Obdormio.com Unwasted Hours

27 February, 2012

Brought to You by Patriot Brand Cigarettes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Obdormio @ 00:00

This is visually spectacular!

– Mechanic #2.

Recently, while waiting for my next Audible credit to come through, I have been listening a good deal to the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is really a monthly live show, featuring various performers from Hollywood – some I’ve heard of, some I haven’t – doing a pastiche of 1940s radio serials. The podcast version takes some of the regular segments of the show and puts each in a little episode of its own. I imagine the live version has some bits us podcast people don’t get to hear, but that’s all right – what we do get is more than fun enough.

The podcast, as I said, gives us a different regular feature of the show each episode. I haven’t listened to all available episodes yet, I am only up to number 38, so I have not sampled all the regular features, and some less than others. Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flier is still a couple of episodes away from appearing, and I have only heard two episodes of The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock. Actually, looking at the list in iTunes, I should have heard an Earhart episode – maybe I accidentally skipped it?

It’s time to send the little ones to dreamland, and set your radio’s dial … to spooky!

– Narrator, Beyond Belief.

Anyway, I have been listening to the first 38 or so episodes. The bits that seem most frequent – without doing anything so scientific as to count and see if that’s the case – are Beyond Belief and Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars. These also happen to be my favourites. Beyond Belief stars Frank and Sadie Doyle, the upper-class mediums who are really only interested in spirits you can drink, while Sparks Nevada follows the eponymous hero in his effort to keep the peace on the new frontier. Up until now, Sparks Nevada has held my number one spot. I particularly enjoy the character of Crouch the Martian tracker, and his interplay with Nevada. I have recently gotten more and more fond of the Doyles as well, however, and the good marshal will have to work at it to keep the top spot.

 When crime appears upon the scene, so does Captain Laserbeam!

– Captain Laserbeam.

The quality of the segments vary a bit, in my opinion, but I guess that could also be described as a feature – “something for every taste, etc”. I like the utterly formulaic, and yet somehow always funny Adventures of Captain Laserbeam, and I find the millionaire-turned-hobo antics of Down in Moonshine Holler amusing enough. The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock has a great concept, and an even better theme song, but the execution has left something to be wanted in the couple of episodes I have heard so far. And they don’t even sing the full version of the theme! Speaking of themes, I should say that all the theme songs in this show are really, really well done. Even on the low end of the scale, where Nathan Fillion is completely wasted on the utterly bland Jefferson Reid, Ace American, and I’ve taken to skipping entirely the Tales from the Black Lagoon, I can say nothing against the music.

I don’t really have any basis to compare with when it comes to 1940s radio, but this sure sounds like what I imagine 1940s radio to be, which seems to be the more important goal to reach in this day and age. More than that, it is actually hilarious, beyond the joke of the pastiche itself. Good characters, great concepts, excellent actors and some wonderful music thrown on top. If you like comedy at all, go have a listen.


  1. So happy you liked this! When I first checked it out, I remember I kept thinking that this would be more your kind of thing than mine – of course, by now, I’m a complete convert and this is absolutely “my thing” now. Glad it’s yours too.

    Some random comments:
    * Tick-Tock: Agreed, they’re underwhelming, though the Tesla/Edison-exchanges were quite lovely, and I love Queen Victoria (same actor who does Crouch, if you didn’t notice). Apparently, the original notion was that the show would be 95% theme song – he sings a long song about how he comes to save the day. He then pops back in time, pushes a button on his gizmo clock to fix the problem, pops home, and sings a long song about how he has saved the day. I think their problem is that they haven’t quite committed to the proper purity of that idea to make it so short and pointless that it’s funny, but they’re still stuck enough with the notion that the story in the middle doesn’t work on its own merits.

    * Segment-frequency: It is my understanding that their live shows usually consist of 1. Sparks Nevada, 2. main feature (Tick-Tock, Earhart, Ace American, Black Lagoon, Moonshine Holler or Laserbeam, usually), 3. Beyond Belief, with some faux commercials for Work Juice and Patriot Brand Cigarettes thrown in throughout. Therefore there is an abundantly higher frequency of Sparks and the Doyles than of the other stuff.

