The Strange Dr. Weird
1944 - 1945
Maurice Tarplin was not only The Mysterious Traveler, but also The Strange Dr. Weird.
The Strange Dr. Weird was a spin-off of The Mysterious Traveler. It featured the same voice from The Mysterious Traveler (Maurice Tarplin) but under a new name, Dr. Weird. He told Mysterious Traveler stories, but shortened them to 15 minutes and gave them different titles (Grams, 2000, 450). He even used a similar exit strategy in both series, pretending it is the listener who is interrupting his story to leave, but taking the time to invite them back next week for another creepy tale told in his trademark slithering voice. Given all these similarities, it should be no surprise that the same director (Jock MacGregor) and writers (Bob Arthur and David Kogan) were also from The Mysterious Traveler (Buxton, 229). The only stylistic change was that Dr. Weird told his stories in a mansion overlooking a dreary cemetery, instead of on a train.
So why the shorter time format? Realistically, it was likely a business decision to make more money by repackaging already tried and true storylines into shorter time slots. But that's not the answer Dr. Weird gave when he was asked that question by a listener during a 1944 commercial break. When the announcer asked him why, here's the spin the good doctor gave:
Announcer: "While my goose pimples go away, and we all wait to find out what happens next, I'd like to ask Dr. Weird a question."
Weird: "Yes, yes young man. I'm all ears."
Announcer: "Well, point them the other way please, and answer me this. One of our listeners wants to know why you are on the air only 15 minutes instead of a half hour?"
Weird: "If we can scare people to death in 15 minutes, why take twice as long?"
Of course, that doesn't explain why The Strange Dr. Weird ended after just one season, while the thirty minute version of The Mysterious Traveler lasted nearly a decade. Whatever the reason, fans of frights should enjoy the 29 or so recordings that survive of The Strange Dr. Weird. Aside from the very dated Adam Hats commercials that interrupt the stories mid-way through, the stories themselves hold up quite well. And considering the vast majority of The Mysterious Traveler episodes were not saved, it's a thrill to hear some of the lost chillers, even in their abbreviated form.
The Typical Intro:
Announcer: "The strange Dr. Weird!"
(Music: Organ flair, followed by sound effect of a door opening and closing.)
Dr. Weird. "Good evening. Come in, won't you? Why, what's the matter? You seem a bit nervous. Perhaps the cemetery outside this house has upset you. But there are things far worse than cemeteries. For instance, men with murder in their hearts. As in my story tonight, a story I call... 'The Devil's Caverns!'"
A Typical Closing (Spoiler Alert!):
Host: "Too bad about poor Victor, wasn't it? Such a horrible way to die. But a few weeks later, when a searching party entered the caverns, they found a clean white skeleton lying a few hundred yards from the entrance. Unfortunately, they were never able to find a trace of John Drake or Paul. It was as if-- as if they vanished from the face of the Earth. Now I once knew a dead man who-- oh, you have to go now? Perhaps you'll drop in on me again soon. Just look for the house on the other side of the cemetery The house of Dr. Weird!"
(Sfx: Organ plays musical flair.)
Hear it now, FREE!
Hear up to 29 different episodes of Strange Dr. Weird in RealPlayer on OTR.net!
(RealPlayer allows you to continue to browse other sites while you listen.)
And here too. (Courtesty of tennesseebillsotr.com)
Read a script: The Voice of Death (courtesy of GenericRadio.com)
Some Suggested Samples!
(Courtesy of OTR.net)
Summoning of Shandor - A mystic has the power to summon the dead.
Journey Into The Unknown - A mad scientist is accidentally turned into an ape.
The Dark Wings of Death - The story of a Raven that could talk, and the problems it caused.
The Man Who Talked to Death - A morgue attendant says he can communicate with the dead, but when a newspaper reporter decides to test the theory, he regrets he ever got involved.
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