What Happened to the Other Guy?

Yes, it’s April 1, but this isn’t a joke, Afoot is back from the grave as it were.

And that question doesn’t refer to Glenn—or does it?—but to Lt. Columbo, one of the rare television characters to become as iconic as Holmes, Poirot, Miss Marple, et al, and almost instantly from his first appearance. Or, well, Peter Falk’s first appearance. Because he wasn’t the first actor to portray the good lieutenant…

The UCLA Film and TV Archive presented a special stream of an episode of The Chevy Mystery Show, a 13 episode summer replacement series from 1960. The title? Enough Rope, written by Richard Levinson and William Link, originally aired July 31, 1960. It is the story they would later expand into a stage play, then a tv movie titled Prescription: Murder. The rest is mystery. History. One of those.

David J. Loehr with Jean MacDonald and James Dempsey


Mysteries We Dropped

We’ve all started reading down mystery series or authors, and then hit a point where we said, “nah, I’m good.” In this episode, we talk about what we gave up on and why, and some we loved all throughout. This comes from a place of love: we enjoyed early installments enough that we kept reading, but something eventually got lost for us. In fact, we often recommend the first few or even several novels, and tell you when the best point to stop is — the subtitle of this episode is “exactly when to stop reading.”

An important note: this episode was accidentally recorded with macabre timing. The first author we discuss on this show, Sue Grafton, passed away while we were recording the episode — that same evening. We obviously didn’t know while recording, and found out the next morning. Thus, we speak about her as a current writer. We’ve edited the episode to remove some discussion about the planned final novel in her series, Z, which her family says wasn’t written and which they won’t hire someone else to write.

Some Afoot news: we haven’t been able to get enough panelists together for regular tapings, so we’re going on hiatus. We will produce episodes occasionally in the future.

Glenn Fleishman with James Callan, Katie Lane, David J. Loehr and Shannon Sudderth


Forget It, Fake, It’s Chinatown

Forty years ago, Neil Simon wrote a pair of parodies in the mystery vein: the 1976 film Murder By Death, which sent up the great movie detectives, and The Cheap Detective in 1978, which took on hard-boiled Bogart characters, like Sam Spade. The two films have a lot in common, including Robert Moore as director, Peter Falk as the Bogie analog, and Madeline Kahn in a wonderful supporting role in each. But the Afoot panel prefers one to the other. Which one? You’ll have to listen to find out.

We have spoiler-free parts of this podcast for each film, so if you just want our overview without any giveaways — hey, they’re parodies, but they’re still mysteries — use the chapter markers in your podcast app or these timestamps:

  • 14:03: We start in on Murder By Death spoilers.
  • 38:59: We blow the unspoiler horn to start talking about The Cheap Detective, spoiler-free.
  • 46:22: Once more, the horn, and we get into the details of The Cheap Detective.

Glenn Fleishman with David J. Loehr, Erika Ensign, John McCoy and Suzi Steffen


When You Come to a Falk in the Road, Take It

The original rumpled detective, Columbo, broke the mold of the urbane cogitator or hardboiled world-weary dick who merely needed to assemble all the clues — and keep from being killed. Nearly every episode of the long-running TV character (across two series and 69 episodes) showed viewers the murder at its start. Columbo, a police detective, is brought in on the case, and we see the killer becoming increasingly agitated as he relentlessly circles his prey. We talk about episodes and actors, and why Falk created an enduring character.

David J. Loehr with James Callan and Jean MacDonald


Phryne with a Fringe on Top

She’s smoothly sensual, a sharp dresser, and has a wicked uppercut. We travel to the Antipodes to visit with Phryne Fisher, the protagonist of a series of 20 murder mystery books and three seasons of an adaptation to television. We like the cut of her jib and the stab of her knife. If you’d like to prep before listening, we read three of the books: Cocaine Blues, our introduction to the cast, which grows and grows; Murder in Montparnasse, which fleshes out her backstory; and Murder in the Dark, which takes place on a rambly country estate and features a sex cult. We fire off the spoiler horn after our initial background discussion.

Glenn Fleishman with Jean MacDonald, Katie Lane, Shannon Sudderth and Suzi Steffen


Bugs Meany Was Framed

We talk about mysteries written for kids, which are often good reads for adults! Among panelists, we count six children at home and all of us remain kids at heart. The episode also features special guest Rex Fleishman for a brief discussion of a series he loves. We have dozens and recommendations, and have tried to list most in the show notes.

