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Posts Tagged ‘arch mcdonnell’

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 #28: “A Short Wave Goodbye”

Maxine MillerThis week we feature the second episode penned by George R. Robertson (the first being “The Willoughby Obsession”). It is also the second episode where an electronic device receives signals from the future, much to someone’s lament – though, in this case, it’s hard to tell who laments it most.

After a fight with his long-suffering wife, Harriet, in which his prized short-wave radio set is damaged, suburban accountant Harvey John Beasley discovers that he can now pick up transmissions from the near future. After placing a few successful bets with his friend Philip’s bookmaker (though the term “friend” may be subjective, considering what Harriet and Phillip are doing together in their spare time), Harvey goes one further and tries to warn a local mob boss that’s he’s about to be the victim of a hit. Unfortunately, the mobster is gunned down anyway, proving to Harvey that the future cannot be changed – at least, not in the broad scheme of things. Things take an interesting turn when Harriet and Phillip learn of Harvey’s sudden wealth and, aiming to have it for themselves, seek out ways to do Harvey in. Once Harvey figures out their plan, however, things escalate into a covert war of assassination: of his wife and her lover’s traps versus Harvey’s knowledge of future disasters. The result, as it often is, is that someone wins the battle, but someone else loses the war. Which is which and who is who, though, might be a toss-up.

NIGHTFALL regular Arch McDonnell stars as Harvey, Maxine Miller (photo left) as Harriet, and Budd Knapp as is Harvey’s friend, Phillip. John Stocker appears as the Newscaster and Elva Mai Hoover plays the receptionist.


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A Short Wave Goodbye

Air Date: 1/9/81
Writer(s): George R. Robertson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Arch McDonnell, Maxine Miller, Budd Knapp, John Stocker, Elva Mai Hoover
Commercial Synopsis: A ham radio enthusiast accidentally discovers how to pick up transmissions from the future, and notices that they are becoming increasingly closer to the present.


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

Nightfall #25: “On Christmas Day in the Morning”

Sandy WebsterThe 1980 Holiday season brought us not one, but two Christmas episodes!

This week's is a fun little story that, at first, seems pretty unlikely as a NIGHTFALL episode. It's one everyone can listen to: no severed limbs, no creepy ghosts, no self-destructive split personalities, and no historical vampire royalty. Just a good ol' mystery. Oddly enough, though, it was penned by the same duo that brought you episode #3, "Welcome to Homerville". Hard to imagine this story coming from Don Dickinson and Allan Guttman!

It is an adaptation of one of British author Margery Allingham's popular Campion mysteries, originally written in 1952. For the purposes of making it a one-off story, the writers replaced Arthur Campion with a retired provincial judge and set it in rural Ontario during the Second World War.

The story deals with the death of the local mail carrier, who seems to have been the victim of a hit and run, on Christmas morning. Things look bad for the mayor's son and his girlfriend, except in order to pin the crime on them, they would have to explain how the carrier managed to deliver mail to a reclusive old woman after he was dead.

The episode features the wonderful voice of Sandy Webster (photo left) as the judge, as well as series regulars Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell and Robert Haley. Michael Wincott and Elva Mai Hoover play the teenage suspects.

(NOTE: There's a slight dropout in the recording at 28:00, but it's only momentary. Nothing significant to the story is lost.)


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On Christmas Day in the Morning

Air Date: 12/19/80
Writer(s): Don Dickinson & Allan Guttman  (based on the short story by Margery Allingham)
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Sandy Webster, Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell, Sandra Scott, Robert Haley, Elva Mai Hoover, Michael Wincott, John Stocker
Commercial Synopsis: The sudden death of the local mail carrier on Christmas morning presents a newly-retired judge with a bizarre mystery: how could the carrier have delivered mail to an elderly woman after he was dead?


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

Nightfall #24: “Where Do We Go From Here?”

Max Ferguson (1954)This episode holds a very special place in my heart: it was the first episode of NIGHTFALL I ever heard.

Back in 2002, I was starting to develop ideas for a horror anthology series to be produced by what would eventually become The Post-Meridian Radio Players. I was looking at examples of past shows and an on-line friend asked me if I'd ever heard of NIGHTFALL. I hadn't. So he sent me an mp3 of this episode and, at the end of 30 minutes, a nearly decade-long obsession was born.

