Tuesday, October 28, 2008

More Halloween Radio

It's always dangerous to generalize based on the very best examples of a genre. For instance, many so-called anime "fans" judge Japanese animation as far superior in general to American animation, when they've only seen the very best Japanese shows make it to these shores. The vast majority of anything is crap. Anime fans don't see the crap, though, because it doesn't survive long enough to make it over here.

We see the same thing in nostalgia for the higher literary standards of earlier ages, or the supposed "golden age" of television and radio. We generally only see the good stuff, the enduring stuff that floated to the surface of the sea of crap and was preserved for posterity. But for every Lights Out or Inner Sanctum Mysteries, there were a ton of shows like Dark Fantasy.

Dark Fantasy was a series of stories of the supernatural, carried on the NBC radio network in 1941 and 1942. The stories were written by a guy named Scott Bishop, and although they were carried nationwide, they originated from WKY in Oklahoma City (my hometown). Trivia: WKY radio shared call letters with an OKC TV station, where Mary Hart, co-host of Entertainment Tonight, got her start as co-host of Danny's Day, a local talk show.

So here's "The Thing from the Sea,"an episode of Dark Fantasy from 1941. From the opening announcer, who sounds as if he can barely stay awake, to the final strains of melodramatic organ music, it's crap. But the remarkable thing is that this crazy adventure on the high seas, featuring ancient sorcery and exploding islands, was produced in a small city in the middle of flyover country for national broadcast. No immense special effects budgets needed. Radio was democratic that way.

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