    * Sparks Nevada. The interplay with him and Crouch is clearly a huge selling point here. In the early episodes, it was what kept me going. Luckily, around their fifth episode (fifth Nevada episode, not fifth podcast all segments included) it started getting predictably Great, and has more or less stayed so. You have a lot to look forward to here if you’re still only at podcast 39. Fillion gets a recurring character a few arcs down who’s _delightful_ (and equally delightful is Sparks’ reaction).

    * Beyond Belief. Easily my (and Sarah’s) favourite segment from the get-go, though Sparks has been gaining ground steadily as mentioned above. Sadie is delightful and Frank is hysterical. They work much better as a duo, though, the episodes where Sadie goes it alone are less awesome by far (still worth listening to, though – Paget Brewster is amazing in this role). I love, love, love these guys. I forget the numbering – have you heard the African Safari one yet? So much fun.

    * Laserbeam – you have it exact. So formulaic it is somehow hysterical every time. Though the section with the villains near the end is usually weakish compared to the hilarious beginnings and the obligatory Adventurkateer-expositions.

    * Ace American. I agree it is their second-weakest regular entry (after Lagoon), but it does have its moments. Paget Brewster’s turn as the nazi sleeper agent trying to kill the president in one of the latest segments was quite fun, as is the running gag of Reid’s sidekicks dying in every single episode. And I LOVE the ridiculously over-the-top General Flagwell. Basically, in short, I like it about as much as I liked the first two-three segments of Sparks Nevada, which gives me faith that it will find its footing if I just give it enough chances.

    * Earhart – I don’t really like the concept here, and it spinning out of my second-least favourite main segment doesn’t help, but I cannot deny that both episodes of this I’ve heard have been funny. Always due to secondary cast and plots, though, never due to the main character, so I hope that is not a fluke.

    * Moonshine Holler. Probably the weakest among the ones I quite like, possibly tied with Tick-Tock. Usually, the (always odious!) villains and the protagonist carry this, whereas the jokes and the plots are more of a bore or sometimes even maybe a hindrance. But the concept is gold, and the formulaic turn of events near the end is always wonderful.

    * Tales of the Black Lagoon. Weakest humour-wise? Yes, though that’s probably due to my limited knowledge of 40s Hollywood. That said, I listened to every single Lagoon-episode in a row over the course of two sittings, and taken like that, they were actually quite funny. Especially the later ones. You might reconsider your opinon of these, I think, if you listen to them all in a row as one long story. Taken like that, they hold a higher level of quality than Earhart and Ace American both, I think. The dude who plays the man who played the Lone Ranger’s Native sidekick is hysterical in the later episodes, as is the dude who plays the guy who was the Lone Ranger.

    * The commericals. These used to just seem stupid to me (again, probably due to my limited knowledge of 40s Hollywood), but the later entries have been hysterical. The One Minute Mystery with Evan Jackson (Sparks) a few months back still makes me giggle at the mere thought of it, and the recent entries of Paul F. Thompkins (Frank Doyle) as The King of Coffee are surrealistically hilarious too.

    * They also recently started a new segment, a sort of Star Trek-meshed-with-dated-sitcom thing spun out of Sparks Nevada’s story. Only one episode in here, it seems like most of their stuff does in the early segments – lots of potential, but nothing special quite yet.

    * Finally, #52, “Christmas on Mars”, deserves its own set of comments. A full show transformed into a single podcast (frame story of Sparks and Crouch, where campfire stories becomes the various segments), nothing here is anything less than decent, and most is quite great indeed. The Beyond Belief bit in particular is just stellar. We saved it and listened to it on Christmas Eve, that’s how excited we were about it, and even after all that it DIDN’T DISAPPOINT. Now if only my brain could find some way to sort this in iTunes so that it could be part of both the Sparks Nevada, the Beyond Belief and the Moonshine Holler-albums. :(

    SO GLAD YOU LIKED THIS. Geeking out now.