Prior to starting my research on NIGHTFALL, I had no idea who Max Ferguson (photo left) was. All I knew was that he had written three of the creepiest episodes of the series (the other two being "Dark Side of the Mind" and "Breaking Point"). On-line searches began to turn up all sorts of information on him, but not as a writer. Apparently Max was one of the most famous (if not the most famous) radio personalities in all of Canadian history. His radio career spanned 52 years – all of it with the CBC. His repertoire consisted of dozens of character voices, the most famous of which was the old ranch hand, Rawhide. He hosted a number of shows over the years, always managing to find new satirical uses for his vocal cast.  (A page with links to a number of his hilarious sketches from the CBC Archives can be found here.)

During a 2004 phone interview, I learned how he had landed the job of writing for NIGHTFALL

Max apparently retired from CBC several times, but somehow always managed to come back. In 1980, during one of these retirement periods, CBC Head of Radio Drama, Susan Rubes, suggested he try his hand at writing. And that's how we got "Where Do We Go From Here?". (Max told me that wasn't the original title. Apparently Bill Howell had changed it. He believed his original title had been "Perchance to Dream".)

The story is narrated from the real-time point-of-view of the main character, Neville Edwards (voiced by Neil Munro, in one of his best NIGHTFALL performances), who has just been in a terrible rollover accident, though he is still very much alive. However, to the witnesses on the scene; to the ambulance attendants; to the doctors and nurses at the hospital; even to his co-workers, Neville Edwards is dead. Throughout all this, he remains in a controlled panic. He firmly believes someone will realize the truth and then he'll be saved. It's only when he's laying on the mortician's slab that his veneer truly begins to crack.

How does it turn out? Is he saved at the eleventh hour by a mortician's observant eye? You'll have to listen to find out!

(This episode is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "Living Corpse". It is believed this came about due to the circulation of recordings made from the 1983/84 CBC Enterprises audio cassette release, which lacked the Luther Kranst/Henry Ramer intro and close. This theory has not been corroborated by any official source, however.)


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Where Do We Go From Here?

Air Date: 12/12/1980
Writer(s): Max Ferguson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Munro, Colin Fox , Michael Wincott, Arch McDonnell, Grant Roll, David Calderisi, Mary Pirie, John Stocker, Corinne Langston, Gordon Thomson
Commercial Synopsis: We learn more than we wanted to know about morticians and their scruples after a not-quite fatal car crash.


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

Nightfall #22: “Deadly Developments”

Gordon ThomsonAh, another one of my favorite episodes! It joins the ranks of several other episodes about "cursed objects" and was the first to be written by a woman.

John Stocker and Gordon Thomson (photo left) – starring together on NIGHTFALL for the first time since "How Did You Get My Name?" (#8) – respectively play professional photographer André Phillipe and his assistant, Steve Balfourt, who are preparing a photo shoot for the cover of an upcoming horror novel. During the session, André decides to try out his newly-acquired Von Hensdorf, an extremely rare camera made in pre-war Germany, known for the stark quality of its photos. Very quickly, the shoot turns into a terrifying experience for the three women sent by the modeling agency, who are overwhelmed by the sense of a malevolent presence in the studio. The next day, two police officers arrive at the studio and begin asking questions about three separate incidents that occurred the afternoon before. At roughly the same time, André realizes, that the Von Hensdorf photos were being developed…

The playwright on this episode is something of a mystery. Arlene Ezrin is one of the few writers I haven't been able to track down or to account for as deceased. The only Arlene Ezrin I can find any reference to on-line is the wife of Canadian music producer Bob Ezrin (known for his work with such talents as Alice Cooper, Kiss and Pink Floyd), but so little is to be found about her as to be non-existent. They did, however, live in Toronto, so it's quite possible this is the same person.

Historical Note: The original CBC Radio broadcast of this episode (as well as the version you are listening to here) has an opening scene in Paul Gemmel's pawn shop, in which André purchases the Von Hensdorf camera. However, the oft-circulated copy of this episode is from its run on NPR Playhouse  in 1981, which did not include the scene. Correspondence between the producer of NPR Playhouse and Bill Howell indicates that, due to time constraints, episodes had to be limited to 29 minutes or less in length, so it is likely that Bill Howell excised the scene from the version he sent to NPR to keep it under time. This is only a theory, though, and has not been confirmed.


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Deadly Developments

Air Date: 11/28/8
Writer(s): Arlene Ezrin
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: John Stocker, Gordon Thomson, Budd Knapp, Sandy Webster, Linda Sorenson, Elva Mai Hoover, Nicky Guadagni, Colin Fox, Arch McDonnell
Commercial Synopsis: The discovery of a mysterious old German camera starts a bizarre series of events in this contemporary story focusing on the world of fashion photography.


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

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