22 April: Tangled web-weaving with a flourish

Lurene Tuttle is a murderous would-be heiress tonight . . . (Unknown publicity photo.)

Lurene Tuttle is a murderous would-be heiress tonight . . . (Unknown publicity photo.)

Only The Whistler could get away with setting you up to know who did it right out of the chute, simply because it rarely got better than that for taking you through the labyrinths the bad guy or girl traveled before committing the crime in question . . . most of the time. Sometimes, of course, people as well as things aren’t quite as they seem at first.

On the other hand, tonight the bad girl learns the hard way about tangled web weaving . . .

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21 April: You won’t quite want to escape . . .

Future Frontier Gentleman John Dehner helps bring one of Gwen Bagni's witty Escape scripts alive. (Photo: CBS.)

Future Frontier Gentleman John Dehner helps bring one of Gwen Bagni’s witty Escape scripts alive. (Photo: CBS.)

If you think it’s the wit as well as the hard-wrought realism that makes Escape regarded as the pinnacle of old-time radio adventure series, be advised that the writer of tonight’s offering wrote seven of the series’ best-regarded-for-wit installments.

Posted in Adventure, classic radio, comedy, drama/dramatic anthology, mystery/thriller, old-time radio | Leave a comment

20 April: The big plotz

Dame Tallulah proved a deft radio hostess . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Dame Tallulah proved a deft radio hostess . . . (Photo: NBC.)

In the end, you have to give The Big Show A for effort if nothing else. Valiant, often engaging, its aim was to preserve old-time, big-time radio variety against television’s metastasis. At its absolute best, The Big Show has lived up to its hyperbolic name. At its absolute worst, it’s still been more ambitious, more earnest, than nine-tenths of what television has thrown up thus far in the variety subgenre.

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19 April: Groucho hits the Wednesday night top

The secret word is "patience" for Groucho's comic quiz's rise. (Photo: NBC.)

The secret word is “patience” for Groucho’s comic quiz’s rise. (Photo: NBC.)

Already reluctant to try his hand at a quiz show format, even if the quiz is designed more to showcase his virtuoso ad-libbing, Groucho Marx has taken a little doing to bring You Bet Your Life to top ratings.

Premiering on ABC in 1947-48, the show launched on Thursday nights and showed nowhere in the night’s top ten or the season’s top fifty. A year later, however, the show twas moved to Wednesday nights—and turned up in eighth place on the night and finished just inside the seasonal top fifty.

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18 April: A tale of two satirists

Allen (right, with Minerva Pious) has a cheerful roast of a literary radio offering . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Allen (right, with Minerva Pious) has a cheerful roast of a literary radio offering (aided and abetted by a former Postmaster General) . . . (Photo: NBC.)

When network radio exercisers satirise their own medium’s choice offerings, the effect for 21st Century listeners may well depend on how much they know of the targets, but sometimes it may not. Tonight we offer two classic such exercises from a pair of gentlemen to whom satire was mother’s milk.

 

The Fred Allen Show: The Author Meets His Match (NBC, 1948)

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