Detectives, Where Are the Detectives?

The Detective and Mystery genres are among the tops in the favorite shows of old time radio fans. Somehow, I just haven’t managed to keep up on podcasting all that many.

I love a good mystery, but I sometimes get turned off on those that show up in the broadcast format. The main problem is not that the stories are canned, or hoakie, or there’s a lack in the writing or acting. It’s just that the short, 30 minute format just doesn’t give a good mystery the time it needs to develop. Then it ends up with that hoakie, cookie cutter feeling.

With television, show producers did well to shift the police, drama, and detective shows to a full hour. Comedies can get away with a shorter format, since even with a sit-com, it’s mostly short one liner style humor. The story is incidental to the jokes.

To tell a good story, I’d rather have a show span into a part 2, or 3, or longer to get the story told well, than to clip it, and rush it, just so it fits in the short time frame.

I don’t know why the mini serial concept has never been used more. It worked so well for kid shows like Superman. Soaps use it all the time. Sometimes the Dragnet radio show had a story that lapsed into a second part. I really love the later episodes of Johnny Dollar that spanned the whole week. A short show every day to tell a bigger story. In the big scheme of things though it just hasn’t been done much.

With my little bit of ranting over with, I promise to locate more detective shows, and put them in the lineup. I’m open to hear what detectives are your favorites. I’m getting close to the end of my run of the Box 13 shows, but I’ll probably start it over again from the beginning, and start with the first shows to the last again. I do have more of the Johnny Dollar series which will be appearing one of these days. I’ve found some collections of Michael Shane, and of Richard Diamond, but I haven’t had the chance to listen to them yet. Same for Philip Marlowe.

Any requests are welcome. Use this space in the forum to talk about who your favorites are. I have a few more ideas to put more shows into this area, but a lot of it depends on the demands on my time. Tell me what you like, and I’ll make that a priority.



Hi Keith,

The detective programmes you mention are all very good – some of my favourties. Others you might consider sometime are:

Nero Wolfe (both the US and Canadian series)

Pat Novak for Hire (Jack Webb)

Jeff Regan (also Jack Webb)

Candy Matson (a female detective based in San Francisco)

Inspector Dover (one of the British/BBC, though not sure when this series was broadcast, do don’t know if it technically qualifies as OTR, but very good)

Father Baldi (BBC and also with the same caveats as Inspector Dover)

Inspector Thorne (another British detective that was broadcast on NBC sometime in the 1950s)

Inspector Steine (yet another British detective, though I’ve only heard one six-part programme)

Rogues Gallery (with Dick Powell who also stars in Richard Diamond)

Sam Spade (one of my favourites)

That Hammer Guy (Based on Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer)

The Fat Man

The Saint (Vincent Price)

Walk Softly Peter Troy (I think this was South African)

Night Beat (with Frank Lovejoy as Randy Stone)

And so many more

All the best – Ric


Good shows Rick. I’m familiar with most of them. Not so much the BBC series you mentioned, but I’ll see what I can find on them.

I do have a Candy Matson channel where all of her known shows are listed. I originally tried to put them in sequential order, but I think they may have gotten slightly jumbled. Just have a look in the Channel selection box, and dook under the Detective channel for Candy Matson. Once on that page, you can catch all the shows in your favorite podcatcher by grabbing the address from your browser’s address bar, and add “/feed” to the end of it. (the “/” may already be in the address). Since all the episodes are already there, there won’t be anything new added, unless I take an episode down to run it again.

Thanks for the tips on those other detective shows.


A follow up note:

With the web site move, my Channel selectionds don’t quite work the same. Check out the Resources page, or the side bar for the list of Channels. Individual series still have their own feed to subscribe to, but at the moment I haven’t put out links to do that. It’s all in an effort to streamline the site a little.

I’m still having trouble locating the BBC shows you mentioned, but I have a lot more of most of the others. I mainly like to post old time radio from the era of the 1930’s to the 1950’s, but there is actually a lot of good stuff from the later years, and I’ve posted some of it. I ran the CBS Radio Mystery Theater earlier in the year, and plan to do more. A while back Iaran a series from the BBC that was a Marx Brothers Remake from the 1990’s. The original Marx Brothers series, of course, ran in the 1930’s, and almost none of it is still around other than the scripts that the BBC team used for their shows.

I’ll try to do more of the later things, as long as they aren’t copyrighted, or I can get permission.


4 thoughts on “Detectives, Where Are the Detectives?”

  1. I mostly agree with your views. The Nero Wolfe show, for example, doesn’t do such a bad job of capturing the feel of the books, but of course the twisty plots of the novels are way too complicated for a half-hour show.

    The British gentleman detective Paul Temple achieved a big following in the post-war years, but then the BBC let his cases stretch out to eight 30-minute episodes!

    1. I recently read a couple of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe books. As with any novel, the plot twists and development are way too much for any other medium. It keeps you guessing, tossing out all sorts of red herrings. The radio shows strip it all down to present the facts, but can still leave a person guessing to solve the mystery. Or at least in what key bit of evidence Nero will come up with to clinch the case.

      Nice to hear from you, and if you know where I might locate some of those BBC radio series for cheap and easy download, let me know.

    1. Hey, thanks for that link. I don’t currently have Firefox loaded, but it’s about time I re-installed it.

      I do have several detective shows now. At the time I wrote this article though, I didn’t. My posting schedule is pretty much set until the end of May. After that, and throughthe Summer, I just may plan on a season full of detectives, and maybe more Science Fiction or Adventure. It’s still up in the air.

      Thanks again for the comment.

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