Sunday, September 13, 2009

OTR Review: Theater Five "Incident at Shadow Valley"

Series Name: Theater Five
Episode Title: Incident at Shadow Valley
Original Air Date: 9/8/64
Available On: Relic Radio Podcast, Sept. 8 2009
Sound Quality: Excellent

This is the second episode of Theater Five I've heard and it like the other is tightly written and well acted with solid sound design and direction. I gather that this series was ABC's attempt at radio drama revival from the early 60s and it's a pity that the revival didn't stick.

This episode takes place at The Last Chance Diner, a truck stop in the middle of nowhere. Pop is the lovable old coot who runs the place and it's an evening of troubles for the poor man, his grandson is sick to the point of death and his diner isn't up to code so there are going to be fines.

The police stop by to let the man know that a black truck from Universal Road Freighter just forced a driver off the road and to his death and the police are looking for the driver. After the police leave a pair of regulars stop by for coffee and food as they talk to Pop. Mr. Janus a creepy stranger with a stoney voice enters and unsettles folks with his cold voice, morbid attitude and eerie conversation.

The big surprise of the script isn't hard to guess but it's not the plot that makes this episode so interesting, it's the telling of it that so darned entertaining. The actor who plays Pop does so with warmth and creates a sympathetic portrayal where there could have been cliche. Mr. Janus is pure "radio announcer" in his delivery, but that's what the role demands. His monologs are also vastly entertaining

SPOILERS AHEAD: Janus, unsurprisingly, turns out to be Death himself. I have a soft spot for stories where Death comes and visits and this one does it quite well. END OF SPOILERS

I definitely recommend listening to this one and suspect it'll log more than a single listen from me.

4/5 Golden Masks (close to 5, if the plot had been slightly more unpredictable we'd have a 5/5)

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