hradzka: (doc savage)
[personal profile] hradzka
Looking through Doc novels for Pat's appearances, I refound a sweet bit in THE BLACK, BLACK WITCH. Doc's adventuress/entrepreneur cousin Pat Savage and his aides Monk, Ham, and Johnny have been captured by the bad guys, and the following conversation ensues.

Monk looked at Pat and said, “They're going to kill us.”

Pat nodded. “They'll figure,” she said, “that getting rid of us will put out the fire.”

“But it won't,” Monk said.

“Not the fire in their consciences anyway,” Monk muttered. “But that's not going to stop them.”

Pat stared at the floor, her face tight with emotion. Her lips worked. She cleared her throat. “It was my stupidity that got me here,” she said. “But I'm not sorry.”

Monk frowned. “What are you talking about?”

Pat looked at the floor again and had some trouble getting the words to come. She finally stared at Monk, Ham and Johnny. “I don't think I could take it if you three were murdered,” she said. “So I'm glad I'm here.”

“You're crazy,” Monk said quietly. “But it's a nice speech, anyway.”

Awwwww. (This is the story where it's revealed that one of Doc's aides secretly taught Pat ancient Mayan, which is the language they use to communicate secretly among themselves. Nobody ever fesses up, but my bet is on Monk.)

Date: 2008-12-21 04:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]

I miss Doc Savage.

Date: 2008-12-21 11:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Doc rocks. Forsooth.

Serialized Comment -- Part 1

Date: 2008-12-21 07:38 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
My, does this ever bring back memories!

Every Saturday during the 1971-1972 academic year, a group of undergraduates at Princeton University broadcast a late-night music and comedy show called “The Funny Farm” on the campus radio station, WPRB-FM. The program mixed cuts from rock albums and cuts from comedy albums with material that the undergraduates wrote or improvised themselves.

Among other things, the students producing the program obtained permission from the publisher of the Doc Savage novels to turn one book each semester into a radio serial. “The Fantastic Adventures of Doc Savage (based on the works of Kenneth Robeson)” adapted “The Haunted Ocean” for one term, and “The Feathered Octopus” for the other.

I know about this in great detail because I was one of the scriptwriters and one of the voice actors for both serializations. My principal voice was one of Doc’s assistants, William Harper Littlejohn (“Johnny”), the man “who never used a short word when a long word would do.” Another of my contributions was a gravelly, all-purpose subordinate villain’s voice about an octave and half below my usual speaking pitch.

The serializations followed the plots of the novels with reasonable faithfulness, albeit with the injection of some whimsical, self-referential humor. (It may help to know that several of the people behind the project were Firesign Theatre fans.) The weekly episodes were taped in advance, and thanks to the participation of talented sound engineers and enthusiastic voice actors, the level of performance and the quality of sound effects were exceedingly good. When the humorist Jean Shepherd made his annual visit to Princeton to perform live on campus, he was so taken by the quality of the work that he asked to have tapes brought to New York so that he could feature them on his nightly radio broadcast one evening.

Two important components bound each episode of the serials together. One was a five-second musical bridge, heavy on percussion, that signaled the transition from one scene to the next. (Think of the plucked-string motif between scenes on “Law and Order.”) Often, the bridge would swell up from the background to overlap the final words of dialogue in the scene that was ending.

But the glue that really held things together was an omniscient Narrator with a terrific radio voice. Delivering his lines with a deep, crisp sonority, our Narrator brought to the serial a resonant authority reminiscent of William Conrad’s work for “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle.” (Which, come to think of it, was another of the inspirations for the humorous grace notes we applied to Kenneth Robeson’s plots.)

[Continued in Part 2]

Serialized Comment -- Part 2

Date: 2008-12-21 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
[Continued from Part 1]

At the end of the spring semester, those of us who had put on the two serials crowned the year’s efforts by performing an entire Doc Savage adventure in a live broadcast. There was just one catch. The adventure in question, “The Feathered Ocean, or The Haunted Octopus,” wasn’t written by Kenneth Robeson. It was written--some would say perpetrated--by me.

David, knowing as you do the parodies of “Babylon 5" that I wrote during the golden age of, you can surely guess what Doc and his crew were in for: an unabashed send-up of all the tropes, formulas, and character quirks that were hallmarks of the novels. (Add “Mad Magazine” to the list of influences.)

The parody featured a villainous hairdresser who had gotten his hands on a teleportation device that he intended to use for all manner of nefarious purposes. Inevitably, that put him in conflict with Doc and his assistants. That, in turn, led to the villain’s using the teleportation device to abduct Doc and his five men and to place them in six insidious death-traps set to kill them simultaneously, with each trap more preposterously elaborate than the next. The last of them entailed setting the device to teleport Doc a few miles above the earth’s surface, where the vacuum of space would suffocate him, after which earth’s gravity would pull him back into the atmosphere, where the friction from his speed of re-entry would reduce his body to a cinder. When all the traps were set to go, our villainous hairdresser gleefully exulted, “And now, let the executions begin!”

With that, the five-second musical bridge played once again. We envisioned our radio audience listening in suspense, wondering how the devil we were going to get the characters out of six simultaneous dilemmas. And when the musical bridge ended, our Narrator declared with absolutely deadpan authority, “After escaping from the insidious death-traps, Doc Savage and his men regrouped in their New York headquarters.” We gave not one word of explanation as to how they had escaped. To judge from the feedback we later received, that moment was responsible for soda spews all over central New Jersey.

It was subsequently revealed that the nefarious hairdresser was not the chief villain, but rather the principal henchman of the real criminal mastermind, who turned out to be none other than Pat Savage. Fed up with her male chauvinist cousin Doc and his assistants having all those exciting adventures while she was stuck running her beauty parlor, Pat was staging a feminist takeover of Doc’s operations. (Hey, it was 1972!)

The adventure concluded with the Narrator editing the usual closing for each episode to account for Pat’s unexpected victory over her cousin (“Tune in again next week for the next episode in The Fantastic Adventures of Pat Savage, based on the works of Geraldine Robeson, when you’ll hear Pat Savage say ...”), only for Pat to cut him off by declaring, “All right, you, get out of here! Starting next week, we’ve got a woman doing the announcing!” as her evil minions dragged him away.

Those were the days ....


Re: Serialized Comment -- Part 2

Date: 2008-12-21 08:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Steve: glorious.

That's put a smile on my face, and I needed one.

Re: Serialized Comment -- Part 2

Date: 2014-01-12 03:57 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] djbarry

I remember your program very fondly, being a member of the Highland Park Committee to Save the Funny Farm. We were clearly unsuccessful in our mission. You were our SNL well before SNL.

Date: 2008-12-23 09:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I love Pat and wrote a couple of comics scripts about her, one of which I posted to Millenium when they were putting out Doc comics. (Theirs were the best.) They didn't bite, but what the hey. Monk may have been the teacher. I'd prefer she had a crush on Renny, but what the hey.


hradzka: Cassidy, from Garth Ennis's PREACHER. (Default)

November 2014




The collected poems from my descent into madness year spent writing daily poems are now available from Lulu as the cheapest 330-page book they would let me make ($16.20). If that's too pricey, you can also get it from Lulu as a free download, or just click on the "a poem every day" tag to read them here. But if you did buy one, that'd be awesome.

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