Tag: audio drama

Audio Drama Review: Four by L’Amour


As I’ve mentioned before, Random House adapted several stories by the great Western Author Louie L’Amour to audio. Most of these are available as single releases, but some are available as collections, particularly those who have the same lead character. However, this collection of four audio dramas only has the irresistible rhyming title with four different heroes (all but one a one-shot character.)

In “No Man’s Man,” Gunslinger Lou Morgan is hired to get rid of a suitor to a woman he was madly in love with. However, he arrives to violence and so many complications.

I like this story. Even though it’s in the Old West, it reminds me of a classic hard-boiled detective novel: There’s a lying client, dangerous hoods, a mysterious woman who captures our hard-bitten hero’s heart. It has great action and a solid story.

In “Get Out of Town,” fourteen-year-old Tom Fairchild is the man of the house at his farm after his father dies and he goes to town to findhelp. He chooses to hire an ex-convict, Riley, against the advice older men in town. Tom’s an interesting character and this is a coming of age story for him. In the course of the hour audio drama, we see how he changes, in his relationship to Riley especially, as there’s a romantic spark between Riley and Tom’s mother. The story’s ending isn’t quite what you expect, particularly if you’re looking for big western action, but it’s still good drama.

In “McQueen of the Tumbling K”, Ward McQueen, the foreman of a ranch, sees a wounded man fleeing through the Tumbling’s K spread. In town, he learns a gambler is setting up a town and making advances towards the female owner of the ranch. In the middle of this, McQueen is waylaid and left for dead.

This story’s not horrible, but it’s the weakest story of the collection. The villain is painfully obvious, but McQueen is also too strong a hero. Once his physical survival is assured, there’s  not much of a question of the outcome. Everyone in town knows him and no one knows the villainous gambler. The earlier stories worked because you had established lone strangers in Morgan and Riley facing off against local bad guys without any locals having a reason to back them up. Here it’s reversed and doesn’t work as well.

Finally, we have “Booty for a Badman,” featuring one of L’Amour’s well known Sackett characters, Tell Sackett. Tell has had little luck as a miner, which makes him the logical choice to transport the other miners’ gold. Every miner who has left the camp as a known success ended up dead. If they send out someone who everyone knows has a failing mine, he shouldn’t get stopped–in theory.

Carrying $40,000 worth of gold is a risky proposition and it becomes even riskier when Tell encounters an Army wife who has had a breakdown and runaway as she can’t take the strain of living in the West.

This is a good story with a great sense of drama as well as a strong action scene. While we only get to spend an hour with Tell, we get a strong idea of his character. The resolution was one I could have seen coming a mile away, but it’s still a fun story.

Overall, while I liked some stories more than others, this is a nice sampling of stories from one of the most beloved best-selling authors of all time.

Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0

 

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How Fans Can Create a New Golden Age of Audio Drama

In last week’s article, I wrote about what audio drama producers could do to create a new golden age of audio. Now let’s turn to what fans can do.

1) Don’t Pirate Modern Audio Dramas

Anti-piracy talks from big corporations generates eye rolls from many. It’s hard to feel sorry for a multi-billion dollar corporation and its multi-millionaire producers, directors, and stars. However, modern audio dramas typically operate on a much smaller profit margin. For them, the consequences of piracy can mean they are unable to produce as much new material as they would like,

or may be unable to continue in business at all.

Most people who produce audio dramas professionally do so, first for the love of the art form, but they have to be able to support themselves, their actors, and their crew in order to be able to produce top-notch work. So this point is important.

2) Enjoy Audio Dramas through Legal Means.

How can listeners legally enjoy audio dramas? There’s the obvious answers of purchasing them through either the producers’ websites or through audible.com or the ITunes store. On occasion, an audio drama producer will make a large selection of their works available through a site called HumbleBundle. It allows downloaders to pay whatever price they choose for a whole bundle of video games, books, and occasionally audio dramas.

There are legal ways to listen to audio dramas for free. For example, some audio dramas are still broadcast over the air. Colonial Radio Theatre is on the Air with a brand new series on affiliates in Seattle and in Troy, Alabama with live internet streaming available from the Seattle station. The Twilight Zone radio series is syndicated throughout the U.S. and strong ratings can be a boon to the program. In addition to traditional radio stations, BBC Radio 4 Extra offers listeners a wide variety of radio programs from its own library of programs. It has also broadcast episodes of the Twilight Zone and in the past has featured Big Finish Doctor Who plays.

Also some audio dramas may be available to borrow from your local library. If a particular audio drama isn’t available, you can request the library purchase it. In addition, check and see what electronic lending services your library offers. I found hundreds of audio dramas available through one of the apps my library offers. In addition, Big Finish offers hundreds hundreds of audio dramas through Spotify.

These electronic services can allow producers to earn a small amount of royalties for each listen or download which can be better than the library buying one copy and all the royalties they receive are from the sale of one disc. As I stated, this does depend very much on companies using an active distribution system.

3) Promote Good Audio Dramas

Good Audio dramas need to be talked about. Reviews are always welcome if you have the time to write them. Even a short post on social media that you enjoyed something can be helpful in getting the word out about good audio dramas. Again, most of these companies don’t have a huge PR budget. You honestly sharing what you like is of immense importance. In addition, if you do purchase audio dramas through Audible or through Itunes, you can rate your purchase without writing a review which can also be helpful.

