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

16May/150

EP1574: Dragnet: The Big Badge

Jack Webb

Joe Friday and Ben Romero hunt a man who holds up parked cars while pretending to be a police officer.

Original Air Date: May 4, 1950

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16May/150

Book Review: The Case of the Courteous Killer

In 1958, Dragnet had been with America for nearly a decade, with 318 Radio performances coupled with more than 200 TV episodes, and a movie. It’s in this atmosphere that Richard Deming wrote his tie-in Dragnet novel, the Case of the Courteous Killer.

It begins with an unassuming man holding up couples in lover’s lane, eventually killing a man who thought the unassuming robber would be easy to handle in the first of a series of murders. Joe Friday and Frank Smith are called in to locate and apprehend the suspect.

Adapting television shows to novels is tricky business, but the late Mr. Deming does a superb job capturing the spirit of the 1950s TV show while producing a story that was more gripping and involved than half hour television would allow.

Deming nails the voices of Joe Friday and Frank Smith. Friday was particularly important as the story is told in typical Dragnet first person. There were a couple moments I didn't quite buy, though. For example, I found the idea Joe Friday watched the Boston Blackie TV show to be a little unbelievable. There are also funny moments with Frank Smith providing comic relief as he talks about his brother-in-law and various goings on. Truly, I could imagine this on TV as I read it.

The mystery was far beyond typical Dragnet cases, which were resolved in half an hour, but it was in that same matter of fact style. There are many twists as this criminal changes methods, the police stumble upon an almost unbelievable coincidence that's too strange for Dragnet's genre, and the courteous killer twice attempts to exact some not-so-courteous revenge on Joe Friday.

The story lost a bit of momentum and dragged in the last little bit with some repetitive moments before finishing up strong at the end.

Still, if you love 1950s Dragnet, or are a fan of clean early police procedural, this is a really good and engaging read.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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15May/151

EP1573: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Price of Fame Matter

Price of Fame
Vincent Price calls for Johnny's help to locate a priceless stolen painting.

Original Air Date: February 2, 1958

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

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14May/150

EP1572: Nick Carter: The Man Who Died Twice

Lon Clark

Nick Carter finds a man killed in an auto accident in Florida was also killed in Ohio.

Original Air Date: January 18, 1948

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13May/150

EP1571: Philip Marlowe: The Little Wishbone

Gerald Mohr

Marlowe falls in love, but the woman he's in love with has a secret.

Original Air Date: December 10, 1949

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12May/150

EP1570: The Line-Up: The Aching Arthritic’s Anxious Antic

William Johnstone
A parolee is fingered for being behind a bank robbery.

Original Air Date: June 3, 1952

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11May/150

EP1569: The Saint: The Carnival Murder

Vincent Price
A Carnival performer whose act is being buried alive pleads for help and Simon sets out to help her, but will have to work around several characters in the Carnival.

Original Air Date: February 4, 1951

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9May/150

EP1568: Dragnet: The Big Job

Jack Webb
Joe Friday and Ben Romero searches for a fugitive who has killed a police officer.

Original Air Date: April 27, 1950

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9May/151

Telefilm Review: Curtain


Curtain is a story many don’t want to read and don’t want to see. It’s Poirot’s last tale, the story in which Poirot meets his final end.

Poirot returns to Styles, where he solved his first great English case decades before. This is a different Poirot as far as we can tell, an invalid with a new valet whose days are numbered. Yet, he’s got one more case to solve and he turns (with reluctance) to his oldest and dearest friend, Captain Hastings.

David Suchet turns in a superb performance as this much older, ailing, and far less sunny Poirot. He’s more grumpy and snaps at Captain Hastings, who he has no choice but to depend on. Despite his inability to observe as he once did, it’s clear the little gray cells are still working.

Hugh Frasier delivers a great performance as Captain Hastings, no longer the dim-witted sidekick, he's charged with grief over the death of his wife, with concern for Poirot, and with his daughter’s coldness and involvement with an amoral man. Hasting is driven to his limit and Frasier plays this beautifully, taking advantage of a script that makes Hastings a far juicier part than the typical comic sidekick.

The mystery itself is unusual. It’s hard to follow or to even figure out if there’s a pattern to what’s going on until we get the solution. Then the nature of the evil Poirot faces is exposed, and we’re brought face to face with the shocking choice to make at the end of his days.

Poirot’s final scene is beautifully done, as he’s a man dying hoping only for forgiveness. It’s only later that we learn what for.

Curtain is a solid production, and probably the best of the season.

I’ve enjoyed the entire series, and mystery fans own a large debt of gratitude to David Suchet, who didn’t come to Poirot of remaking him, rather Suchet has said that he understood his job as an actor was to serve the writer (and in the case of the Poirot stories, his creator) by bringing the character to life as they intended it. His job was to truly to be Agatha Christie’s Poirot. While there are quite a few adaptations (particularly in Series 9 and 10) where the story was often very different from Christie’s vision, in all of these tales, Suchet remained superb and succeeded in being Agatha Christie’s Poirot.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0

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8May/150

EP1567: Yours Truly Johnny Dollar: The Eleven O’Clock Matter

 

Bob Bailey

Johnny is called to protect a wealthy elderly businessman who fears he'll be killed.

Original Air Date: January 19, 1958

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

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