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

23Jun/151

EP1606: Ellery Queen: The Adventure of the Mischief Maker

Ellery is called in to investigate a series of anonymous mischief making letters.

Original Air Date: January 13, 1944

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22Jun/150

EP1605: The Saint: The Birds and Bees of East Orange

Vincent Price
A woman who owns a circulating library reports to Simon that someone is checking out, "The Birds and Bees of East Orange" and when Simon goes to investigate, he finds the book gone and a corpse in its place

Original Air Date: March 18, 1951

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21Jun/150

EP1604s: Suspense: The Blind Spot

Edmond O'Brien

A pop psychologist becomes involved in investigating the murder of a head of research at a polling firm.

Original Air Date: May 1, 1948

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20Jun/151

Video Theater 066: Ellery Queen: The Adventure of the Hanging Acrobat

Ellery investigates the death of an a aerialist at the circus.

Original Air Date: December 21, 1950 from Dumont Network.

20Jun/150

Audio Drama Review: Poirot’s Finest Cases

Poirot’s Finest Cases collects eight different BBC audiodramas starring the late John Moffat as Poirot and dramatizing eight memorable Agatha Christie Stories.

1) The ABC Murders-Classic case as Poirot receives notices of murders in advance of  seemingly random people tied to the first letter of their last name, and the city they live in with an ABC railroad schedule left behind. A brilliant plot that is very well-adapted. Grade: A

2) After the Funeral: The death of a wealthy man appears to be natural causes, but then his sister suggests it was murder and she is soon found dead herself. A good case, and a solid adaptation. Only weak spot was Poirot as narrator narrating about obvious reasons for why certain people should be suspected. Grade: B+

3) Death on the Nile: This is my favorite Poirot story and this adaptation is simply marvelous. While it lacks the flair of the Ustinov version, this captures the essence of the story. If you wanted complain about Death on the Nile, I suppose you could point out the almost absurd number of romances that spring up on this boat. But, I think that serves to balance out the unhappiness that dominates the “A” plot. Overall, this is a great portrait of Poirot as a character and an absolutely brilliant adaptation. Grade: A+

4) The Murder of Roger Akroyd: One of Christie’s most controversial tales because of the identity of the murderer. I thought the TV adaptation was only “so so,” but BBC Radio 4 manages to do the story justice. It really is a clever and remarkable tale and manages to outperform the 1930s adaptation for the Mercury Playhouse with Orson Welles. Grade: A-

5) Murder on the Orient Express: Perhaps, the most iconic of Christie mysteries. It’s perfectly executed over radio. This requires multiple accents (including several Americans) and they’re all performed quite well. Grade: A

6) The Mysterious Affair at Stiles: The first ever Poirot story in which he solves the murder of a wealthy woman. I really enjoyed this adaptation. With all the great stories that followed, it’s easy to forget how good this one was. It establishes so much about Poirot in terms of mannerism, but is different as Poirot is closer to Sherlock Holmes in his first story. Still, this is incredibly enjoyable. Grade: A

7) Peril at End House: Another somewhat underrated story. It’s the classic tale of misdirection and of Poirot being pulled out of retirement. It’s incredibly and involved tale. I love how Moffat plays the beginning where he’s claiming to be content in retirement but his voice tone betrays it. Grade: A

8) Three Act Tragedy: This is probably the most questionable title in the set. Given that’s it's Poirot’s Finest Cases, it’s odd to feature a case where Poirot is out of action for so much of it. This, like the other stories, were originally broadcast in five parts. Poirot's role in the first three parts could be considered middling as he doesn't actually actively join the investigation until the end of episode three and doesn't take charge until the end of episode four. Most of the investigation is carried by amateur detectives. The story's certainly good, but doesn't really have the material to rise to the top echelon of Poirot stories, even with laying aside the issue of how much Poirot's in it. I will say that I enjoyed the character moment in episode 2 when Poirot reflected on his life. Grade: B

Throughout all these stories, John Moffat makes a great Poirot. While David Suchet is the definitive Poirot on television, Moffat had a parallel run over radio lasting from 1987-2012 where he adapted most major Poirot novels and he was Suchet's equal in many ways. Moffat was great in every story here.

As for the rest of the cast, Simon Williams (Counter Measures) appears as Captain Hastings and Philip Jackson (who played Inspector Japp on television) appears as Japp in The ABC Murders and The Mysterious Affair at Stiles. The cast of the rest stories are very good, bringing the type of talent you expect from BBC Radio 4.

The sound design is good, particularly on Murder on the Orient Express. 

However, the theme music for the majority of the episodes seems to have been chosen without much thought. It could best be described as, "This is the 30s" music. It's very generic and sometimes doesn't fit Poirot or a mystery story at all.

It also seems they could have done a little more with the way the episodes are presented. Essentially, each story is five episodes long and is divided into two chapters with two and a half (or so) episodes per chapter as you're listening to it. It seems they could have combined each story completely or at the very least had each episode as its own separate chapter which would have made things more neat and symmetrical-which Poirot would appreciate.

If I'd been making the set, I would have substituted Five Little Pigs and Cards on the Table for After the Funeral and Three Act Tragedy. 

But these are extremely minor points. The mysteries themselves are superb and more than justify the minor annoyances over presentation. Given that the set sells for less than $20 for the general public and less than $14 for Audible members, this is an item I highly recommend for any mystery fan.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5.0

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20Jun/150

EP1604: Dragnet: The Big Smart Guy

Jack Webb
A woman is murdered in her apartment and Joe Friday and Ben Romero suspect her husband was involved.

Original Air Date: June 8, 1950

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19Jun/150

EP1603: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Wayward Moth Matter

Bob Bailey
Johnny is called in to investigate when a top secret project is damaged and sabotage is feared.

Original Air Date: March 9, 1958

When making your travel plans, remember http://johnnydollarair.com

18Jun/150

EP1602: Nick Carter: The Case of the Last Old Timer

Lon Clark

Waldo's warning of a wave of blown safes following the release of an old time safe cracker appears to come true.

Original Air Date: March 14, 1948

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17Jun/150

EP1601: Philip Marlowe: The Hairpin Turn

Gerald Mohr
A man calls in Marlowe to investigate the man his child is about to marry.

Original Air Date: January 28, 1950

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16Jun/150

EP1600: Ellery Queen: The Vanishing Magician

An old vaudeville magician makes a wager for $25,000 that he can disappear from a house under the nose of New York's finest.

Original Air Date: November 6, 1943

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