Thursday, 15 September 2011

Cadfael: Dead Man's Ransom (BBC Radio Crimes) [Audiobook]

4* Medieval Murder
I approached this without a great deal of experience of either Cadfael or radio plays. I have watched and enjoyed two or three BBC TV productions of Cadfael stories but this is my first radio play. 

The music is especially appropriate, sitting well between the spoken lines and helping to create a medieval atmosphere. Sound effects, e.g. of galloping horses and creaking doors were well produced. However, the first sounds on the disc are those of an improbable and unnecessary battle scene immediately before the fore-credits.

I imagine it helps immensely to have read the book first and then to enjoy this colourfully acted CD presentation some time afterwards. I say this because, without having any foreknowledge of the story, I found the action hard to follow initially, partly because of the accents, interspersed with a few lines spoken in Welsh, and partly because the story seemed disjointed and fragmented between various fight or battle enactments. It is, on the other hand, a pleasantly earthy presentation with plenty of innuendo in the delivery of the lines.

After several scenes, the story began to take shape and I was able to follow it reasonably well after that. The plot, for mystery fans is suitably convoluted. Clues are scattered around the story but still I was at a complete loss as to 'whodunnit', until it was revealed by Cadfael's expert sleuthing right at the end. I found the story required great concentration to follow, so that it provided a very satisfactory two hours worth of diversion. It has also inspired me to read the books. In summary: suspenseful and interesting. This is something I will definitely listen to again on a rainy afternoon. 

Dead Man's Ransom Amazon US
Dead Man's Ransom Amazon UK

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Vampires Revealed!

Rebeka Harrington seeks to define and explain vampires in a way not done before. This has been
achieved with her debut title "Vampires Revealed".  Rebeka tells everything you wanted to know about vampires, through the voice of her 3,000 year old alta-ego, Bektamun.

The ultimate vampire textbook...

The Intro:“For centuries the debate has raged; are vampires real?  There has been plenty of myth and superstition regarding vampires but not a lot of truth or answers.  In a unique piece of work, Bektamun a 3000 year old vampire, puts to rest all the myth and finally reveals the truth about the legendary creatures known across the globe as vampires.

Vampires Revealed is a journey of discovery.  Leave behind your preconceived ideas, forget the horror stories and disregard everything you think you know about vampires.  Never before have humans had and an opportunity such as this.  To know the unadulterated truth, for every question you may have ever had about vampires to be answered.”

The Links:

Sunday, 4 September 2011

David Janssen's Fugitive catches up with the orchestral music

I've just posted my fourth review for Volumes 1 and 2 for each of Seasons 2 and 3 of 'The Fugitive' starring David Janssen (Season 2 V1&V2, Season 3 V1&V2).

A few months ago I discovered that the complete series Seasons 1-4 is available on DVD. I was excited about this because I remember it with great affection from my late teens. What a great series it was, too, filled with tension and humanity in equal measures, providing a moral exemplar in a time of social turmoil.

Both Volumes 1 and 2 of Season 1 are available in a Region 2 pack, filmed in black and white but full of atmosphere nonetheless. Wonderful! And exactly as I remember it. Seasons 2 and 3 are available in Region 1/NTSC (US TV standards) in the original black and white, with the fourth and final season Volumes 1 and 2 in the original colour (Region1 NTSC) and with the final showdown with the one-armed man.

Having watched all the Region 2 Season 1 episodes, I was intent on carrying on. However, in my usual 'check the reviews before you buy' mode, I found a set of reviews warning of dire changes to the music score on the Seasons 2 and 3 discs. Apparently, CBS re-recorded the original orchestral scores for seasons 2 and 3, with synthesizer music back in 2009. The other reviews stated that after an outcry from fans, CBS provided disc exchanges for fans who had bought discs with synthesizer music. This only lasted for a short time and reviews suggested that replacement discs are no longer available and to avoid the middle two series at all costs.

This seemed like a huge disappointment but I determined I would fork out the price of the first volume of Season 2 and see for myself what this synthesizer sound track was like. I was completely amazed to find that each episode on each disc contained not a note of synthesiser music and that the orchestral score was intact. I have no idea how this is possible but it is so.

Still continuing with great caution, I bought one season at a time, until I had all volumes of both Seasons 2 and 3. Each time I was delighted to find that the sound track had not been tampered with. A very pleasant surprise because the original orchestral music is absolutely central to the tension, atmosphere and enjoyment of these stories. I bought all the discs from a number of different suppliers, so I can only assume that it is not hard now to obtain the discs with the original music. However, this is only an assumption and I sincerely hope that anyone cautiously buying these nostalgia-laden discs gets the right ones. Don't forget that if you decide to follow the epic struggle of Dr Richard Kimble's quest for justice, you will need to be able to play US Region 1 NTSC discs.

Thursday, 1 September 2011


I've got the (World Exclusive) T-shirt, so I must have written the book...