The Radio Dramas

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I hesitated on where to post this thread, considering the radio dramas seem like they'd be kind of EU, but, at the same time, they're adaptations of the OT, too, so, eh, I just took a gamble. If anyone disagrees, feel free to move the thread.

So what does everyone think of the radio dramas? So far I've only really given Jedi's a listen, and I have to say the results are... middle of the road, particularly where the voice acting is concerned. Brock Peters (who I know from my childhood as Dark Kat in SWAT Kats) is an excellent Vader, although by no means a James Earl Jones. Ed Begley Jr. makes a surprisingly creepy Boba Fett, and I particularly like Joshua Fardon as Luke and Ann Sachs as Leia. Perry King as Han sounds weird, like someone attempting to imitate a 1930s gangster (!), and although I generally like Ed Asner, not only can I not tell at all that that's him as Jabba, the weird filter they gave his voice makes Jabba sound like a malfunctioning soundboard and not a giant obese space slug.

The necessity of having to describe things makes presenting the story awkward. I was expecting an audiobook-style presentation with a narrator, but instead we have situations of out-of-place exposition and characters describing their own actions or the actions of others. The one time this hasn't been out of place so far is during the scene at the Pit of Carkoon, where the still mostly blind Han is uncertain of his surroundings and other characters need to describe what's happening around him for him.

So far there's some alterations I found noteworthy. Firstly, a dancing girl Threepio speaks to (who is apparently a disguised Mara Jade) explicitly mentions all the girls get paid, even Oola, with the disagreement that leads to Oola's death being that there's "one dance" (ahem!) Oola refuses to do no matter how much extra money he offers her. Despite this, Leia is explicitly described as being enslaved when she's caught, making her the only girl kept there against her will. I dunno why but this stuck out to me as making Jabba seem less monstrous somehow; he comes off as slightly less revolting if he actually pays the girls who perform for him as opposed to enslaving them and forcing them. I'd say this change was made to make the story more kid-friendly, but it still explicitly describes Leia as being enslaved, so, I dunno.

When entering the palace, Luke reassures the guards who try to block his way that he isn't there to harm them. Even when they refuse to budge, he is very apologetic and calmly reassuring as he uses the Force to get past them. And when he and the guard (Jubnuk) fall into the pit, Luke actually shows concern for the guard unlike in the movie, and attempts to persuade him to team up to increase their chances of survival, only for the guard to prove to be too panicky to listen and get himself killed. Over and over, it's made clear the only one in the palace Luke actually has any animosity towards is Jabba himself. Even when he's killing the guards in battle with his lightsaber, he shows no malice. I like my heroes like this. They kill when they have to, and only then.

And Leia's takedown of Jabba is epic, too, with her taunting him as she strangles him, including pointing out the irony that now he knows what it's like "to have cold iron around your throat!"

And lastly, apparently, Vader killed a whole bunch of underperforming Imperial construction guys in-between his arrival and Palpatine's. Yikes. But upon arriving Palpatine praises him for having gotten the Death Star construction back on schedule without killing too many people, so apparently this is a good day for Vader.

Oh, and now I know how to pronounce "Jerjerrod!" :grin:
 
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I listen to these radio dramas more than I watch the movies now. At least, I think that the first two are that good! And while I know a lot of the expansions are considered Legends now, at one point this was all pretty much canon. Jedi is the shortest radio drama, as A New Hope runs 6 hours long, Empire Strikes Back 5 hours, and Jedi closer to 3. I can't overstate how amazing these first two are to me.

