Category: Golden Age Article

Five Copyrighted Radio Dramas That Appear to Have Been Abandonned

I’m going to be talking about actual copyrighted radio drama series which are: 1) under copyright, and 2) appear to have been abandoned by their possible rights-holders. Before writing about this topic, I should offer two disclaimers.

In the strongest possible terms, I discourage the unauthorized use, copying, or distribution of modern radio dramas wherever rights-holders are known and are selling the work. Beyond any legal ramifications or reasoning, there’s a simple fact that it is very difficult for audio drama producers to turn a profit and thus produce the materials we love. If we want to see more audio dramas produced, we’d better buy what we listen to, or listen to an authorized source that pays them a royalty, like Spotify, BBC Radio 4 extra, or the Dramafy app.

Secondly, I’m not a lawyer and I possess no inside information. While it appears that the owners have abandoned these projects, they could theoretically be reclaimed at any time by copyright owners, as the copyright is active. So I’m not encouraging any action whatsoever based on my speculation. Rather, these are observations and opinions, and should not be taken as legal advice.

Protected but Abandoned

While old-time radio enthusiasts love to debate old-time radio copyrights, the issue of copyright for newer radio programs of all sorts is pretty clear. Radio programs made between 1972 and 1978 are under copyright for 95 years, and after 1978, all radio programs are copyrighted for the life of the author plus seventy years.

There are several audio dramas that are being actively sold and marketed, such as the Star Wars audio dramas, the Louie L’Amour audio dramas, and The Adventures of Harry Nile. But there are several series that have fallen into neglect and are getting no official releases, and leaving fans to find the shows where they can.

Alien Worlds 

This thirty-episode sci-fi series about the International Space Authority defending the planet was a huge hit in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand in 1979 and 1980. Later, the series had a presence online and promised to turn the radio programs into 3D animations, but these plans appear to have fallen through, as the website disappeared without a trace. Someone call the ISA.

The Sears Radio Theater

While its successor series The Mutual Radio Theater has received releases through Radio Archives and Radio Spirits, this 1979 series, which featured five nights a week of radio dramas in different genres with a different host each night, has languished, leading to a lot of recordings of variable quality.

CBS Radio Mystery Theater 

This series was emblematic of the 1970s radio revival and ran for eight seasons, producing 1,399 episodes. The series had a bit of revival and a series of reruns in the late 1990s. But it never had an official home release. Radio legend Himan Brown was frustrated in his later years by the proliferation of cheap recordings of his project, and in the mid-2000s tried to get fans to sign up to express interest in a subscription service for home audio releases. Of course, by then, Brown was trying to close the barn door after the horse had run away, as there were already far more collectors and sellers selling copies of his work. Since he died, none of his heirs have tried to cash in on the series, and the 1,399 episodes are available in multiple places on the Internet.

Seeing Ear Theatre

Seeing Ear Theatre is proof that a production doesn’t have to have been on the radio in the 1970s or even more broadcast radio. In the late 1990s, the SciFi channel (not yet renamed the SyFy Channel by the kewl* kids), the Sci-Fi channel decided to experiment with bringing back science fiction audio dramas on their website. I remember being excited, and, like millions of other science fiction fans, clicking the link to listen. Most of us had the same experience. We’re reminded that this was the 1990s and Internet was not really good for much other than Instant Messaging and reading web pages with pixelated images because we had dial-up motives and even streaming a real audio file was too much for it to handle.

To be fair, the Sci-Fi channel did try to make some of the audio dramas available beyond the few people able to actually stream them via the most advanced technology of the day … double-sided audio cassettes. (Not even CDs?)

However, the audio tapes are out of print, although you might find one on eBay. The series was saved from being totally forgotten by a few fans who managed to listen to them.


2000x (also known as Beyond 2000) was a prestige audio drama series for NPR broadcast at the turn of the 21st Century. It was a 26-episode series containing hour-long episodes, with a total of 49 stories, featuring stars of the day like Richard Dreyfuss and Robin Williams, and even tossing in an appearance from Golden Age radio legend Jackson Beck. There was a CD release of several episodes that has long since gone out of print and no indication that anything is being done to make the series broadly available.

