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

31Mar/132

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown #7: William Conrad

8,9, 1012-1114-1316-1518-1720-19,22-2124-2326-2528-2730-2933-3136-34,

39-37,42-4045-4348-4651-4954-5257-5560-5865-6170-66,  71-7576-80,

81-8586-9091-9596-100

7. William Conrad-

William ConradConrad's great overarching claim to radio fame is a significant one. He played the role of Marshall Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke for its entire 9 year run. Gunsmoke began its run after radio in 1952 after television had eclipsed radio as a profit making enterprise  Nevertheless, Gunsmoke began its long run and also spawned a slew of new adult Westerns in the latter 1950s and Conrad played a large part in that. He also became a symbol of television' shallowness when he was denied the ability to continue in the Dillon role on television due to his weight.

However, Conrad was more than just the star of this classic Western. He was also a great character actor often playing heavies or policemen in programs such as Tales of the Texas Rangers, Pat Novak for Hire, The Lux Radio Theater, I Was a Communist for the FBI, and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar among others.  His deep distinct voice also served to make him a good announcer, most notably on Escape and Mr. President.

He was a consummate team player who in radio and every other medium he appeared in, was  a true professional willing to step into any role, no matter how large or small and play it with great talent.  This made Conrad a great career in all mediums, and made his nearly two decades on radio truly phenomenal.

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30Mar/131

EP0908: The Line Up: The Senile Slugging Case

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Guthrie investigates a series of brutal muggings that have targeted elderly victims.

Original Air Date: February 8, 1951

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30Mar/130

Radio Drama Review: Powder River, Season One

Colonial Radio Theater's most successful radio series has been Powder River, which just concluded its six season. This remains an improbable series: A successful western produced at a time when the western genre is practically moribund and the series is produced Boston of all places.

The first fifteen episode season was originally released in 2004. It follows Britt McMasters (Jerry Robbins) and his son Chad (Derek Aalerud) as he starts a new life for himself as a rancher in Claremont, Wyoming near the Powder River in Wyoming. McMasters had been a U.S. Marshal but had retired after an incident he'd rather not discuss.

However, his past will not leave him alone. The series begins with the Ryan gang attempting to kill McMasters, and it becomes clear that it's either McMasters or the gang.

There is much to like about this first season. Robbins is great as McMasters. In addition the character of Doc (Lincoln Edwards), the town doctor who is even more handy with a gun than he is a doctor's bag is well-developed and fun. In addition, the show has a great sense and feel of Old West life with a dedication to realism without becoming hopelessly dark. At its best, it feels ike Have Gun Will Travel or Gunsmoke.

At times, this first season does stumble, mainly with stories that just don't feel right. Episodes that found Chad trying to help a disabled girl with an overprotective mother through riding horses,  or where the McMasters helped a war deserter, or the one where Mark Twain shows up and spouts famous quotes the whole episode were ones I bore more than enjoyed.

However, the show's inconsistent quality took a decided turn for the best that moved it from 3 stars to 4 stars with the last few episodes that dealt with the resolution of the Ryan gang story line. The last episode had an absolutely stunning plot twist that has to be heard to be believed. It's an incredible finale.

The series wasn't originally intended to become the multi-season success it has been. As such, the writers felt free to kill off some significant characters. The old west was a harsh place and that's definitely reflected in these stories.

Overall, I give it a solid 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.

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29Mar/130

EP0907: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Hampton Line Matter

John Lund
Johnny investigates an "easy case" of a bomb aboard a ship where the identity of the culprit is apparent but Johnny finds the case won't be as easy as advertised.

Original Air Date: August 3, 1954

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28Mar/130

EP0906: Sherlock Holmes: The Case of the Red Headed League

John Gielgud

Sherlock Holmes investigates when a League for Red Headed hires a pawn broker and then promptly disappears.

Original Air Date: January 16, 1955

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27Mar/130

EP0905: Let George Do It: Dead on Arrival

Bob Bailey

While going to pick up Brooksie at the bus station, George meets up with an old man in trouble. He takes him to a hotel where he dies-from gunshot wounds.

Original Air Date: November 10, 1952

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26Mar/130

EP0904: The Cases of Mr. Ace: The Man Named Judas

George Raft
Ace is hired to deliver a package to Chicago for sale and finds trouble every turn.

Original Air Date: June 25, 1947

 

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25Mar/130

EP0903: Frank Race: The Adventure of the Pharaoh’s Staff

Paul Dubov

Race is hired to guard some valuable Egyptian relics.

Original Air Date: November 5, 1949

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24Mar/130

EP0902s: X Minus One: Protective Mimicry

Mandell Kramer

In the 25th Century, a Treasury Agent seeks to find the truth behind the re-appearance of counterfeit currency.

Original Air Date: October 3, 1956

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24Mar/130

Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown #8: Fibber McGee and Molly

Previous Posts:
9, 1012-1114-1316-1518-1720-19,22-2124-2326-2528-2730-2933-3136-34,

39-37,42-4045-4348-4651-4954-5257-5560-5865-6170-66,  71-7576-80,

81-8586-9091-9596-100

8) Fibber McGee and Molly

Fibber McGee and MollyJim and Marion Jordan starred in the roles of Fibber McGee and Molly. Their show was an outstanding comedy hit that introduced Americans to the town of Wistful Vista with its memorable cast of characters. The most memorable was, of course, the lovable blowhard Fibber who was famous for such antics as his never quite clean closet. Their program was one of those most referenced by other comedy programs.

Fibber McGee and Molly was one of the first programs in history to spawn spin-offs with both The Great Gildersleeve and Beulah having their genesis as secondary characters on Fibber McGee and Molly.

The Jordans managed to survive the transition from the depression to World War II to the hopeful post-war era. Along the way, they made some memorable guest appearances including doing an appearance on the Family Theatre as Fibber McGee and Molly and also appearing in totally different characters in a well-done episode of Suspense. While other programs such as Burns and Allen, Life of Riley, and Our Miss Brooks made the move to television, the Jordans kept performing as Fibber McGee and Molly to an ever-shrinking audience in the mid-to-late 1950s as the show became a fifteen minute daily serial and then a series of shorts on NBC's Monitor program. A television version was tried without them, but the play failed. America would not except substitutes.

With hundreds of episodes in circulation from their SC Johnson Wax sponsored runs, the duo remain one of radio's most memorable couples to this day.

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