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

12Oct/110

EP0513: Let George Do It: Most Likely to Die

Bob Bailey

George is take for a sucker  by two college pranksters who never grew up, but no one's laughing when a real murder comes to their 20th Reunion.

Original Air Date: June 26, 1950

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11Oct/110

EP0512: Rogue’s Gallery: Cabin on a Lake

Dick Powell

While on vacation, Rogue finds a beautiful young woman dead and is promptly knocked out. When Rogue returns from Cloud Eight, he finds the body gone.

Original Air Date: July 7, 1946

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10Oct/110

EP0511: Barrie Craig: Motive for Murder

William Gargan

Barrie is hired to guard the heir to a $40 million fortune.

Originally Air Date: February 20, 1952

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9Oct/111

Video Theater 021: General Electic Theater: Committed

An ad seeking adventure lands author Dan Holiday (Alan Ladd) in a sanitarium where everyone keeps calling him "Stokes."

Season 3, Episode 11 (Original Air Date: December 5, 1954)

9Oct/110

Audiobook Review: Hercule Poirot’s Unpublished Stories

Hercules Poirot was featured in 33 published novels, 51 published short stories, and a stage play. But there were two Poirot Short stories that were not published during her lifetime. They appeared in book form in Agatha Christie' s Secret Notebook by John Curran. However, the Christie estate decided to make the two short stories available seperate audiobook read by David Suchet.

The title of one story will be familiar to Christie fans, it's called "The Capture of Cerberus," which is the title of the published story that wrapped up, The Labours of Hercules. This particular story is vastly different as Poirot's labour is truly Herculean as he tries to uncover the truth behind the assassination of a lightly fictionalized version of Adolf Hitler.

The story was interesting for its historical value. It also provided Christie's answer to a question many science fiction authors have addressed, "What if Hitler had been assassinated." Christie suggests that Hitler would have been viewed as a martyr and would have radicalized and galvanized the German people. The story is hopeful that after the horrors of World War I, another conflagration could be avoided and peace and brotherhood could somehow win out.

It was a nice thought, but the story was shelved with good reasons. To have a fictional character "use the little gray cells" and prevent a real life war that's certainly inevitable in the real world is just not appropriate. In addition, the story is definitely not as fun as the version that went into the book. It should be noted that Christie would feature two of the characters who were in this story in the published version.  It felt like it was in more of a draft state when compared to the stories that did make into Labours of Hercules.  Thankfully, it was discarded for a much better story.

"The Incident of the Dog's Ball" was much more satisfying.  In it Poirot receives a rambling letter from an old woman asking for help. He arrives at the lady's house, only to find out she'd passed on (apparently of natural causes)  and had  forgotten to mail it. Slowly and methodically, Poirot begins to uncover what really happened and why the lady contacted.

Later, the short story was expanded and revised into the novel, Dumb Witness,  but works just fine as a very satisfying short story.

David Suchet's definitive Poirot voice truly makes the story a delight. He also  read nearly all the voices well (with one exception). Suchet's reading and the novelty of these lost stories makes this collection a must for fans of Christie and Hercule Poirot.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0

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8Oct/110

Mr. Monk’s Top 20 List, Part Two

Having dispensed with the honorable mentions, we turn to the actual 20 best Monk episodes.

20)  Mr. Monk is Someone Else (Season 8, Episode 4): This episode begins with a bang. It appears that Monk is killed in the first scene. But of course, it's not Monk, it's contract killer Frank DePalma, who is a dead ringer for Monk. The FBI asks Monk to go undercover, find out who DePalma's target was, and stop the killing.

Monk goes undercover, taking on the role of a wise guy assassin. Monk discovers that the target is an elderly man with no ties for the mafia.  It's not long before everyone feels that Monk has gotten too much into character, and they attempt to pull him off the case, but Monk persists.

The mystery is one of the more solid entries of the show's latter seasons. The highlight though is Monk finding his inner tough guy and holding his own with the mafiosos who hired him. Add in two classic confrontations with the Captain and Harold Krenshaw, and this one is definitely a keeper.

19) Mr. Monk is Up All Night (Season 6, Episode 9)

Mr. Monk is having trouble sleeping, so he heads out on a walk, and through a restaurant window, witnesses a murder. Or does he? When the Captain and Disher arrive, they find no evidence of the crime. Was it covered up or is Monk having a breakdown.