We could list more series but I think the point’s made that quite a few really interesting audio dramas are technically copyrighted but not being officially cared for. Next week, we’ll take a look at why this is.

*Ironic and intentional misspelling.

Six Old-Time Radio Stars Who Appeared in Classic Disney Animated Films

Listening to old-time radio can often offer the benefit of letting you see or hear stars of other classic entertainment in a new light.  For example, I grew up watching Lionel Barrymore play Mister Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life. However, his career was far more diverse and interesting than that. His radiography provides a glimpse, as he starred as The Mayor of the Town, played Doctor Gillespie in the Doctor Kildare series, and served as host of the Hallmark Hall of Fame.

The same can be drawn with any number of older projects, whether you’re talking about 1970s movies or television programs. For the purpose of this article, we’re focusing on classic Disney animated films because they constitute some of the media most likely to be shared across generational lines.

Generations of children have enjoyed the work of Verna Felton. She’s probably best known as the Fairy Godmother in 1950s Cinderella. But she was in many films, from Dumbo to Lady and the Tramp to The Jungle Book. On radio, she had a long history of playing various characters, particularly of the motherly sort. She played the mother of singer Dennis Day both on the Jack Benny program and A Day in the Life of Dennis Day. She also was a regular on the Red Skelton show as the grandmother of Red Skelton’s mischievous child alter ego Junior.

Ed Wynn and Jerry Colona were a zany double act as the Mad Hatter and March Hare in the 1951 film Alice in Wonderland. However, each had an equally zany career over radio. Wynn hosted multiple radio programs and was known for his unmistakable voice and his frequent routine where he would offer his own interpretation of foreign-language opera lyrics. Colona was the mustached radio sidekick of Bob Hope. Whenever “Professor Colona” was announced, listeners knew the humor was going to get bonkers fast.

Betty Lou Gerson is remembered for voicing one of one of the most iconic villains of all time, Cruella de VilHowever, Gerson made an astounding number of old-time radio appearances. She was the voice of the president’s secretary on Mister President, and as a character actress appeared in every conceivable type of radio program during a career that dated back to the 1930s, including comedies, soap operas, and crime programs. She was one of the most versatile talents in the Golden Age of Radio.

Phil Harris is known to millions of kids through his role in The Jungle Book and his iconic song, “Bare Necessities”, in addition to voicing characters in the Disney Films The Aristocats and Robin Hood. However, Harris’s radio career was epic, with sixteen seasons working as the band leader on the top-rated Jack Benny program and playing a character as Benny’s cool band leader. Harris would later spin this off into a successful sitcom with his wife, The Phil Harris and Alice Faye Show, which would be a mainstay for NBC for six years.

Jim Jordan played Orville in The Rescuers. Orville was an albatross who transported the mice from the rescue aid society to rescue a little girl being held in the Louisana swamps. Jordan’s most famous radio role was as Fibber McGee in the signature Fibber McGee and Molly, a series that ran for twenty-four years and was one of the most beloved comedy programs of the Depression and World War II eras.

We could cover many more performers who lent their voices to Disney films also had substantial careers in radio and fans of their performances in these films may find an even deeper appreciation for them by doing a deep dive into their radio work.

Four Treasures for Fans of Golden Age Entertainment on YouTube

YouTube hosts a massive number of videos (800 million). On that massive site, there’s a lot that’s bad and a lot that’s good. Yet, if you’re a fan of the Golden Age of Entertainment, there are some things to specifically look out for, some treasures you might find among the flotsam and jetsam of YouTube. Here are four things worth checking out:

The Colgate Comedy Hour:

The Colgate Comedy Hour was a massive comedy program, hosted each week by different comedy legends including Abbott and Costello, Martin and Lewis, Eddie Cantor, and Jimmy Durante, among others, in programs featuring live comedy and music. The programs didn’t have their copyright renewed and became public domain and a lot of them landed on YouTube. Watching them is definitely a time capsule experience with some fun performances as well as a few hiccups. Many of the Martin and Lewis episodes have survived. There’s a YouTube playlist with twenty-eight of them. Given the short-lived nature of the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis partnership and its lasting cultural impact, these are worth a look.

