Recommendation – The Thrilling Adventure Hour
How much do I love the Thrilling Adventure Hour? So much so that the show recently shut down production after 10 years and I am still recommending it to everyone I know.
TAH, as it’s known to fans, bills itself as a “new time podcast in the style of old time radio” but I don’t think that’s entirely right. The description “Old Time Radio” comes with several connotations that absolutely do not apply. The stories are serialized and the ensemble brings an “old time” quality, I suppose, but the best thing this TAH has going for it is the very modern improv sensibility that runs from the writers to the cast to the music and sound effects. The most glorious moments, some of which have become legendary in the fan community, have been off the cuff or straight out mistakes woven into comedy gold. The unpolished nature of the thing makes the performers human, the atmosphere free of pretension and can lead to moments where you laugh so hard it hurts.
Quickly, TAH is made up of several “shows” including:
Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars – Marc Evan Jackson is the titular Marshall who rights the outlaw wrongs on Mars with the help of his Martian sidekick Croach the Tracker, the travel hardened Red Plains Rider and many others. It’s a western, through and through, and has the most satisfying week to week story of the bunch.
Beyond Belief – Paul F. Thompkins and Paget Brewster (yes, that Paget Brewster) star as married mediums Frank and Sadie Doyle in this “Thin Man” meets monster of the week style production. Thompkins is one of my very favorite comedians and it is so easy to fall in love with the rhythms of this show. -clink-
Captain Laserbeam – A superhero whose work is consistently undermined and then saved by his young “adventure-kateers”and whose personal life spirals down the drain as the show goes on. Phillip Fathom the Deep Sea Detective takes over in later episodes.
Moonshine Holler – A rich man decides to live the life of a hobo as he searches for the hobo princess in a show that seems much more fun to perform than maybe it is to listen to.
Amelia Earhart, Fearless Flyer – The lost aviator fights Nazis. You should be sold by that.
I’ll make one more pitch for TAH as I know a few folks who feel the whole enterprise is a bit fey and proud of itself. I’m a sucker for the “let’s put on a show” attitude of these performers because it’s something I totally lack within myself. Getting your talented friends together and doing something really high quality that engages a lot of people and doing it for 10 years, that’s really something. If you listen to the cast and crew talk about the show, which they do in frequent “mini episodes” you find out just how much they love this show and each other. To put it another way, in an age where so much is packaged and overthought the Thrilling Adventure Hour is a bunch of super talented people getting together and doing a thing and that thing happens to be fun, occasionally meaningful, infrequently heart breaking and so, so funny.
If you listen to a few episodes, you’ll enjoy them. If you become a fan, you’ll thank me.