2013: Day 10 – To Find What is Lost: Shadow Radio episodes from 1943 to 1945!

shadowlp

Seeking missing Shadow radio episodes from 1943-1945. It appears only 1 Shadow episode exists for 1943, THE TOUCH OF DEATH.

No episode exits from 1944.

And only two REAL episodes exists for 1945. GHOST WITHOUT A FACE and DESTROYER (the episode’s of OUT OF THIS WORLD and BRIEF FAME OF JOHN COPPER that are floating around out there are recreations [Australian or British] done much later and sporting a campy sounding narrator and a pathetic sounding Shadow.

So that means for the years 1943, 1944, and 1945, from episodes #204(3 Jan 1943/ The Glowing Death) to episode #292 (30 Dec 1945/ Back from the Grave) , over 80 shows are completely lost. 85 shows to be exact, 85 performances, and pieces of history, and fun entertainment…lost.

As a collector and a lover of this crazy genre called Old Time Radio, especially THE SHADOW, that strikes me as a monumental loss.

However, thankfully episodes of once lost movies, manuscripts and even radio shows have a way of turning up when people really start looking for them. So I’m hoping the same can be said for the 1943 to 1945 episodes of THE SHADOW.

So I’m putting the call out there, this is a bounty on the head of all Shadow episodes from 1943 to 1945. And your reward while not money will be something perhaps more lasting… being part of adding to a medium and a nation’s cultural history.

Oooohhhh…. Deep. :). But seriously, let’s spread the word and do our part in making heard the silent, and found the lost. [If you uncover a SHADOW episode from 1943-1945 drop me a comment (comments come right to me and are not posted) and I’ll work with you to get the episode to the right OTTR/Old Time Radio Preservation Group.]

Thanks!!

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RATING THE DOCTORS: On William Hartnell THE FIRST DOCTOR & the First Season! 1963-1964!

This heat is kicking the proverbial posterior.

But hey I’m not complaining, I’ll take heat over cold, any day.

But you guys didn’t come here to hear weather talk, onto this installment’s insanity.

I’ve seen all 30+ seasons of Doctor Who, including the recreations (largely still shots and the audio recording of the shows) that exists through the hard work of dedicated fans, who preserved these shows for the love, when the suits couldn’t see any monetary value or re-watchability to these shows and could not delete the tapes fast enough.

It’s why I’ll side with the so-called file-sharer or collector or peer to peer proponent who does it for the love, over suits any day. Because I KNOW how much of our history (television shows, radio shows, silent and sound films, books, manuscripts) still exists not because of the money grubbing corporation who would (and have) let everything burn if they couldn’t make a penny off of it; but exists because of the dedicated fan and collector.

I’ve said that before, but it bears, particularly in our current environment, constant repeating. That the people who profit off a thing, are not the people that should be trusted with the preservation of that thing. And history bears out, that it’s necessary to have the dedicated collector out there doing for the love, what corporations will fail to do in the absence of monetary incentive.

Our cultural history owes much to the dedicated collector, that are being criminalized by the ‘Johnny-come-lately’ corporations, who have finally wised up to the fact that… people are interested in this old stuff.

Case in point, I still await official SPENSER FOR HIRE DvDs, or the full seasons of the live-action ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY that have been unavailable for over 20 years, and these things should not be sequestered away until some suit can find a way to profit off of them. In the absence of someone making them available, the collector is there to make them available. So thanks to great collectors… there’s a rumor that I may actually own both series :).

And if that rumor is true, I’ll hold onto those collector DVDs, at least until such time as the studios get off their ass, and release official high quality versions/DVDs, which I will be more than happy to support/purchase. But in the interim… to all the suits/companies out there, support and work with fans/collectors… they are the heart of your business. And more than that, they are the heart of the preservation of culture and art and history… in the absence of business. Give them their due.

Okay, off my soap box.

*****

The reason I got on that soap box is because, I have been rewatching Doctor Who, and much of that series has been lost through corporate stupidity and short-sightedness, but almost all of it has been preserved and recreated, even the pretty much devastated Patrick Troughton years (which I’m currently re-watching), and you can not watch those shows without being extremely mindful and extremely thankful, for the fans and collectors, who preserved those shows to the best of their ability.