The Abbott and Costello episodes have served to confuse some fans to the benefit of sellers of DVDs. Many DVDs with public-domain episodes from their Colgate Comedy Hour sketches were labeled as part of “The Abbott and Costello Show.” However, the Abbott and Costello show was a separate production with fifty-two half-hour episodes that are copyrighted and sold by others. So it’s the difference between a live TV show starring Abbott and Costello, and a taped show called The Abbott and Costello Show. I’d clarify further, but this will turn into a column equivalent of Who’s on First

Commercials and PSAs:

Golden Age stars often found their way into commercials and PSAs, particularly when targeted to an older audience. Consider Jim Jordan (aka Fibber McGee) cutting an ad for the AARP, or Jack Webb urging people to sign up for medicare, Edgar Bergen and his dummies Charlie McCarthy, and Mortimer Snerd promoting Parkay. Jimmy Durante poking fun at his tendency to mispronounce words in a Corn Flakes commercial, or Bing Crosby making an earnest plea for Ducks Unlimited.

Commercially Unviable Entertainment Gold 

YouTube takes down a lot of copyrighted material at the request of the rights holders. However, there’s a lot of television from The Golden Age that’s technically under copyright but is not commercially viable. So there’s no one filing takedown requests on what are effectively orphan works and these TV programs find a home on YouTUbe.

While many believe that classic stars faded from the public conscience after the end of the Golden Age of Radio, these programs show how many continued to have interesting careers filled with fascinating appearances and team-ups.

Durante got to see his impact on younger generations of comedians and musicians when he teamed up with a young Bobby Darin, who did an uncanny impersonation of Durante. Durante also got to a duet on “Old Man Time” in 1965, an appropriate choice for two entertainment legends that were near the end of amazing careers.

Edgar Bergen and his wooden pal Charlie McCarthy also had a long career that extended to close to the end of the 1970s. McCarthy ribbed Orson Welles at his AFI lifetime achievement award, crossed swords with Dean Martin and often made fun of Bergen for his lips moving.

There were also some special moments honoring the Golden Age of Radio while stars were still living. In a segment from a 1978 special honoring the 75th Anniversary of Kraft Foods, hosted by Bob Hope, brought the Great Gildersleeve (aka Harold Peary), as well as Bergen and McCarthy, to viewers’ screens to pay tribute to those good old days.

4) Reaction Videos

There’s nothing quite like discovering something wonderful for the first time. There’s a special moment where you see a movie and it blows you away on that first viewing. While your understanding of a piece of art might deepen, there’s no chance to really experience that excitement for the first time.

The closest thing to it is watching someone else experience it for the first time. That’s why I have enjoyed quite a few YouTube reaction videos reacting to classic works. Short-form reactors will most often watch skits from Abbott and Costello, particularly Who’s on First.

Others react to movies. There’s a joy in seeing someone discovering a brilliant work like Casablanca or Twelve Angry Men for the first time. However, my favorite film to see a reaction to is It’s a Wonderful Life. I was part of a generation that grew up on this film. When It’s a Wonderful Life was considered in the public domain, it was on all the time and I loved it as it kid. It aired not just at Christmas time, but programming-hungry networks showed it at any time of the year. In fact, I remember watching it in July. Doubtless this is true of many folks who grew up before 1993 (when Republic Pictures pulled a legal rabbit out if its hat to force It’s a Wonderful Life out of the public domain). Truth is I can’t even remember what it was like to have not seen this movie.

That’s why I love reactions to it: to see the bits of the film that surprise them, that move them, and how they see these characters that I’m so familiar with. It can also help me see it in a fresh since I watched it so many times when I was a child and they’re coming to the film the first time as an adult. Seeing someone whose often very different from me connect to a movie I love and seeing what they see has not only allowed me to vicariously share their experience but also often deepened and enhanced my appreciation of the film.

Book Review: The Golden Box

In the Golden Box (1942) by Frances Crane, Jean Holly returns to her small town to care for an ailing relative.The town matriarch dies, and then it appears that a servant has hanged herself, although some think foul play is involved. As it so happens, a detective friend named Pat Abbott comes down to get to the bottom of what’s really going on.

The book is officially listed as the second in the Pat and Jean Abbott mysteries, although that’s a bit of a misnomer, as they’re not married in this book. However, it’s the earliest available book featuring the two I could find.

