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Posts Tagged ‘adaptations’

Nightfall #36: “The Fatal Eggs”

Mikhail Bulgakov

One of the best adaptations of the series. Features a number of NIGHTTFALL regulars in the cast.

 

 

 

 


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The Fatal Eggs

Air Date: 4/17/81
Writer(s): Arthur Samuels (adapted from the 1925 novel by Mikhail Bulgakov)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Douglas Campbell, Neil Dainard, David Calderisi, Nonnie Griffin, Marian Waldman, John Stocker, Arch McDonnell, Jon Granik
Commercial Synopsis: Satire and horror blend in this incredible tale of a research scientist who discovers that a mysterious red ray can accelerate organic growth, and his secret process falls into the hands of ambitious bureaucrats.


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

Nightfall #35: “Mkara”

Michael McCabeThis week we present the second of two adaptations by Graham Haley of a story by South African actor/playwright Michael McCabe (photo left).

It is 1943 and Dr. Ray Park has come to eastern Africa at the behest of his friend Sylvia to help her husband, famous hunter and naturalist Charles Woodley (Chris Wiggins), who fervently believes he is dying as the result of a curse. The curse was put on him in Tanganyika five years earlier by Mkara, the brother of a local witch doctor, after Woodley shot and killed the Great Bull of El Haza, an elephant worshiped by the regions tribes as the God of all Elephants. Woodley is convinced he is going to die and nothing will make him think otherwise, until Ray offers to take the curse upon himself.

The introductions of Luther Kranst throughout the first two seasons of NIGHTFALL range from dark and tongue-in-cheek to pithy and profound. The one for this episode is pretty typical of the rest of them, but it tends to stick with me for some reason: "Tonight's story takes us to the interior of Ethiopia, where nowadays they have bounties on virtually all wildlife…except for the human soul." Ah, Luther, I miss you.


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Mkara

Air Date: 4/3/81
Writer(s): Graham Haley (adapted from a production by Michael McCabe)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Mkara
Featuring: Chris Wiggins, Maya Anderson, Eric House, David Hendlin, Graham Haley, Henry Ramer (Narrating as Luther Kranst)
Commercial Synopsis: Mkara, an Ethiopian native, hunts down two British ivory hunters warning them of dire consequences should they harm the God of All Elephants, the Great Bull of El Haza.


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

Nightfall #32: “The Room”

DHPA cassette sleeveThis week's episode may have the most extensive lineage of any in the series. It was adapted by NIGHTFALL actor Graham Haley from an episode of the South African radio series Beyond Midnight, which was originally written by Michael McCabe, which was, in turn, based loosely on the 1894 H.G. Wells short story, The Red Room. Phew.

Graham Haley's two adaptations of Michael McCabe's work (the other being episode #35: "Mkara") are something of a mystery. I have found very little background on them and I have yet to make contact with Mr. Haley. He's something of a TV personality these days—known for his Haley's Hints household tips series on PBS and related books and DVDs—which makes him harder to track down. I've found contradicting evidence as to where he lives these days, but it's either somewhere in California or in Toronto. I do know he's from South Africa, which makes his interest in Beyond Midnight understandable. I will keep plugging away at trying to find him.

In the story, a widow (Moya Fenwick) offers a substantial sum of money to anyone willing to spend the night in the Yellow Room—the room where her husband (Chris Wiggins) died without receiving absolution years before. Several men have made the attempt, but none succeeded. They either went mad…or died of fright. Despite this, skeptical young Ronald Todd (Haley) is determined to try.

NOTES:

  • It's interesting to note that in Henry Ramer's intro to the episode, he refers to it as being an adaptation of "a Michael McCabe short story". It makes me wonder if it was just simpler to say that or if it was for legal reasons? I suppose it's possible McCabe did originally write it as a short story, but the dialog is nearly identical to the Beyond Midnight episode.
  • This is one of three episodes where Henry Ramer actually appears in the episode itself, in this instance as narrator.
  • The cast list reads like a NIGHTFALL who's who. Everyone involved has appeared in the series before.

