‘Legends of Tomorrow’ S1E11: Welcome to a Town Called Salvation

by Agent Alicia Glass (a.k.a. Pandora the Punctuation Horror)

Sharp-shootin’ spoilers a-comin’!

Ah, yes. Here we are hiding in the Old West, away from the Hunters the Time Masters sent after our Legends, and of course the town is called Salvation. Ray is immediately fan-boying the whole old west scene and Sarah wants to take a look around outside, so everyone gets ship-made, era-appropriate clothing and some pistols and away we go!

The entrance of our Legends in their various western-style getups with that slo-mo gangster walk and the heroic cowboy music into the town of Salvation is a hoot and a holler and looks fun and laughably ridiculous. Sarah and Rory immediately begin a drinking binge with alcohol that could take the paint off your walls, Stein surprisingly gets to gambling with Snart, and Kendra has an unexpected encounter in the saloon over (what else?) a disagreement on how to treat ladies, even saloon ladies. Next thing you know, Snart’s killed a bad guy and started a bar brawl. It’s the old west right? But things are almost immediately stopped by a smart figure in a very old uniform with a uniquely scarred face, the bounty hunter extraordinaire of the cowboy-inspired part of DC comics, Jonah Hex!

Of course, idiot Ray, with his penchant for modern history names like the highly original “John Wayne,” wants to save the town of Salvation from the tyranny of the Stillwater gang and insists the crew stay to do so. Never mind that Ray finds himself the new Sheriff and really has not a bit of experience with pistols,  he is good at planning and strategizing. So, when the Stillwater gang comes in for their first confrontation, they get an invitation to go packing from the carefully placed sharp-shooter Legends arranged about the town square!

Not a bit of this impresses Jonah Hex (Jonathon Schaech), however, who reminds our Legends that whenever they do decide to leave Salvation with the Stillwater gang matter unresolved, the same thing that happened to Calvert will happen here. What is Calvert, we ask? Gideon explains it was a town in Oklahoma a few years before their current time-location that was destroyed in the aftermath of a younger Rip Hunter and Jonah Hex feeling their oats and regrets. Yes, our Captain knew Jonah Hex from before; the show even implies that Hunter’s murdered son in the future, Jonas, is named in Hex’s honor.

Stein, meanwhile, is very taken with the kind woman with the dying son from the original bar brawl. He has the consumption, you see, and his mother wanted him to see the west and ride that stagecoach he always wanted to, before tuberculosis takes him down completely. Stein, with his large heart and science-y brain, absolutely refuses to sit by and let this happen, insisting on the Waverider synthesizing a cure as close to old western medicine as he can manage, and giving it to the boy.

Sarah and Kendra have gone off riding into the woods to go looking for the woman Kendra encountered at the saloon, who, of course, offers them a lead-lined greeting when they find her. Turns out, this older, hardened woman who lives bitterly alone is actually a former incarnation of Kendra herself, the aging Hawkgirl who endures in obscurity because in this time period, there isn’t any Carter to comfort her. She claims, in sorrow and regret, that Kendra will never love another person the way she loves Carter, that trying to love anyone else always ends in tears, that the two hawk folk are fated to be together forever and ever. Which, considering the original mission of our Legends bucking future fate and all, doesn’t go down well for Kendra.

So, the boys mistakenly went to go confront the Stillwater gang and end up with a bad guy in their med bay and down a teammate; Jax gets himself taken. Much arguing later, we’re going to have High Noon from Captain Hunter in town square and inevitably it’s not that simple – right about then is when the Hunters decide to show up, and main street of Salvation is suddenly filled with flying fire guys and laser beam future-pistol shots!

The showdown on main street is actually pretty cool. Hawkgirl is doing dive-bombs, Jax and Stein are fire-bombing their way up and down the street, Jonah Hex is firing the future pistol he borrowed from Captain Hunter, Ray’s in his A.T.O.M. suit doing damage, and the criminal twins and their assassin friend are shooting and stomping their way through the villains!

The Hunters just have to get in the last word before defeat, telling Rory that the Timemasters have sent the Pilgrim after our Legends, which can’t be good. Stein gets the most astonishing information when he goes to say goodbye to the young boy he saved from tuberculosis, who happens to not-so-coincidentally bear his father’s surname, Wells. Herbert George Wells, as a matter of fact. Absolutely adorkable. Sarah and Kendra are back from their walkabout, and it’s time to have a talk with Ray, sadly. And now it’s time for one final talk with everyone around the planning table, because the Timemasters have sent the Pilgrim, their deadliest assassin, into everyones previous timelines, to stop all our Legends from becoming thus long before they could do anything about it!

Catch DC’s Legends of Tomorrow Thursdays on the CW at 8:00 p.m./7:00 p.m., Central!

The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company Premieres New Show on VILN Radio

by Special Agent Laura Davis (a.k.a. Hex Quillion)

We’re proud to welcome The Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (ARTC) to the Super Villain Network! ARTC’s new radio show, Vox Etheria, is the virtual stage where our audience gets to sit and enjoy radio as it was meant to be: beautifully produced episodes of brilliantly written stories. Their first broadcast on our radio station, VILN, is an original dramatization of H.P. Lovecraft’s chilling tale, The Shadow Over Innsmouth. ARTC is a radio theater company with a long and rich history. Currently, they perform live drama before audiences, in addition to producing these incredible shows at their studio in Georgia. As if Lovecraft weren’t enough, they’ve also produced adaptations of Robert Heinlein’s work, and several original series in science fiction, dark fantasy, storytelling, and romance.