The book has one glaring problem – for most of its length, it’s very boring. The characters and locale are mostly just there, functional, and nondistinct.The dialogue is much the same, and it makes for a monotonous and tiresome read. Even the relationship between Jean and Pat isn’t all that interesting, and there’s no real hint of a romantic spark between the future married couple. I found myself thinking I’d rather read another Larry Kent book than this. Yes, the book I reviewed was a bad book, but at least it was bad in an interesting way. This book could have been livened up an exposition leprechaun popping up out of nowhere to cut a few dozen pages from this book.

The book does have a few good points. The mystery is slow getting started but is actually fairly good. Jean does have a few moments where her personality shines through, such as when she complains about how unattractive men who do the dishes are (hey, it was the 1940s), and Jean as narrator shares her thoughts on the mystery and helps to stimulate the reader’s interest as well.

Still, The Golden Box is a bit of a slog to get through. That said, I’m not entirely writing off the possibility of reading another novel in the series. This one feels a bit atypical. Jean being at home with her own extended family puts her clearly on the inside with all of the murder suspects and supporting characters, knowing them and integrating back into that world.It’s an awkward position for a secondary character/narrator in a mystery novel. I’d be curious how the characters would play in a less pedestrian setting, and after they’re married.

The Pat and Jean Abbott Mystery series went on for more than 20 novels and while none are classics, it’s hard to believe they were all this dull.

Rating: 2.25 out of 5


The Top Eleven Big Finish Stories of 2022, Part Two

Continued from Part One.

We continue the countdown with my top five Big Finish stories of 2022:

5) Wulf by Aaron Lamont, starring Lisa Bowerman, from Doctor Who: The New Adventures of Bernice Summerfield: Blood and Steel

In the previous story, Professor Bernice “Bennie” Summerfield (Lisa Bowerman) nearly escapes a mass conversion of 1930s German civilians into Cybermen. All the poor unfortunates who were kidnapped into the metal monsters have perished. However, one survives partially converted, and makes it back to his small country village to try to re-integrate into the community.

This is a solid, emotional piece of story-telling that manages to set out a scenario than really explores the consequences of it. This is smartly written and keeps the Doctor mostly out of the story; even Bennie only comes in relatively late. This gives the supporting guest cast a chance to shine, as well allowing the soundscape to enhance the story. Wulf challenges some of the Doctor and Bennie’s beliefs about the Cybermen in a way that’s more intelligent than many modern series’ attempts to do the same. The time period really enhances both the sense of peril and the reactions of the characters. Wulf is a moving, gut-wrenching piece that uses both the characters and the setting to tell a touching and tragic tale.

4) Earthbound by Nicholas Briggs, starring Mark Bonnar, from the box set Space 1999: Earthbound

Commander Koenig (Bonnar) has enough to worry about just trying to keep Moonbase Alpha functioning. But Commissioner Simmons (Timothy Bentick) is frustrated by the lack of effort toward finding a way back to Earth, even though returning to Earth would be so impractical that there’s no point in anyone on Alpha dedicating their efforts to it. Simmons organizes a small mutiny that forces Koenig to call a referendum on whether to begin Project Earthbound to return to Earth.

This and the plot of the next story were covered in a single episode, but as he did in writing the pilot episode, “Breakaway,” script editor Nicholas Briggs makes a smart call to expand the story into two episodes. While many stories in the era could be padded, some definitely needed room to breathe, and the referenda storyline definitely fell into the latter category. In particular, whenever a vote is called for on a ship or military base, in a sci-fi series, it seems out of place, as that’s not how those organizations function and the vote is run in a way that’s hard to take seriously.

Here, everything is given proper weight. Moonbase Alpha’s very unique situation, where they’re no longer within their mission perimeters (having been blasted into deep space), and they have a civil political figure on board, makes this far more plausible. The debate is handled well, and we get to see the aftermath and effect of the vote. The way the vote happens has social commentary elements without feeling hackneyed or ham-handed.

This is a solid piece of drama that just happens to be set in space.

