In 2011 BBC Radio 4 presented Brian Sibley’s superb radio drama adaptation of Mervyn Peake’s fantasy saga, The History of Titus Groan. The series is available from Amazon as an Audible book. It makes for particularly good listening on headphones.
Radio 4 now has another outstanding adaptation, with Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. The series features James McAvoy, who is known to comic book fans as Charles Xavier in X-Men: First Class, and Natalie Dorman.
Natalie Dormer in “The Tudors”
Neverwhere is available through this week, until March 29. The first episode is an hour long, and for convenience I’ve put it on the audio player. Parts 2-6 are 30 minutes and they’re on the BBC iPlayer.
Written by Earl Hamner, Jr. of The Waltons, this episode of The Twilight Zone is a favorite of mine. It has a totally wacky concept, about aliens disguised as 50′s greaser bikers moving into a 60′s residential neighborhood, like a sci-fi version of The Wild One. Harvey Lembeck as Eric Von Zipper would have fit right in with these guys.
But it’s Shelley Fabares who makes this episode worth watching. By then, Shelley’s hit Johnny Angel was in the distant past — two years before — and she was making only guest appearances on The Donna Reed Show. Nine days after Black Leather Jackets aired on January 31, 1964, the Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.
After my flu-driven fever broke, from my sickbed (the couch on the porch) I’ve been catching up on old TV shows from MeTV that have been collecting on the FiOS DVR. Mostly The Rifleman, because I like half-hour westerns, and The Donna Reed Show, because I like Shelley Fabares.
A lot of the Donna Reeds are as I remember them from childhood — mostly quiet, a little silly, and sometimes boring — so I scan through them, but one episode that I started scanning today seemed interesting once Shelley made her entrance, so I started it over again and watched it all the way through. It’s episode 29 from the second season, and it’s called “Mary’s Growing Pains.”
The plot has the usual comedies of error, but Mary’s crush on a young doctor is fun, and there’s a reference to Ingmar Bergman, along with a delightfully quirky dream where Mary imagines her life as the doctor’s wife. It starts with music that sounds like the dream sequence in Hitchcock’s Vertigo, and at that point I began to wonder who wrote this episode. The dream starts right after the middle commercial break in this Hulu video.
The episode stood out so much compared to the others that were stored on my DVR that I waited for the credits to see the writer’s name. So who wrote it? John Whedon, Joss Whedon’s grandfather.
Sandy is now supposedly no longer a hurricane, but we continue to get pounded here with wind-driven rain. On a night like this, I am reminded of the opening scene in The Bride of Frankenstein, where the weather howls outside while Percy Shelley and Lord Byron beg Percy’s wife Mary to tell more of her tragic monster’s tale…
Bravo to Turner Classic Movies for presenting the in-theater Frankenstein double feature. What the original 1931 Frankenstein lacks in pace, humor, and music is more than made up by James Whale’s incomparable 1935 sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein, featuring Franz Waxman’s famous, lavish score that was re-used by Universal many times, most notably for the Flash Gordon serials. The picture and sound quality for both movies is better than I’ve ever seen, and I assume the new Blu-ray releases are from the same sources.