This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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The Strange Dr. Weird
by James Peyton © 2014
(From Radio Recall, April 2014)
"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…"
This strange little series aired on the Mutual Broadcasting System from 1944 to 1945. The show ran only around 15 minutes long, and there are only 28 available episodes. (There were 29, but one is a repeat.) There may be as many as 39 produced during its run, according to newspaper listings. It appears to have first aired on November 14, 1944. It only lasted until May 22, 1945.
It was of the mystery and horror genre, and starred that familiar Faraday, that mysterious traveler, Maurice Tarplin. In case you didn't catch those puns, Maurice Tarplin starred as the Policeman Faraday on Boston Blackie, as the Mysterious Traveler on that show, as well as numerous other roles, such as Sherlock Holmes. He seems to be a staple of old-time radio.
The series was co-written by David Kogan and Robert A. Arthur, who wrote for the The Mysterious Traveler. The episodes were produced and directed by a fellow named Jock McGregor, who was involved with several classic radio programs, including the science-fiction program X Minus 1.
The Internet Archive website mentions that many of the episodes of Dr. Weird are actually condensed versions of The Mysterious Traveler scripts. (The radio program The Sealed Book also got its material from The Mysterious Traveler, many or all episodes condensed versions of Traveler scripts) The series came from New York and was on the Mutual Network, WOR in New York City. The Tuesday night show aired from 7:15 P.M. to 7:30 PM. Adam's Hats was the sponsor. The announcer was Dick Willard.
This show does not actually star Maurice Tarplin or our weird Doctor; he is more of an announcer, host, or narrator. He is a presenter, rather than main character. This seems somewhat disappointing, because the show is really a random horror story for you to listen to each time. You hear him in the beginning and end, and there may be a just comment somewhere in the story at times. However, sometimes he narrates parts of the story, and he often speaks as an interlude before the sponsor appears, selling hats. When he narrates the story, the episodes are better because of it. In one episode of Dr. Weird, Maurice Tarplin, plays both Dr. Weird and a Faraday-like police chief in the story.
The first episode is titled "The House Where Death Lived" and episode 29 is titled "Revenge From the Grave". Now you know what you're up against here. The last 10 episodes, if they exist, have air dates, but the titles are currently unknown. The rather annoying radio commercials and advertisements come from the 1940s Adam Hat Stores. Just how fine are their Fedoras? They will never spare you the details, and give you the impression that Adams hats are the next best thing to breathable air.
The unusual thing about this show is that Dr. Weird interacts with the sponsor, before then transitioning fully into the advertising. Sometimes their interactions are strange and funny, making you wonder if they were supposed to be. There seems to be some recurring OTR horror themes such as evil cats, birds, punishment of crooks, etc. In this show there seems to be a plethora of cruel young people coldly murdering the elderly for their money.
You can download the series at: https://archive.org/details/OTRR_Certified_Strange_Dr_Weird
"Perhaps you'll drop in on me again soon. I'm always home. Just look for the house on the other side of the cemetery…the house of Dr Weird!"You may have wondered what cemetery he was talking about, and what house does he mean? If you find out…let me know.
(29 shows - total playtime 5 hours 54 minutes)
01 House Where Death Lives
02 Summoning of Chander
03 Journey Into the Unknown (an abbreviated version of the mysterious traveler episode "The Strange Journal of Professor Drake")
04 Murder Comes Home
05 Death in the Everglades
06 The Man Who Talked with Death
07 The White Pearls of Freedom
08 Stand-in for Death
09 The Tiger Cat
10 Murder Ship
11 Beauty and the Beast
12 Survival of the Fittest
13 The Man Who Lived Twice
14 The Dark Wings of Death
15 The Secret Room
16 The Knife of Death
17 Murder Will Out
18 The Voice of Death
19 The Two Faces of Death
20 The Man Who Knew Everything
21 He Woke Up Dead
22 The Devil's Caverns
23 When Killers Meet
24 Dead Man's Paradise
25 The Ghost Ship
26 The Man Who Played Dead
27 Murder, One Million BC
28 Picture of A Killer
29 Revenge From Grave (Last Show and copy of Murder, One Million BC)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Peyton, a club member in California, is a substitute teacher who sometimes works as a tutor. He is finishing a teaching credential and Master's Degree at present. He has been listening to OTR for over 20 years, and The Shadow is his favorite.