A pair of extremely faithful adaptations of Lester Dent’s novels appearing as a weekly series of 25-minute episodes on NPR Playhouse, Monday evenings at 7:30.
1. Fear Cay, Part One: Kidnapped -- 09/30/1985
2. Fear Cay, Part Two: The Hanging Man -- 10/07/1985
3. Fear Cay, Part Three: The Disappointing Parcel -- 10/14/1985
4. Fear Cay, Part Four: The Island of Death -- 10/21/1985
5. Fear Cay, Part Five: Terror Underground -- 10/28/1985
6. Fear Cay, Part Six: The Mysterious Weeds -- 11/04/1985
7. Fear Cay, Part Seven: The Crawling Terror -- 11/11/1985
8. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part One: The Black Stick -- 11/18/1985
9. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part Two: Three Black Sticks -- 11/25/1985
10. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part Three: Flight into Fear -- 12/02/1985
11. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part Four: Pagoda of the Hands -- 12/09/1985
12. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part Five: The Accursed City -- 12/16/1985
13. The Thousand-Headed Man, Part Six: The Deadly Treasure -- 12/23/1985
Evaluation: A beautiful radio adaptation of Doc Savage, with a full, professional cast, and faithful scripts. The production gives the whole thing a 1930s radio feel, with dramatic music, slightly broad acting and a certain tongue-in-cheek earnestness, that captures the original flavor without parodying it. The characters are introduced nicely and the voice work is quite good, with only Ham, who sounds too much like an average Joe, a disappointment. Doc himself sounds chipper and heroic and Pat is perfect. The only real oddity is Doc’s trilling which sounds like a water kettle (or a penny whistle), demonstrating how hard it can be to portray an unusual sound described on paper; every Doc fan has his own idea of what it should sound like and, for all I know, we all disagree. As I said, the scripts are faithful to the original, FEAR CAY a bit moreso. THOUSAND-HEADED MAN has to do some more manipulation: since Doc is off solo at several points in the tale, the script is rewritten to have him accompanied by Monk in London and Renny in Indochina, to give him someone to talk to rather than have a narrator describe all the action. In fact, the adaptation may be a little too faithful, as Sen Gat and his gang are portrayed with 1930s-era stereotypical Chinese accents, which caused me to wonder how they got away with it in 1985. As a nice tribute the stories are credited to Lester Dent, not the pen name Kenneth Robeson.