ODD REVIEWS BY ODDCUBE Opinions on the Obscure, Off-Beat, and Outdated

ESCAPE!

Hello, and welcome to the column! Everybody's buddy, Oddcube, here with the rundown on another of my regularly recurring reports! First of all, in case you don't know it, I have been entrusted with the ever-important position of pointing out products and productions of unsurpassed coolness, purely for the purpose of being positive that it hadn't passed under the radar undetected. What sort of things, for example, do I expound upon in my periodical? Well, all sorts of things, really. I talk about movies, TV shows, books, games, whatever strikes my fancy. And this month, I'm telling you about a radio show! Not just any old radio show, but an Old Time Radio Show! The show is called Escape, it ran from 1947 to 1954, and it's really cool, but my esteemed editor expresses extreme annoyance when I don't meet my word count quota, so I shall elucidate… In the post-war years, CBS (a radio station then—believe it or not!) decided to change how it did things. Up till then, the standard scenario was that programs were sponsored by various companies, and basically controlled by advertising agencies. CBS decided to change that, and keep control of the shows lying with the network. So they tried it, and before long, had a humongous hit with a weekly thriller anthology called Suspense. It did so well, that it spawned other weekly anthology shows, like Romance, and eventually Escape! The show was created by William N. Robson, who had been writing and directing radio shows for CBS for over a decade. So, while Suspense focused on emotional tension, Escape focused instead on physical adventure. Each episode would begin with the announcer asking, "Tired of the everyday grind? Ever dream of a life of…romantic adventure? Want to get away from it all? We offer you…Escape!" Then, before you knew it, you'd be whisked away to some dangerous jungle or seedy Asian seaport! Yes sir, exotic locales were a mainstay in Escape! Like most radio shows, the early seasons were made up of stories adapted from pulp magazines and books. Such stories as Carl Stephenson's "Leningen Versus the Ants", Algernon Blackwood's "Ancient Sorceries", and Richard Connell's "The Most Dangerous Game" were used for episodes. But eventually, they got shows written especially for the show. And since their focus

was on adventure in it's many forms, the show could cross over with science fiction or supernatural stories, spies and political thrillers, mysteries, jungle adventures…let's face it, Escape had it all! But, whether adapted from prose or an original screenplay, Escape offers up some extremely well-done episodes! Like what, for instance? Well, there's "Three Good Witnesses" where a dude on a train from Cairo to Istanbul helps out a lady in distress and gets embroiled with wartime spies. Or, "Three Skeleton Key" about these three guys who run a lighthouse and get trapped inside when an unmanned ship washed up on their little island and an army of hungry rats besiege them. Ooh! And there's "Second Class Passenger" where this guy gets lost in a Mozambique port and crosses paths with underworld-types while trying to get back to the boat! He made his daring escape through the Leper's Gate! Ooh, and "Gringo", where an American schooner captain goes into a dangerous bargain with a Mexican adventurer and his girlfriend, to find a plane-full of treasure crashed on an island! Oh! And there's "The Heart of Kali" where the guy goes after this big ol' jewel in a temple in the jungle! Oh, it's cool stuff! You should check it out! Now, because Escape lacked a sponsor, and had a smaller budget, they were unable to obtain big-name stars like Suspense did each week. But that was okay, cuz they had access to all the second-tier dramatic character actors under contract with CBS. And these guys got to take center-stage, and some of them went on to become big names. Like who, for instance? Well, like William Conrad, Paul Frees, Parley Bear, Harry Bartell, John Dehner, Virginia Gregg, Marvin Miller, Frank Lovejoy, Elliot Lewis and Jack Webb, just to name a few. Oh, and Vincent Price was a frequent guest, early on in his career! Unfortunately, it WAS a low-budget show, and the network often messed with it. The show was moved around to different time-slots, and was generally disrespected. By the ratings and generated income and whatever other factors that execs go by, Escape was sadly disregarded as the small-time cousin of Suspense which never lived up to it's full potential. This, of course, is a load of crap, and today we know it! There are something in the area of 230 episodes of Escape that are still around today, and it's now regarded as one of the best shows from the Golden Age of Radio! So by now, I expect you're wondering where you can find it. You are, right? You know you are! And if you're not, you might as well, cuz I'm about to tell ya anyway! Actually, you're in luck, because you can find all sorts of Old Time Radio shows…in all sorts of places! First off, if you're looking to buy them on CD or cassette, you can look in your local Borders or Barnes & Noble, cuz they often have sets of radio shows in or near the audio books sections. You should be able to find some on Amazon cuz, let's face it, they have just about everything on Amazon! I usually get mine from a place called Radio Spirits (conveniently located at radiospirits.com). They specialize in all sorts of old radio shows, and come out with all sorts of nifty themed sets, which usually come with a booklet chock full of interesting information! Or, you can try bookzap.com where they offer radio shows in CD or mp3 format…and other things, too!

But, maybe you don't want to buy them, you just wanna listen. Well, you can do that, too! I would suggest Radio Tales of the Strange and Fantastic, located at http://www.digital-eel.com/rtsf cuz it's a great site with LOTS of old radio shows like Escape, Suspense, Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, Dimension X, The Weird Circle, X Minus One…and a bunch of others! But all thrillers and sci-fi type shows. For a wider variety of shows, including westerns and comedies, check out the Jack Benny Show-OTR Podcast, which is located at: http://jack_benny.podomatic.com They post a new mp3 of an old-time radio show almost every day, sometimes more than one, and switch it up. So you can find an episode of Escape, then a Jack Benny Program, then an episode of Gunsmoke…you know, a little bit of everything! Plus, they give you all sorts of info on various shows and stars! And, of course, a quick web search with key-words like "Escape radio show" or just "Old Time Radio Shows" will get you other places to check out, too! But we're talking about Escape here! Sadly, in the early 50's, all the money was being moved into TV, and all sorts of radio budgets were cut down to practically nothing. Eventually, Escape closed up shop and aired its final broadcast in 1954, a dark fate that the show, itself, could not escape. Kinda sad, really, but that's the way the mop flops, I guess. At least its legacy lives on! Oh yeah, I gotta do this phony bologna rating number so I can seem like a legitimate review. I mean, time to utilize my well-thought-out and highly scientific rating system! It's highly ingenious (if I do say so myself…and if I want it said, I probably better) despite its suspicious simplicity! So, I've got my pair of D&D percentage dice, uh, that's two ten-sided dice which are used to randomly determine a number between one and one hundred. So, 0-1 is as low as you can go, we're talking painful like a root canal to endure. But double-zero actually means 100, which is the absolute best! Like being locked in the candy store overnight type good! (My editor ought to like that analogy!) And thus I roll the dice of fate like so…and end up with an 88! Good dice! Well folks, that is just one idiot's opinion and you don't have to take it! No sirree, Bob! You could go and check it out for yourself! And I guess that's all I got to say about that, so make sure you come back next time, when I talk about… Uh, I talk about… something else! ------Your Buddy, Oddcube

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