Hard Boiled Sci-Fi For The Holidays
Episode 190: The Embassy
(Featuring a re-telling of the 1955 X-Minus One broadcast hosted by none other than Detective Dexter Roland, Private Investigator!)
In our final Halloween Spook-tacular this season, we pull out all the stops and bring you a story straight out of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. As an experienced Private Dick, Dexter Roland has been involved in a number of cases that have often put him in contact with a number of surprising and unusual situations. He’s worked with Humphrey Bogart, presenting the story of The Maltese Falcon, and Peter Lorre, during this Holiday tale Back For Christmas. But this may well be his strangest case yet, as he discovers the horrific events surrounding the disappearance of his friends over at The Broderick Detective Agency. Tune in for an incredible Hard Boiled, Sci-Fi epic as we bring you the tale of The Embassy, where professional PI Broderick is hired to locate the secret base of operations for… a Martian Invasion!
Dexter Roland has been kicking around since the early ‘90’s, trading slugs and shots with the criminal underworld in an effort to right the wrongs that police are unable to involve themselves. Bridging the gap between Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Johnny Dollar, Dirk Gently & Mike Hammer, Detective Roland’s adventures have appeared in a number of quick-and-dirty publications, and most recently in a novel entitled Noir Time Like The Present. But his meta-textual nature, magical realist perception of the universe, and penchant for getting into situations he has no business getting into has made him the perfect radio personality, and his work on this show is always a treat. When he told me about this story, I knew we had to bring it to the air.
I’ve been a fan of X-Minus One since just after High School, when I first came across a collection of cassettes that contained a selection of Sci-Fi programs from the golden age of radio. Of course, it hasn’t been until the last several years that this material has been easily accessible. While there are a number of website that offer a number of old time radio programs for download, I recommend The Twilight Zone Network who offer regular podcasts containing these classic shows as they were heard by audiences in the ‘50’s. It’s nice to be listening to your regular selection of Radiolabs and Planet Moneys, and then have one of these vintage programs pop up in the mix. It offers a good counterpoint to the kinds of radio that exist now, and makes me long for the days when radio brought you narrative programs.
This particular episode – The Embassy – was originally broadcast on Dimension X radio on 3 June 1950. Dimension X was the program that preceded X Minus One, and a number of the same staff, writers and voice actors worked on the program. The story was originally penned by Donald Wollheim for Astounding Science Fiction Magazine, which has sustained a few name changes over the years, and is now known as the well-read Analog. Wollheim was one of the founding Futurians, a group of left-wing science fiction fans (as well editors and writers like Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl), and is probably best known the organizer of the first Sci-Fi convention. The Embassy was originally published in March of 1942, and while it was not his most famous story, it is a well-known one among Sci-Fi Radio nerds like me.
The story was “adapted for radio” by George Lefferts, one of the staff writers for both Dimension X and X Minus One. Lefferts had a fascinating and unusual career, that spanned from the ‘40’s into the ‘80’s. He worked for television, film, radio, newspapers, magazines, and documentaries, primarily as a writer, but also as a producer and behind-the-scenes staffer. I know him primarily from the credits of these programs, but his work is so diverse that it makes sense that he would be attracted to a strange story like this. It contains all the usual trappings of a Hard Boiled detective story – a murdered partner, beautiful girls, a client who turns on him, getting drugged and trying to find out why, a run-in with the police – and yet all these elements are completely turned upside down, and the scary, Sci-Fi tinges really sell this episode in a big way. Like a lot of great media, there are parts when you think this could very well just be an exaggerated detective program that will have a sort-of Scooby Doo ending. However, it makes a good hard turn into X Minus One territory in the second act, and as a show that pretends to be one thing and is, actually, another, it seems perfect for Halloween.
I’ve had an incredible holiday season this year, and produced some really excellent shows of which I am proud. Halloween means a lot to me, and shows like this really allow me to indulge in my own interests, tell a story that I find unique, and present radio that is both fun and seasonally appropriate, all at the same time. Thanks again for bringing me to your ears, and supporting something as strange and unusual as I can possibly manage. You guys are amazing, really.
See ya real soon!
01.) The Embassy Part I * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
02.) High Terror * Eddie Warner * Cops Crooks and Spies * L’Illustration Musicale Records
03.) The Embassy Part II * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
04.) Divide And Conquer * Hüsker Dü * Flip Your Wig * SST Records
05.) The Embassy Part III * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
06.) Shot by Both Sides * Magazine * Real Life * Virgin Records
07.) The Embassy Part IV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
08.) Find A Hidden Door * The Misunderstood * Before The Dream Faded * Cherry Red
09.) The Embassy Part V * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
10.) The Sky Is Falling, And I Want My Mommy (Falling Space Junk) * Jello Biafra With Nomeansno * The Sky Is Falling And I Want My Mommy * Alternative Tentacles Records
11.) The Embassy Part VI * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
12.) Body Twist * Frankie Stein And His Ghouls * Monster Sounds And Dance Music * Power Records
13.) Postludio Alla Terza Moglie (from Barbalu) * Ennio Morricone * Crime And Dissonance
14.) The Embassy Part VII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
15.) The Call * Straitjacket * Modern Thieves * Jonny Cat Records
16.) The Embassy Part VIII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
17.) Little Drop Of Poison * Tom Waits * Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards * ANTI- Records
18.) The Embassy Part IX * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
19.) I Walk Among Them * MX-80 Sound * Out Of The Tunnel * Ralph Records
20.) The Embassy Part X * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
21.) Fascist Cops * The Kids * The Kids * Philips Records
22.) The Embassy Part XI * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
23.) Grave Mistake * David And Jad Fair * Halloween Songs * Thick Syrup Records
24.) Diabolo’s Theme * The Ghastly Ones * A-Haunting We Will Go-Go * Zombie-A-Go-Go Records
25.) The Embassy Part XII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
26.) Keep Talking * The Love Me Nots * In Black & White * Atomic A Go Go Records
27.) The Embassy Part XIII * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
28.) Human Cattail * Last Of The Juanitas * In The Dirt * Wäntage Records
29.) The Embassy Part XIV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
30.) The Plan * Richard Hell And The Voidoids * Blank Generation * Sire Records
31.) The Embassy Part XV * X Minus 1 Radio * 28 July 1955
32.) Detective Theme * Eddie Warner * Cops Crooks and Spies * L’Illustration Musicale Records
33.) The Invasion is Coming * The Invasion * Lux and Ivy’s Favorites Volume Fourteen * http://kogarsjunglejuice.blogspot.com/