I mean, now, today the BBC gives a damn about Doctor Who, because the show is making them a boatload of money, but you have to care about preserving culture and art… even in the absence of money, and that is what collectors do.

So yes, I’m thankful that we have shows such as:

William Hartnell’s four seasons as the doctor.

He’s remembered, unfairly I think, for flubbing his lines. However, what he should be remembered for is being the man who set the template, the tone, and the consummate “play this for real” passion that allowed the show to be a success.

Think about it, if Hartnell or those first companions did not make the premise work, the show would have been canceled in that first season and NO ONE would today be talking about Doctor Who.

Patrick Troughton gets a lot of praise for ‘saving’ Dr. Who, when it became necessary to replace Hartnell due to his deteriorating condition.

For continuing Doctor Who, I would agree, but for saving it? … no. The show would have gone on with or without Troughton. It was that popular. Hartnell had help make it that popular.

Don’t get me wrong, Troughton was a great actor and he made a fantastic 2nd Doctor, and the very, unavoidable medical issues with Hartnell pushed the writers and producers into coming up with one of the most brilliant and iconic ways to keep the series going… ie the idea of ‘Regeneration’.

I mean that idea, that was born under pressure and calamity and potential cancellation, remains one of the greatest ‘hail marys’ of television history, as can be seen by a whole new generation, wowing to the adventures of yet another whole new Doctor.

But had Hartnell and crew, not made DOCTOR WHO a success out the gate, no one would have been pressed to try and keep the show alive. They would have done the normal thing, canceled the show and put something else on, and DOCTOR WHO becomes, like many shows of the time, a forgotten footnote.

But Hartnell was a GREAT Doctor Who, an iconic Doctor Who, who loved and championed the show. And he did four seasons of the series, back when the workload was a YEAR ROUND weekly series, basically performing the shows in a live-run, like a play, performed beginning to end, no time for retakes, you hit the mark at the beginning of two hours, and at the end of two hours, they filmed the entire show… JUST LIKE YOU SEE IT AIRED!

With filmed segments cut in on queue, and effects and sound done live in camera….the amount of pressure and work, is beyond ANYTHING that television actors, or indeed directors, editors, crew are doing today. It was the work of master actors and crew, to basically have to learn and crank out a play a week, under budget restrictions and time restrictions that can only be called… crushing.

And William Hartnell did this. For going on four Years, largely without vacation, with seasons FAR LONGER than the laughably short seasons the BBC has today… William Hartnell did this. While suffering with what today we would call early signs of Dementia or Alzheimers.

*****

For nearly four years he bled and sweated and carried Doctor Who, when his younger companions were folding left and right under the pressures and issues of a financially challenged, somewhat ghettoized show. Hartnell’s tenure as the Doctor saw him with the most companions (A whopping TEN companions. And every departure cut Hartnell like a knife, who saw the show as a familial thing), and having to ride the most tumultuous time in the history of the show, when it was figuring out, on a weekly basis, what it was, and who the characters were.

That he was able to play the series as long as he did, when suffering from a condition known to cripple, says everything about the nature of Hartnell’s professionalism, his “the show must go on” ethic. I just think a lot of people focus on the occasional flubs, when he was given tons of gobblydeggok to say, and he made it work. I don’t know of any actors today, in their full health and prime, who could have done week in and week out what Hartnell did, producing basically live televison in a fantastic setting.

Which is far more difficult than just soaps, because you have the additional hassle of effects and costumes and elaborate monsters and cut in scenes, and hitting marks, it’s really a big budget type cinematic production, done on a shoe-string budget and with no retakes and no time, and everything music, etc… done in camera.

Actors today would piss themselves.

I just have a tremendous amount of respect for Hartnell as a performer, and he could really perform and act and emote, and bring it when he needed to… which more often than not… was always. Add to all of that he also had some of the best episodes under his tenure, namely:

SEASON I 1963-1964

AN UNEARTHLY CHILD- PILOT- It does everything a first episode needs to do. Incredibly ambitious, for the time. A time ship, bigger on the inside than the outside, and looks like a simple police phonebox. It is just a genius conceit, even 50 years later. GRADE: B+.

