Friday, December 30, 2011

#123 The Three Musketeers (BBC)

Athos, Porthos, Aramis are sworn to protect the King and Queen of France. As musketeers, bodyguards of the royalty, it's their duty. Young D'Artagnan has come to Paris to join the musketeers. No sooner does he arrive and he finds himself in a series of duels. First with the sinister Comte de Rochefort then with Athos, Porthos and Aramis.  However, what seems to be ill fated luck turns out to be good fortune for D'Artagnan as he quickly becomes a close friend to The Three Musketeers. Soon the four of them find themselves caught up in the adventure of a life time. It's up to these four brave men to upset the plans of the scheming and villainous Cardinal Richelieu, his evil agent the stunningly beautiful and equally deadly Milady de Winter and the sinister Comte de Rochefort. If they fail the Queen will be dead and perhaps the King with her, the country will be at war and the Cardinal will rule the country with an iron hand.

"Come d'Artagnan, we're off to save the Queen!" It's "All for one and one for all" in this remarkable full-cast audio production of Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers. This is no doubt one of the best audio adaptations in the BBC archives. This three hours of swashbuckling fun will not disappoint.

Jamie Glover, Robert Glenister, Timothy Spall, Anton Lesser, Nicholas Boulton, Julian Glover, Malcom Ward, Imelda Staunton, Michael Cochrane, Helen Abreck, Dominic Letz, Tom Bevin, Theresa Gallagher, Gerth Armstrong, Lyndon Greggory, Frances Jeter, Stewart Organ, Michael Onslow, John Roe.

From the BBC:

'All for one and one for all' ...

17th Century France. Dashing young swordsman D'Artagnan heads for Paris, dreaming of serving the King as a member of his elite guard. On arrival, he meets the three musketeers - Athos, Porthos and Aramis - and the four men soon become fast friends.Together, they strive to outwit the murderous schemes of power-hungry Cardinal Richelieu, and save the Queen from a plot to dishonour her. Their adventures take them on a perilous journey through the French countryside and across the Channel to England...

#122 The Count of Monte Cristo (BBC)

Alexander Dumas classic tale The Count of Monte Cristo is splendidly played out in this BBC production. As Edmond Dantes returns from sea to the girl and job of his dreams his meddling "friends" become jealous and have him unjustly imprisoned. He later escapes, acquires a fortune and sets out to exact revenge on the men who destroyed his life. Originally aired in 1987 this nearly 7 hour long production stars  Andrew Sachs, Nigel Anthony, Steve Hodson, Paul Gregory, Geoffrey Matthews, Melinda Walker and Leslie Sands. Unfortunately this program has not yet been released for purchase by the BBC. If you didn't catch the re-airing of it in 2011 on BBC 7 it might be awhile before it's available to hear again.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

#121 The New Adventures of Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer Vol 1

Hammer's back. The hard nosed smash 'em in the mouth detective from the mind of Mickey Spillane returns in full-cast audio splendor. Featuring Stacey Keach from the Mike Hammer TV series that aired on CBS in the 1980s, stories written by the original staff and music from the series. It's hard boiled detective fun in these two presentations.

From Blackstone:

Everybody loves a mystery, and nobody solves them like Mike Hammer. While other detectives bend and manipulate the law, Hammer holds it in total contempt, seeing it as nothing more than an impediment to justice, the one virtue he holds in absolute esteem. Now, the no-holds-barred private eye returns, along with his gorgeous secretary, Velda, and a collection of New York City characters, in two fully dramatized “theater-of-the-mind” audio adventures. “Dangerous Days” and “Oil and Water.”
Narrated by Stacy Keach, the acclaimed actor who starred in the original Mike Hammer TV series, these new mysteries are written by the writers of that show and enhanced with a full supporting cast, sound effects, and music. Even the show’s jazzy theme song is back to set the gritty tone for each episode.

For more Mike Hammer see the other two posts on this blog.

Encore For Murder

The Little Death

#120 Instead of Evidence - Nero Wolfe (CBC)

Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin are back in Instead of Evidence. When Eugene Poor suspects his business partner is out to kill him he turns to Nero Wolfe. Not to protect him but to make sure his killer is caught after the fact. It's murder and mayhem in this mystery full of twists and turns. Mavor Moore and Don Francks star in this CBC production. Though the series is not available for purchase it can be found online.

