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Posts Tagged ‘dh audio release’

Nightfall #34: “The Book of Hell”

Lynne DeragonWell, here it is. Another episode that I know many of you have been waiting for me to post on: Mavor Moore's "The Book of Hell".

On fans' lists of favorite episodes, this one often vies for the top spot with "Welcome to Homerville" and "The Repossession", and for good reason: it's Creep Factor builds pretty much from the beginning.

Two editors (Nonnie Griffin, Patrick Young) and the president (Budd Knapp) of a failing publishing house find themselves in over their heads when they receive a bizarre manuscript from a reclusive author…who's been dead for two years. The book appears to be a first-person account of a soul's experiences in Hell: an account which could make millions and revive the company. But there's only one problem: the book can't be printed. It can't be photocopied. It can't even be recorded.

As the widow of the now-deceased author A. J. Yanovsky, actress Lynne Deragon [photo left] (Falling Skies, Queer As Folk) manages to fully establish the mood for the rest of the episode. Her character calmly makes startling revelations in a soft, gentle voice with a Spanish accent: an effect which makes the listener all the more uneasy, especially with this particular little gem: "That book will never be published…because it is probably true."

In one scene, passages from the book are read aloud. Now I'm sure most people will have a certain expectation of what a first-person description of hell might be like, but mine certainly didn't come anywhere close to the one Moore lays out in this script. It is just chilling. And Bill Howell's choice in background music (some of which was used to the same effect in "The Willoughby Obsession") only adds to the feeling of despair.

An interesting note about this episode: Mavor Moore was not at all happy with the final production. Between an e-mail exchange we had in 2004 and my subsequent research trip to Toronto, it seems the entire script was rewritten. But it wasn't that anything was changed in terms of story. The changes were all cosmetic. The dialog seemed to have been revised to make it more "accessible" to the average listener. In Mavor Moore's archives at York University, there are copies of both the production script and his original (the production script has a snarky little caveat on the front cover: something to the effect of "Rewritten (poorly) by the hand of another." The original script might be described as more "high-brow", but I felt it was just was effective as the one that was produced.

 


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The Book of Hell

Air Date: 3/27/81
Writer(s): Mavor Moore
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Budd Knapp, Nonnie Griffin, Patrick Young, Lynne Deragon, Hugh Webster, Allen Doremus
Commercial Synopsis: A mysterious manuscript purporting to be a first-person account of what it's like in Hell has the editors of a publishing house in an uproar.


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 #30: “Dark Side of the Mind”

Wayne RobsonThis week we bring you another – and probably the best – script from "the late-night pen" of Canadian radio personality Max Ferguson ("Where Do We Go From Here?").

"Dark Side of the Mind" is considered one of the best of NIGHTFALL's psychological chillers, and boy does it deliver! The modus operandi of the story's antagonist is both shocking and highly memorable.

Amidst a series of child murders terrorizing the city, dentist Jeff Robbins (played by the late Wayne Robson [photo left]) and his wife, Myrna (Patricia Collins), having only recently returned from living abroad for several years, encounter an old college friend, Carl, and invite him over for a visit. However, Jeff is called away to his office to treat an emergency case, and it is while he is out that hears some startling news about what Carl was up to while they were out of the country.

Also appearing in the play are Peter Dvorsky as Carl and Denise Fergusson as Kitty Anderson.

The play is a first-time NIGHTFALL production for former series story editor John Douglas (you'll be hearing a lot more about him later).

NOTE: Wayne Robson was well-known for his role as ex-convict Mike Hamar in The Red Green Show.


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Dark Side of the Mind

Air Date: 1/23/81
Writer(s): Max Ferguson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: John Douglas
Featuring: Wayne Robson, Patricia Collins, Denise Fergusson, Peter Dvorsky, Anne Butler, Mia Anderson, Larry Reynolds, Alan Rosenthal
Commercial Synopsis: An innocent couple live out of the country for a few years – so they don't know what their old friends have been up to, like serial killing and escaping from a prison for the criminally insane. Having Carl over for dinner was a bad idea.


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

Nightfall #23: “Where Does the News Come From?”

August SchellenbergThis week's episode asks the very relevant-to-today question: "Who actually controls what news we see and hear?"

August Schellenberg (photo left) — in his second of two NIGHTFALL appearances — stars as foreign news correspondent David Winston, returning from Rome to be offered a national news anchor position, replacing a friend who inexplicably walked off the set one night and into a padded cell. But once he arrives, Winston is confronted by the strange, conspiracy-laden tales of a long-time friend, Stella Parsons (singer/actor Peggy Mahon, in her only NIGHTFALL role).

This episode also marks the first of nine NIGHTFALL appearances by the distinctively-voiced David Calderisi as producer Martin Grant. David is probably better known to CBC Radio Drama fans as the Voice of Introduction for the post-NIGHTFALL series, Vanishing Point.

Also featured are series regulars Frank Perry, Elva Mai Hoover and John Stocker, providing a number of extra voices.

This was the only episode written by actor James D. (Jimmy) Morris ("Welcome to Homerville", "Baby Doll").


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Where Does the News Come From?

Air Date: 12/05/80
Writer(s): James D. Morris
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: August Schellenberg, Peggy Mahon, David Calderisi, John Stocker, Elva Mai Hoover, Frank Perry, Trish Allen
Commercial Synopsis: A foreign correspondent returns home to take the national TV news anchorman's slot, and discovers some mysterious events which somehow never end up on the air.


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

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