The Thrilling Adventure Hour is Great and You Should Listen To It
My name is Whitney and I am here to tell you about The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Come with me and you will learn what it is, why it is great, and why you should be listening to it. And then perhaps you will go on to spread this information to your friends, and perhaps all of this will lead to much more wonderful Thrilling Adventure Hour fanworks. In short, if you like laughter, bowties, cute aliens, wordplay, punching Nazis, and general fun, you’re gonna be happy if you get some Thrilling Adventure in your life. As this IS tumblr, I will be drawing special attention to the things we here on tumblr like (aka queer stuff, stuff where people smooch, YOU KNOW HOW IT IS.)
SO LET’S GO, ADVENTUREKATEERS!
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a Podcast
Now that we have passed through a dark phase of learning here on this internet and the words “what is night vale?” echo through these blue halls less often, I figure most people are now cognizant of the concept of podcasts. The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a collection of music and human voices and other sounds collected in a digital format that you can download for free to your computer or phone or ipod or whatever. The website for The Thrilling Adventure Hour is right here, and you can subscribe on iTunes, use this RSS feed for other various podcast apps and players, and listen to the episodes right on The Nerdist’s website.
Okay. So we’ve got that out of the way.
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is Old-Timey Radio…. BUT IN NEW TIMES???
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is… well, hell, I’ll just let them describe it themselves:
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a staged production in the style of old time radio that is held monthly at the Coronet Theatre. The show has been running since March 2005. It is live audio theater. Each episode features three non-serialized segments as well as songs and commercials from fictional sponsors. The show is written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker and directed by Aaron Ginsburg. The show’s original songs are written by Acker & Blacker with composer and band leader Andy Paley.
What this means is that once a month a bunch of attractive and wonderful and hilarious people all put on fancy clothes and stand in front of microphones and read off of scripts in front of a live audience. It looks like this!
WHAAAT THAT’S RIGHT THIS POST ABOUT AN AUDIO PODCAST IS ALSO GONNA HAVE A TON OF PICTURES. I BET YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING THAT, WERE YA? BOOM. THIS IS ADVENTURE.
But, due to all the pictures, I will now place a cut here. Cut!
While each show when staged is an hour of three segments and faux commercials, the podcast comes to you in nice 20ish minute episodes of different shows. For Thrilling Adventure Hour is not just one show, oh no! It is… uh… like seven? seven or eight? Do we have to count Jumbo?
The point is, there is likely something in the Thrilling Adventure Hour for everyone!
THE THRILLING ADVENTURE HOUR: BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORKJUICE COFFEE AND PATRIOT BRAND CIGARETTES
As the pretense of the show is that it is an old-time radio program, from back in the days when advertising laws were different and in order for companies to shill their wares on the air, they had to sponsor a whole program instead of just tossing in ads, The Thrilling Adventure Hour is brought to you by COFFEE AND CIGARETTES.
Workjuice Coffee is a thing you can actually buy now. The King of Coffee is happy
okay, maybe not happy. The King of Coffee (who is Paul F. Tompkins) is certainly THERE, and so is Workjuice. (The cast is also called The Workjuice Players.)
oh hey what’s that, that looks like a comic book, well you know what you’re a real sharp little cookie because THERE IS A COMIC BOOK. Or, uh, ‘original graphic novel,’ sure. They kickstarted it! It just came out! It’s great! I will be throwin’ in some clips of it here and there but you should totally buy it!
There are three segments in every episode of The Thrilling Adventure Hour. Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars starts the episode, Beyond Belief ends it, and the middle third is filled with some creamy flavorful delight from one of the other shows. Sparks Nevada is the only segment that has a continuity that really needs to be consumed in order; all of the others can pretty easily be consumed as you wish. (If you’re me, you will feel compelled to listen to everything in order, all 136 episodes, over the span of ten days, which will leave you turned into the kind of person who writes a post like this.)
Possibly the most popular segment on the show (which the show itself has been known to make winking meta-jokes about), Beyond Belief in short is ‘Nick and Nora but with supernatural stuff.’ In their words:
Meet Frank and Sadie Doyle: the toast of the upper crust. Headliners on the society pages. And, oh yes, they see ghosts. Trading quips and tossing back cocktails, the Doyles take what they want and hoodwink their clientele for the rest. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, mummies, even diabolical gingerbread men are nothing but obstacles in the way of the liquor cabinet for our fast-talking, hard-drinking sleuths.