100,000 BC- 3 episodes- It’s not a great episode by today’s standards but it is a necessary one, as they are still defining the Doctor, and his crew of travelers. And it is pretty brutal for a kid’s program. GRADE: B-/C+.

THE DALEKS by Terry Nation, directed by Christopher Barry and Richard Martin- 7 episodes- Terry Nation’s script and idea, fleshed out and realized, made concrete by the producers, and designers and voice actors, resulted in an immediate worldwide sensation… The Daleks. And the story, is quite good, quite ambitious, though of course hampered by the budgets and limitations of the time.

It is a great intro to one of the great iconic creations of television history. The serial falls apart in the last episode, the whole “live” thing, the director just couldn’t pull it all together, so it’s a bit of a mess. But the serial is strongly recommended in-spite of that; and it highlights, the rare times when it goes wrong, just how masterful the cast and crew was, to enable it to go right… most of the time. GRADE: B.

INSIDE THE SPACESHIP aka The Edge of Destruction- 2 episodes- This is another example of them not really having the time to make the story come across, it’s a bit of a confused mess. But it’s an intriguing watch, and is available with a nice commentary with the actors. The commentary worth the price of admission.

Marco Polo- seven episodes- A recreated episode, stills and audio, watched this recently it’s quite good. From the few shots of sets in color, it was quite an elaborate period piece.

The Keys of Marinus- 6 Episodes- Terry Nation returns, this is a great, exciting serial. Even with a bit of implied rape. Terry Nation always wrote excellent scripts that explored not only man against the alien, and man against nature, but far more interestingly man against man. His scripts and the crews performance transcends dodgy sets and questionable effects. GRADE: B+.

The Aztecs- 4 episodes – One of the best Doctor Who stories! This historical episode, sports great acting, great sets, and a great story. And wonderful direction. This is available with commentary, and I highly recommend it. One of my favorites. GRADE: A+.

THE SENSORITES- 6 episodes- This is one of the most successful of the scifi themed serials (the first season nearly equally divided between the historical episodes and the scifi/fantasy episodes) for season I. As it allowed some growth for the character of Susan, and real thrills for the rest of the characters. Lots of fun. Grade: B/B+.

THE REIGN OF TERROR- 5 episodes- This Dennis Spooner penned tale is quite enjoyable. The last two episodes are recreations (stills, audio) but is perfectly understandable and builds to a fun end. GRADE: B.

Those are my grades for season #1. Counting the pilot, Thirty eight weekly episodes!!! Wow! Episodes I didn’t grade are worth a look, for historical reasons, but may not be the show at its best.

Stay tuned for upcoming season reviews!

Doctor Who: The Beginning (An Unearthy Child / The Daleks / The Edge of Destruction)

Doctor Who – The Aztecs (Story 6)

TODAY’S RECOMMENDED MOVIE/TV Poster: X-FILES!

I love this poster/box art for the season 1 collection of X-FILES. Infact I like it more than I like the show.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked the X-FILES television show but for me it overstayed it’s welcome with the unresolved Alien mystery thread. And the dynamic of disbeliever/believer between the two leads, becomes pretty hard to sustain after multiple seasons of various monsters.

Over time the central characters weren’t growing, you could pretty much transpose the dialog between them between any episodes, because it was always the same arguments they were having. Much like LOST it’s a show I got fed up with early in the series and dumped, because you got the definite impression it was a show the writers didn’t really know what to do with long term.

That said I always felt the done in one ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes of X-FILES worked much better than the stretch it out/tease Alien plot-line episodes. And those done-in-one episodes are the only episodes that are remotely of interest to me, and I think are the only ones that partially hold up to repeat viewing. It’s basically Kolchak’s THE NIGHT STALKER for the X Generation.

