on February 8, 2005
The Adventures of Harry Nile, this volume included, ranks among the best detective shows ever on radio. The show has the gripping mystery of such programs as "Suspense" while being easier to follow. Although the mystery can sometimes be a little easy to figure out, "The Adventures of Harry Nile" creates interesting situations without becoming hard for a newcomer to radio drama to understand. However, since the writer is not consistent with the year the episodes take place in (one will take place in 1959, the next in 1952, the next in 1953, etc.) a caracature of Harry's personality will help listeners understand who Harry is and why he is this way
I was drawn to "The Adventures of Harry Nile" just after I had started listening to the first radio series I actually enjoyed. I stumbled upon a broadcast of the series and followed ever episode from 1998 until 2002. I soon found that I could listen to and follow the series when I still had trouble when listening to a number of the Old Time Radio shows (I had trouble with such serieses as "Suspense" and "Escape"). As a matter of fact, I had not really tried following such series yet.
Harry Nile's story mostly fits the type for radio and movie detectives. Poor, having few friends, and stuggling with a gambling and alcohol addiction, Harry becomes a person who people can identify with. Thus, he also more or less fits the 1940's and 1950's mold for a private eye. Harry differs from the stereotype by not being very sarcastic and being much nicer (even taking cases for free, to the dismay of his secretary).
Harry is a former cop, having been a rookie in 1939. He went into the force to help bust the bad guys. Thus we have the reason he becomes so angry when people commit murder. Crime makes him angry. This makes sense because his family had frequent problems with the mob while he was growing up.
About the same time he gets inducted into the Internal Affairs aspect of the force, he is invited by his partner to take some of the money that his partner gets from a bar owner. The partner gets five dollars a week, while the chief gets three, and Harry is to get two dollars. Needless to say, Harry turns his partner in.
Around this time, Harry falls for a beautiful black singer, ironically from the bar that Harry's partner is taking money from. Harry gets a number of people telling him to ditch her, including his partner and Harry's father, solely because of her race. However, the two, being in love, get married by a Justice of the Peace (they cannot find a minister).
Anyhow, Harry's experience turning in his fellow associates in the police force angers a couple of crooked cops. One episode establishes that, early on in thier relationship, Harry's wife gets murdered. A brawl breaks out at the bar she works at and one of them wants to get revenge by shooting her. By 1940, Harry is widowed.
Another story (the show is a spin- off from a series called "Crisis" and this is the first Harry Nile story) has an angered cop, someone angered by his involvment in Internal Affairs, chasing Harry to L.A. By this time Harry has become a private eye due to the fact that he did not get along with his fellow officers when he turned his partner in. The former officer is so mad at Harry he shoots Harry's landlord, mistaking the two.
Harry Nile has been on radio, more or less, since 1976. He disappeared from radio in 1979, reappearing in the early ninties. The mysteries frequently are such that they are a little easy to figure out. I can think of one episode, for example, where the culpret is a cop and the mystery is pretty much solved a good five minutes before Harry reveals who the bad guy is. However, this is somthing the series has going for it. When people are first starting to enjoy radio drama, taking in the story becomes a little hard to do. As one psychologist told me, stuff that is heard is interpreted by one side of the brain. Stuff that is seen is interpreted by the other side. TV involes both sides, making it easy to watch. However, radio and books are only interpreted by one side of the brain, and when someone sits down to follow a story through such means, both sides of the brain want to be engaged in the activity and the person has to learn how to make their imagination engage the other side of their brain.
The means that serieses like "The Adventures of Harry Nile" are a good way to introduce people to radio drama. The ease with which people can follow the Harry Nile stories, as well as other shows created and produced by Jim French, makes the series attractive to newcomers to radio drama. They can follow the story due to the way the story is told. Yet, the show produces interesting mysteries that will engage the mind of the person who is used to radio drama. They have involved my mind, and still do so to this day, even when the mystery is one I can figure out on my own. I may not still be able to follow the series. I have not been able to hear an episode made since 2003. However, having been on Imagination Theater's subscription club and having bought two sets of episodes like this one, I can enjoy the episodes of "The Adventures of Harry Nile" to this day