Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday's Favorite OTR

Escape: “Clear for Action” 6/14/53

I love this particular episode of Escape enough to re-listen to it two or three times a year—simply because it is so skillfully done in every aspect. Plot, dialogue, sound effects and acting all come together to expertly tell a nice, tight story.

It’s set in the early 19th Century, with William Conrad plays the commander of the American Navy frigate Panther. He’s assigned to track down and eliminate a French warship that’s been attacking American shipping in the Caribbean. But France and the United States aren’t actually at war, so he can only actually attack the Frenchie in self-defense or in defense of another ship.

It’s a tricky mission, but (after an encounter with a British ship attempting to press-gang some of his crew) the captain soon comes up with a plan. With the help of a merchant captain—and his pretty daughter—he lays a trap for the French privateer.

Conrad is superb in the role of captain. He exudes an air of authority and obviously expects to be obeyed, but it’s also obvious that he has earned the respect of his crew. Listen to it and take special note of his relationship with his two deck officers—to the way he switches back and forth from using their first names to using a more formal mode of address depending on the situation. And take note of how well actors Ben Wright and John Dehner, playing the two officers, quickly manage to endow their characters with individual personalities.

Then take note of the sound effects, most especially the creaking rigging in the background at the end of the episode. “Clear for Action” is a pretty straightforward adventure tale and breaks no new ground in storytelling—but it’s a wonderful example of just how well the cast and crew of Escape told stories.

You can listen to this episode or download it  HERE.

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