3) If I Should Die Before I Wake by John Dorney, starring Paul McGann and India Fisher, from Classic Doctors, New Monsters, Volume 3
The 8th Doctor (Paul McGann) and Charlotte Pollard (India Fisher) were a marquee Doctor/Companion team at Big Finish in the 2000s. They were reunited in five stories, including their own separate box set. To my mind, this is the best story.
The Eighth Doctor is telling Charley a bedtime story, a story where she dies. Why? And why is Charley trying so hard to thwart him?

This script focuses on the modern series monsters, the Dream Crabs, but still manages to recapture that early 2000s feel of the Eighth Doctor and Charley and what made that pairing work. There are also touches of other classic Charlotte Pollard stories. In many ways, this feels like a sequel to Solitaire, one of John Dorney’s earliest Big Finish scripts.

At the same time, India Fisher is on top of her game. I don’t think she’s ever been better. Overall, this has a great puzzle, a superb script, two great performances from the leads, solid direction, and a really great dreamscape sound design.

2) The Ravencliff Witch by David Llewelyn, starring Tom Baker

The Doctor (Tom Baker) arrives at a small seaside village where strange disappearances are happening at the local power station, which has a very hush-hush attitude about its source of energy. The village is haunted increasingly by a menacing visitor known as the Ravencliff Witch.

The atmosphere is superb, with both the sound design and Jamie Robertson’s music doing a great job to set the tone for the piece. The story has some good turns, although it’s by no means groundbreaking. This is a story that does take its time and builds up tension nicely. It also features well-thought-out and well-developed supporting characters who are all played by excellent actors. Tom Baker also is solid in a performance that’s one of his more serious takes on the Doctor. His last few minutes in the story are really well-done and beautifully subtle.

This is a superb story: spooky, engaging, and with some wonderful character moments throughout.

1) The Auton Infinity by Tim Foley, starring Peter Davison

The Auton Infinity is an example of a classic, massive Doctor Who Anniversary special, a six-part story celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Peter Davison premiering as the 5th Doctor. It includes the Brigadier, the Autons, and a host of surprise companions and guest characters. Several of these stories have crashed under the weight of their own bloated plots, while others make for a delightful romp almost of themselves.

The Infinity of the Autons is one that really nails it. It’s well-paced, and rather than padding out the running time as many stories in the classic era do, it’s full of great surprises and surprising reveals. Each of the five cliffhangers is superb, with the second being a particular standout. The acting is very good, with Peter Davison turning in a multi-faceted performance. Jon Culshaw does yeoman’s work in portraying multiple characters. Howard Carter’s music is glorious. It’s pitch-perfect to the 1980s and true to the era.

While this is a love letter to the entirety of Davison’s TV run, it doesn’t have that sort of condescending approach that can turn off listeners. It’s the type of play that’s fan-pleasing without coming off as fan service. The Autons Infinity never stops being a good story. This is a well-made and thrilling production that really makes every minute of the three hour runtime worth it.

The Top Eleven Big Finish Audio Releases of 2022, Part One

The last few years, I’ve completed rankings of the top ten individual stories from the British audio drama producer, Big Finish. This year, I’m doing a top eleven list due to a special circumstance in this year’s story that we’ll talk about in this post.

As usual, I can’t claim to have listened to ALL of Big Finish’s magnificent output. My listening has been mostly to its Doctor Who and related ranges (for which Big Finish is most famous), but I’ve also listened to their Sherlock Holmes, The Avengers, Space 1999, and UFO releases. As the late great Regis Philbin once stated, “I’m only one man.” So I haven’t heard everything.

I’ll also warn that there’s some continuity notes ahead because as good as these stories are, most come from series that are not quite as straightforward as in years past.

11) I, Kamelion by Dominic Martin, read by Dan Starkey

This story is a bit of a surprise. It came as an interlude (aka an hour-plus long audiobook) for those who bought The Fifth Doctor Adventures: Forty, Volume 1, the first of two box sets to mark the fortieth anniversary of Peter Davison debuting as the Fifth Doctor. But this one is interesting and it features an unlikely hero: Kamelion.

Kamelion was a shapeshifting robot introduced in Davison’s second season. He was to be a companion for the Fifth Doctor, but the robot didn’t work. He was brought back over audio by Big Finish a few years back in a series of stories. My problem with that series was that it made Kamelion the central focus, and only served to show him as a problematic figure who constantly made life difficult for the TARDIS crew. Leave it to Dominic Martin to give us a story that gives Kamelion his due.