This episode, as the title implies, occurs almost entirely at night.  This gives it a noirishfeeling, that makes it particularly appealing. It also has to feature perhaps the best Randy Disher scene ever when the true culprits are apprehended.  

18) Mr. Monk and the Red Herring (Season 3, Episode 10)

The context of this episode does not make it an obvious fan favorite.  This began the 2nd half of Monk's 3rd Season. In the interim, Sharona had been written out of the series due to contract disagreements with Bitty Schram.  This meant that the episode which introduces the "new assistant" had better be good.

The cast and crew managed to pull it off. Natalie meets Monk after killing a burglarar in self-defense. The apparent reason for the burglary is Natalie's daughter's fish.

The episode does a good job introducing Natalie. As a widow, she is in-tune with much of what Monk has gone through. In addition, she's a jill of all trades which made her a valuable assistant to Monk.  She had a very distinct personality and style that differed from Sharona.

The mystery is clever and  quirky, making this a solid introduction for Natalie Teeger, despite the rough background that the episode aired against.

17) Mr. Monk's 100th Case (Season 7, Episode 7):  Many television shows have faced the challenge of celberating a milestone. Many just ignore it, blowing past 100 or 200 episodes like it doesn't mean a thing. Others have had clips shows, where 4 or 5 minute new footage is package with a bunch of used footage. (This is known as the cheapest type of television episode.)

In the Golden years of television when TV programs did 39 half hour episodes a year, 100 episodes wasn't a big deal. But given that Monk's first season was 13 episodes and subsequent seasons were 16 episodes each, this was truly a big deal for the show's longetivity.  It was also a big deal for a reason referenced in the Season 2 episode, "Mr. Monk and the T.V. Star," with 100 episodes, Monk would live on in syndication and create even more fans and generate millions in additional revenue.

The writer marked the event, by having a news magazine follow Monk as he solves his 100th case. The episode begins with Monk's friends gathering around the television at the house of the magazine's anchor to celebrate, with Monk alone at the party, and thinking something is very wrong.

The episode did a great job recreating the feel of a news magazine, and also brought back several past Monk foes back in new footage. One remarked, "Do I remember Adrian Monk? That's like asking the Titanic if it remembers the iceberg. "

In doing the show this way, Monk took a look back without being hokey, satisfied fans, and left plenty of room for a good mystery twist.

16) Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas (Season 3, Episode 14):  Monk gets a call from an inebriated Captain Stottlemeyer stating that he knows a man murdered his wife, whose death had been assumed to be accidental.  Monk and Natalie head out to investigate, but a hungover Stottlemeyer doesn't remember what it was he'd noticed.

This episode was a lot of fun. Monk has a formidable villain in James Brolin, and Vegas setting was nicely done.  Monk and Natalie also have some great scenes together. Perhaps the most notable realization what that the Captain could solve crimes as easily as Monk provided the Captain was drunk. This was reminiscent of Anthony Boucher's character, Nick Noble.

Overall, "Mr. Monk Goes to Vegas," offers a very even mix of comedy and mystery.

Next week: 11-15

7Oct/110

EP0510: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Amelia Harwell Matter

Edmond O'Brien

Johnny Dollar investigates the murder of a domineering wealthy matron.

Original Air Date: July 2, 1952

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6Oct/113

EP0509: Sherlock Holmes: The Affair of the Politician, the Lighthouse, and the Trained Cormorant

Sherlock Holmes tries to break up the Limehouse drug trade, but finds himself confronted with the murder of Madam Fishface.

Original Air Date: October 19, 1947

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5Oct/110

EP0508: Let George Do It: Solo In Whispers

Bob Bailey

A man receives a record and sends it to George, asking for his help. When George calls on his client, he finds him dead--and his wife has received another letter.

Original Air Date: June 19, 1950

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4Oct/110

EP0507: Rogue’s Gallery: Lady With a Gun

Dick Powell

A man Rogue has never met tries to pick a fight with Rogue, suspecting that his wife had hired Rogue to tail him. After getting back to his office, Rogue meets the wife who tries to hire him. He declines. The next day, the man is found dead.

Original Air Date: June 30, 1946

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