As great as old-time radio is, usually it’s alot easier to pull out single episodes of shows that qualify as “the best” of radio, but whole shows are often difficult to label. This is because most of them are anthologies, which means that no episode has anything to do with any other episode in the series. So big shows like “Suspense”, “Escape”, “Mercury Theater”, and stuff like that are really hard to talk about when taken as a whole. That’s why modern audio drama tends to be alot more entertaining to current audiences: there’s alot more of a call for continuing sagas nowadays, and not so much for anthologies. This show is no exception to that, and it happens to be one of the first bits of modern audio drama that I ever heard. Allow me to introduce you to “The Blackburn Gaslight Adventures”.
“The Blackburn Gaslight Adventures” (BGA for short) premiered in 2012 and continues to release new episodes today. So far the show has released 12 episodes, ranging from 15 to 25 minutes a piece. The story follows Sebastian Blackburn, a British scientist, and his wife Elizabeth, who is from Southern America. The couple lives in the late 19th century in the South, and most of the conflict comes from them fighting villains who are attempting to make scientific breakthroughs, just like Sebastian, but the protagonists want to use the unheard of technology for evil instead of good. Sometimes the motivations lie in the historical background of the show, like influencing the Civil War, and sometimes they have their own plots.
If you’ve been reading the Stories for the Ear series, you might recall that in my first post, about “Speed Gibson”, I said that Gypsy Audio doesn’t do a good job with their action scenes in “Lara Bond: 0012”. Well, Gypsy also makes BGA, and unlike “Lara Bond”, the action in BGA is much better and easier to follow, since most of it comes from the scifi gadgetry, so more freedom is given with the descriptive dialogue, since the characters have to explain to those around them what the strange technology is and how it’s endangering them. It’s a great tactic.
As mentioned before, BGA was one of the first modern audio dramas I ever heard, if not the first. The story is very well-written and engaging, and although the acting and sound quality are a bit lacking, it’s the kind of show that will keep the listener engaged purely off the story if it’s allowed to. Plus, it’s not just scifi: it’s Steampunk. And despite the vivid visual aspect that usually classifies Steampunk apart from other scifi, BGA does a wonderful job of allowing the listener to visualize the Steampunk elements of the show, creating an authentic Steampunk atmosphere without having to see anything at all. It’s almost magical, and BGA is what compelled me to listen to other modern audio dramas.
I’ve been a fan of “The Blackburn Gaslight Adventures” almost since it began, but don’t just take my word for it. Give it a listen yourself! All of the episodes are available on gypsyaudio.org. And check out some of Gypsy’s other shows while you’re there. If you do listen to BGA (or even “Lara Bond” for that matter), let me know what you think in the comments. Happy listening!