The Sealed Book
Phillip Clarke, about ten years after he voiced "The Keeper of the (sealed) Book".
The Sealed Book borrowed all sorts of successful ingredients from other shows. It had a cackling old man who sounded like a mix between the host from The Hermit's Cave and The Witch's Tale. It also had Robert Arthur and David Kogan as writers, who also wrote for The Mysterious Traveler, as well as the same director (Jock MacGregor). Yet in spite of this the series seemed a little uninspired. (Originality was not its strong suit!) Not only was the basic formula of the series similar to other shows, but the scripts were all recycled stories from Mysterious Traveler. The casts were different (although some of the same stars appeared in both The Sealed Book and Mysterious Traveler). Scenes were rushed and the action wasn't always allowed enough time to be carried out in a believable fashion. For example, when a character receives an experimental drug to make him immortal, his bullet ridden arm heals the instant the needle is inserted to deliver the serum. The same character escapes into a house without being seen by police, even though they were right on him seconds before. The acting was sometimes overblown as well, with thugs sounding like they were putting on Brooklyn accents and villains drooling over themselves with evil intent. Victims are strangled and die within seconds, and their falling bodies sound like three boxes of laundry detergent being knocked over by the sound effects man. Of course, hammy performances can be entertaining in their own right, but compared with the competition, some of The Sealed Book episodes come across as a little strained.
But that's only some. Others were quite exciting in every regard. The first half of The Accusing Corpse follows a cookie cutter murder story, but then it starts to take twists and turns. The otherwise perfect murder then goes terribly wrong, and all because of a tiny detail that any of us could (and probably would) have missed. Broadway Here I Come episode is not only well executed, it has a delightfully creepy ending. If these had been original scripts, it would have made The Sealed Book a real stand out. (Alas, only the titles and cast were changed.)
Still, the show had plenty of plus points to offset the recycling complaint. The basic format was very similar to what would eventually be the comic book Crypt Keeper in Tales of the Crypt (although the publishers never specifically acknowledged this show's influence as they did with The Witch's Tale). And the gruesome plots were always a lot of fun (even the second time around). It might be a man who can't die unless he blows himself up, or perhaps a pair of amputated hands coming back to life to strangle another victim. Whatever it was, you can bet it kept the kids awake a lot longer than 10pm (when it aired on Sunday nights) and their mouths jabbering about it all the following Monday to their classmates.
In some of the episodes, the "Keeper" of The Sealed Book was silent, and the somber announcer would describe him turning the pages and announce whatever title he turned to. Later on, when The Keeper finally spoke, he was voiced by Phillip Clarke (who was probably the same man who voiced the announcer). At the end of the episode, he would give details about what next week's plot would involve and how strange or unusual it would be... (unless it was compared to the other Sealed Book plots. Given that comparison, the only story that would be truly strange or unusual would be something normal!)
The Crypt Keeper in EC Comics may have been inspired by "the Keeper of the Book." They essentially played the same role.
The Standard Intro:
(Hear it in Real Audio!)
Keeper: (echo) "Heh-heh-heh-heh-heh-heh! The Sealed Book!"
Announcer: "Once again the keeper of the book is ready to open the ponderous volume in which is recorded all the secrets and mysteries of mankind through the ages. All the strange and mystifying stories of the past, present, and the future!"
(SFX: Gong, followed by long music interlude to provide time for commercials.)
An Opening Narration:
Announcer: "Keeper of the book... What tale would you tell us this time? "
Keeper: "Uh... What tale shall I tell you? I have here tales of every kind. Tales of murder, of madness, of dark deeds, and events strange beyond all belief. Heh-heh-heh. Let me see... Yes. Here's a tale for you. A tale of a man who stole by force the secret of immortality, life everlasting, and entered into a mad adventure. The title of the tale is...
(SFX: Organ flourish)
Keeper: "'King Of The World'
Keeper: "Here's the tale as it is written in the sealed book. It is late at night and the wind howls over the desolate countryside. In the darkness, a man runs frantically though the woods, trying to elude his pursuers..."
A Middle Break:
Keeper: "And now, to go on with the story of 'The King Of The World,' as it is written here in The Sealed Book. Duke Farson, having been duly tried and sentenced for the murders he committed, is being strapped into the electric chair!"
An Ending Narration:
Keeper: "Heh-heh-heh. And that is the story of 'The King Of The World,' as it is written in The Sealed Book. Years have passed, but Duke Furgerson [sic] is still locked up in the padded cell. Day and night he begs to be executed, and yet at the same moment, he knows he can't die! That the serum in his blood has given him immortality and sentenced him to a life filled with torturous sounds from which there is no escape. There is no escape! It is so written here in The Sealed Book!"
The Standard Closing:
Keeper: "But the sound of the great gong tells me that I must close the great book once again."
Announcer: "One moment, Keeper of the Book. What story will you tell us next time?"
Keeper: "Next time? Heh-heh-heh. What shall it be? A tale of madness? Of Terror? Of dark deeds in far lands? I have them here. All the stories that ever happened. And many that have yet to come to pass. But I'll find one for you in just a moment."
(SFX: Organ interlude for commercials.)
Announcer: "And now, Keeper of The Book. Have you found a story that you'll tell next time?"
Keeper: "Yes, I've found one. It's a story about a ruthless man who put money above all, and wouldn't stop at murder to achieve his ends. The title of the tale is 'Death Spins A Web!'"
Announcer: "Be sure to be with us next time when the great gong heralds another strange and exciting story from..."
Keeper: (Echo) "The Sealed Book!"
Hear An Actual Episode!
(Courtesy of Botar Archives)
Accusing Corpse - 04/29/1945
Broadway here I come - 06/17/1945
Death at Storm House - 4/22/1945
Death spins a Web - 04/01/1945
Ghost Makers - 06/10/1945
Man with the stolen Face - 07/15/1945
Out of the Past - 05/13/1945
Stranger in the House - 05/06/1945
More Actual Epsiodes!
(Courtesy of OTR.net)
To Have And To Hold - A woman visits her aunt and uncle who live in a creepy mansion. No one have seen them in forty years.
Stranger in the House - A young couple move into haunted Wickford Manor, and the husband proceeds to fall in love with a resident female ghost.
Time on my Hands - What would you do to live forever. Would you commit murder?
Devil Island - A young lady who is about to inherit an island visits her long lost relatives to discover some of them are being haunted by the family curse of insanity.. and she's next.
Hear even more, FREE!
Hear up to 23 different episodes of The Sealed Book in RealPlayer on OTR.net!
(RealPlayer allows you to continue to browse other sites while you listen.)
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