Frank and Sadie are played by the disgustingly perfect and beautiful and charming Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster, seen here, being all of those things.
Frank and Sadie are interested in two things: each other, and booze. Sadie can sometimes be lured out of the house to go spend some time with her society friends (some of whom might be vampires or werewolves), but Frank would pretty much like you to go away, leave him to get nailed by his wife, and also if you could, leave that bottle of whiskey, please? Thank you and goodbye forever.
There is a *clink!* sound effect that happens in the show whenever Frank and Sadie are drinking, and you need to know that every time it happens — which is a lot. Frank and Sadie, they drink a lot — Paul and Paget mime it on stage with (usually) perfect timing.
You could get Frank and Sadie martini glasses for a while, but now they do not seem to be selling them anymore and I am SAD.
Frank and Sadie are the perfect couple and the hottest and there is some implication that both of them swing both ways. But whichever way they are swinging, it’s together. And oh, darling, don’t swing the cocktail shaker, shake it! It’s in the name!
SPARKS NEVADA, MARSHAL ON MARS
When I started listening to Thrilling Adventure Hour I was mostly enchanted by Beyond Belief and not super into anything else. But then I got SUPER INTO some else. I am so emotionally invested in Sparks Nevada at this point it’s fairly comical.
Let’s just begin with Sparks’ theme song, because I love it and if you listen it will be in your head forever, so let’s just get started now.
Sparks Nevada is a space western serial about Sparks Nevada (whoa, right?), a man with the guts to try to tame the wildest west of them all: MARS. Why does this man have what it takes to fight against robots and aliens and bounty hunters and more? Well…
He’s from Earth.
Sparks is played by Marc Evan Jackson, a tall ginger drink of water in a bowtie who can make the smallest “Yeah… well….” into comedy gold.
Sparks is joined by his Martian (or ‘Marjun,’ as they often say, a joke I didn’t catch on to until literally 131 episodes in) companion Croach the Tracker, who is
Would ya look at that, that last one is when Croach’s actor, Mark Gagliardi, got all done up in alien makeup for a show.
But he’s a handsome fella out of that makeup (and I can also report he gives good hugs and smells nice), so let’s see Mark and Marc Sparksin’ it up.
If you are a fan of cute aliens yer gonna love Croach. Croach is the best. I LOVE CROACH. He is under onus to Sparks Nevada for saving his tribe (get used to the word onus), and their back and forth bickering/bantering is the best combination of cultural differences, old married couple syndrome, and DOUBLE TSUNDERE. Always savin’ each other’s lives and utterly failing to express any emotions about their friendship (because for one thing, emotions are a human thing that Croach does not have, nope, definitely not.)
The name of that file on my hard drive is ‘onustruepairing.jpg.’ I’ll leave it at that. (No I won’t, I’ll just come back to it later.)
They’re also joined by — well, they’re joined by a lot of people. Sparks Nevada’s got hells of characters and continuity going on. But there are some vital players, like The Red Plains Rider!
How do we feel about her, fellas?
Red is a human raised by Martians, torn between two worlds! And over the course of many many episodes, torn between several men! And it’s easy to see why she’s got man and martian alike falling for her, since she don’t take two ounces of hypercattle crap from anyone. Let’s look at a picture of Red’s actress Busy Philipps with another costar as a segue
Heyyyy look at that, it’s Nathan Fillion! You like Nathan Fillion! Your mom likes Nathan Fillion! Your grandma asks you to help her figure out the DVR so she can watch Castle because oh, that, that Norman Firman is just so handsome and charming!
He plays Cactoid Jim.
Cactoid Jim is handsome and humble and kind and good, and even if you want to hate him and maybe assassinate him, you just can’t goldurn it. Just like the real Nathan Fillion.
Cactoid Jim has a couple of segments of his own, where he does things like take on the Murdermen.
Sparks Nevada is full of romantic soap opera goodness, large-scale adventure with threats to space and time and the universe, western shootouts with robots, and oh yeah, it has a musical episode.
There’s also an Earth Day episode that contains the world’s most gentle ribbing of fandom and our desires to put characters in a box, keep them there forever, and make them KISS. SO, THAT SAID:
EVERYONE should kiss. But the second episode involves Sparks needing to stimulate Croach’s egg sacs, which is just what it sounds like (what it sounds like is some groaning, some wet squishy sound effects, and Sparks saying “gross. so gross.”) This is what it LOOKS like.
