Inspired by last week’s episode of X-Minus One, “The Green Hills Of Earth”, Tales From SYL Ranch goes full OTR (Old-Time Radio) this week.
Tales From SYL Ranch can be heard live Sundays, 20:00-22:00 UTC on // aNONradio.net //
I have four great episodes from two different shows queued-up.
- X-Minus One
- “The Seventh Order” written by Jerry Sohl
- “The Big Man, Part 1”
- X-Minus One
- “Time and Time Again” written by H. Beam Piper
- “The Big Man, Part 2”
While researching episodes, I uncovered a real X-Minus One treat!
OTR sound quality varies wildly. Sometimes a studio master survived long enough to be transferred to vinyl more-or-less intact. Sometimes the only thing that survived was a wire recording whose microphone was placed at the radio’s speaker — and then transferred to vinyl decades later.
They’re never in stereo. The concept didn’t exist when these shows were made.
However, when I decided on the episodes to use, I made sure to do a thorough Google search. Previously-lost episodes (or better quality ones) appear from time to time.
Then I was stunned. Someone released a number of episodes that have been lovingly (and probably manually) …
That’s right, both X-Minus One episodes are in glorious stereo for the first time, and it will knock your frakking space-boots off!
Where other shows might resort to narration to describe a fight, Dragnet rarely does. If it happens, it will be a line like, “Watch it, Joe!” followed by the unmistakable sound of an oil drum being pushed-down down a flight of stairs.
Webb’s foley artists could carry you through a fistfight without a line being uttered. You knew when Friday threw a punch. You knew when the antagonist threw a bottle at Friday or his partner. There’s never the slightest doubt in your mind what’s happening.
That’s true genius.
There is also Webb’s well-known obsession for technical accuracy. He had two Los Angeles detectives for technical advice, and of course the scripts were culled from real LAPD cases.
Jack Webb invented the police procedural in 1948 with his film, He Walked By Night .
Webb made the mold and every cop show since has been using it.
Just listen to the introduction:
That’s right: they’ve all been ripping-off Jack Webb for 69 years. Law and Order is shameless.
Moreover, these are great episodes. The sound quality isn’t up to the X-Minus Ones, but it hardly matters. Webb’s genius shines from the first minute when Friday steps into a phone booth.
The story is a two-parter. In Part 1 of “The Big Man,” Friday goes undercover for seven months as part of a narcotics investigation. Part 2 is another few months working the same case from a different angle.
Webb loved radio so much that he concurrently produced a Dragnet TV and radio show, with different weekly episodes on each.
“The Big Man” was ultimately adapted for television, but only the last minute or two survives. That’s because at the conclusion of the TV episode, Friday was promoted from Sergeant to Lieutenant.
That’s how good this episode is.
The book is very meta, inasmuch as the LAPD detectives Webb used for technical advice (Vance Brasher and Marty Wynn) are characters in the novel.
Years later, Webb remounted Dragnet for TV. He very shortly began spinning off other shows in the “Dragnet-verse.”
Adam-12 is probably the best-known, with Emergency! close on its heels. There was also The D.A., which starred Robert Conrad as district attorney Paul Ryan.
All four shows occasionally crossed-over. In one episode of Dragnet, Adam-12‘s Reed and Malloy are questioned by Friday and Gannon regarding a police brutality incident. In an episode of Adam-12, Paul Ryan is called to a crime scene to offer legal advice about possibly tainting evidence.
In one particularly noteworthy episode of Emergency! characters from that show, Adam-12, and The D.A. all pass each other in a hallway, each working a different aspect of the same case.
(And of course Malloy, the well-known ladies’ man of Adam-12, hits on Dixie McCall, the knockout head nurse of Emergency!)
All that began with what you’ll hear tomorrow in, “The Big Man.”
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(I don’t know what time that’s going to be wherever you are. Google it.)