    Comment by Loki — 27 February, 2012 @ 11:18

  2. Tick-Tock: Yes, I’ve read about the original format for that segment, and though it sounded a lot more fun than what we have now, but the concept still holds potential. Hopefully, they’ll do something more with it in future.

    Beyond Belief: I actually think Sadie is the funnier Doyle, so while I agree that they work best together, I didn’t find her solo-episodes very disappointing. And, yes, Brewster’s performance is a big part of why I like her the best.

    Ace American: Well, I liked Sparks Nevada pretty well straight off, but I can always hold out hope for improvement. At least now I know Fillion won’t be limited to that one bland character.

    Moonshine Holler: I actually like the hobo mentor’s jokes a good bit too, so I think I like this better than you do.

    As for the Tales of the Black Lagoon, I did keep listening throughout the initial story, and for one episode of the Hitchcock one that started afterwards before giving up.

    I haven’t heard too many of the commercials yet, the ones I have heard haven’t been particularly memorable.

    And yes, I’ve seen Christmas on Mars in the list of as-yet unplayed podcasts, and I am greatly looking forwards to it.

    Comment by Obdormio — 28 February, 2012 @ 14:36

  3. Tick-Tock – I love the performances, so yeah, I too hope that the future will hold better plots and jokes for them to play with.

    Beyond Belief – Sadie is definitely the funnier of the two (Frank more usually being delegated the role of the straight man to her antics), but it is their witty report and its infinite familiarity which makes them more than just joke machines, but actual people you cannot help but like. When she goes solo, it sort of takes the heart out of it for me a bit, whilst certainly still being very funny. She actually had a very good solo one last week, where she encounters a village of overly curse-happy gypsies. Judging from the commentary on the nerdist page, I take it they’ve done solo adventures with Frank at times too – I’m curious to see how they would work by comparison. His sudden outbursts of enthusiasm are quite great, as is his general disinterest in people’s names and his tendency to point out their fallacies under his breath. These things should all work without Sadie, so it might be quite fun.

    Fillion: Shows up all over the place, actually. In addition to his fabulously amazing Cactoid Jim (think Captain Awesome on “Chuck” as a heroic space cowboy) on “Sparks” he was a one-off-character in a BB once (won’t mention which to keep from messing with your expectations), and obviously the protagonist on Ace American. I think he might also have been somewhere else (Black Lagoon maybe?) but I cannot recall where.

    Moonshine Holler – well, the mentor is frequently funny, but I feel he’s overused and underapplied, if that makes sense. He gets a lot of dialogue, but very little of it brings anything new to the table, and his jokes aren’t among the most wear-and-tear-proof of their gags. The performance helps, though.

    Lagoon: The Hitchcock one was much, much better by far than the original story. Just FYI. I felt like you did after the original. Now, however, I sort of half like this segment.

    Commercials: Yup, they only started getting better at them (for my tastes) around podcast 39-40 if memory serves.

    Christmas on Mars: Tweet me when you’ve listened to that one! :D

    Comment by Loki — 28 February, 2012 @ 15:02

  4. I put the “always odious” parentheses before the wrong person, obviously it went before the villains, not the protagonist. Be a doll and edit for me so I don’t look like more of a retard than strictly necessary? :D

    Comment by Loki — 27 February, 2012 @ 11:20

  5. Done. But I’m leaving this comment up as a lasting monument to your shame.

    Comment by Obdormio — 27 February, 2012 @ 16:23

  6. I expected nothing less!

    Comment by Loki — 27 February, 2012 @ 16:57

  7. Didn’t know Loki had turned you on to the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Very cool. I’m glad you like it.

    If you guys ever want any other podcast-recs, I’d be happy to oblige. Off the top of my head, “The Bugle” with John Oliver (yes, that one) and Andy Zaltzman is a weekly newspodcast very much in the vain of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Very funny stuff, and should suit both your respective tastes.

    Comment by Jon M — 27 February, 2012 @ 21:05

  8. That does sound interesting. Where might that be found? (Yes, I do realise googling it would probably be easier than asking you, but here I am anyway, asking you…)

    As for TAH, I’d like to once again give you my heartfelt thanks for the recommendation. My life would be much the poorer without Frank and Sadie.

