CBSRMT: The Guy de Maupassant Murders by Sam Dann [RADIO DRAMA]

September 5, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Audio Drama, Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

CBS Radio Mystery Theater ran an astounding 1,399 original episodes. Unlike early radio drama series, in which popular episodes were re-staged, sometimes with the exact same script, not one of the nearly 1,400 episodes of CBSRMT episodes was re-done.

And yet, they came pretty damn close once. Episode #0715, which first aired in 1977, is called The Guy de Maupassant Murders. It takes direct inspiration in plot and structure from a short story by Guy de Maupassant called The Diary Of A Madman.

And yet The Diary Of A Madman was itself adapted as episode three years earlier!

Having heard them both I prefer The Guy de Maupassant Murders. I think that’s because I heard it first. But the performance is more interesting too, perhaps because it stars Fred Gwynne, best known for his role as Herman Munster.

When I first heard Gwynne’s performance I thought he was off – that he had just been unprofessional that day – it sounded as if he was just reading the script for the first time while they were recording – but upon a second listening I noticed that the way he delivers the lines completely fits the character and his psychology.

Judge for yourself.

CBS Radio Mystery TheaterCBSRMT #0715 – The Guy de Maupassant Murders
By Sam Dann; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 45 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Broadcaster: CBS
Broadcast: September 26, 1977
The polymathic houskeeper for an aging bachelor judge follows the reports of a serial killer’s flagitious crimes with interest. The only clue is a note left on on each of the victims. It always reads “THOU SHALT KILL.”

Here’s a |PDF| of the story that inspired it.

Fred Gwynne … Judge
Marian Seldes … Martha Mullins
Martha Greenhouse
Nat Polen

Episode #0062 from 1974 is available HERE and there’s handy YouTube version too:

Posted by Jesse Willis

The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley on YouTube

March 20, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: News 

SFFaudio News

One of the finest Science Fiction audiobooks on LibriVox, the novel that was the subject of SFFaudio Podcast #056, here it is …. The Status Civilization by Robert Sheckley on YouTube.

A man awakes with amnesia. He is aboard a spaceship. He is a prisoner. He is gnorant of his crime and his name. His destination is the planet Omega. It is a prison planet from which there is no escape.

If you give it a five minutes, it’ll take you into the full five hours and you’ll know the truth of The Status Civilization!

The regular audiobook is available HERE.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Hugo Blick’s The Shadow Line

August 21, 2011 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Online Audio 

Aural Noir: Online Audio

The Shadow LineLets assume that each medium offers its own best format. If that’s true, then on TV it is the limited series programme that is the least respected and most underrated. Take The Shadow Line, a BBC 2 television series, created written and directed by Hugo Blick and starring Chewitel Ejifor. The UK paper reviewers seem to want to compare it to The Wire or the Danish series The Killing. But that’s wrong. The Shadow Line isn’t much like either. Really it is just good old fashioned thriller, something the BBC TV has done before. It’s more in the vein of House Of Cards or Edge Of Darkness. But this time it comes primarily from a single creator’s vision. This give it an extended metaphor, the “shadow line” of the title, a thread that pops up in new ways in each episode. It is both a point of dialogue and a mass of ideas. Here’s the show’s premise:

A homicide detective, with partial amnesia, returns to the job to investigate the murder of a recently pardoned heroin importer.

The Shadow Line was aimed high, and it achieved many of its goals. Where it works, it works stunningly well. Where it fails, it fails in small ways, and then moves on. In the end it is an utterly noir thriller, a highly stylized television poem and meditation on life, death and society. The methodically slow paced, cryptic, surprisingly ruthless plot delivers its message in a persuasive form, as a limited series. Most refreshing of all, it does not play, as seems does most TV, to the stupidest person in the room. One commenter put it succinctly:

“This series reminds me why it is worth paying a licence fee. Only the BBC makes drama as good as this. Drama that doesn’t treat the audience like morons.”

Another said this:

“Superb series, and the first time for an awfully long time that I’ve seen a drama on TV that’s made my brain work.”

A third, this:

A sheer joy from start to finish, even with the odd line of clunky dialogue. It was crisp and weird, and the odd, crystal-clear delivery and stylised speech of the characters, from the police to the gangsters, made it stand out from a host of dirge that has been on the screens lately. Yes it had flaws, but the complexity, the suspense, the tension, the labyrinthine plotting and the odd-ball cast of characters made it the best British drama for years.

I agree completely.

