie (and yes, Trekkies, he is "Q" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.)

The Journal-Times reports on a new radio drama effort. I was amused that they referred to the effort as "the brand new old-time radio version" of the Hanna Barbara cartoons, as I don't think they realized what a paradox their adjective was. :) Still, any brand new radio dramas are welcomed and I have to imagine that Hanna Barbara's copyright holders are cooperating, so if you live in the Kenosha, Wisconsin area, you're in for a treat.

Filed under: OTR Clippings 2 Comments
20Oct/090

Old Time Radio For The World

My old time radio podcasts get listeners not only throughout the United States, but around the world. I see countries such as Canada, Australia, the UK, and South Africa in the stats report, countries whose citizens know what great radio drama sounds like. 

Of course, there are other countries where English isn't even spoken and these shows are download. One of the biggest downloading countries is China. Both my Superman and Dragnet podcasts are big in China. I've often attributed to this to China opening up and curiosity about the West and its culture.In addition, some downloads may come from Hong Kong, which has a very large bilingual population, having spent several decades under British Rule.

Today, my imagination kicked in and came up with another reason to download Old Time Radio from non-English speaking countries-as a way to help learn conversational English. English, is the International language of commerce and is learned by many in China. However, with local dialects predominating in many regions of the country, it must be a challenge for some people to maintain  their knowledge learned in school. I know my one semester of Russian has pretty much gone down the memory hole. If a language is not part of your life, it's quickly forgotten.

Jack Webb's policemen are consumate professionals. They provide excellent examples of smooth, crisp, conversation. Thus listening to Dragnet is a great way to stay immersed in the language.

However, one thing began to worry me on the new show.  Pat Novak. I imagined a man travelling from China to the U.S. for a trip and talking to modern Americans in the parlance of the most hard boiled detective of the 1940s.  As fair warning, foreign guests: we don't talk like that anymore. In fact, I don't think we ever did.

Whether listeners from other nations are wanting to brush up on their English, learn about American culture, or just enjoy a great drama, thank you for listening. I never cease to be amazed that podcasts uploaded in Boise, Idaho are listened to the world over.

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