The SFFaudio Podcast #418 – This Hour Has 17 Programs by Paul K. Willis and Michael Boncoeur AUDIO DRAMA
The SFFaudio Podcast #418 – This Hour Has 17 Programs by Paul K. Willis and Michael Boncoeur was first broadcast on CBC FM Radio, June 30th, 1984 (airing on the weekend variety show, The Entertainers, hosted by Jim Wright).
now for something completely different, Peter Gzowski, A.M. Morning, Wayne Gretzky, a musical about nuclear war: We Are Your Dead, Toronto’s new domed city ward, The Trojan Women, Morningside, Margaret Atwood, the Group Of Seven, Greenpeace, the Queen Charlotte Islands, whale songs, the letters of Noel Coward and Adolph Hitler, a book of Canadian fairy tales, Calgary, W.O. Mitchell, Lister Sinclair, the Dominion Observatory Time Signal, a farmer’s daughter’s auction, a call in show, R.S.V.P., musical requests, Sheena Easton, Kenny Rogers, a rush hour traffic report, As It Happens, Ronald Reagan’s nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, Muammar Gaddafi, Brian Mulroney, Joe Clark, Pierre Trudeau, Queen Elizabeth II, Lips Carlson (raging communist and terrible musician), Joe McCarthy, Book Time, The Fat Lady Next Door Just Fell Out The Window, Basic Black, Arthur Black, philately, The Frantics, Rick Green, the New Democratic Party, Quirks & Quarks, Jay Ingram, the destruction of the Earth, the toaster, who makes the best scientists?, Winnipeg, Danny Finkleman, the Funny Hat Festival in Nanaimo, Rita Hayworth, Sunday Morning, Ed Broadbent, Maureen Forrester sings rock songs, John McEnroe, The Margaret Atwood Exercise Book, Yuri Andropov, Konstantin Chernenko, Sunday Matinee, Six Days Without A Bath, Our Native Land, Gilmour’s Albums, Clyde Gilmour, The Maltese Falcon, James Mason in a teenage sexploitation movie, Cross Country Checkup, Brian Mulroney, question: Do you want to be obliterated in a nuclear holocaust?, “world peace is provincial matter”, credits, the Smothers Brothers, Steve Martin, Renegade Nuns On Wheels, All In The Family, This Is Spinal Tap
Cast and crew:
Michael Boncoeur, writer, performer
Gay Claitman, performer
Frank Daly, performer
John Disney, producer
Catherine Galant, performer
Ray Landry, performer
Cathy Parry, sound effects
Tom Shipton, technical operations
Paul K. Willis, writer, performer
Posted by Jesse Willis
Review of Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume One: 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Dan Dare: The Audio Adventures, Volume 1, 1: Voyage To Venus, 2: The Red Moon Mystery, and 3: Marooned On Mercury
Adapted from the Eagle comic strip; Performed by a full cast
3 Episodes – 3 hours, 9 minutes [AUDIO DRAMA]
Publisher: Big Finish
Published: January 2017
Three audio adventures based on the Eagle comic strip “Dan Dare” created by Rev. Marcus Morris, adapted and drawn by Frank Hampson.
Brilliant test pilot, Dan Dare, is chosen to fly the Anastasia – a new experimental
spacecraft – on its maiden voyage to Venus. This isn’t exploration – it is to make first
contact with a mysterious civilisation that has sent technological secrets as a goodwill
gesture. However, what Dan, Digby and Professor Peabody find on Venus isn’t
goodwill, but a terrifyingly intelligent, cold-hearted ruler, the Mekon. A creature
destined to become Dan Dare’s nemesis – and Earth’s greatest threat…
Unable to return to Earth, Dan Dare and the crew of the Anastasia head to the
desolate planet Mars, where Dan’s estranged Uncle Ivor is part of a research team
working on a top-secret archaeological dig; but when they find the base wrecked and
the scientists missing, Dare, Digby and Professor Peabody soon discover that the Red
Planet is not nearly as dead as everyone thought and that Ivor’s expedition has
woken an army of deadly insect-creatures that threaten to swarm and engulf the
Earth… Dare must stop the aliens, but can he really resort to genocide in order to
save the human race?
When a distress call summons the crew of the Anastasia to the burning wilderness of
Mercury, they are reunited with their old ally, Sondar. He tells them of the
beleaguered Mercurians who are held in thrall to a cruel new taskmaster – the
Mekon! The exiled Mekon is rallying his forces, plotting a desperate revenge against
his former homeworld of Venus and his hated enemy, Colonel Dan Dare!
