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Posts Tagged ‘lynne deragon’

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 #27: “Guest of Honor”

Nicky GuadagniThis week we feature another excellent adaptation by Len Peterson: the Peter S. Beagle short story, Come, Lady Death (dramatized under the title "Guest of Honor").

In this tale, Moya Fenwick portrays the elderly Lady Flora Neville, a woman renowned for her elaborate parties and balls. After decades of such events, Lady Neville has become bored. Guests such as King George and the Archbishop of Canterbury—even the famous composer George Fredrick Handle—no longer thrill her. Now she longs to invite the one guest that would rouse even her own jaded nature: Death himself.

Despite their initial reactions, her close friends agree that such an eminent guest as Death attending one of her balls would be the talk of London for years to come. Indeed, even the Lady herself comments that "those who were not invited will be publicly shamed!" They are all further intrigued when Death sends a letter agreeing to attend.

However, when Death does arrive at the ball, he is not what any of them expected. For just after midnight, the doors open and in walks…Lady Death.

The episode features Nicky Guadagni (photo left) as the Guest of Honor, as well as series regulars Graham Haley, Eric House, Mary Pirie and Neil Dainard. And, in honor of her birthday this year, I am pleased to single out Lynne Deragon in the role of the Contessa della Candini.

(NOTE: Some sources cite the title of this episode as "The Guest of Honor")


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Guest of Honor

Air Date: 1/2/81
Writer(s): Len Peterson (based on the 1963 Peter S. Beagle short story "Come, Lady Death")
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Moya Fenwick, Graham Haley, Nicky Guadagni, Tony van Bridge, Lynne Deragon, Mary Pirie, Neil Dainard, Eric House
Commercial Synopsis: In England, circa 1765, Lady Neville decides to invite the Ultimate Guest–Lady Death–to her Grand Ball.


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

Nightfall #10: “The Willoughby Obsession”

George R. Robetrson

One of the classics of NIGHTFALL, "The Willoughby Obsession" is also one of my favorites. Rarely does a character come of out a NIGHTFALL experience unscathed. Often they don't come out at all, but when they do, they are almost always changed, and in this tale, one of the main characters comes out very changed!

This is the first of a couple of episodes written by actor George R. Robertson (photo left), who appears in the series for the first time a little later in the season (he's probably better known as Chief/Commissioner Henry J. Hurst in the Police Academy movies and as General Mann in the 1980s War of the Worlds TV series).

"The Willougby Obsession" is the first episode of several to deal with extra-sensory powers in a normal human being. Charles Willoughby, lawyer to the most powerful men of the underworld, has died of a sudden heart attack — died while his wife is electrocuted in the bathtub on the other side of a locked door — and reporter Paul isn't convinced the case is closed.


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The Willoughby Obsession

Air Date: 9/5/1980
Writer(s): George R. Robertson
Production Location: CBC Toronto
Producer: Bill Howell
Featuring: Neil Dainard, Budd Knapp, Alan Scarfe, John Stocker, Lynne Deragon, Terry Vollum
Commercial Synopsis: A new play by George R. Robertson about the mysterious life and death of Charles Willoughby, the famous solicitor for the kingpins of the underworld.  (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!

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