FAVORITE TV SHOWS OF ALL TIME!!! Spenser for Hire, Justice League, Firefly

The RECOMMENDED READS page (look over at the column on the right of your screen) has been updated

with reviews of Cornell Woolrich’s FRIGHT, recently published by Hard Case Books after being out of print for fifty years. And also a status review of CROOKED LITTLE VEIN by Warren Ellis and published by William Morrow.

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Now onto TV stuff:

My recent exposure to what passes for good television these days, garbage like LOST, and the new BIONIC WOMAN and insert Reality TV show here, has left me for an appreciation for the great TV shows of yesteryear.

So here’s my list of great Television shows (in no particular order):

NYPD BLUE Just the first season with David Caruso. The forerunner to the rash of police procedurals currently polluting the airwaves.

HOMICIDE Love this series. Caught everything but the last season. A tremendous show.

BABYLON 5 – People may gripe these days about MJ Straczynski’s comic book work, and the complaints aren’t unwarranted. But what ever issues of the present or the future his work may contain, his past is beyond reproach. His BABYLON 5 being the most ambitious television show ever. A man’s singular vision turned into a novel, with a distinct beginning, middle, and end. It’s the kind of vision that is lacking in “make it up as you go along” shows, such as LOST.

SPENSER FOR HIRE– Love, love, love this series. It’s a crime that it’s not available on DVD.

All SPENSER FOR HIRE images are by Dave McCraken

And real quick I’m going to rant: There is some art floating around, whenever you pull up info on this series (I’m not going to reproduce it here, because it annoys me, but click here to see it or here), showing some doctored up picture of Spenser and Hawk, with Hawk being positioned so he’s like six inches shorter than Spenser.

What the f*** is that? The following pic is how Spenser and Hawk look on the show:

It may seem like a simple thing, but it really isn’t. Like anyone whose done advertising, or product placement can tell you, ads are meticulously thought out. And the fact that such an obviously out of scale picture (to anyone who has seen the show) is occurring on multiple sites, has become a defacto standard… seems and is… odd.

Odd in the same wacky way that every network station at the same time decided to call people refugees who are not, or insurgents… who are not.

America is funny that way. 🙂 . It’s this wonderful nation where people call coincidence, what can only be design.

Avery Brooks is 6’1, Robert Urich was 6’2. A negligible height difference, but the picture makes it look like Hawk is a much shorter man. However both the character Hawk and Spenser were always portrayed as the same height. About 6’3ish.

So where does this box-art come from misrepresenting Avery Brooks and the show? Where does the idea of that come from?

That’s like doing a picture of me beside Avery Brooks and having me tower over Avery, it’s just as much bs. There’s great photos of the two of them from the 60 plus episodes they did, and they are always the same height. Yet someone is going to photoshop in this obviously… flawed picture. Just coincidence? Accident? Could have just as easily been Bob Urich misrepresented as shorter?

Come’on!

Someone made a conscious choice to misrepresent the heights of the two stars. Not coincidence, not a mistake, but a choice.

But why that particular choice? Maybe someone is cockeyed? 🙂 .

I don’t like pointing out this nonsense. I don’t like the fact that there is still nonsense like this to point out, but there it is. The media has grown and continues to grow more skewed, not less, it really is very much spiraling into minstrel like days. But subtly. Unfortunately, I catch subtle.

So I’m going to call a fowl when I see a fowl.

It’s very much like when Ford Motor Company had an advertisement showing all their engineers, and they photo-shopped out all the Black engineers for European distribution. It made the national news, so feel free to look it up if you don’t believe me. Was that coincidence? That big choice, and this little one… the same choice.

And some of you make say I’m making mountains out of molehills. But when one sees as many molehills, time after time, as I have… they tend to add up… all by themselves; to a looming mountain.

Molehills, the little lies we integrate into our world and self-view, create and recreate our reality. What men like Maslow and Berger called the Social Construction of Reality.

It’s how our enemies are made, and our friends.

Social construction of reality. We learn quietly, invisibly to absorb these minor molehills without question, so by the time we should question the really serious issues, we have accepted too much… to question the steps that have brought us here.

Bigotry and using the media as a weapon, is alive and well, and it’s not going to go away because we stick our heads in the sand, it just grows when we do that.