It had been quite some time since I’d heard much about Dan Dare, at least twenty or more years until the classic comic character’s adventures were rebooted by ace author Garth Ennis in 2009 for Dynamite Comics. I was glad to hear that B7 Media, those folks responsible for the terrific Blake’s 7 adventures from a few years back have revived the man with the iconic name: Dan Dare.
Taking advantage of the audio drama format, these three new Big Finish Dan Dare adventures are truly terrific entertainment. They’re modern boy’s own-style space adventures, a kind of unapologetically forthright solar space opera, and starring no less a figure than Britain’s most iconic test pilot turned space adventurer, Dan Dare. For those unfamiliar, Dan Dare is one of those lapping-over delights from the end of the British Empire days, an ever just so slightly alien import – like the Rupert Bear books, or Captain Britain, or even Judge Dredd – and as delightful as a tin full of Turkish delight!
It is hard for me to review audio drama the same way I review audiobooks. I listen to audio drama at night with my eyes closed just as I’m drifting off into Dreamland. This means if I want to review them, I must re-listen to the shows over and over in order to get all my facts straight (that I love to is a side benefit). I need to know exactly what’s in the show itself, and what I only dreamed was in the show. And in my nightly re-listening for two weeks, I must say that all three episodes are really terrific – professional – solid work – as good as you would want them to be. Even with three different writing teams for three episodes and the fact that the three shows are mapped to three storylines from the very inception of Dan Dare, there’s very little for me to complain about. If you pushed me, really pushed me for some hard critiques of the shows as a whole I could come up with a few pitiful ones. I’d say, maybe, that the actors for Digby and Dan have voices just a bit too similar to each other, that maybe the personality of Professor Peabody – going from a hard-ass corporate profiteer to a stalwart champion of the undertrodden is a bit quick. But I really cannot complain. I got two wonderful weeks of nightly entertainment from these three episodes; each combining some of the very best elements of some of my favourite adventures into three all new shows. I’m telling you, if you like stories like The Empire Strikes Back, or Metropolis, or DOOM, or Aliens you’ll certainly love these new Dan Dare adventures.
Now, twist my arm just a bit more and I’ll tell you a secret… oh yes, I loved the first and second episodes, but that third episode, with those wonderful sympathetic Mercurians… it is my favourite.
Some fun, fast facts comparing Dan Dare in 1950 and Dan Dare in 2017.
-In the original comic strip Digby was Dan’s batman (his gentleman’s gentleman), not so in 2017.
-In the 2017 audio drama, Dan Dare is a vlogger!
-In 2017, Dan Dare’s dad is in hospital, in what sounds like a coma, and he regularly visits him (as does Digby).
-Professor Peabody was a professor in 1950 and still is a professor in 2017.
-The 2017 Dan Dare is set in the 2040s, the 1950s Dan Dare was set in the 1990s.
-In the 1950 Dan Dare “Eagle” was the name of the magazine where Dan Dare appeared, in 2017 “Eagle” is the name of the corporation that built Dare’s spaceship.
-And, the 2017 Dan Dare uses the medium of audio drama (or radio drama) as part of the plot.
Here’s a video reviewing the history of Dan Dare:
Posted by Jesse Willis
Jack Ward of the Sonic Society podcast has just informed me of some terrible news (read Jack’s tribute here). Humanity’s friend, Bill Hollweg, of Miles, Texas and BrokenSea Audio Productions, is dead.
I do not know the details of his death, I heard he’d taken his own life, but I do know that whatever he died of it must really have been that his heart was far too big.
To say that Bill was a generous man is to be uncharitable with words. Bill was a champion of that which is best in life, with a voice like a gravel pit and a pen like a sage.
I had far too few meetings with him, and he was a better friend to me than I deserved. I suspect I am not alone in this.
I first found Bill’s work on the web, about a decade ago, and as happens, we soon became, as he put it “amigos.”
His enthusiasm was contagious.
I last heard from in December in a brief comment consisting mostly of an oath to Crom that I “rock” – but the truth is it was Bill who rocked, and I swear it by Crom.
Bill well knew that there was no use in calling on the gods, for they care little for men. They merely laugh and send down dooms, if they even hear. But though Crom is grim and loveless, he gave one boon to Bill, at birth Crom breathed power to strive and create into Bill’s soul.
I, as just one of his chroniclers, do not have the complete picture, but I do know that to live life as Bill did is a goal worthy of any man.
As lovers of the works of Robert E. Howard and Edgar Rice Burroughs how could Bill and I not have become the fastest of friends?
