Archive for July, 2011

Nightfall #4: “Hands Off”

Colin FoxThe second script by John Graham, "Hands Off" is an episode of many firsts when it comes to establishing some of NIGHTFALL's trademarks. It's the first episode to include a dismemberment sequence. It's the first episode to feature a murder. It's the first appearance of actor Colin Fox (photo left). And it's the first episode about the risks of science.

This is also an episode with a lot of violence in it. More than the first three episodes combined. There is one off-screen murder, one on-screen murder, an attack by a pack of dogs, and the dismemberment. But it's all relevant to the story, believe it or not. It's very rare for NIGHTFALL to be gruesome just for the sake of being gruesome, though I know some radio fans who would disagree with that.


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Hands Off

Air Date: 7/25/1980
Writer(s): John Graham
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Colin Fox, Jennifer Browne, Marian Waldman, Murray Westgate, Ruth Springford, Ken James
Commercial Synopsis: A scientist experimenting with hostility in animals accidentally spills some of the chemical he's using on his hand. Immediately, his wife flies into a rage and try as he might, he cannot wash the chemical off. After a series of hostile reactions, he's forced to take desperate measures.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #3: “Welcome to Homerville”

Neil DainardArguably the best episode of the entire series, "Welcome to Homerville" was nominated for a 1980 ACTRA Award for best writing. On more than one occasion during my research, I ran into someone who remembered hearing this episode when it originally aired, or during one its runs on NPR Playhouse, and being scared to death by it. The secret is: don't listen to it while driving at night!

"Welcome to Homerville" was the first episode of the series to be recorded (in the studio March 20th & 21st, 1980) and was probably used as a demo for Susan Rubes and the other higher-ups at CBC Radio, though I don't know this for certain.

For the cast, producer Bill Howell turned to some of the actors he worked with frequently, including Neil Dainard (photo left), Elva Mai Hoover and John Stocker, all of whom appeared in Howell's highly-successful sci-fi series, Johnny Chase: Secret Agent of Space, among his other projects. (There's another show that the world is sadly missing out on while the recordings languish in the CBC Archive).

The thing that first set me on edge when I first heard this episode was the flute. Just before the voice's first appearance on the radio, there comes a low flute motif. It's job is to telegraph to the listener that something ominous is about to happen, and oh yeah, it does that very well. But even then, you're just not expecting what comes next. As someone who is not fond of driving at night as it is, this episode just amplified my fear ten times. I'm serious when I say don't listen to it while driving at night. Especially on a lonely stretch of road or highway!

("Welcome to Homerville" was the inspiration for my radio drama troupe's (The Post-Meridian Radio Players) 2010 Halloween play "The Sirens of War", in which the crew of a barge transporting Naval munitions along the Missouri River during WWII is haunted by a voice on their radio.).


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Welcome to Homerville

Air Date: 7/18/1980
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Dainard, James D. (Jimmy) Morris, John Stocker, Frank Perry, Robert Christie, Corinne Langston, Marian Waldman, Elva Mai Hoover, Ron Hartman, Arch McDonnell, Budd Knapp, Gordon Thomson, Lynne Deragon
Commercial Synopsis: A trucker, traveling a lonely highway, hears a mysterious female on his radio who says she is waiting for him in Homerville. Unnerved, he tells his CB buddies who warn him not to go there because danger lies ahead. But the seductive voice keeps luring him on.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #2: “The Monkey’s Paw”

Len PetersonOf NIGHTFALL's 100 episodes, almost 1/3 were adaptations of both popular and obscure short stories. This week's offering is arguably the best of these, penned by one of Canada's foremost playwrights, the late Len Peterson (photo left). It's the definitive example of the old adage "be careful what you wish for."

This was the first of five adaptations written for NIGHTFALL by Mr. Peterson (not including the elusive "Dreamy", which wasn't a NIGHTFALL episode at all, but which included many of the show's regulars and aired in its time slot). I had a chance to meet and interview Mr. Peterson in 2004 and I hope to write up that interview at a future date. (I'm also pleased to say that this was one of the first NIGHTFALL plays my radio drama troupe, The Post-Meridian Radio Players, performed live).

So now, sit back and enjoy the first of NIGHTFALL's  many adaptations.


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The Monkey's Paw

Air Date: 7/11/1980
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the short story by W.W. Jacobs)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Ruth Springford, Eric House, Chris Wiggins, Michael Wincott, Graham Haley
Commercial Synopsis: A British Army Sergeant-Major returns from years of service in India with more than just the usual military yarns.  (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

Nightfall #1: “Love and the Lonely One”

31 years ago tonight, CBC Radio aired the first episode of NIGHTFALL. In celebration of that event, we offer you that first program. Enjoy…the Edge!


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Love and the Lonely One
Elva Mai Hoover

Air Date: 7/4/1980
Writer(s): John Graham
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Elva Mai Hoover (photo right), Jay Bowen, John Stocker, Mignon Elkins, Graham Haley
Commercial Synopsis: As a lark, a pair of medical students steal the corpse of an old lady from an anatomy lab, but they soon discover that the joke's on them. (NPR)


If you like what you hear, please contact the CBC Shop and encourage them to release the series!

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