The Thrilling Adventure Hour
|Name:||The Thrilling Adventure Hour|
|Abbreviation(s):||TAH, Thrilling Adventure Hour|
|Creator:||Ben Acker and Ben Blacker|
|Date(s):||First presented as a stage show March 5, 2005; Podcast launched January 2011; main run ended April 2015. Occasionally episodes are still released.|
|Medium:||Live Show, Podcast, Radio Theater|
|Country of Origin:||USA|
|External Links:||Thrilling Adventure Hour|
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|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
The Thrilling Adventure Hour (originally "The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour") is a a New Time Podcast in the Style of Old Time Radio, an LA-based live-show, and a graphic novel. The show features several recurring segments, including Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars, Beyond Belief, and several "middle segments" including The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam and The Cross-Time Adventures of Colonel Tick-Tock. Featured Workjuice Players include Paget Brewster, Paul F. Tompkins, Marc Evan Jackson, Mark Gagliardi, Busy Philipps, Autumn Reeser, Craig Cackowski, Annie Savage, Hal Lublin, Joshua Malina, and Janet Varney.
Created by friends and Hollywood writers Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, TAH is many things. Originally written as several studio pitches, the two creators began a roughly hour-long monthly live show at M Bar in Los Angeles. They recruited actor friends to present the segments as an old-time radio play, partially so the performers could use scripts.
In 2010 the show moved to the Largo at the Coronet in LA, and in 2011 the show began releasing as a weekly podcast.
Each live show began with Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars and ended with Beyond Belief, with a "Middle Segment" in the middle and ads and musical performances interspersed throughout.
Sparks Nevada, Marshall on Mars A Western-style segment set on Mars in the 31st century. It focuses on the adventures of Sparks Nevada, the Marshall on Mars, and Croach the Tracker, his reluctant Martian companion.
Beyond Belief A segment that answers the question, "What if Nick and Nora were also reluctant paranormal detectives?" Sadie and Frank Doyle are a married couple living in a penthouse apartment content to drink copious amounts of alcohol. They are also mediums, and as such are called upon by a revolving cast of ghosts, witches, evil clowns, and other supernatural beings.
Other Segments Other segments include explorations of the Captain Laserbeam Universe, further explorations on Mars, The Chronopatrol Universe, Down in Moonshine Holler, and Tales from the Black Lagoon.
TAH was an early player in the audiodrama podcasting world, and unique in that it also featured a live show. The live show attracted a loyal monthly audience in LA. The popularity took off after Nathan Fillion guest starred on the show in 2011, regularly selling out the 280-seat Largo at the Coronet theater. Reference: The Hollywood Reporter. Over the course of the show's run, it managed to attract a wide variety of Hollywood A- and B-listers as guest stars, including Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Patton Oswalt, Nick Offerman, Molly Quinn, Aubrey Plaza, [and others https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrilling_Adventure_Hour#Notable_guest_stars]. The guest stars were also often fans of the show.
Meanwhile, the podcast was also growing in popularity. A crossover with Welcome to Nightvale in 2014 led to further online popularity, including a younger crop of fans looking for more queer and diverse representation.
In 2012, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker launched a Kickstarter to produce a graphic novel. The Kickstarter quickly gained massive popularity, eventually raising more than $190,000 and reaching several stretch goals, including a Behind-the-Scenes scripted show and a "Concert DVD," or professionally-produced recording of the show. The rewards were delivered throughout the next three years.
The Adventurekateers, as fans are called (confusingly, the children who assist Captain Laserbeam are also called Adventurekateers), are largely broken up into two groups -- the LA in-person fanbase and the internet-based fanbase. There are also fanbases for popular actors (especially Paget Brewster) who attend any live web broadcast.
Between 2010 and 2015, the show grew steadily in popularity. According to iTunesCharts.net, TAH debuted at #95 on iTunes download in 2010, moved up to #3 by 2013, and had fallen to #82 by June 2016. New York City Comic Con featured cast panels in 2014 and 2015.
Post 2016, the show was largely over and the fandom grew somewhat dormant.
TPTB's Involvement and Influence
Acker and Blacker were moderately involved with, responsive to, and sometimes openly hostile to fandom. The wiki was updated with the help of Acker and Blacker for spelling and casting clarifications. The Skeleton Grief, for instance, was written as a confused response to Tumblr's Skeleton War meme. Colonel Tick-Tock was a direct parody of Doctor Who. Philip Fathom, Captain Laserbeam's sometime team up partner is a takeoff of Batman.
At the cast panel at NYCC 2015, the creators announced that the show would be ending its regular production, citing burnout.
At its core, Thrilling Adventure Hour was a show based on radio dramas and other media from the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and some of the tropes it borrowed were based on racist caricatures. For instance:
- Gummy, the hobo mentor from Down in Moonshine Holler, has a voice actor Hal Lublin noted was rooted in a racist vaudeville caricature.
- Croach the Tracker is a direct parody of Native American companions in Westerns, specifically characters like Tonto. He speaks in stilted English and insists on calling Mars by its Martian name, G'loot Praktaw.
- The Red Plains Rider was a human raised by Martians, a take off on the Raised By Natives trope.
The show often failed to interrogate its relationship to this racist history.
Additionally, the show dabbled in [queerbaiting], with Croach the Tracker and Sparks Nevada getting teased as a canon couple (and also possibly going canon in the final, unbroadcast show at the M Bar theater in Los Angeles, only to be later retconned).
Notable Fan Activities & Works
Characters and Pairings
- Frank Doyle/Sadie Doyle (canon)
- Sparks Nevada/Red Plains Rider (canon)
- Croach the Tracker/Red Plains Rider (canon)
- Sparks Nevada/Croach the Tracker/Red Plains Rider
- Sparks Nevada/Croach the Tracker
In 2015, after ten years of monthly live shows and four years of weekly podcast broadcasts, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker announced the end of the show during a fan panel at New York Comic Con. The announcement is met with dismay from the fandom.
Fan Activities & Works
The Thrilling Adventure Hour wikia is a massive fan-run project following each episode, all guest stars,
- Official site
- Official twitter feed
- Thrilling Adventure Hour on Archive Of Our Own
- Thrilling Adventure Hour wikia