But Bill could surprise me. In one of our last exchanges he told me that he was thinking he needed to “re-read Moby Dick for the zillionth time!” I had, at the time read it only twice.
But truly this is not a tragedy. In fact, it all makes a grim kind of sense. Bill had been a sailor, and like Steve Costigan a fighter. A true veteran, and then a steely warrior, laughing in the face of rent-seeking vampires of cultural suppression. And now, like John Carter, though his body is here, his spirit has left the Earth for more adventurous climes. Call him Ishmael.
Posted by Jesse Willis
The SFFaudio Podcast #407 – The Ego Network by Paul K. Willis was first broadcast on CBC Radio in the Spring of 1987 (airing on the weekend variety show, The Entertainers, hosted by Stan Carew).
“The chances are good that you’ve never heard of The Ego Television Network. caters to the world’s elite. There’s a reason for that, your’e not important enough.The Ego Television Network caters to the world’s political elite, the movers and shakers, the leaders of nations. This program offers a rare glimpse into that most private of networks, you are about to see television as you’ve never seen it before. You may never see its like again, but you will never forget The Ego Network.”
Featuring a TV morning show with Ferdinand Marcos and Jerry Falwell, a Billy Ocean ad for The Betty Ford Clinic, a game show with Saddam Hussein and Ayatollah Khomeini, want ads from Idi Amin, Queen Elizabeth II, and Rudolf Hess. Mikhail Gorbachev’s game show (sponsored by the AK-47). And there’s Margaret Thatcher’s cooking show. PLUS: Muammar Gaddafi, Pik Botha, Nelson Mandela, Neil Kinnock, Jacques Chirac, and His Imperial Majesty [Jean-Bédel] Bokassa I, Emperor of Central Africa by the will of the Central African people, united within the national political party, the MESAN!
Paul K. Willis
sound effects by Anton Szabo and Jean Sarrazin
Engineered by Doug Doctor
Produced by Tom Shipton
Posted by Jesse Willis
Published in 1995, a year prior to the birth of Archive.org (and all that has meant to access to classic radio drama), the “The Smithsonian Collection – Old Time Radio Science Fiction” is a collection of radio dramas likely never to see physical production again. This out of print collection from Radio Spirits, featured a detailed “60” page history booklet on the history of SF in radio, and uniquely, a Ray Bradbury essay as a foreword. Here it is:
Here too are all the radio dramas included in the release:
The Mercury Theatre On the Air – The War Of the Worlds |MP3|
Suspense – Zero Hour |MP3|
Lights Out – The Meteor Man |MP3|
X Minus One – Mars Is Heaven |MP3|
The Mysterious Traveler – Operation Tomorrow |MP3|
Lights Out – Rocket From Manhattan |MP3|*
Family Theater – Twenty thousand Leagues Under The Sea |MP3|
Dimension X – The Martian Chronicles |MP3|
*I have substituted the Arch Obler’s Play version of Rocket To Manhattan for the Lights Out version, but the original Arch Obler’s Plays version is HERE.
Posted by Jesse Willis
Where did helicopter parenting come from? Maybe from the same deep fearful psychological roots as Ray Bradbury’s 1952 short story THE PLAYGROUND.
This Ray Bradbury Vanishing Point adaptation of The Playground is one of Ray Bradbury’s rarest radio dramas! Not available in any of the Archive.org listings, missing from all the other usual sites around the web, I finally tracked down one old archived link and here it is:
Dramatized by Martin Lager
Cast: Roger Dunn, Elva Mai Hoover, Tom Butler, Chance Drury, Keram Malicki-Sanchez, Brian Stittle, Danny Higham
This episode was supposedly broadcast on CBC Radio on November 2, 1984 – but that may not be correct.
Funny thing, I would have suspected this episode didn’t actually exist except for the facts that I had heard it and actually have a copy. Yet, even more strangely it is possible it may never have been broadcast* despite the fact that the end of the preceding episode of Vanishing Point mentions “The Playground” by “Ray Bradbury” will be broadcast “next week”.
This is a really, really rare modern audio drama folks!
For those who’d like to add some details to the various archives around the web here’s the front, back, and inside covers for the 1994 Listening Library commercial release giving the episode’s credits. This last is the only place I’ve found The Playground‘s credits:
Here’s the art from the first magazine publication in Esquire, October 1953:
And here’s The Ray Bradbury Theater TV adaptation, starring William Shatner:
Posted by Jesse Willis
*even the commercial released cassette version above doesn’t have any end of episode credits!