Discussion of the programme: UK Podcast |MP3|
BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Review podcast |MP3|
British TV Podcast Show #89 |MP3|

Highlights From The Green Room (with Chewitel Ejifor) |MP3|

Posted by Jesse Willis

Aural Noir Review of Unknown (A Special Edition of Out of My Head) by Didier van Cauwelaert, translated by Mark Polizzotti

August 16, 2011 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Reviews 

Aural Noir: Review

BLACKSTONE AUDIO - Unknown by Dider van CauwelaertUnknown (A Special Edition of Out of My Head)
By Didier van Cauwelaert; Translated by Mark Polizzotti; Read by Bronson Pinchot
4 CDs – Approx. 4 Hours 21 Minutes [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Published: December 2010
ISBN: 9781441759788
Themes: / Mystery / Identity / Amnesia / Identity Theft / Science / Botany / France /

This fast-paced thriller is the basis for the February 2011 film Unknown, starring Liam Neeson, Frank Langella, Diane Kruger, and Aidan Quinn. Martin Harris returns home after a short absence to find that his wife doesn’t know him, another man is living in his house under his name, and the neighbors think he’s a raving lunatic. Worse, not a single person — family, colleague, or doctor — can vouch for him. Worse still, the impostor shares all of Martin’s memories, experiences, and knowledge, down to the last detail. He is, in fact, a more convincing Martin than Martin himself. Is it a conspiracy? Amnesia? Is Martin the victim of an elaborate hoax, or of his own paranoid delusion? In his high-powered new novel, Didier van Cauwelaert, the award-winning author of One-Way, explores the illusory nature of identity and the instability of the things we take for granted. Dispossessed of his job, his family, his name, and his very past, Martin Harris is an Everyman caught in an absurd and yet disturbingly convincing nightmare, one that seems to have no exit and that resists every explanation. Part moral fable, part Robert Ludlum-style thriller, Unknown is a fast-paced tale of one man’s desperate attempt to reclaim his existence — even at the cost of his own life.

Unknown is an old fashioned mystery story with an amateur detective who is trying to solve the most important case of his life – his own. The narrative, told in first person, is brisk, fresh, and just slightly foreign. It was such a good for me to have a short novel like this, one that wrapped itself up in less than a day and a half of listening! It reminded me of such wonderful standalone novels as Ed McBain’s Downtown |READ OUR REVIEW| and Donald E. Westlake’s Memory. But unlike those two novels, which had passive protagonists, Martin Harris is competent and determined. He had me investigating and pondering right along with him. I, like he, was attentive to his dilemma, was constantly working through the possibilities of what might be going on, following the thought processes and tripping over the doubts he had in every scene. And, I did all this after seeing the film! I’m really kicking myself about that. Had I read the book, before watching the movie, I think I would have enjoyed the novel quite a bit more. That said, the novel isn’t the movie. The novel is different in tone and detail.

It’s cool to have an intelligent protagonist who thinks through dozens of possible scenarios despite being constantly bombarded by failure. The portrait Didier van Cauwelaert paints, of a distraught victim of identity theft, is full of the kinds of ambiguity and doubt that feels like a very European version of a Robert Ludlum novel. The protagonist may be American, but the novel feels French. The little things that might mean something are everywhere, all the characters seem to have a back story, all of which might be red herrings or just nothing at all and the focus on character and inner-space was surprising. Had the novel been twice the length I doubt I would have enjoyed it half as much.

Bronson Pinchot’s facility with accents is perfect for this novel set in Paris with an American hero. The audiobook is currently available at the Overstock 50% off discounted price (on CD). My thinking is that I did this all wrong, I should have watched the movie after reading the book. If you do it in the right order, let me know what you think of the book, and the movie.

Posted by Jesse Willis

Review of The Red Panda Adventures – Season 6

July 1, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Audio Drama, Reviews, SFFaudio essential 

SFFaudio Review

Happy Canada Day everybody!

Superhero Audio Drama - The Red Panda Adventures - Season FiveThe Red Panda Adventures – Season 6
By Gregg Taylor; Performed by a full cast
12 MP3 Files via podcast – Approx. 6 Hours [AUDIO DRAMA]
Podcaster: Decoder Ring Theatre
Podcast: August 2010 – May 2011
Themes: / Fantasy / Superheroes / Mystery / Crime / Nazis / WWII / Adventure / Toronto / Vancouver / Amnesia / Telepathy / Airships / Time Travel / Magic / Aliens /

“Let the festival of unsolicited advice begin” -Kit Baxter (All The King’s Men)

Season six of The Red Panda Adventures begins with World War II fully underway. The first six episodes are set prior to December 7th, 1941 and the twelfth episode ends in the high summer of 1942. There’s not a bad episode in the bunch. In fact, this season features some of the finest episodes of the entire series. My personal favourites are: the buoyant adventure of “Girls’ Night Out“, the standalone goodness of “The Wild West“, and the deeply disturbing arc episode “There Will Be Rain Tonight.” September and season seven can’t come soon enough!

Episode 1 – “The Nose For News
A new adversary appears, a shadowy leader of a fifth column inside of Canada! He’s sowing the seeds of discontent and planning acts of sabotage. Can anyone stop Archangel?

Episode 2 – “The Home Team
Having joined the army, Lt. August Fenwick (aka The Red Panda) receives a visit from his new boss Colonel Archibald Fitzroy. But can a superhero really do more good following orders and digging trenches than by defending a city from supervillians?

Episode 3 – “The King Of Crime
There’s a new ruler of the underworld, a royal sort, who demands absolute fealty from his criminally inclined vassals. But is this supercrook merely what he appears to be?

Episode 4 – “Rocket Science
A runaway train packed with high explosive is hurtling toward Montreal, this sounds like a job for the Red Panda. Unfortunately he’s all tied up and Doc Rocket isn’t helping.

