With most Radio Detective shows, it’s pretty straightforward in deciding to play them: Yes or No. However, when some shows, the answer is “Yes” and “No.”
Just like with Pat Novak for Hire, I’ve said “Yes” to the Jack Webb episodes and “No” to the Ben Morris episodes, there are a couple other shows where I’m giving a Split decision.
Philo Vance: Philo Vance was originally conceived in post World War I era as a somewhat arrogant elitist detective by S.S. Dine. And the first two radio series featuring Vance had him portrayed as the know it all, arrogant detective.
The most popular series in ciruclation toned down the arrogance. However, to my listening, there wasn’t much left. Jackson Beck’s portrayal of Vance was somewhat flat. However, a flat detective could be okay if the mysteries were mentally engaging. Unfortunately, the mysteries were all too simple for my tastes. Which made the latter Philo Vance episodes particularly insulting to the police. It was one thing to have to call in a private investigator on a hard-to-solve murder case. It’s a bit of fantasy. However, if the case wasn’t really all that difficult to begin with, it’s kind of insulting.
Of course, this is a matter of taste, but for me doing 2 years of Philo Vance as portrayed by Jackson Beck seems more like a sentence for a minor crime.
However the early to mid-1940s Vance is more like it. Slightly more arrogant, but the mysteries are better too. So, I end up with a “yes” to John Emery and Jose Ferrer version of Philo Vance, but a “no” to the Jackson Beck Version.
Mr. and Mrs. North: I love the episodes of Mr. and Mrs. North featuring Joseph Conklin and Alice Frost. The show had wonderful chemistry between the two leads, a good dose of comedy mixed in, and some pretty fun mysteries, with Pam North more likely to solve the case than her husband Jerry.
However, the show changed actors in 1953-54 to feature TV’s Mr. and Mrs. North, Richard Denning and Barbara Britton. I’ve tried, but I can’t enjoy these episodes. Pretty much all of the lighness that made the 1943-54 series a success is gone as Denning and Britton try to put on a serious crime drama. It just doesn’t work. The chemistry isn’t there, and again the mysteries aren’t that clever.
So I say yes to Mr. and Mrs. North with Conklin-Frost and No to Mr. and Mrs. North with Denning-Britton.