Monday, May 30, 2011

Savage Radio Returns

Street & Smith's DOC SAVAGE series of pulp novels in the thirties and forties is exactly the sort of series that should have been made into a radio serial. It had a stalwart hero, exotic locales, characters with distinctive catch phrases, sinister villians, and non-stop action. Yet, oddly, at a time when LITTLE ORPHAN ANNIE of all stories was a popular radio series, Doc Savage's adventures did not make the cut. In 1985, National Public Radio remedied that lacuna by producing an all-new DOC SAVAGE serial, adapting two of Lester Dent's novels. That series has not been commercially available -- until now.

Radio Archives has packaged both novels' adaptations (along with an audio documentary about the making of the series) into a clamshell case graced with a painting of Doc and his cousin Pat Savage by frequent DS paperback artist Bob Larkin, and has made the whole set available for $24.98. I snatched it up, and so far I've listened to the adaptation of "Fear Cay" and part of "The Thousand-Headed Man." Now, these stories are pulp-hero fiction, so don't expect sub-plots or complex characterization. And there are some limitations imposed by the radio-drama format: There's a lot of dialogue describing what the characters are seeing; and Doc, who's generally taciturn in the pulp stories, is quite loquacious as he narrates his observations and deductions. Nevertheless, these stories are enormous fun for anyone who enjoys over-the-top 30's adventure. Recommended.

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