From Nero Wolfe:

Eugene Poor suspected his partner Conroy Balney of planning to kill him. He’ll pay Wolfe $5000 — not to keep Blaney from murdering him, but to be sure that he doesn’t get away with it.
Eugene’s premonition of death was right on the money. The ink was hardly dry on the receipt when Poor was killed . . . by an exploding cigar! Naturally, though the client is dead, Wolfe is determined to solve the murder and earn the fee.
Conroy Blaney claims his innocence. Helen Vardis claims that the newly widowed Martha Poor had killed her husband because she was jealous of their relationship, but Joe Groll was also very interested in Helen. A brutal hit-and-run claims Arthur Howell. All these people had connections with Blaney and Poor.

#119 Riding For the Brand (Louis L'Amour)

Louis L'Amour brings you Riding For The Brand for a second time. This time produced by son Beau L'Amour along with David Rapkin and Charles Potter. It's the story of drifter Jed Asbury. After discovering the dead body of Michael Latch on the prairie Asbury assumes his identity and heads for California to claim a large ranch left as Latch's inheritance.  Upon arriving at Casa Grande the new Michael Latch has to contend with not only the ranch's foremost residents, foreman Toni Costa and Carol Arden, but also the villainous Walt Seaver who believes the ranch is his to have.

This version of Riding For The Brand is significantly different from the one produced by Soundelux which featured Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson. Both are well produced with music and sound effects and fun to listen to. If you enjoy tales of the old west then you'll find both versions to be a real treat.

From Louis L'Amour:
The open West was a land where wanderers could find themselves a home--a home to fight for, to be changed by, sometimes to die for. Jed Ashbury was one such journeyman, taking on the identity of a dead man. Allen Ring was another: he'd won his plot of land in a card game only to find he had to win again with a gun. From a has-been boxer to a ranch hand taking on his bosses' troubles, the characters in these classic Louis L'Amour short stories are all "riding for the brand"-staying loyal to what matters, staking the West with their courage and their blood.

Riding For the Brand featuring The Highwaymen.

#118 Star Wars: Dark Forces - Jedi Knight

Star Wars: Dark Forces - Jedi Knight is the third and final installment of the Dark Forces audio drama trilogy. Again the acting and sound design in this production are excellent. Unfortunately the storyline in this episode begins to crumble. What started out to be such a promising trilogy ends up being a bit of a disappointment. Definitely a let down for those looking for an adventure in a galaxy far, far away. Certain elements, particularly the ending, don't live up to Lucas' original versions of Star Wars.

Kyle Katarn is now a Jedi Knight and it's his duty to stop the Dark Jedi Jerec from reaching the Valley of the Jedi and taking control of aa incredible amount of force energy that lies underneath the Valley. An ancient prophecy says that someone will come and release this power but will Katarn be the one to full those words or will it be the evil Jerec who desires the power to rule the galaxy with his twisted intent.

The cast assembled for the production of Star Wars Dark Forces was exceptional. There were numerous great performance but the performance by Mo Collins as Jan Ors was especially delightful. 

Featured in the cast:

Mark Benninghofen as Luke Skywalker
Randal Berger as Kyle Katarn
Christopher Bloch as Lt. Aagon and Bouncer
James Cada as Screamer and Imperial Pilot
Mo Collins as Jan Ors
Patrick Coyle as Nathan Donar, Speeder Pilot and Imperial Co-Pilot
David Chase as Morgan Katarn
Nancy Crocker as Sariss
Stephen D'Ambrose as Boc and Weapons Officer
Susanne Egli as Leia Organa
Louise Enyeart as Lasko and Peeno
Bob Davis as Skorg Jameson and Lando Calrissian
Chris Forth as Mon Mothma
James Gaulke as Han Solo
Gary Groomes as Major Vig
Allen Hamilton as Jerec
Gary Groomes as Governor Donar and Major Horst
Peter Moore as Meck Odom and Slyder
Tim Russell as Captain Thrawn, A-Cee and General Mohc 
Emil Herrera as Obata
Ken Hiller as Narrator
Jay Hornbacher as Grif
Virginia Burke as Norley
Tom Keith as Sergeant and Imperial Pilot
Timothy Kuhlmann as Yun
Peter Moore as Officer and Floater
Martin Ruben as Battle Droid and Maw
Sue Scott as Carole
Michael Tezla as Rahn
Jack Walsh as Mayor Devo and Pardy
John Wehrmann as Captain Trico
Stephen Yoakam as Dinko, Executive and Captain Tola

For more Star Wars see also:

Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama (aka Star Wars: A New Hope)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier For The Empire

Star Wars: Dark Forces - Rebel Agent

Star Wars: Crimson Empire

Star Wars: Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell

#117 Star Wars: Dark Forces - Rebel Agent

 Star Wars: Dark Forces - Rebel Agent. The second in the Dark Forces trilogy. Great acting and outstanding sound design are the highlights of this production. The story though strong dips a bit below that of Soldier For The Empire. A fun story and good audio drama that will probably appeal mostly to Star Wars fans.

