Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Lone Ranger: “Gold for Maximillian” 3/27/43

Wow. The Lone Ranger is so cool that he can save the country from war without even working up a sweat. This episode, set right after the Civil War (and thus, presumably, set early in the Ranger’s career), involves a possible war between the United States and Mexico.

Maximillian was the puppet emperor of Mexico, placed on the throne there by Napolean III of France. The U.S. is insisting that French troops withdraw from Mexico. Maximillian, knowing he needs gold to raise enough additional troops to fight the U.S., sends a trusted agent across the Rio Grande to raise the gold and smuggle it back south.

Along the way, we get some quick cameo appearances by Generals Ulysses Grant and Philip Sheridan, as well as President Andrew Johnson.

What’s notable about is the way the plot quickly evolves to include several sets of bad guys, keeping track of the Mexican agent and several different outlaws, with double-crosses and treacherous murders coming fast and furious. The plot isn’t all that complicated, but it does require the listener to pay close attention to keep track of events.

The Lone Ranger was originally targeted to a younger audience. Though it ended up attracted a large percentage of older listeners as well, the creative staff never forgot that a lot of their fans were kids.

All the same, they didn’t hesitate to use reasonably complex plots that required attentive listeners. In this case, we had to understand the political/military situation as well as machinations of spies and outlaws. Well-written narration and dialogue explains everything clearly, but all the same, the writers and director of the show trusted their listeners (both grown-ups and kids) to follow along. It’s one of the many reasons the show is still fun—it never wrote down to its audience. Whether you were six-years-old or sixty, you were assumed to be smart enough to follow along as the Ranger both out-fought and out-thought the bad guys.

Click HERE to listen or download.

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