Review of Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal

December 23, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Reviews 

SFFaudio Review

Tales of the Red Panda The Crime Cabal by Gregg Taylor

Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal
By Gregg Taylor; Read by Gregg Taylor
Publisher: Audible
Release Date: October 17, 2012
ISBN: 9780986856334
Playing time: 5 hours 53 minutes [UNABRIDGED]

Themes: pulp / heroes / depression era / gangs / zombies / bombs / hypnotism / secret identities / roof tops / grapnel guns

Depression-era Toronto is the setting for Gregg Taylor’s pulp hero The Red Panda and his sidekick The Flying Squirrel. The novel opens with the last of the big gangs in the city being brought to Justice; Police Chief O’Mally railing against the masked vigilantes at loose in his city. While the Press love the hero: defender of the weak, the poor and the downtrodden of society.

Out from the ashes of the many gangs that our hero’s have crushed rises a new gang, The Crime Cabal. This new gang knows that for them to flourish, they must deal with The Red Panda once and for all. But there is more behind the Cabal than a simple gang. When the hulking enforcers of the gang turn out to be zombies it’s clear that this is no ordinary gang.

The Tales of the Red Panda: The Crime Cabal is the first novel set within the same setting as the podcast audio dramas, also written and produced by Gregg Taylor under the Decoder Ring Theatre banner. There is continuity between the podcast and the novel, but the novel does stand on it’s own, even providing an origin story for one of the long running supporting characters. The setting and characters are all introduced with enough background and flare to be fully formed within the novel alone.

Gregg Taylor does a commendable job with the narration and the characters. Of note are the character voices especially as I’ve listened to the audio dramas for some years. Taylor captures the essence of the voices of the characters as they have been portrayed by other actors. For several years in some cases. So, even if you have listened to the podcasts you won’t be disappointed by the the portrayal of familiar characters, and if you haven’t then they come out fully formed characterizations.

My only niggle is that in the first few chapters the narration feels just a little rushed in places, but this passes.

Posted by Paul [W] Campbell

The SFFaudio Podcast #085

December 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Podcasts 

Podcast

The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #085 – Jesse talks with Gregg Taylor (aka Martin Bracknell aka Red Panda) of Decoder Ring Theatre about The Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice.

Talked about on today’s show:
Decoder Ring Theatre, Gregg is not as famous as Cher yet, something the same and something different, Girl’s Night Out, telling the mystery man’s story, World War II, Vancouver, secret identities, The Grey Fox (Vancouver’s own superhero), were there Japanese spy rings in Vancouver circa 1940?, Margo Lane, espionage, Nazi masterminds fomenting fifth-columns, Nazi Eyes On Canada |READ OUR REVIEW|, buying war bonds, Toronto, She’s secretly Japanese and secretly a superhero, Japanese-Canadian internment, Attack on Pearl Harbour, details from upcoming Red Panda Adventures episodes, the Dieppe raid, single-handedly defeating Hitler seems un-Canadian, augmented-dinosaurs, Professor von Schlitz, Captain America, Indiana Jones, how Gregg Taylor handicapped himself, “the man with an identity so secret even the audience doesn’t know it”, weaving a tangled web of lies, Superman was 4F, The Spirit, would static-shoes actually work?, Garth Ennis’ The Boys, what superhero you like tells us about you, the Martian Manhunter‘s kryptonite, Justice League: The New Frontier, Batman‘s superpower is a strength of will, Kit Baxter’s superpower is moxie, Trixie Dixon, creating dynamic female leads, CBC TV, the gender bending episode of Black Jack Justice (Justice In Love And War), Steven J. Cannell‘s Scene Of The Crime, gender switching, Black Jack Justice Hush Money, Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne, the formation of Black Jack Justice in opposition to The Red Panda Adventures, writing detective fiction vs. writing superhero fiction, Richard Diamond: Private Detective, the self-narrating hard-boiled post-war detective, The Adventures Of Sam Spade, paying your actors in corn, Philip Marlowe, writing drama in the half-hour format, Red Panda and retroactive continuity, an alternative universe that isn’t much different just a lot sillier, Baboon McSmoothie, the prime minister’s talking dog, the Moonlighting moment, flashback episodes, the Red Panda novels, Thomas Perkins, beautiful cover art helps, that repeated line: “It’s an interesting point.”, Aaron Sorkin, J. Michael Straczynski’s Babylon 5, Aaron Sorkin’s The West Wing, Gregg Taylor’s Decoder Ring Theatre, The Maltese Falcon, Sherlock Holmes, The Shadow, Orson Welles, a good TV show is like a play, The Green Hornet, “the MP3 revolution saved old time radio”, Gregg’s most frequently ignored piece of advice (write and record several shows before you release), might Decoder Ring one day adapt Cyrano or a Shakespeare play?, theater people are wonderful, Gregg would love to do cartoons (call him!), the Black Jack Justice comic, Gregg loves comics too!, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund, the continuity of stories makes them more real, the nearly static Black Jack universe, Robert B. Parker, Spenser, the Jesse Stone tragedy, if Gregg gets crushed by a cement mixer…, The Old Testament God vs. New Testament God.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 2