From Star Wars:
In Soldier for the Empire, Kyle Katarn, having graduated from the Imperial Military Academy, learns of his father's murder. On his way home he meets a Rebel agent, learns the ugly truth about the way in which his father died, and swears revenge.

Now, in Rebel Agent, Kyle learns more about what his father found in the Valley of the Jedi that ultimately led to his death. Kyle finally earns his Knighthood as a Jedi, and the stage is set for him to avenge his father's death and stop the Dark Jedi from taking control of the source of energy that lies underneath the valley.

Introductions From Star Wars: Dark Forces Rebel Agent:
The fight for galactic freedom rages on, the past and the present collide. In the present, the Emperor has been destroyed, and the weakened Empire has shrunk to a fraction of it's former size, while the Rebel Alliance continues to grow. For a young mercenary named Kyle Katarn, it has been five years since he'd betrayed the Empire. Five years since he abandoned his life as an Imperial office and delivered the Death Star Plans to the Rebels. Five years since the death of his father, Morgan Katarn. But Kyle cannot escape the memory of the past. Five years ago he swore to avenge his father's death. But for all that time, his oath has gone unfulfilled. As he continues to search for the unknown Imperial murderers, Kyle under the watchful eyes of Jan Ors has become a Rebel agent. But like Kyle himself, the Alliance cannot forget Katarn's Imperial past. And the Alliance views him with suspicion. So Kyle Katarn and the Rebel Alliance hurdle together to an unknown future. But as so-often happens, the future will be determined by the past. For his own sake, and for the sake of the Alliance Kyle must unlock the secret to an ancient prophecy, and uncover the heroic deeds of his father that took places back in the early days of the Rebellion.…

It has been five years since the destruction of the first Death Star and months since the defeat of the Empire at the Battle of Endor. Since the Emperor's fall the fledgling Alliance has struggled to drive the Empire further and further back from the worlds it's conquered. But now, a new threat has emerged. The Dark Jedi known as Jerec has uncovered an ancient prophecy and a source of unbelievable power. Somewhere among the stars, lies an uncharted planet and a mysterious place called the Valley of the Jedi. Only the murdered Rebel leader Morgan Katarn knew its whereabouts. Recording the secret on a
datadisk for his son Kyle. Unfortunately for the young Rebel, a scheming droid called 8t88
obtained the disk. The droid was able to decipher some of its information and deliver it to Jerec just before Kyle caught up with it. Tracking the droid to Nar Shaddaa, Kyle recovered the disc but was wounded in the ensuing battle. Recovering from his wounds, Kyle receives a vision from the murdered Jedi Master Rahn. Warning him of the task he must complete…

For More Star Wars see also:

Star Wars: The Original Radio Drama (aka Star Wars: A New Hope)

Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

Star Wars: Dark Forces - Jedi Knight

Star Wars: Dark Forces - Soldier For The Empire

Star Wars: Crimson Empire

Star Wars: Rebel Mission to Ord Mantell

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Mark of Zorro Nominated For A Grammy!

Congratulations to Mr. Yuri Rasovsky, producer for Hollywood Theater of the Ear, for 2 Grammy nominations in the Spoken Word category.

Nominated for Best Spoken Word Album (Includes Poetry, Audio Books and Story Telling):

The Mark of Zorro (from Blackstone Audio) starring Val Kilmer, Ruth Livier, Armin Shimerman, Elizabeth Peña, Meshach Taylor, Keith Szarabajka, Ned Schmidtke, Scott Brick, Stefan Rudnicki, Kristoffer Tabori, Philip Proctor, John Sloan, Gordo Panza and Lorna Raver (the announcer).

Congratulations also to Josh Stanton (Blackstone Audio), John Gertz (Zorro Productions Inc.) and Daryl McCullough associate producers on The Mark of Zorro.

William Shakespeare's Hamlet (from Blackstone Audio) featuring Dan Donohue & Various Artists - Oregon Shakespeare Festival