    Comment by Loki — 28 February, 2012 @ 08:51

  9. This is the website: http://thebuglepodcast.com/

    I use iTunes though. Very handy for podcasts.

    Comment by Jon M — 28 February, 2012 @ 22:11

  10. Thankee for the link. Hopefully I’ll find time to check it out soon, but… frankly I’m eons behind on my books, my comics and my non-Sarah TV shows, so adding anything to the mix is less than ideal, no matter how tempting it looks. :\ Speaking of podcasts, I see Paul F. Thompkins stars frequently in something called “Dead Author’s Society” or something like that, which looks interesting. Ever tried it out and know if it’s worth a peek?

    As for iTunes, I detest it with fervour. It is undeniably handy, but it takes up a ridiculous amount of my computer’s resources, it is near impossible to find easily compatible freeware when I need to do things that iTunes doesn’t do, and oh-my-gods do I hate brand names that start with the ridiculous lower-case “i”. And whenever I make a physical change to a file name or location, iTunes get confused, and I need to repeat the change there some weeks later when next I turn on the awful thing.

    Comment by Loki — 28 February, 2012 @ 23:45

  11. What, YOU’RE STILL BEHIND ON EVERYTHING? How is it that you haven’t told me about this before?! Something must be done! Perhaps I shall fire up my cloning device, or perhaps hire you a doppelgänger? This is as grave a crisis the Earth has ever faced!

    On a more serious note though, ’tis only a mere suggestion, in case you want something fun to listen to. You seriously don’t need to justify putting off for me. It’s all good, no matter what you decide.

    BUT. It is fun to vent, so feel free to continue doing so at a later juncture :)

    I listened to the first episode of the Dead Author’s Society, and thought it had quite a few niggling problems that kept it from greatness, so I decided to wait until it had built up some momentum. Most podcasts require a good run-in before they hit their stride. I’ll tell you what I think when I check back.

    However, if you’re as big a fan of Paul F. Tompkins as I am, then I heartily recommend his monthly podcast, “The Pod F. Tompkast”. It is very funny, all though the extensive monologues are sometimes akin to slowly going slightly mad (in the best possible way, of course). Paul F. Tompkins also frequently appears on two of my absolute favourite podcasts: “Comedy Bang Bang” & “Doug Loves Movies”. The latter is obviously slightly more skewed towards film than comedy, but both are highly improvised and always a good bet for a fun time. There is, for example, a recent episode of Doug Loves Movies where Paul appeared as himself, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber & Garry Marshall. It was truly magnificent.

    As for iTunes, I must profess that it is the Devil’s Software, and I also despise it, but it is sadly a must-have if you listen to 10+ podcasts in a week. It downloads & deletes them automatically, and is generally very handy towards that particular subject. I don’t use it for anything else. I suppose there are a couple streaming apps I could use, but I am actually very happy with iTunes for podcasts.

    Comment by Jon M — 29 February, 2012 @ 00:26

  12. Yes, I am – I was actually pretty up to date on my current comics (though I had an immense list of stuff I wished to check out), but then I went for four months without Net, so now I’m behiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiind. Books seem to go in cycles with me, I was very productive last summer, so I hope that will magically happen again soon. TV shows (with Sarah) I’m finally starting to get caught up on, thankfully. My own… well if Doctor Who/Torchwood wasn’t part of it, I’d be doing better, but the sheer amount of those is dragging me down into the quagmire.

    Podcasts, I only really listen to two. TAH, and Nerdist Writers Panel. The latter not every time, I don’t have time for that, but every time Whedonesque links to it I tend to make time for it. Which is more often than not – the amount of writers out there with some Whedon-connection or other is flat out impressive. So RSS on TAH and checking Whedonesque regularly for the other one keeps me updated enough without iTunes. I get that if you’re in the double digits, though, iTunes becomes a must.

    Keep me updated on DAS, and keep mentioning the Thompcast for me so that I don’t forget about it, as it sounds very fun!

    Comment by Loki — 29 February, 2012 @ 10:47

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