Decoder Ring Theatre is an audio drama presented in the style of an old time radio show. The episodes are either about a detective named Black Jack Justice, or a superhero named The Red Panda. I have yet to listen to the Red Panda, as I have been absolutely lost in the world of Black Jack Justice, and can only hope that his super hero counterpart will measure up.
The Black Jack Justice Mysteries are set in post world war 2 America (United States that is). The protagonist is a typical shabby gumshoe who drinks too much and remenisces about his days in the infantry. His sidekick, Trixie Dixon (girl detective), is a sharp tongued firecracker who ALWAYS gets the last word. Together they catch jewel thieves, solve murders, and always one up the stiff lipped police. Certainly in our years of media intake, we have experienced similar characters in kindred settings. But the way that Decoder Ring Theatre parodies both the scenarios and the characters involved is playful, colorful, and a deep tribute to its predecessors. It makes for some fantastic listening, that's for sure. The quick paced wise guy dialogue of the show is worthy of the highest praise.
There are plenty of opportunities to hear authentic old time radio shows online (which I do frequently), and even some podcasts that specialize in re-running them (I guess re-run is the right term?). So, when I first discovered Decoder Ring Theatre I wondered why anyone would want to listen to a new podcast that mimics an old time radio show, when one could easily find the real thing. The answer is quite simple. DRT is incredibly well done. Every aspect of it. The stories, the acting, the production, EVERYTHING is absolutely top notch.
Furthermore, time has done a whammy on our attention spans and listening skills. They must not be what they were in the 1950s, because the actual old time shows can be quite hard to follow. Characters are often difficult to tell apart, and plotlines are not always clear. Not so with Decoder Ring Theatre. Although the actors are Canadians imitating Americans* from the 1950s (which is funny in and of itself) it is never a mystery as to who is speaking, who has just been shot, or...who dunnit. The stories are well written in every way. They are easy to follow, witty, and interesting.
Decoder Ring Theatre is one of my very favorite podcasts. If you are a fan of old time radio, I can't imagine that you wouldn't absolutely love it. If you are not a fan of old time radio, this may be a good way to get your feet wet.
*Yes, I know that Canadians are Americans too. Had I been writing this post in Spanish I would have referred to us in the U.S. as Estado Unidences, but since no such name really exists in the English language I had to do the best with what little nomenclature was at my disposal. Forgive me eh?
Decoder Ring Theatre