Out of the entire radio drama trilogy, A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back are my favorite, as they offer the most backstory and expand greatly on the stories that we love and know by heart. No detail is missed and acting/sound design is superb. I love how it not only expands on scenes, but includes deleted scenes that weren't in the films, like Luke and Biggs at Tosche Station. In Empire, I loved the scene where Han and Luke camp out to survive on Hoth, because Han does a funny C-3PO impression that took me by surprise. Perry King, who plays Han, originally even auditioned for Han in the film - so for me, listening to these is kind of like a "what-could-have-been" if Perry King had played Han in the movies. It took some getting used to, but I learned that Perry makes a fantastic Han Solo. Mark Hamill actually reprises his role of Luke in these two, and while Brock Peters is no James Earl Jones (like you said), he brings a certain anger to Vader in some scenes that gives me the chills. Just listen to the interrogation scene on the Death Star with Vader and Leia and you'll see what I'm talking about. Ann Sachs as Leia is perfect in every way.

Internal dialogue is written so well that scene that I didn't find any of the storytelling "awkward". In fact, I was more surprised that they were able to take scenes that I didn't think would be possible as audio only, and make them feel pretty natural.

Now, I don't know if you know this, but Return of the Jedi was completed years later in the 90's, as National Public Radio had their funding cut for quite a while. While I'm happy they completed the trilogy for Star Wars fans, I definitely feel that the voice acting and production on Jedi are sorely lacking, and is therefore my least favorite of the three dramas. Jabba and EV-9D9's voices sound BOTH sound like malfunctioning soundboards, and Lando's voice actor in this one just didn't cut it for me. It expands only slightly on some deleted scenes, though I do agree with the alterations that you have noted. For me, however, Empire and A New Hope alone are good enough, and are therefore the only two I listen to.

Give the other two a listen if you can. I promise you'll hear the difference in quality.
 
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I think the idea about the dancing girls getting paid was maybe to help explain why Mara Jade could infiltrate the palace as a dancing girl and complain about being left behind at the palace without being executed herself for insolence. Then again, Yarna doesn't seem like a slave, so explicitly explaining that Oola wasn't one may have been more kid-friendly. I dunno! :\
 
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They are available for download or as CD sets, but I don't know of any places where they have free Downloads.

THX4077 is right about the first two. It's really too bad with ROTJ having been made later. I really miss Mark Hamill's voice in that one. Of the three, ROTJ is the weakest, but I think they wanted to make sure they could finish the trilogy. ANH has a lot of extra and expanded Scenes, like Luke's conversstion with 3PO in the landspeeder or when 3PO and R2 hide outside of the cantina. Also, the opening of ESB is a gem as well.

I knew of These years Agon and had heard one Episode on the Radio when they originally aired. It was a few years ago that my SW dealer got me into them. He says that for him, These are the best Versions of the stories. Even my Kids are hooked on These.

Let us know what you think of ANH and TESB after you've had a Chance to hear them, Kooshmeister.
 
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I had these on audio tape. I remember when Return of the Jedi aired as a special event, I was so stoked. It felt rushed, where the others could take their time. I think that Star Wars and Empire aired weekly back in the early 80's and people tuned in each week to listen to each episode but Jedi they aired in one big block. I wonder if Brian Daley's failing health is part of what led to Jedi getting short shrift.
 
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I'm a weirdo, so I'm listening to them in backwards order, heh. Firstly as regards Jedi, John Lithgow made a surprisingly good Yoda. I'm currently on Empire. The addition of the opening sequence where the Rebel supply column gets attacked is interesting, as is our early introduction to the ill-fated Needa, wherein he's itchin' to kill himself some Rebels, complaining about a lack of action and hoping they find some Rebels to fight before the war is over. Quite a markedly different approach to this character! I was expecting this to lead into Needa being the Star Destroyer captain who says "Good, our first catch of the day!" instead of Lennox, as Donald F. Glut did in his novelization, but no dice; Needa hasn't reappeared since the beginning so far.

I'm astonished at how much more time the radio drama is spending on Hoth. I did rather like the extended bit wherein Luke and Han cower from the storm inside the shelter, and try to keep each others' spirits up by telling jokes. It really made them seem like really good buddies. In terms of the medium forcing characters to basically narrate for the audience, Luke speaking into his wrist communicator as he staggers through the storm prior to Han finding him was a surprisingly effective way to do it. He isn't sure if anyone is picking up his transmission, but he keeps talking into it in the hopes that someone will hear him (to say nothing of just doing it to keep up his own spirits). If anything, the "Luke is lost in the storm" sequence, as presented here, seems even more dire, desolate and hopeless than it does in the film, since he's alone and wandering aimlessly for a far longer amount of time than in the movie.

