The 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Shows of the 20th Century selected by Walter Cronkite
Finally finished this huge set - and guess what? I can think of several dozen episodes of the Simpsons that make a WHOLE lot more sense now.
Highlights (based on my own subjective impressions) follow.
Five Best (no particular order):
1. The Shadow, "White God" - Not the best Shadow episode, nor even the best Shadow episode featuring Orson Welles, but I am irrationally in love with the Shadow tales and mythos.
2. Quite, Please, "The Thing on the Fourble Board" - I learned what a fourble board was, and the story scared me spitless. Educational and frightening!
3. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, "The Todd Matter" - I never would have guessed insurance investigations would have made for good radio noir.
4. Columbia Presents Corwin, "The Undecided Molecule" - Not quite up to the level of Dr. Seuss, but the all-star cast more than makes up for shortcomings in the rhyme schemes and story.
5. The Lux Radio Theatre, "The Jazz Singer" - Starring Al Jolson who played the lead in the movie. Better than the movie, IMHO.
Five worst (no particular order):
1. The Baby Snooks Show, "Report Card Blues" - I can see why this was included on the set, but rather than endearing but reckless (like Dennis the Menace or Little Lulu) Snooks comes across as a spiteful vengeance demon sent to torment her father for his sins.
2. The Jack Benny Program, "Jack Benny in the Show after 'Money or Your Life'." - Despite Jack Benny being overexposed on this set (he gets three episodes of his show on the set, leaving no room for other worthy shows), this is included only because "Money or Your Life" (the previous episode) was very funny, but also ends on a cliffhanger (of sorts). Too bad this follow up feels as though all the humor was used up on the previous episode.
3. Vic and Sade, "Muted Silver Moonbeam Chimes" - the title alludes to the only mildly funny joke in this rather bizarre show. Not very entertaining, and it feels a little like listening in on your neighbors for juicy gossip, only to find out their conversations are all very boring.
4. Grand Central Station, "Miracle for Christmas" - I found this one to be condescending, not to mention theologically suspect.
5. The Bickersons, "3-16-47" - I get it. They don't get along. I don't find listening to married couples argue all that entertaining or worthwhile.
Five most bizarre and/or most worth mentioning (no particular order):
1. The CBS Radio Workshop, "Brave New World" - Narrated by Aldous Huxley, and despite radio censors, it manages to keep most of the risquéness of the novel. Most of the story is there as well, despite a lot of compression.
2. The Mercury Theater on the Air, "War of the Worlds" - See previous post here.
3. The Chase and Sandborn Hour, "10-30-38" and "12-12-37" - for the first episode, see here - for the second: Mae West on the radio? And they expressed shock when the censors complained? No matter what she says, it sounds like a double entendre.
4. The Cavalcade of America, "Native Land" - Interesting retrospective on Carl Sandberg, but Carl Sandberg has such a horrid radio voice, it nearly ruined it for me.
5. Big Town, "Death Rides the Highway" - A radio reporter crusades against reckless drivers - however, this crossed the line from pathos into bathos (if you drive recklessly, you will cause a semi to run into a school bus! Full of orphans! With Nuns on board!)
There’s a lot more on this set, but that's good for now.