Kamelion finds himself having become an actual human being, not (as happened on the TV series) just disguised as one. He has to figure out what happened, and several peoples’ lives, including that of the Doctor and Turlough, are on the line.

The story is emotionally satisfying and explores Kamelion’s character in a very effective way, as well as showing how he relates to the other characters. While other stories have had robots inhabit human bodies, I thought that writer Dominic Martin added some really nice touches in exploring what that would mean to the robot.

Kamelion is a disliked or at least disregarded companion, but this story at last gives him a chance to shine and to make a difference in the best way possible. This was just a real treat to listen to.

10) The End by Rochana Patel and starring Jacob Dudman from The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles: Geronimo

This is part of The Eleventh Doctor Chronicles in which actor/impressionist Jacob Dudman portrays the Eleventh Doctor, who was portrayed on television by Matt Smith. In this story, the Doctor and his new companion Valerie Harper (Safiyya Ingar) arrive on a spaceship in peril twice simultaneously. In one timeline, the Doctor has been poisoned; in another, it’s Valerie. Together they have to solve the mystery of what’s going on.

This story has a lot going for it. The concept puts a fresh twist on the sort of time-wimey madness that happens in Doctor Who at all levels, while at the same time really exploring the characters of the Doctor and Valerie as they are pushed to the edge in multiple ways. The same is true of the guest cast, who are immaculately written in this story.

9) The Outlaws by Lizbeth Miles and Starring Steven Noonan from Doctor Who: The First Doctor Adventures: The Outlaws

This story sees the debut of Stephen Noonan as Big Finish’s new First Doctor (who was played on television by William Hartnell), with Lauren Cornelius playing Dodo (originally played on television by Jackie Lane) and featuring comedian Rufus Hound playing the villain, the Meddling Monk.

The Doctor and Dodo arrive in thirteenth century Lincoln, as England is under attack by King Louie and the Sheriff is having to deal with constant attacks from outlaws.

There’s a lot to like about this. It does a great job capturing the feel of a Hartnell-era historical. The story leans more into the comic rather than the tragic style of historicals. There are some really fun, delightful moments, with a few deaths to bring things back down to Earth.

Stephen Noonan is superb. He plays the first Doctor with a twinkle in his eye that comes through the audio. He does such a great job capturing Hartnell’s Doctor, even turning Hartnell’s “mistakes” into part of the performance.

Rufus Hound once again is excellent, playing in a scheme that’s a bit more consistent with where the Monk began as a character. Hound and Noonan are particularly fun together, with superb performance chemistry.

8) The Prints of Denmark by Paul Morris and starring Wendy Padbury and Rufus Hound from Doctor Who: The Companion Chronicles, The Second Doctor, Volume 3:

The Monk is on a mission and runs into Zoe Herriott (Padbury) at a museum. Finding out she’s a companion to the Doctor, he decides to bring her along for the ride. Will Zoe be able to turn the tables on the Monk, or will she inadvertently change Earth’s history forever by being led down a path one step at a time by the Monk?

There’s a lot to like about this story. Rufus Hound is given free rein in a story that really fits his characterization perfectly. As the human computer, Zoe becomes the perfect straight man in a lovely double act. Their interactions are perfect. I particularly enjoyed the irony of the Monk challenging the absurd cosmology Doctor Who portrays that makes time practically sentient while Zoe defends it.

The story is a brilliant continuity deep cut on the Monk’s original appearance on Doctor Who. There are also all sorts of interesting side features and Rufus Hounds gets to show a nice bit of flexibility, even appearing as himself.

This is the funniest Big Finish story in an age.

