Tell us how you got into The Thrilling Adventure Hour! How did you hear about it, and what made you decide to listen? What were your first impressions of the show and when did it really stick for you?
Did you listen straight through the first time, or did you pick a particular segment and finish it before going back and listening to more? Any final thoughts on your first impressions of the show?
Well, technically the first time I heard The Thrilling Adventure Hour, it was before the podcast materialized, on Comedy Death Ray (yes, DEATH RAY, way back in the death day) when Colonel Tick-Tock and MEJ!Houdini popped up in the middle of a chat segment with Paul Gilmartin. To be honest, it didn’t make the hugest impression, but the recording of PFT singing a song about drinking with some lady was awful great.
I was fully steeped in the Paul F. Tompkins podcast-i-verse by 2009, so when he announced on the Tompkast that this other podcast he was involved with was starting up, I downloaded the entire contents of the feed: an incomprehensible coffee song, the cute Garfunkel and Oatesy Christmas on Mars song, and the first Beyond Belief.
YES I’M BRAGGING ABOUT BEING HERE THE WHOLE TIME AGAIN. I have so little nerd cred, just gimme this. I am the hippest TAH hipster it is possible to be without have gone to MBar or Largo.
I think maybe it hung around on my device for a few days, until I had to shovel the driveway out, and then it came up. And I’m pretty sure I had no idea what even in the hell was happening for a few minutes, and then I was hooked hard and immediately started it again when it finished. I can basically recite that episode, I’ve listened to it so many times. It’s not actually a very good Beyond Belief, really, but it’s a great way to fall in love with the Doyles, like everyone does instantly because COME ON.
I relistened to that episode a good handful of times before the next one came out, and then fell faster but not quite as hard (then) for Sparks. I hear that it took a few episodes to sell people on Sparks from a lot of people, but I keyed in really fast. Though to be honest, the Marcks’ acting didn’t hook me that first episode. Scott and Nick’s turn as the Science Aliens absolutely did. (Of course, when Croach said “They are cute. I am handsome,” I pretty much knew oh, you’re my favorite forever now. It took me approximately no time flat to fall in love with Croach.) Blast from the Past was the first time it got me deep where I live (Rustyyyyyyyy!!!), and Red choosing Croach at the end of Spiders, Man was probably the point where I realized it was *not* going to be like most other instant emotional-reset genre shows and also became sickeningly invested in those three jerks’ romantic lives. Everything has just gotten infinitely worse since then. (I am actively stopping myself from writing more about Sparks right now.)
Jefferson Reid was never my favorite, but I’ve also listened to it an absurd amount of times, and it is weirdly striking for how dark and deeply satirical it is. It’s an amazing piece of writing, but not one of which I particularly mourn the abandonment.
Captain Laserbeam hooked me really fast because OMG JOHN DIMAGGIO *swoons* and also tropey superheroes and puns YES THANK YOU, but it also took foreeeeever to find its voice.
And oh my gosh, Tales was AMAZING to hear parceled out over those first six months. All I ever knew of noir was parody, but I was also somewhat steeped in classic television history and the ideas if not the exact details of the Universal Monsters, and throwing them in this blender with all these amazing voice actors and this mystery that I was desperate for the next glimmer of a clue made every new episode a goddamn feast.
To be honest, everything was instantly appealing to me right away. It was all exactly the thing I’d always wanted, with the kind of jokes I’d write or wish I could write, and it was kinda gay and really smart and the emotional parts were honest and played sincerely. It was just this whole secret thing that no one else seemed to know about at all. I relistened to them at work a lot, mostly while sweeping up at the end of the night, when it was quietest. To this day, when listening to them again, I can see the tiles of the main kitchen floor, the gray carpeted hallways and the time clock of the resort where I used to work.
After I’d been listening to TAH for a few months, I started listening to *actual* old time radio for a while, on Sirius Radio Classics, and then downloading a few shows I particularly liked. (I got stuck on Mr. and Mrs. North for a while, which was basically just Hart to Hart or… grocery store brand Nick and Nora Charles, as I understand it. Not a candle held to the Doyles at all, but I only had about seven episodes of Beyond Belief at the time and I LIKE BANTER, GODDAMNIT.)
You should, if you at all enjoy the classic radio style but don’t care to dip into random shows, listen to the original War of the Worlds. It’s, what, 50 minutes long and you can find it free all over the internet, and it’s really worth it. Oh, and there are a few episodes of random sci-fi shows that Ray Bradbury wrote or were adapted from his works, and *absolutely* check those out. Just search his name on iTunes or something.)
The nice thing about getting into TAH in such an extended leisurely way, without knowing a single soul who also listened, is that I really wandered around the aesthetic for a few years. I watched The Creature from the Black Lagoon and The Wolfman, then relistened to Tales with a new ear. I listened to The Shadow, and got the joke at the opening of every Beyond Belief. I broke down and watched Firefly after about a year of Sparks Nevada, and finally figured out why all these people were so damn excited about Cactoid Jim. (Whateverrrrrrrrrr. He’s okay. If you like that sort of thing.) Hell, I watched all of Buffy one summer basically just because I knew it was such an influence on the Bens.
It is really delightful to me that a lot of people on Tumblr come to it through Welcome to Night Vale and various TV fandoms, so I get to show them some of the comedy stuff that was how I found the show at all.