Thursday, March 19, 2009

Big Audio Thursday - Speed Gibson

This one's pitched at younger audiences, but it's a darned addictive show.

Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police debuted in January 1937, and concerned the adventures of Clint Barlow, top "operator" for the International Secret Police, and his 15-year-old nephew, Speed Gibson. Barlow and Gibson, along with Barlow's partner, Barney Dunlap, go on global adventures in pursuit of the crime lord, The Octopus. Clint Barlow was played by Howard McNear (Doc on radio's Gunsmoke, and later Floyd the Barber on the Andy Griffith Show).

Speed's adventures are fast-moving cliffhangers, full of travel and international intrigue. In the first long storyline, Speed is inducted into the Secret Police, then the trio go on a trip to China to battle the Octopus's trade in slaves and drugs. Part action story, part travelogue, Speed Gibson took listeners to the far corners of the world and plunged them into exciting adventures.

These shows are fascinating to listen to. The early episodes involve a trip on the China Clipper across the Pacific, to places like Guam and Midway and Wake Island, before they were indelibly associated with the major battles of WWII. It's impossible to listen to later episodes without feeling a twinge at the outrageous Chinese accents the actors use, and much later episodes set in Africa have all kinds of problems, but Speed Gibson tried hard to avoid stereotypes and devoted a lot of time to conveying the wonders of other cultures.

I'm including the first five episodes here. They're only fifteen minutes apiece, so they move pretty quickly. So travel back to a time when one could refer to heroes as being members of the International Secret Police without irony and enjoy the adventures of Speed Gibson (click the widget to listen).

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