Monday, May 07, 2018

Radio Greats: The Brooklyn Brain (2000 Plus)

But Carl, doesn't it give you satisfaction to know that, because of our invention, there is one dog in this city that knows the Einstein theory?

2000 Plus was put out by the Mutual Broadcasting System from March 1950 to January 1952. It was the very first experiment in an attempt to design a science fiction radio program that would appeal to adults. Unlike most other such programs, it used all-original material. The series has not weathered time particularly well; out of eighty-eight episodes, we only even know the titles of less than half, and of those only about half seem to have survived.

It's a pity, because what we do have is quite excellent in quality: good actors, interesting and distinctive stories, and good effects. The series is quite entertaining, which is itself interesting since its stories are usually dystopic and skeptical about technological progress.

Of those I have heard, "The Brooklyn Brain" is far and away the best, and this seems to be a common view among others who have heard episodes from the series. I would go so far as to say that it is perhaps one of the best comic science fiction episodes ever done. It is often hilariously funny.

Joe from Brooklyn is a not-very-bright guy with little education who works in a particularly dull job. He has his eyes set on a girl, Clarice, and has proposed to her, but she's the kind of girl who likes 'culture', as she calls it. So when he discovers an advertisement for an experiment in learning things without teachers and tutors, he writes in. Scientists are going to beam knowledge of art directly into his brain by electric shocks. Everybody involved gets made fun of, from the hapless Joe, to the absurdly pretentious Clarice, to the scientists who are absolutely certain it will work but make transparent excuses for not trying it on themselves.

You can listen to "The Brooklyn Brain" at Internet Archive (#6 on that list).

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