This week I wanted to share with you a fine example of the pulp adventure genre, called The Dixie Stenberg and Brassy Battalion Adventure Theater. This show is a Pendant Audio Production and a grand tribute to the pulp-adventure radio serials of yesteryear, with a modern sense of humor. Pendant Audio also brought us another original series “Once Upon a Time in Vegas“ Which I have also reviewed.
So gather round the Podcaster kids! Its time to break out those action figures and turn up the dial…
Have You Heard?…
“In the early Spring of 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the formation of a clandestine group of P47 Thunderbolts. This group was known as The First Brassy Battalion Fighter Squadron, and this is their story…” – From the Introduction
In case you are confused, Umket Industries is the fictional company that “sponsors” the Dixie radio show. This production is with out a doubt 100% Pendant Audio. Dixie Stenberg is a tribute to Old Time Radio, and most every company sponsored a radio show back in the golden age of radio. In addition, Umket industries is often woven into the show as many sponsors were in those days. Like many modern audio dramas, each episode of this show is available for free on iTunes (or direct from the Pendant Audio website) and each episode runs roughly 20 minuets to a half hour, which is coincidentally the length of the average commute to work.
This show has all the hallmarks of classic pulp adventure and revolves around Dixie Stenberg, a female test pilot who leads a top secret squadron of P47 Thunderbolts, Known as the “Brassy Battalion”. Their planes are made from a shiny brassy alloy and have the unique ability to “Geo-Slip” or teleport great distances.
Dixie and The Brassy Battalion quickly find an enemy in the Society for the Continuation of Aggression and Ruination” aka S.C.A.R. S.C.A.R. has agents all over the world and the Brassy Battalion soon find themselves fighting enemies within and without. Traitors, Nazis and teleportation devices abound in this fun loving “Saturday morning” style adventure serial.
While Dixie Stenberg may get top billing, this is an ensemble cast and keeping all the characters straight can be difficult at first but after a few episodes it becomes much easier. Each pilot has a story all their own like Dixie Stenberg the hard fighting, pants wearing, leader of Squadron. Joey Scalzetti is the New York tough guy turned pilot who makes regular phone calls to his mom. Freudenberg is the German mechanical whiz who defected to America to fight the Nazis. And of course there’s Lily LaRue, a Canadian “dancer” turned pilot and Nazi fighter.
I found Dixie Stenberg and Brassy Battalion to be a cleverly executed show, with all the appropriate levels of high camp (the Umket Industries commercials are hysterical… “Remember Folks! Eat Irradiated Soy Flour from Umket Industries… The more you eat, the more Nazis you can fight!”) and yet the story its self is full of everything you come to expect from classic pulp adventure like Nazis, high flying aerial dogfights, secret bases and not one, but two fighting robots! It is in short, a fun loving tribute and well worth a listen, when your looking for some lighthearted adventure.
There were some negatives, but I didn’t find them overwhelming. My main complaint is with the audio clarity of some of the dialog. While the audio quality is good, there are a few times especially episode 13, when actors could not be heard clearly. I also noticed that Dixie Stenberg changed voice actresses somewhere around episode 12. The change worked quite well from an acting standpoint, Rene Christine Jones was able to keep alot of the same speech patterns and sounds remarkably similar to the previous Dixie, but the “new” Dixie often sounded muted and “tinny” to my ear. I don’t hold too much against the show for this, since that’s a technical issue, and not a flaw in the story or acting.
On the whole I would recommend this show to others, its a creative, funny and fitting tribute to all those high flying pulp serials of the golden age of radio. Bravo, Pendant Audio!