I enjoy listening to old time radio (OTR) episodes while cooking, doing dishes, working outside, etc. They’re a nice way to pass the time without feeling tied to a TV set. There’s lots of general information about the various radio dramas out there, but not much in the way of episode guides or reviews. As long as I’m listening, I figure I might as well write brief reviews, in case anyone else out there in blogland is interested. Here’s the first.
Series: Murder At Midnight
Episode: The Line Is Dead (# 28)
First Aired: April 7, 1947
The series Muder At Miiiiidniiiight (not to be confused with other books or movies of the same name) only lasted about a year. It was another entrant in an already crowded genre which included popular shows like the long-running Suspense and Inner Sanctum.
This episode begins with a funeral during which the corpse suddenly revives. We discover that this fellow is apparently prone to mysterious episodes of heart failure which can last as long as 6 days (!) before he recovers and wakes up. He’s understandably distressed by the idea of having this happen again, so he makes his longsuffering wife promise that if he should be struck dead again, she’ll install a private telephone line from his coffin to their home before he’s buried (thus the title of the episode). He then lives to the age of 97 before he’s hit by a bus and killed.
Just kidding. With a setup like this one you already know what’s going to happen. No sooner does his wife agree than he keels over and "dies" again. She dutifully installs the phone line, over the objections of concerned friends who haven’t been paying attention to the plot, and prepares to wait a while for the phone call she secretly dreads.
For, you see, she doesn’t really love her husband. She thought of her husband as sort of a consolation prize after her true love died years ago. Or did he? For who should appear at her door than her long lost love, with a tale of attempted muder (at midnight).
We then discover that her husband left him to die locked behind a secret door in a lost Aztec temple in the jungles of South America. Yes, it’s the old Girl Meets Boy, Girl Meets Other Boy, One Boy Traps Other Boy Inside Ancient Ruins To Get The Girl And Priceless Gold Artifacts story. A tale as old as time itself.
But, yes, he escaped! And now that her husband is out of the way at last (or is he?) her lover has come back again to reveal the truth about what really happened. Faced with these revelations she calls him a liar and angrily tosses him out of her house. But after finding a written confession from her late(?) husband she realizes how wrong she’s been and runs out of the house to find her true love.
And as soon as she’s left the room….the coffin’s phone rings! (Wow, I bet you didn’t see that coming.) Her husband’s not dead, but now his own evil deeds from the past have sealed his own fate. The End.
Ok, it’s mighty improbable that they guy could live for six days without a heartbeat. But this has happened twice before already, so the skepticism seems misplaced. Even so, it wasn’t too bad until the whole Aztec temple revelation dropped out of nowhere. That plot point sort of ruined the atmosphere for me because it seems bizarrely out of place. It almost seems like the writers reached into a hat and pulled out the most distracting digression they could find.
Weird. But I have to admit that under other circumstances the Aztec Temple Gambit could be very handy:
Wife: Bryan! Your friend Adam told me that you spent $80 buying games from AtariAge!
Bryan: Uh oh! Um….but did Adam also tell you the truth about what happened in that ancient Aztec temple all those years ago?
Wife: (confused) WTF ?
Bryan: (runs away)
Yes. this could be very useful indeed…
Read Full Post »