There is also a bodyswap episode (A BODYSWAP EPISODE! MY FAVORITE THING!) and canon mpreg. You heard me. Also there’s the episode where Clark Gregg and John Ross Bowie play the married Captain and XO of a USSA (think: Star Trek) ship.
…so yes. I am rather fond of Sparks Nevada. POW!
There are a number of middle segments, frequently very pulpy, silly, and formulaic in the nicest way, where you can pick one up anywhere and be good to know. Let’s hit ‘em fast and hard! (Not because I do not love them, but because it’s almost 3:30AM and the length of this post is making tumblr cry.)
Captain Laserbeam is atomic-age superhero kids show goodtimes. Captain Laserbeam is the hero of Apex City, played by John Dimaggio, who you may know as Bender the drunk robot or Jake the Dog!
Every episode sees Captain Laserbeam summoned by the collection of weirdo children know as the Adventurekateers to thwart some supervillain threatening Apex City. There are puns. There are great guest stars. There is a lot of winking and throat clearing around the term “teaming up.”
Speaking of: Philip Fathom.
Philip Fathom is dramatic gritty Nolan Batman, only he’s a fish. There’s really not much more to say to that, other than that he and Captain Laserbeam have been teaming up a lot lately.
And yes, when you wiggle your eyebrows and say ‘TEAMING UP, EH?’ at the writers, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, they know exactly what you mean and they wiggle them back.
JEFFERSON REID: ACE AMERICAN
Because why not have Canadian Nathan Fillion playing the Captain America role. Captain America as very sponsored by Patriot-brand cigarettes! It’s lots of Nazi punching and underaged psychic tragic death-ing, with Agent Abigail Adams (played by Annie Savage) helping him fight those dirty krauts.
Abby Adams: canonically bi! So someone needs to get on that Peggy Carter crossover action.
THE CROSS-TIME ADVENTURES OF COLONEL TICK-TOCK
(art by Dennis Culver)
Colonel Tick-Tock (played by Craig Cackowski) has a trick clock that allows him to time travel and prevent catastrophes in the time stream. He is tasked to do this by Queen Victoria, and he spends his adventures meeting famous historical figures, like Gilbert and Sullivan, or the Algonquin Round Table — who in their adventure wind up as Fantastic Four analogues, leading to the best line ever:
DOROTHY PARKER SMASH!!!!
Colonel Tick-Tock is as queer as a fruit bat. It’s canon! All time travelers are!
AMELIA EARHEART: FEARLESS FLYER
Oh, did you think Amelia Earhart’s plane got lost somewhere over the Pacific? WRONG, she is now undercover as a time cop fighting NAZIS. Nazis with time machines. So she does things like fight Nazis with Joan of Arc.
She is played by Autumn Reeser, who fills many vocal shoes on the show. She dresses the part (though apparently always steals her goggles from Paget, and then loses them.)
Amelia Earhart is canonically bisexual and had a thing with Abigail Adams! Time travelers in the show swing both ways. Also: Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a Nazi on one episode. I figured you’d like to know that.
I don’t think I can do it more justice than the way they describe it themselves:
A hobo fairytale. During the Great Depression, a millionaire’s son fell in love with a woman he thought was his societal equal. In truth, she was the Hobo Princess. She fled, leaving behind only a fingerless glove. Now, under the assumed identity of Banjo Bindlestuff, the millionaire’s son rides the rails with his hobo-mentor Gummy, in search of his one true love he believes will be found in the possibly make-believe hobo-paradise: Moonshine Holler.
Craig Cackowski plays Banjo, and Hal Lublin plays Gummy, and there is just about nothing better than the Gummy voice. APPLE PIE!
Edit: It was brought to my attention I should mention the guest stars. SO MANY GUEST STARS.
I think… I think that’s all I can manage for now. If I haven’t convinced you to give it an ear by now, I don’t think I ever will. If you want more links to click on, you can check out fyeahthrillingadventurehour, my TAH tag, my dear friend and enabler ahab99’s TAH tag, Leizl Estipona’s photos, and Jonathan Reilly’s photos.
Play us out, Marc Evan Jackson! I hear music is easy.
Special thanks to Norman Reedus.
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