Glenn Fleishman with James Callan, Erika Ensign, David J. Loehr and Shannon Sudderth


And We Would Have Recorded Away with It, Too

What’s more appropriate for Halloween than Scooby-Doo? Join Afoot as we recount the nearly 50-year history of the show, talk about our favorite and least-favorite eras, praise voice actors, and dissect the problem with the show switching from old men in rubber masks to real ghosts, zombies, and monsters.

Glenn Fleishman with David J. Loehr and Shannon Sudderth


When a Man’s Partner Is Killed (Several Times)

The Maltese Falcon is one of the noir books that defined the genre. But the first try at making this spare, grim book about a fancy bird into a novel didn’t take. Nor did the second. The third is the one we all recall, with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. And even it’s a bit weird. In this episode, we bring in ringers Dylan Meconis, whose grew up with a Bogart shrine in her home, and Brock Winstead, a Falcon fan.

Glenn Fleishman with Brock Winstead, Dylan Meconis and James Callan


Veronica Mars: Season 1

Veronica Mars is the greatest detective series that many people watched, but clearly not enough! A determined, hard-nosed teenager, Veronica had absolutely no concern about invading the privacy of others in her pursuit of solving a case her father is working on, troubles her classmates brought to her, or getting to the bottom of the season’s overall arc—the murder of her best friend. It’s time to revisit the first season of the show 12 years after it debuted, and a bunch of great fans of the show and one newcomer, the host, talk episodes, characters, themes, and comparisons to other programs. We start off without disclosing anything, then blow the spoiler horn at 13 minutes, 20 seconds into the episode.

Glenn Fleishman with Erika Ensign, James Callan, Jenni Leder and Katie Lane


Heaping Helping of Holmes, Part 2

Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed, parodied, adapted, and extended detective in the history of the genre. In this episode (part 2 of 2), Afoot panelists discuss more of their favorite Holmes' depictions and extensions. This time: Failed TV pilots that use Holmes or Holmes-like characters, the movie Young Sherlock Holmes, House, M.D., Robert Downey, Jr's portrayal in movies, the movie of The Seven-Percent Solution, and the Mary Russell series by Laurie R. King.

Glenn Fleishman with David J. Loehr, Monty Ashley and Shannon Sudderth


Heaping Helping of Holmes, Part 1

Sherlock Holmes is the most portrayed, parodied, adapted, and extended detective in the history of the genre. In this episode (part 1 of 2), Afoot panelists discuss their favorite Holmes’ depictions and extensions. This time: Jeremy Brett, Sherlock (BBC), an episode of Magnum, P.I., the movie They Might Be Giants, Elementary (US TV), and The Great Mouse Detective.

Glenn Fleishman with David J. Loehr, Monty Ashley and Shannon Sudderth


Radio Mystery Shows

From nearly the dawn of broadcast radio came scripted shows, and the biggest genre outside of soap operas were radio mysteries. Remarkably, these not only thrived across dozens and dozens of shows during radio’s heyday, but for decades beyond, into the 1980s. And podcasting has offered some new life, from Thrilling Adventure Hour to…The Incomparable Radio Theater. We discuss our favorite shows, some great episodes, how we grew up with radio mysteries, and where to find them, old and new.

Glenn Fleishman with Monty Ashley and David J. Loehr


Make Mine Marple!

Miss Marple may have been a pioneer crime-tape crosser, but there are oodles of women writing detective fiction and starring in it. In this episode, we talk about our faves, what a woman detective brings to the picture (Miss Fisher!), and introduce folks to perhaps some lesser-known treasures.

Glenn Fleishman with James Callan, Katie Lane, Jean MacDonald and Shannon Sudderth


Good Eve-a-Ning

Welcome to the latest member of The Incomparable family of podcasts: Afoot, the mystery podcast! What makes a mystery a mystery? It’s a genre with a puzzle at the middle, but which takes many forms across all media. Many mystery elements have also percolated out into mainstream fiction and media.

This show will be “genre for people who aren’t genre snobs,” where we will talk books, comic books, television, movies, audio plays, theatre, and more, and stretch boundaries while staying true to the form. We may even play mystery games. We’ll have a number of book-club episodes, too, and announce choices ahead of time so listeners can weigh in or read along.

In this inaugural episode, your host and several panelists describe what sucked them into reading and watching mysteries, and their favorites, and we all discuss what salient factors turn a story into a mystery.

Follow us on Twitter at @afootcast!

Glenn Fleishman with Erika Ensign, David J. Loehr, Shannon Sudderth, Jean MacDonald and James Callan