July 1, 2007 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

As a special CANADA DAY treat for everyone worldwide, Podiobooks.com has scored the entire 2nd Season of The Red Panda Adventures! The entire season is up and ready for download today! And here’s our review of it…

Podiobooks Audio Drama: The Red Panda Adventures - Season TwoThe Red Panda Adventures – Season Two
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a FULL CAST
12 MP3 Files – Approx. 5.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: DecoderRingTheatre.com / Podiobooks.com
Published: 2006/2007
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Supervillains / 1930s / Toronto / Secret Identities / Hypnotism / Magic / Parallel Worlds /

Mad Monkey: “Security pays, but it can’t live without fear. And all I want is my cut.” -Episode 20: Monkeyshines

Like the first season of The Red Panda Adventures, season two is an incontestably enjoyable frolic through original, but familiar, comic book territory. The Red Panda and his faithful driver, Kit Baxter (AKA Flying Squirrel), patrol Toronto rooftops by static boot, and whunk their way through superhero sized pneumatic tubes concealed about the city, fighting wrongdoers. New and old supervillains, voiced by professional audio actors, execute egregious crimes that can only be foiled by a prosperous panda with hypnotic powers and a volitant rodent with a mean right-hook.

The second season has more of what made the first season so terrific. Standouts in traditional storytelling include episode 14: The Sunday Supplement, Episode 16: The Sweet Tooth, and Episode 20: Monkeyshines. The latter introduces a terrific new antagonist called “The Mad Monkey,” an arch-scoundrel on par with DC Comics rogues like The Joker and The Penguin. Season two also has a few episodes that expand the storytelling in different directions. Episode 18, for instance, was the long requested Secret Origins episode – in which we discover the first ever meeting of Panda and Squirrel. Episode 15: When Darkness Falls tells its tale from the perspective of a young boy in a city with a vigilante superhero. And episode 24: The World Next Door posits the existence of an alternate universe in which the Red Panda is a Nazi fighter and the Flying Squirrel is a teenage boy! In naming this show an SFFaudio essential I’ve got to cite both the writing and the production. The acting here is absolutely tops. Recording the scenes in-studio, together, works. The writing is perky, puissant, perfect, and seemingly effortless. The series scribe, Gregg Taylor, is a master storyteller.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 1

November 6, 2006 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews 

SFFaudio Audiobook Review

Podiobooks Audio Drama: The Red Panda Adventures - Season OneThe Red Panda Adventures – Season One
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a FULL CAST
12 MP3 Files – Approx. 5.5 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: DecoderRingTheatre.com / Podiobooks.com
Published: 2005/2006
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Supervillains / 1930s / Toronto / Secret Identities / Hypnotism /

Flying Squirrel: “We could have two super-power’d loons on our hands.” -Episode 11: Duality

Masks, grapple-guns, static boots, retractable membranes, ring-radios? Check. Supervillains with names like The Golden Claw, The Electric Eel and Diablo? Check. Okay then, tune your podcatcher to ‘pure pulp’ and break out the hockey organ because The Red Panda Adventures – Season One is ready to glide into justice. This first 12 episode season is full of flying kung fu fists, mesmerizing hypnosis, snappy dialog and mystery. Most memorable for me are the characters and the dialogue. Plot lines are reminiscent of comic-book and radio serials from yesteryear but the parlance is all modernistic as filtered through a roaring-twenties speech pattern paradigm. Episode 2: Night Mission and Episode: 7 Red Panda Wanted Dead Or Alive stood-out because these episodes highlighted the interaction between the love-blind hero, Red Panda, and his adoring sidekick The Flying Squirrel. The Panda’s superpowers are a cross between those of The Green Hornet and The Shadow. He’s a master hypnotist, able to cloud the minds of villains. Other fun aspects are the introduction of other superheroes and superhero groups, in a way the whole show reminds me of animated version of The Tick if it were played slightly straighter.

The Red Panda Adventures – Season One is a super-fun diversion delivered in delicious half-hour doses. The only thing better than the production of this fab audio drama series is the vocal talent. I get endless kicks out of the sexual tension between the oblivious Red Panda and his pining sidekick/driver Kit Baxter. Their city, 1930s Toronto, is quieter than many other audio dramas, I hear less foley and fewer sound effects, I like that they aren’t obsessed with putting in the sound of footsteps in every scene – it usually isn’t necessary. Also nice is that from episode one of this series this show really works. This is probably because of the experience gained during the previous Red Panda incarnation (a six episode series set during WWII). Season Two is already underway and I look forward to devouring it too.

Posted by Jesse Willis