“HEY ABBOTT!” Bud Abbott and Lou Costello make up one of the greatest comedy teams of all-time. My aunt had a record set of various routines that I used to listen to when I was a kid, long before I had seen their movies or TV show, and even longer before I was aware of their radio show. I realize now that most of those routines came from the radio show (possibly earlier). This episode features the grand-daddy of Abbott & Costello routines, “Who’s on First?”
This routine had, of course, been used several times on radio and on film prior to this specific episode. There were effectively no reruns in those days, though, so if you had a popular bit that people enjoyed you simply worked it into another show. An injury to Joe DiMaggio gave Abbott & Costello a platform to reuse the skit under the pretense that Lou would take Joe’s place on the Yankees.
The duo worked on radio in some for or another from 1938 until they moved to TV in 1951. Many of their routines still hold up today. I hope you enjoy.
ABBOTT & COSTELLO
“Costello is Invited to Join the Yankees”
April 17, 1947
Cast: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Marilyn Maxwell, Skinnay Ennis, Michael Roy
BrokenSea Audio Productions’ “Jake Sampson: Monster Hunter” series is excellent, but provides me with a challenge. Being a series of 4 and 5 part serials, it makes it very tough to choose a favorite episode. The best solution I could come up with is to share my favorite story-arc.
The series is a pulp inspired 1930s adventure show starring Mark Kalita as Jake Sampson. Kalita could be called online audio drama’s answer to William Conrad. His voice is completely different, but his body of work must rival Conrad’s OTR appearances. Sampson is joined on his adventures by pilot Texas Holdem and former lion tamer Lucy Carter. The show incorperates historical figures, such as authors Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs, along with fictional characters like John Carter and Fu Manchu. All of these elements exist in the same pulp-tastic universe.
“Gods of War” is the fifth Jake Sampson story, and my favorite. This story was written by Bill Hollweg, who always sounds like he’s having the time of his life in the role of Texas Holdem. Throw together Winston Churchill, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Fu Manchu and Barsoom, and you have a pulp adventure like no other. I hope you listen to it all, and enjoy it as much as I do.
JAKE SAMPSON: MONSTER HUNTER
“The Gods of War” (parts 1-5)
Cast: Mark Kalita, Bill Hollweg, Natasha Lathrop, David Sobkowiak, Paul Mannering, Elie Hirschman, Chris Williams, Matt Weller, Joe Stofko, Gwendolyn Jensen-Woodard, Gareth Preston, Chris Barnes, Perry Whittle, Glen Witco Sheetz, Garry Cobbum, Carl Woods, Jack Ward, Alan Sobkowiak, Stevie Farnaby, Paetar Frandsen, David Drage
Writer: Bill Hollweg
Producer: Bill Hollweg
I had not really planned to veer into other subjects already, but both of these prose works by two of my favorite modern audio dramatists hit the same day, so I wanted to help promote them.
First, Tim Prasil has begun officially releasing his “Vera Van Slyke: Help for the Haunted” short stories over on his blog. I read and enjoyed the preview releases, and am also reading these revised official releases. The first story, “The Minister’s Unveiling,” is available now for free in epub, kindle and pdf formats. Tim has written a total of 9 Showcase episodes for Decoder Ring Theatre, including fantastic “Marvellous Boxes” anthology. I urge you to check out his DRT and Vera Van Slyke stories.
Next, Decoder Ring Theatre’s Chief Bottle Washer, Gregg Taylor, has a new novel out in ebook form (print coming in the very near future). “Finn’s Golem” is not connected to his Red Panda or Black Jack Justice work. It is the third and final version of his sci-fi/detective story about private investigator Drake Finn. Longtime DRT followers may remember the Showcase episode “I.D.0,” which was the second version of the story (the first was an unfinished mobile video series titled “Clean Slate”).
For more on Tim Prasil’s Vera Van Slyke, and to get the first story, go here:
Today I want to share one of my favorite episodes of “The Six Shooter,” Jimmy Stewart’s western series. First, some background on the show:
Beginning September 20, 1953, “The Six Shooter” starred Jimmy Stewart as roaming cowboy Britt Ponsett. It ran on NBC for 39 episodes. Stewart had previously played the character in a popular episode of “Hollywood Star Playhouse.” Frank Burt, series creator, wrote the scripts, Basil Adlam provided the music, and Jack Johnstone directed. It was an intelligent western, rather than action-packed shoot-’em-up.
“Trail to Sunset” is a favorite of mine because it is quite different from anything else I have heard. Lynch mobs are, of course, a common plot device in westerns. The Lone Ranger and Marshall Dillon stopped them frequently. I’ve never heard a lynch mob story from this angle before – what if the lynch mob was successful, but had the wrong man? It’s a very subtle episode, primarily conversation, but I find it to be a very powerful episode as well, raising questions of moral and ethical nature. If you listen, I hope you find it as good an episode as I do.
THE SIX SHOOTER
“Trail to Sunset”
January 31, 1954
Cast: James Stewart, Robert Griffin, Harry Bartell, Lamont Johnson, Howard McNear, Forrest Lewis
Writer: Frank Burt
Director: Jack Johnstone
I just wanted to share some thoughts I have on audio drama. I have come to consider it my favorite form of entertainment. I can listen while I drive, while I shovel snow, while I wash dishes, even while I work out. I can fit it into my schedule. Everyday there are a million things going on so I cannot always find time to read or watch a movie, and forget about a weekly TV show. Thanks to my mp3 player, I can listen whenever.
One thing I’ve learned about AD is to not judge a series based on listening to only one episode (and never the audition episode, which often is quite different from the way a series turns out). A few years ago, I listened to one episode of the Red Panda. I couldn’t get past the organ music and didn’t listen again until January, 2012. Once I had decided to listen to a few episodes to really get a feel for it, the Red Panda quickly became one of my top favorite series. I can say the same for many other shows. Now, I always try to listen to 3-4 episodes before I make up my mind about a series.
I am not a critic or a reviewer. Today, the people who create new AD and share OTR do it purely for the love of the medium, and there is nothing more noble than that. Every writer, actor, producer, director and listener has their own tastes and preferences. I am of the “if you can’t say anything nice…” persuasion, so I am simply sharing episodes I especially enjoy.
I am not here to do my own podcast. I am not adding my own intros or anything. I will link to the downloads and pages from either the AD production companies themselves or the Internet Archive for OTR. I am simply pointing out things I enjoy, hoping others will too.
In the coming year I’m actually going to try to use this space. To start, I’m going to write about one of my favorite past times – Old Time Radio/Audio Drama, though I may venture into other things from time to time.
Having missed the Golden Age of Radio by a couple of decades, I attribute a large portion of my interest in audio drama to my repeated listening of Power Records and the “Story of Star Wars” albums as a kid. It gave me an appreciation of the medium most younger people don’t have. Hopefully in sharing things like the Lone Ranger and the Red Panda with my kids, I pass on the love of the art form so it will never die out completely.