Episode 5 – “Girls’ Night Out
Kit Baxter, aka The Flying Squirrel, on a field trip to Vancouver runs afoul of a ring of Japanese spies (who aren’t). But Vancouver’s got its own vigilante superhero, The Grey Fox, who is already on the case. And she’s no fan of aerially inclined rodents meddling on her turf.

Episode 6 – “Barbarian At The Gates
There’s a creature coming and it can’t be stopped. It’s steamrolling its way across the forests of Northern Ontario and heading straight for Toronto! No weapon can stop it, no force can slow it. This sounds like a job for … oh, just guess.

Episode 7 – “Sword Of The Sun King
A 3,000 year old khopesh is the target of an occult Nazi snatch team. But what makes a magic sword a useful tool in this era of Stukas and Panzers?

Episode 8 – “Small Wonders
Molecule Max, a variably sized superhero, joins the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel in an adventure that may cost them all more than they’ll want to give.

Episode 9 – “Stop The Presses
It’s the story of a lifetime for any reporter, “The Death Of The Red Panda” and Kit is being forced to write it! An army of Nazi thugs have seized her newspaper, taken its staff hostage, and only an old adversary a sinister simian can help!

Episode 10 – “The Wild West
Somebody has been messing with history, and its up to the Red Panda and the Flying Squirrel to clean up. They’ll need to saddle up, partner up, and load their six-shooters up (in case they need to throw down).

Episode 11 – “All The King’s Men
With the Red Panda’s network of agents away in the army it’s up to young Harry Kelly to infiltrate Archangel’s conspiracy. Meanwhile, Kit’s got secret and the only person she’s more afraid to tell than her husband is her mother!

Episode 12 – “There Will Be Rain Tonight
A second front in Europe is still years away but there are those who think a sinister network of black towers is key to Hitler’s defense of the French coast. Red Panda and Doc Rocket are on a secret mission to take them out. Back in Canada the Flying Squirrel is in full retreat as the Nazis have assassinated every Home Team agent in Canada!

Here’s the podcast feed:

Posted by Jesse Willis

The SFFaudio Podcast #082

November 15, 2010 by · 1 Comment
Filed under: Aural Noir, Podcasts 


The SFFaudio PodcastThe SFFaudio Podcast #082 – Jesse talks with Gregg Margarite and Trent Reynolds about the BBC Audiobooks America and Hard Case Crime novel Memory by Donald E. Westlake.

Talked about on today’s show:
Iambik Audio, LibriVox, The Violent World Of Parker, Richard Stark’s Parker novels, The Ax by Donald E. Westlake, The Hook, crime writers who murder each other, the state of the U.S. economy, The Hot Rock, Charles Ardai, this isn’t a normal Donald Westlake book, 18 different dramatic situations, merciless forces, realistic brain damage, amnesia vs. Korsakoff’s syndrome, memory and personality, selfishness, ego, id, superego, cognitive psychotherapy: “flooding“, the philosophy amnesia, Catholicism, if you can’t remember your sins are you a sinner?, New York vs. Jeffords, the big city vs. the small town, acting vs. manual labour, lining-up the archetypes, the predatory agent, the first incarnation of Paul Cole vs. the second incarnation of Paul Cole, “and a lull”, scumbag vs. operator, the square of shiny metal, Westlake’s “Nephew books”, “I’m not a criminal but I have and uncle who is.”, the theme of the book: “people are selfish”, persistent unwanted thoughts, “he’s the surrogate son”, that “mumford” speech, they shrug into their coats and hug themselves, life as narrative, Momento, people would have said Momento is inspired by Memory, noir vs. hard-boiled, “What’s my name?!”, is the main character in a coma?, Nebraska, Iowa, “the mechanics of this novel are not fully understood until the end”, “life is noir hidden by fluffy clouds and puppies”, the Rara-Avis Yahoo! Group, Otto Penzler, there are no happy endings, Jim Thompson, James M. Cain, Double Indemnity, The Postman Always Rings Twice, the Glen Orbik cover art for Memory, blindsight, neurological memory problems vs. psychological memory problems, suppressed vs. repressed memories, Oedipus never repressed his memories, Hard Case Crime cover art, Witness To Myself by Seymour Shubin, iambik audio, “desire is the appendix of emotions”, that Westlake smoothness, sowing paranoia, the opposite of paranoia (is pronoia), social groupings, this book made me want to clean my apartment, Westlake’s intellectualism, The Cutie by Donald E. Westlake |READ OUR REVIEW|, Shop Class As Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into The Value Of Work by Matthew Crawford, the condemned man in the mirror, the painfully uncomfortable scenes of Memory, actors must let go to inhabit their characters, the audiobook version of Memory, kudos to Stephen R. Thorne’s narration, straight narration, Neil Gaiman as a narrator, bleak vs. hopeless, the department of narrative and physics, what do you see in the abyss?, “it’s not a who-dun-it, it’s an i-did-it?”

BBC AUDIOBOOKS AMERICA - Memory by Donald E. Westlake

Posted by Jesse Willis

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