ARTC Founder, William Brown, explained that he’d grown up listening to and admiring the CBS Mystery Radio Theater program. He said, “We started doing this more than 30 years ago [in 1984] … I just wanted to perform radio drama but there was no outlet I was familiar with outside of New York, so I just started putting together a group that could do this … You couldn’t find who owned the rights to the old radio shows, so we started writing adaptations of works in the public domain … What I wanted to do when we started was to do radio as if we’d never stopped.”

Brown was working, at the time, at a classical music radio station in Atlanta, WGKA, and through that job, he met the actors of their Readers’ Theater. “The main group of actors we started with came from there … We started on commercial radio, right off the bat; we never did public radio. We just dove into it and never looked back.”

Their first studio recording was an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar. “Initially,” said Brown, “I built a studio in one of my spare bedrooms.” In the beginning, Brown served primarily as the group’s producer.

Quickly, Brown’s project gained steam as actor and director Patrick Stansbury and playwright Thomas Fuller jumped on board. “Fuller pulled all the writers together,” said Brown. It seems there were a lot of creative people who, like Brown, had been looking for a place to aim their creativity, because volunteers appeared as if by magic. Brown explained how he recruited Henry Howard, the owner of Atlanta sound studio, Audio Craft: “I called Henry Howard and said, ‘Want to come play?’ He said, ‘Hell, yes!’ That started us out at a very high level of quality.”

In 1987, the group decided to try a live performance, which they did at DragonCon. Brown tells the story with a chuckle, “We went to DragonCon and we did The Call of Cthulhu. And when we were done, no one made a sound. There were seven or eight hundred people in the room.” After a few moments, though, the audience began to applaud, and didn’t stop. “There was 10 minutes or so of applause. They were captivated! I thought, ‘We found something to do!’” ARTC still performs each year at DragonCon, along with other conventions and venues. They’ll be performing The Passion of Frankenstein, written by Thomas Fuller, at LibertyCon this June in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Brown noted, “I didn’t know how long it would last when we started. I figured we could probably get a couple years at best … We’ve spawned a whole generation of people on radio drama. [There are] probably 10 couples who met doing the show, and now we’ve got production babies … Tony Fuller [Thomas Fuller’s son] is still with the group. He does Foley.”

ARTC is still producing what Brown describes as, “old-sounding new material. The overall sound of radio from the ‘40s and ‘50s is a good sound.” ARTC’s shows are produced primarily with Foley effects, as opposed to digital sound effects, not only for the classic soundscape, but also for entertainment value. “Foley is helpful in live performance, in terms of having something to watch. The Foley and the musicians give the audience something to watch.” Brown adds.

As audiences began to see and appreciate the quality of ARTC’s productions, they began to attract more and better properties and talent. Brown said, “One of our writers, Brad Linaweaver, was friends with Ginny Heinlein. This was after [Robert] Heinlein had died. Brad got her permission for us to adapt his stories. Brad also brought Harlan Ellison in as an actor in some of our productions. He did Rats in the Wall by Lovecraft. One WorldCon, it was in Central Georgia, [we did] a Lovecraft story, At the Mountains of Madness, and the entire cast was writers!”

Brown recounted one of the highlights of his radio experience, “getting to work with Himan Brown [Inner Sanctum and CBS Mystery Radio Theater]. One of the people he brought with him was Mercedes McCambridge [whom Orson Welles called ‘the world’s greatest living radio actress, and later won an Academy Award for her film performance in All the King’s Men and voiced Pazuzu in The Exorcist.]. She taught me a lot of little things. The piece we were doing was French, and she taught me how to say ‘mon petit.’ Those little things add up.”

Now that their studio is complete, ARTC is cranking up the volume of their production. They have 10 to 15 writers working full-time, and an additional 15 to 20 writers who work with them occasionally. “We’re finishing up a Lovecraft piece,” Brown said, “The Colour Out of Space. It’s the first time I did any serious acting with the group. I was old Nahum; I kind of went nuts with that. I can’t even explain what I get out of it, but it’s so much fun!”

These days, Brown is free to pick and choose his projects as he likes, as ARTC has a new Executive Producer. “David Benedict is basically the new me. I razz him about it. It’s good to find people you can hand things off to. I play the devil’s advocate.” Brown mentions their adaptation of The Island of Doctor Moreau. “I just said, ‘I don’t want anything added. I want it done just the way [Wells] wrote it,’ and [Benedict] is doing it just as [Wells] wrote it.”

Those of us who grew up on classic radio know the simple pleasure of sitting down and letting our minds unfold and build the scene of the story in a radio show. It’s a true joy to find a group that’s still producing that kind of content in our present age of digital overstimulation. “I’m kind of a minimalist when it comes to sound effects,” Brown commented, “[though] one of Tom Fuller’s pieces, Blues for Johnny Raven, [is about a] guy who is trapped in a world of sound, and he doesn’t know how he got there … I’d like to do some unabridged audio books with sound effects and music, and a full ensemble cast.”

Brown concludes, “The picture is better when you hear it on the radio.”

XXX

 

Vox Etheria, premieres on VILN radio tonight, Saturday, May 16, 2015, at 7:00 p.m., Eastern/4:00 p.m. Pacific, with an encore broadcast Monday night, May 18, at 7:00 p.m., Pacific/10:00 p.m., Eastern.