Somewhat strangely, the radio drama doesn't offer a good explanation for why he doesn't remain in the cave. This always bothered me in the film, but I always waved it off as he only wounded the Wampa and didn't want to stick around and risk his life any further. Here, though, he doesn't just cut its arm off, he flat-out kills it, or so he narrates into the communicator to whomever it may concern. This actually makes his decision to go charging out into the deadly Hoth storm even more baffling, since with the Wampa dead, there's not only no immediate danger, and consequently no reason to leave the relative safety of the cave, but its body could potentially furnish him with meat. And yet he goes rushing off to certain doom anyway without anything even resembling a proper explanation...

Brock Peters continues being an awesome Vader, if a needlessly sadistic one. As cool as his dialogue is while he's choking Ozzel ("What you feel is my rage reaching through the screen to kill you!" etc.) it seemed a little uncharacteristically mean-spirited of him. Yeah, I mean, I know complaining that Darth frickin' Vader of all people is being too mean as he cruelly murders someone seems strange, but, well, yeah, Vader kills people all the time, but he usually isn't one to rub it in the way he does with Ozzel here. In the movie he just offed him quickly and was done with it, moving on to the next order of business before Ozzel had even hit the floor. This seemed slightly out of character. I did like how he motivated Veers by making him stay and watch in this version, though; that seemed very in character for him!

More as I get to it!
 
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I had these on audio tape. I remember when Return of the Jedi aired as a special event, I was so stoked. It felt rushed, where the others could take their time. I think that Star Wars and Empire aired weekly back in the early 80's and people tuned in each week to listen to each episode but Jedi they aired in one big block. I wonder if Brian Daley's failing health is part of what led to Jedi getting short shrift.
I agree, it feels rushed and I think you might be right about Daley's failing health being part of the reason for it. I remember Hearing the Leia and her father Episode on the radion, but then they changed the time of when they played the series and I missed the rest of it on the Radio. I think I caught an ESB Episode later with Yoda and Luke. Anyway, since I was able to get them a few years back, I've relly been able to enjoy them.

@Kooshmeister: It's great to hear your reaction to ESB. I really like that opening Scene because I believe that lost convoy was mentioned by Rieken or he made mention of not getting the last shipment of supplies. I like how it Shows how desperate the Rebellion is. The Extended Scenes and added Scenes really round out the whole Story a lot. Looking Forward to Hearing any more comments about the series.
 
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Last week I drove from Pennsylvania to Florida and back and listened to my dvds of the radio dramas to entertain me on the way. I've owned these since they first came out but only listen to them when I have a long drive where I can listen to at least one movie in its entirety.


A few thoughts...

I didn't remember until listening to them this time that Arica (Mara Jade) had a role in the RotJ adaptation.

I thought all the voice actors did a fine job, and while I liked Ann Sachs as Leia, I found her emoting a little grating. I know it has to be exaggerated for radio, but her cries of distress were a bit much at times.

I'm not sure why Wedge was played by an African American actor (Meshach Taylor) in the ANH adaptation, and Lando was played by a white actor (Arye Gross) in the RotJ adaptation.

I didn't realize that Yeardly (Lisa Simpson) Smith was the voice of EV-9D9

There is a Jonathan Penner credited on RotJ - anyone know if that's the Jonathan Penner from Survivor?
 
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I didn't remember until listening to them this time that Arica (Mara Jade) had a role in the RotJ adaptation.
Wow I didn't realize that either.
I have all the Radio Dramas on CD but probably haven't listened to them in nearly 15 years. I should really try and get time to listen to them again.
 
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I started listening to ANH afew days ago. I'm listening to one chapter each night. It's still a lot of fun and I really like how the radio Drama adds a lot to the Overall Story.
 
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