Adventures By Morse
1944 - 1945
Carlton Morse pounds out one of his many scripts.
Announcer Gayne Whitman
Adventures by Morse was very similar to I Love A Mystery except that it had different lead characters. Captain Bart Friday replaced Jack as the no-nonsense type man in charge, and Skip Turner replaced Doc as the lady's man with a thick Texas drawl. Reggie's character wasn't represented in the new series, and even Turner was absent for the first 10-part story, "City of The Dead." This series was introduced by Morse the same year NBC closed down his long running ILAM series. So was he out to prove NBC wrong? Or just looking for a way to recycle older scripts in a newer series? Probably both! It is known that Morse was disappointed to see ILAM cancelled (Grams, 2003, 132). He successfully lobbied to reprise it and it ran for several more seasons when it finally returned, but that opportunity didn't arise for another five years. As far as the recycling is concerned, all but six of the 52 episodes were based on earlier scripts.
The 52 episodes were created to offer stations an entire year's worth of weekly half hour programs. Unlike the earlier programs, this series was prerecorded (on disk) and syndicated to whatever stations wanted to carry it (e.g., transcribed). The series was broken down into four 13 part segments, alternating between 10-part and 3-part stories. All of the 10-part stories were slightly modified versions of the early 1930s scripts that Morse wrote for NBC Mystery Serial. The titles were "The City of the Dead," "The Land of the Living Dead," "The Cobra King Strikes Back," and "Dead Men Prowl." These were the thriller stories that first put Morse on the (West coast) map, and since the entire series was transcribed, it allows modern listeners a chance to hear the early plots that would have otherwise been lost forever. Half of the remaining four 3-part stories were based on earlier ILAM scripts (Grams, 2003, 136), but the other half (six episodes total) were original.
Being that it was a serial instead of an anthology series, there was no host, nor was there need for one. Announcer Gayne Whitman would recap the situation from the week before, and sometimes, the other characters would break the fourth wall and chime in with observations of their own. The announcer was very straight sounding and presented no personality of his own, but the recurring characters filled that need (especially the country sounding Skip Turner).
Listening to these ongoing stories, it is very easy to see how addictive they became. The characters, the atmosphere, and of course, the spooky mysteries draw the audience right in. Whether in a foggy graveyard or one of the many far away and exotic locations-- the show was perfect for radio and stimulating the vivid imaginations of old and young alike. As Captain Friday himself would pitch it, "If you like high adventure-- the stealth of intrigue-- blood and thunder, come with me!"
The Standard Intro:
(SFX: Clock Chimes.)
Announcer: "Adventures by Morse...
(SFX: Siren Wails, sea bell tolls. Sounds fade under.)
"Carton E. Morse presents... The City of the Dead!"
Friday: "If you like high adventure, come with me!-- If you like the stealth of intrigue, come with me!-- If you like blood and thunder--
(SFX: Thunder clap.)
Friday: "Come with me!"
Announcer: "But first, a message from our sponsor."
An Opening Narration:
(SFX: Bell Tolls. Under.)
Announcer: "Eight o'clock on Sunday morning. The second day in the City of the Dead. Eight o'clock in the morning after a night of unearthly events and sudden death. And it all seems to be centered about the caretaker's cottage at the gate of the old abandoned cemetery. Those present include the caretaker himself, better known as Joshua Friday, Doctor Tooner, retired, all his patience laid away in the City of the Dead, Captain Friday, son of the Mayor, and private investigator from San Francisco. who has come down from the City of the Dead to help his father fight grave robbers. The only persons caught in the net so far are Jimmy Parker, a nice looking college boy, and his girl friend, Phyllis Carol. At two o'clock this fog choked winter morning, Captain Friday was roused from sleep to find a phantom white robed figure, it's face covered with white flowing hair, patrolling about the caretaker's cottage."
Friday: "Yes, I awaked Jimmy Parker and the two of us slipped out of the house and around the corner just in time to see the phantom creature leap on the figure of a man. who at the moment was attempting to break into the cottage. The man died instantly under the gleaming knife in the creature's clawed hand. Before Parker or I could stop it, the thing had gone."
Parker: "Yeah, Captain Friday and I rushed to the scene but the house breaker was dead. Captain Friday sent me back into the house for Doctor Tooner. I wasn't gone but a couple of minutes, but when we got back, not only was the murdered man gone, but Captain Friday was lying on the ground, unconscious. And a peculiar thing, all the time this was happening, Mayor Friday's been missing from the cottage. But now it's 8 o'clock the next morning, and Phyllis is telling what she saw."
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