Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Another Thrilling Podcast

If you didn't know already, Welcome to Night Vale is one of the best podcasts out there and it's my current obsession and reason for living. It recently celebrated it's one year anniversary and continues to be the highest level of awesome possible. It's weird and spooky and hilarious and... it's only 28 chapters long thus far. What do you do when you finish them all?

Dear readers, let me humbly suggest another podcast of astounding quality. While Welcome to Night Vale is the 21st century cousin to great radio events like the War of the Worlds broadcast by Orson Wells, my suggestion for your next obsession is a little more vaudeville. It follows in the great radio traditions of The Shadow and other famous turn of the century radio plays. This is my official decree for you to let the Thrilling Adventure Hour into your hearts and your ears.


The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a long running show performed in front of a live audience once a month at the Largo in Los Angeles, California. The brainchild of Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, the Thrilling Adventure Hour hearkens back to a time when radio was the only form of entertainment out there and it had to wear many hats. There is a large cast of characters, celebrity cameos and catchy theme songs. If radio was like this back in the 20s it's no wonder why it was so popular!

The show is broken up into three acts and there are many different sagas to follow. There is the Firefly-esque western Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars. It's uproariously funny and exceptionally clever. It's ten pounds of awesome in a five pound sack. Sparks Nevada and his Martian side kick Croach the Tracker try to keep the peace on the rough and tumble red planet. Nathan Fillion, our very own Captain Mal Reynolds, has a reoccurring role in the show as Cactoid Jim, a heroic and kind figure who makes Sparks life miserable. There are robots and love triangles, talking horses and talking bars. It's impressively well imagined and exceptionally well acted.

The other major draw in the Thrilling Adventure Hour is a saga called Beyond Belief. It's a knock-off Nick and Nora story about two boozy socialites named Frank and Sadie Doyle. And, oh yes, they see ghosts! Every month they fight evil clowns, vampires and restless spirits while trying to make sure they don't run out of gin and vodka. Frank and Sadie are both urbane and witty as well as hilariously unobservant. They're also completely and adorably in love with one another. Beyond Belief is well written and often genuinely heartwarming. Frank is the (slightly) more mature of the two, while Sadie often gets side tracked by how funny clowns are or accidentally turned into a vampire. They often accidentally stumble upon the answer to the problem they've been handed and they charmingly solve each issue they're faced with.

Other segments include the Cross-Time Adventures of Colonial Tick-Tock, which is the most zany and whacky of all the programs. There's also Captain Laserbeam, a send up of old Superman radio shows that is so wrong it's right all over again. Amelia Airhart, Fearless Flyer and Jefferson Reid, Ace American round off the show as quirky WWII era comedy spoofs. Each show is equal parts charming, hilarious and just plain wonderful.

You want special guest stars and famous cameos? The Thrilling Adventure Hour has you covered! Nathan Fillion frequently drops by, as well as the voice of Doctor Venture himself, James Urbaniak. Some other famous voices you can count on stopping by are Chris Hardwork (the Nerdist himself), Alison Brie and Danny Pudi (from Community), Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother, winner of life as we know it), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Dark Night Rises), Simon Helberg (Big Bang Theory, Doctor Horrible), Billy West (Futurama) and Alan Tudyk (Firefly). I am not kidding when I say star-studded.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour is available for free on iTunes and the Nerdist website. It's broken up into segments, so if you want to only listen to Beyond Belief and skip Captain Laserbeam you can. It's a fun and, dare I say, thrilling podcast to delight your ears and brain with. Trust me, you need this in your life. There's over 100 segments available already, so get cracking! In no time at all you'll be singing the Sparks Nevada theme song as you shower. Not that I do that. Not at all. You can't prove anything!
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