Beyond Midnight is a series well worth tracking down. Only about half of the 1968-1970 series can be found on-line as recordings, but they are comparable to NIGHTFALL in style and quality. If you're interested in hearing the original Beyond Midnight episode, "The Yellow Room", you need look no further than here:

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The Room

Air Date: 3/6/1981
Writer(s): Graham Haley (adapted from the Beyond Midnight episode "The Yellow Room" by Michael McCabe, and inspired by the H.G. Wells short story The Red Room)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Graham Haley, Moya Fenwick, Colin Fox, Chris Wiggins, John Stocker, Henry Ramer (Narrating as Luther Kranst)
Commercial Synopsis: Since Amanda Watts' husband Alfred died in the Chanceford mansion without the last rites twenty-two years ago, seven men have stayed in the Yellow Room alone overnight. All went mad – or died. Nevertheless, for an offer of 1000 English pounds, down-on-his-luck Ronald Todd is willing to give it a try.


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

Nightfall #31: “Wildcats”

Wildcats: Durkin-Hayes Paperback Audio CassetteAaaaaaaand we're back!

This week we present the only script penned for Nightfall by popular Canadian radio personality, the late Otto Lowy.

For 22 years, up until his death in 2002, Lowy hosted The Transcontinental, CBC Radio's "musical train ride through Europe". During that time he also wrote and acted in several radio and television programs (including acting in two NIGHTFALL episodes, in addition to writing this one).

In this episode, a man traveling by train (series regular Neil Dainard) disembarks at the wrong station and ends up having to spend the night at the old Blue Trout Inn, a run-down hotel from the days when the area was a major tourist attraction. The Inn is run by two elderly sisters (Jane Mallet and series regular Ruth Springford) who live in fear of the local wildcats. Having lived alone at the Inn alone for years, the two women realize they have a chance for company and plot to keep the man there by administering morphine and claiming he is ill. They also take advantage of the man's state to ask him detailed personal questions. Unfortunately for them, the man's truthful confessions inspire the women to make their own…

This is one of the more unusual plays in the NIGHTFALL series and it merits more than one listen to really get the full effect of the story. A lot of key story points can be lost if you're not paying attention. I have tried for years to find the original short story this is based on, but I have so far drawn a blank. Perhaps a lead might be found if Otto Lowy's files have been archived somewhere.


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Wildcats

Air Date: 2/27/81
Writer(s): Otto Lowy (based on the German short story by Christian Noak)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Jane Mallet, Ruth Springford, Neil Dainard, Sandy Webster
Commercial Synopsis: When Julian's express train drops him off at a remote outpost by mistake, with no local service back to his own village until the next morning, his main problem is finding accommodations for the night. He is offered shelter at the Blue Trout Inn, a decrepit hotel run by two sisters with a penchant for administering morphine, and fighting – like wildcats.


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

Nightfall #29: “They Bite”

David CalderisiThe fifth and final NIGHTFALL script by the late Len Peterson, this week's entry is an adaptation of the 1943 Anthony Boucher short story, "They Bite".

Peterson's ability to adapt a story has always impressed me. There's creating a true-to-the-original script like "The Stone Ship", or taking a story with little or no detail, such as "The Tell-tale Heart", and weaving times and settings and characters into it until it feels like it came from Poe's own hand. And then there's "They Bite", where Peterson made a number of changes to the details of the story and even to some of the motivations of the characters, yet the essential framework and key aspects are mostly still intact.

The story — moved to the current day — revolves around the character of Hugh Blair (played by Robert Haley), a former Vietnam war hero with an interest in paleontology who went a little nuts and had to be sent home to recover. The story is narrated in places by Blair's Army Air Corp tail-gunner, Corey, from Vietnam (excellently portrayed by NIGHTFALL veteran John Stocker), who invites Blair to visit him in "nowhere Nevada" to see the unusual collections of fossil remains out in the desert. What he finds, though, are more than just the remains of some stegosaur. He also finds his former Army commander, Colonel Morgan (David Calderisi, photo left). The man who drove Blair until he cracked.

Blair also finds something else. Something that lives and feeds in the desert, but is only ever seen out of the corner of the eye. Something that shouldn't be alive today, but is.

Also appearing in this episode are Ken James as Set 'em Up Sid and Mavor Moore as Old Jake. (Moore will play an even more important role in NIGHTFALL history as the writer of "The Book of Hell", one of the most popular episodes of the show, which is coming up in a couple of months!)

NOTE: This recording came from the episode's first run on NPR Playhouse in February of 1981.


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They Bite

Air Date: 1/16/81
Writer(s): Len Peterson (adapted from the short story by Anthony Boucher)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: John Stocker, Robert Haley, David Calderisi, Ken James, Mavor Moore
Commercial Synopsis: "Something moved, something little and thin and brown as the earth. Too large for a rabbit, much too small for a man." Paleontologist and Vietnam veteran Hugh Blair is pitted against predatory desert shadows.


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

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