So when I see BS, especially involving my favorite show. I call it BS. And this is a case of BS.

Here endeth the rant.

For anyone who wants a free SPENSER FOR HIRE review guide just contact me. I’ll provide them to the first 10 emailers free. It’s a great series and deserves to be remembered correctly. If for nothing else, as the series that launched a young Samuel L Jackson. (in a bit part where he gets roughed up by Hawk. Great stuff!)

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WEREWOLF– I recommend just the premiere. Beautifully done, but the later episode are cheaply done and don’t go anyplace.

SIMPSONS– I lost interest a few seasons ago, but the first few were great!

SANFORD AND SON– My favorite comedy show of all time!

DEEP SPACE NINE– Brutally sabotaged by stations like Sinclair Broadcasting on initial airing, on DVD you can reexamine this series, and it builds to a brilliant conclusion. Like Babylon 5, and unlike the other Trek shows, this series actually has a wonderful storyarc. It may even on the broad scale, be superior to Babylon 5 (which had stronger individual episodes), making it one of the greatest series ever.

FARSCAPE– This was a FANTASTIC series, unfortunately killed before it could come to it’s conclusion, but the episodes we did get are stunning. All driven by the phenomenal, and at times heart wrenching performance of Ben Browder. If DEEP SPACE NINE and BABYLON 5 are in a tie for first place, this show is solidly in 2nd place as my favorite sci-fi series.

FIREFLY– I’m not a Whedon Fan. I could take or leave his BUFFY and his ANGEL. And while not a flag waving fan of FIREFLY, I thought it was easily his best show, possibly for it’s brevity. It didn’t get a chance to out stay its welcome ala the X-FILES. And had an interesting take on tomorrow.

QUANTUM LEAP– Women love this show. And in another life, a woman turned me on to it. And I have to say she was right. It’s a great, great show, much like FARSCAPE powered by Heart Wrenching performances by star, Scott Bakula.

CHAPPELLE SHOW-This is not even just brilliant comedy, it is the most courageous examination of the American id ever aired. A fantastic two seasons.

ROBIN OF SHERWOOD– John Carpenter’s mythic redefining of the Robin Hood myth, brilliantly brought to life by two phenomenal directors, and a young, hungry, and brilliant cast. And at the same time a wonderful mirror on the 80s age that spawned it. Easily in my top 5 shows of all time.

MIAMI VICE– It’s slick MTV style is old hat now, but this was the show that did it first and best. This and CRIME STORY make a great one, two punch.

JUSTICE LEAGUE helmed by Dwayne McDuffie is one of the best cartoons ever made. And for a guy who grew up on cartoons, that’s saying a lot.

BEN OKRI, KWAME DAWES, DAVID MARKSON, and LOST DVDs

WHAT AM I READING TODAY?

THE FAMISHED ROAD by Ben Okri. Just completed the first chapter, lyric and beautiful. Magical realism at its finest.

SHE’S GONE by Kwame Dawes. The story of Kingston Reggae Rockers and their walks on shifting ground. Starting off very strong.

THE HARRY FANNIN DETECTIVE NOVELS: EPITAPH FOR A TRAMP AND EPITAPH FOR A DEADBEAT by David Markson. A great first chapter doesn’t guarantee a great book, but more often than not it’s a pretty good indictaor. And this books offers a great first chapter.

H.P. LOVECRAFT THE TOMB AND OTHER TALES- Anthology of Lovecraft stories, the title story THE TOMB I found pretty underwhelming.

WHAT AM I WATCHING?

I’ve purchased the complete BBC JECKYL series, after viewing two of the episodes. I’ve bought the original BBC Pal DVDs, and not the shorter American edited version that was shown on BBC America,

The show from what I’ve see is Brilliant. Brilliant enough that I’m paying more to get the PAL DVDs.

Have also bought seasons 1 and 2 of LOST, so I can finally see what all the hype is about.

On the rental front I recently tried 2 movies, one called BUGS and one called HEADSPACE, both covered in all kinds of lofty reviews, and both failing to live up to them. With BUGS being the more disappointing of the two.