7) Death Will Not Part Us by Alfie Shaw Shaw and read by Adele Anderson. Released as Part of Doctor Who Short Trips, Volume 11
6) Rewind written by Timothy X Atack and starring Jonathan Carley. Released as Part of Doctor Who: The War Doctor Begins, Volume 3
These stories each achieve the same thing and do it in their own way. The Time War is a huge event in modern Doctor Who, as this was between the Daleks and the Time Lords that spanned countless eons and found the entire universe as a battlefield, with other species constantly having their history rewritten or being written or out of existence, all while time-altering weapons wreak untold mischief. While Big Finish has many stories set during this period, few have really captured the horror and emotional trauma this would bring to those unfortunate enough to find themselves caught between the two sides These stories do so brilliantly.
“Death Will Not Part Us” is a short audiobook. This story follows a woman whose planet was wiped out by the Time Lords, but she finds a weapon that allows her to rewind time and start again and even strike back at her enemies. It’s powered by the days of her life. Each time she fires the gun, she loses part of her past, but it’s a sacrifice she’ll make to save her world. This is a great story of an ordinary person getting caught in a war between two sides led by mad beings who believe they should control all reality.
“Rewind” is from The War Doctor Begins series which stars Jonathan Carley as a younger version of the character played by the late John Hurt on television.

This story follows Ignis Able (Sarah Moss), a poet and minor local government official focusing on arts and self-fulfillment when the Daleks come and invade to destroy her entire planet, and they do so over and over again, with her reliving those last hours in a continual loop, until she sees a light from the tower to investigate.

This is a great concept that does a few important things for the Time War. By being narrated by Ignis, you get a feeling of how the War affects those races caught in the Time War from the inside, and the horrific nature of it. At the same time, you also get a feeling for why the Doctor feels such guilt about his actions in the Time War. The Doctor is completely in character. He’s not trying to be cruel, but nonetheless, his actions help lead to pain and suffering.

I can’t say enough good things about Sarah Moss’ performance. She does a great job bringing Ignis to life. She’s brave, but has a poet’s soul.  She’s a mix of grit, sensitivity, creativity, and maybe just a little bit of impracticality. The ending is very bold and leaves the listener with a lot to think about.

To be continued next week.

Streaming Review: The Glass Onion

A multi-billionaire (Edward Norton) throws a murder mystery party for his closest associates (played by an all-star cast of Kate Hudson, Dave Bautista, Kathryn Hahn, and Leslie Odom,Jr.). Everyone is surprised when his estranged business partner (Janelle Monae) shows up, along with the world’s greatest detective, Benoit Blanc (Daniel Craig), who also starred in the previous film (Knives Out).

The setting, location, and all-star cast are evocative of the great Agatha Christie adaptation films starring Peter Ustinov, particularly Evil Under the Sun. There are some really solid performances, most notably Craig, who really shines in every moment on-screen. Also, the film features welcome cameos by the late Angela Lansbury and Stephen Sondheim, which are sadly brief, but relevant to the plot.

The film is not the equal of its predecessor for a number of reasons.

As a matter of personal taste, I didn’t find setting the story in the midst of the pandemic to be in good taste. It has minor relevance to the plot but wasn’t essential. There’s a reason why the flu pandemic of 1918 was practically forgotten in the public consciousness until COVID-19 hit. It wasn’t a great time to live through and people would rather forget it. This isn’t to say that the pandemic should never be on film, but this is a classic case of “too soon”, particularly for a mystery movie that should have an escapist feel to it. Featuring masks and even having a scene on CNN with mounting death tolls and cases cuts against that.

The movie has a twist that’s revealed more than an hour in that leads the story to cut back and recontextualize some previous scenes. I’ve seen this technique used before but not in a mystery film. I’m not opposed to it, but I think it takes too long in this film and hurts the pacing. It’s also a case where the new context leads to scenes that are less entertaining and interesting than the ones in the original context.

The film also has a problem with its characterization. I blame social media and the illusion it creates, that we “know” people, including famous people, from their Instagram posts and Twitter accounts. In The Glass Onion, it feels less like human beings are getting together and more like social media profiles are. This surface-level characterization shows up in a well-worn plot element being introduced, and again with an even more tired method of saving one character’s life, a method that had been debunked on Mythbusters more than a decade ago. The plot would make this a fitting subject for a YouTube series such as How It Should Have Ended or Pitch Meeting.

Add to that an ending that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and I really left with a less-than-stellar viewing experience, despite some high points. I loved Knives Out (review here) but I have mixed feeling about The Glass Onion. It left me pessimistic about getting good detective movies in the 2020s .

Rating: 3 out of 5


The Glass Onion is available to streem for free on Netllix.