The Strange Dr. Karnac


Above image courtesy of Tune In For Terror © 1992

The Strange Dr. Karnac was a 30 minute series written by Scott Bishop (who also wrote Dark Fantasy). It followed the exploits of the good doctor (played by James Van Dyke) as he sought to solve crimes of supernatural origin. He was assisted in his spooky investigations by Dr. Watson (Jean Ellyn), a female companion who asked the questions the audience was typically wondering. Her role was apparently inspired by the Dr. Watson character of Sherlock Homes fame, as both sidekicks provided the same purpose in both series. Karnac seems to have been based on another fictional detective with a similar name and purpose as well. His name was Thomas Carnacki, and like Karnac, he was an investigator of supernatural mysteries-- although they sometimes turned out to be crimes made to look supernatural by those who hoped to escape detection. Six Carnacki short stories were written by William Hope Hodgson and published separately in magazines from 1910 - 1912. The stories appeared together in 1913 as Carnacki the Ghost Finder, then they were published again with three additional stories much later by Arkham House. That was in 1948, five years after the radio show, so the radio Karnac may have helped revive interest in the literary Carnacki.

The real mystery is what became of the recordings from this show. They seem to have evaporated like so many of the spirits featured in the series. With Bishop at the typewriter, one could assume they were good scripts. Unfortunately, we may never know for sure. As of this date, there are no known copies in circulation. Fred Cole was the announcer for it on NBC's Blue Network (Terrace, 254).

Any additional information, memories, of leads on where this series could be heard or purchased would be appreciated! (email me.)


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