Sunday, January 12, 2014

Old Time Radio: The Lone Ranger (1933)

The Lone Ranger marked his 80th birthday rather inauspiciously last year, with a travesty of a movie, previously reviewed, that didn't do the character or Tonto justice at all. The less said about that one, the better.

So, let's go all the way back to the beginning. The Lone Ranger was one of three classic series developed and broadcast at WXYZ radio in Detroit. Sources differ on who actually created the Ranger, be it station owner George Trendle, or series head writer Fran Striker, who was, in fact, credited as the series creator when Lone Ranger came to television more than 15 years later.

We've already gone over the story. The Ranger is John Reid, lone survivor of a Texas Ranger ambush at the hands of outlaw Butch Cavendish. Nursed back to health by Tonto, he begins his crusade for justice by avenging the death of his fellow Rangers, then continued the fight for law & order in the early West. Thanks to Striker and/or Trendle, The Green Hornet is in fact a great-nephew of the Ranger, a fact all but ignored in William Dozier's 1966 adaptation of that series.

Here, we have an episode from July 4, 1938, with Earle Graser as the Ranger, and John Todd as Tonto.

In the 70's, WQBK-AM (now WGDJ-AM) in Albany began running repeats of classic radio shows, and Lone Ranger aired in the afternoons, but with Brace Beemer as the Ranger. Beemer was the announcer at first, then stepped into the title role upon Graser's passing. As memory serves, Lone Ranger was part of an afternoon block with Gang Busters and The Shadow. It wasn't long after that cable television came to the Albany area, and reruns of the TV show, airing on WPIX in a block with Batman & Adventures of Superman, were an after-school staple. Today, those reruns are airing somewhere.....

Rating: A.

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