Also consider giving the gift of audio dramas to people who you think might enjoy them. I was once leading a committee and I found there was an awareness of old time radio. I decided to give every member of the committee one of Colonial Radio Theater’s Father Brown CD sets because I thought that would be the most likely thing they would enjoy.

Of course, the gift of an audio drama CD would not appropriate for everyone, and the most important thing to consider in choosing the gift is the recipient. But if there’s someone on your gift list who you think might enjoy a good audio drama, you might open a whole new world to them with a gift no one else would think to give.

4) Join Audio Drama Crowd Funding Efforts

Crowdfunding is one of the more exciting developments of the 21st Century. Under the old model that dominated innovation and entertainment, consumers had to wait and see what would be offered to them by corporations. What food would they buy? What movies would they watch? The power of crowdfunding is that entrepreneurs and artists can bring their idea to people who can choose to invest a small amount of money in making it happen.

Audio Drama crowdfunding will come in two forms: Kickstarter and Patreon. With a Kickstarter campaign, an audio drama producer may ask people to help cover the cost of producing an audio drama or a series of episodes. There will often be rewards at various levels of support where you might get the physical product or a download when the item is released commercially.

With a Patreon campaign, you give monthly to support the audio drama production. It may be producing a podcast where all of its episodes are offered for free for listeners to download and rely entirely or mostly on listener support to continue going.

Whether it’s Kickstarter or Patreon, the concept is the same: You help support the creation of the art you enjoy and become partners in creating a new golden age of audio drama.

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Audio Drama Review: The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, Volume 1


The Twilight Zone was one of television’s most remembered and enduring dramas from the 1950s and 60s, running from 1959-64 and then being revived for a movie in 1983, and revival TV series from 1985-89 and again from 2002-2003.

Carl Amari, best known for his work at Radio Spirit, brought the Twilight Zone to radio in a series starring Hollywood actors and narrated by Stacey Keach, who took over for Rod Serling as narrator. The stories are often expanded and updated to the reflected the twenty-first century technology and society. We’ll take a look at the first volume of Twilight Zone Audio Dramas from Audible.com which collects six stories.

“Night Call” features Mariette Hartley playing an old shut-in who begins receiving disturbing calls with nobody there. The story is creepy and Heartley’s performance is perfect as she manages to play this character with gusto and depth. I found the ending a little disappointing but that is due to the original story.

“Long Live Walter Jameson”-Lou Diamond Phillips plays Walter Jameson, a professor with a secret. The father of the woman he’s about to marry discovers photos of Jameson dating back to the 19th Century. Phillips turns in the best performance of the set and the story has a classic Twilight Zone feel to it.

“The Lateness of the Hour”-In a house full of androids, with a middle-aged couple and their daughter, the daughter (played by Jane Seymour) is fed up with their artificial life and wants something far more real. It’s a wonderful Science Fiction story with a classic twist at the end.

“The 30-Fathom Grave”-Is a good and proper ghost story with kind of a classic feel as a 1960s Submarine comes upon the wreck from World War II and one crew member goes a little beserk over it.The story has a period feel—for the most part. The series had the idea of giving a woman the role of the ship’s doctor, but you don’t have to be an expert in military history to know that wouldn’t have been the case. Either moving the story forward a couple decades or having a male doctor would have made sense. In the case, the woman doctor on the 1960s Naval vessel came off as a distracting anachronism.

“The Man in the Bottle” features a modern day genie that offers a couple who owns a pawnshop four wishes Ed Begley, Jr. stars in a tale that’s amusing and has its own subtle lessons, though some of them unintended.

“The Night of the Meek” is probably the biggest disappointment of this collection. As made starring Art Carney, the story was a Christmas classic. Chris McDonald steps into Carney’s role and almost sleepwalks through it. The expansions and the revisions of the story make it even weaker. I will admit that, on reflection, “Night of the Meek” had its problems and if done wrong would have come off almost as bad as the audio version if not for the fact that Art Carney was in the lead and the future Oscar-nominated Actor was able to take a performance that would have been forgettable and make it gripping and real. Sadly Mr. McDonald was out of his depth in terms of doing this for radio.

Overall, this is a good collection with some good audio quality, some solid soundscapes, and mostly well-done musical production. I will admit the appeal of these audio dramas is probably a bit less than it was in 2002 when they first began. With the development of Netflix and Amazon Prime, coupled with 4G networks, many people can watch any episode of the original Twilight Zone anytime and anywhere they want and in most cases the originals are still better.

Still, if you’re a fan of audio drama, these are worth a listen. It’s particularly noteworthy for allowing us to hear many modern American actors in audio drama. Beyond those in this first set John Rhys-Davies, Louis Gossett, Jr.  and Jason Alexander are among the stars who found themselves in the Twilight Zone.

In addition to the sets on Audible, you can download three episodes off their website with a subscription to their newsletter.

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This post contains affiliate links, which means that items purchased from these links may result in a commission being paid to the author of this post at no extra cost to the purchase