Thursday, September 24, 2009

OTR Review: SF68 "Survival"

Series Name: SF68
Episode Title: Survival
Original Air Date: 3/8/68
Available On: Relic Radio Sci-Fi Podcast September 21, 2009
Sound Quality: Excellent

Here's an oddity, a South African science fiction radio show from the late 60s. Honestly until I downloaded this podcast I had no idea such a thing existed. That's not where the strangeness ends either. Almost everything from the sound effects to the way it's written to the music to the direction is different than any other radio drama I've heard.

The story is about a young woman, nick-named "Mouse", who goes with her husband and a crew of men on a spaceship voyage to Mars. It takes place in a 1960s sexist-style future so "Mouse" is generally looked at as someone who should have stayed at home knitting rather than joining the expedition. En route to Mars there are complications aboard the flight and the drama plays out from that point.

The drama takes place over the course of relatively short scenes and the play features numerous speaking roles. In fact, there are more speaking roles here than I believe I've heard in any other half hour show. This causes a certain amount of confusion as it becomes difficult to tell characters apart from each other. The script adds to this confusion by flashing forward between certain scenes without much warning. The John Cage style sound effects and the noisy soundtrack add to the truly bizarre feeling of this show.

To be honest, I was rather down on the show much of the time I was listening to it. Early on I had assumed that I knew where the story was going and all the jumping around and multiple voices seemed to make an essentially simple story unnecessarily complex. However "Survival" ended with such a big and unexpected bang that I literally felt a chill through my spine.

It's true that a tighter script, more reigned in music and far fewer characters would have made this an easier listen, however there are times in which easy isn't always best and I'm not convinced the story would have been half so good if it had been presented in a simpler manner.

I'm still not a hundred percent sure about what I thought about this episode. Perhaps after another listen or three I'll be able to settle on it being a 5 or a 3. For right now I'll give it 4/5 Golden Masks and strongly recommend you give it a listen and make up your own mind.

1 comment:

  1. This is one of my favorite episodes. It is just great.