Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1946: The Talking CatReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: January 09, 1946-January 28, 1946
"The Talking Cat"
With Mister Jones and the Laugher in prison and their Kryptonite destroyed, Superman has returned to the Daily Planet in his guise of Clark Kent. However, all is far from quiet. Lois Lane, who has been acting strangely lately, has resigned from the newspaper and has just pulled a gun on editor Perry White. A bullet is targeting the chief, but Clark blocks the projectile. Perry thinks Kent has been shot, but the reporter convinces him and the confused Jimmy Olsen that he's uninjured.
Lois has just revived after fainting. She is attempting to explain her unusual behavior. Lois had received a Siamese cat for Christmas from an admiring reader. Since then, she has had moments when her brain feels like it's on fire. She hasn't been able to control her actions when the incidents occur. This all started when she had heard the feline speaking. Clark and the others have their doubts, and Miss Lane is questioning her sanity. Lois and her co-workers go to see the cat to make sure it talks. As one would expect, no words are heard from the animal.
Lois is now trying to rest after her friends have left her apartment. She thinks to be mistaken about hearing the cat talk after discussing it with Perry, Clark and Jimmy. However, it begins to speak again about Perry White being her enemy. It tells her that her life is in danger as she stifles a scream of terror.
Clark, Perry and Jimmy have returned to the newspaper offices. Perry gives Clark and Jimmy new wristwatches that were given to them by Mister John W. Grayson, the publisher of the Daily Planet, for Christmas. Perry and Lois had gotten theirs while Jimmy and Clark were away on the Mister Jones case. The trio also discusses Lois' mental condition when Perry's secretary enters the editor's office. Lois has just called to say that the Siamese cat talked. The hysteric star reporter is going to visit her friends Lucille and Harry Markham in the Metropolis suburb of Forest Heights in order to get much needed rest. In the meantime, Lois wants Clark to look over the fawn-colored feline.
Jimmy and Clark are now examining the cat and Lois' apartment for any devices that might transmit a voice that would make the star reporter think that she heard the animal speak. They find nothing, and Jimmy decides to take the cat home with him while Lois is visiting the Markhams.
Perry's secretary has just called Clark at Lois' apartment. Lucille Markham has called the newspaper to speak urgently with the mild mannered reporter. Clark calls Mrs. Markham to find out that Lois has not yet arrived. She was expected three hours ago, and Forest Heights is only forty-five minutes from Lois' apartment.
It's been six hours since Lois Lane had disappeared. The cab driver Joe Ross has been found. He was asleep and his taxi had gone missing when a policeman named Officer Heally had brought him to Inspector Henderson, who is talking with Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen. Ross had picked up Lois at 11:30 this morning. After some time, Lois had fallen asleep in the car. A funeral hearse had passed the cab and crowded its path until it stopped. A tall, thin man dressed in tails and a high silk hat approached the taxi. His yellow-hued face made him look like a dead person. The strange man asked for the location of Pleasant Valley Cemetery. He wanted to ask Lois, but she was still asleep. The hearse driver even believed she was dead. The next thing Ross knew, he was awakened on a street curb by Heally. Unfortunately for Joe Ross, the Pleasant Valley Cemetery does not exist in Metropolis or anywhere else near the city.
Two hours later, Jimmy is telling his mother about the unusual events. She then goes to bed while the cub reporter stays up with the Siamese Cat. The words coming from the feline startle him.
"You're in danger, Jim. Beware of Perry White. He'll do to you what he did to Lois Lane."
Jimmy is in the offices of the Daily Planet the next morning. Perry wants to see the cub reporter, but he's clearly scared of the chief. Jimmy tells Perry of the Siamese cat talking to him the night before. The exasperated editor does everything, including taking the feline to Doctor Armstruthers, head veterinarian for the Metropolis Zoo, to convince the young man that the cat cannot speak. Nothing seems to be working. In an effort to prove that the animal can't talk, Perry orders that Jimmy and the cat stay with him tonight.
Jimmy is taking a shower in Mister White's suburban home when he hears the editor scream. Young Olsen learns that Perry has just heard the cat talk. Both he and Jimmy are shocked when more words come from the Siamese. This time, Lois Lane's voice comes from the fawn-colored animal, and she's calling for help.
Unable to contact Clark Kent, Perry and Jimmy are going to 807 Myrtle Drive, an address given to them by Lois' voice. They find it to be a old, deserted shack. Despite their fears, White and Olsen go into the creepy, dark house. However, in their search for Lois, they hear witch-like laughter and whispering voices call their names. Perry and Jimmy get turned around in the darkness of the shack. Mister White loses his matches, but Jimmy remembers that he brought his fountain pen flashlight. Nobody is in the house with Jimmy and Perry. They don't find the source of the laughing and voices, but a cat meows before Lois calls for help once again.
Jimmy thinks he knows what's happening. The ancient Egyptians believed that people turned into cats after dying. Lois could possibly be dead and transformed into a feline. Jimmy is too scared to go with Perry to search further for Lois, but he decides to follow the editor anyway. However, when Mister White calls, the cub reporter is nowhere to be found in the ink black darkness. Now, both Jimmy and Lois have disappeared.
Clark Kent is questioning Perry's fat chef Poco, who only speaks in rhymes, on the whereabouts of the chief and Jimmy. After much irritating poetry, Poco eventually tells Clark of 807 Myrtle Drive. He arrives there as Superman and helps Perry search for Jimmy, but, according to the Man of Steel's superhuman eyes, he's not even in the house anymore. Nobody was in the house with them as there are only two sets of footprints in the thick dust on the old floor.
Suddenly, both Superman and Perry hear Jimmy speak. He calls for help and says he's with Lois. Unfortunately, even Superman is baffled. He does not know where the voice is coming from. His superhuman senses find nothing out of the ordinary until he sees a trap door that only leads to a small hole. However, it's too little for an escape route. Perry goes back to the paper to call Inspector Henderson while Superman searches for Lois and Jimmy.
It is now midnight. Neither Superman nor Inspector Henderson have found Jimmy and Lois. Clark Kent has returned to the Daily Planet. Perry is calling Jimmy's mother to let her know that her son is missing, but she tells him that the cub reporter is home in bed.
Perry and Clark are at Jimmy's house talking with his mother at 1:00 AM. They are baffled about why the cub reporter never told them that he was at home. Mrs. Olsen says that she didn't see Jimmy, but she heard him come home. However, when Perry and Clark enter the young man's room, they only find a black cat. Perry is now agitated to the point that it startles Mrs. Olsen, who now sees the dark feline where her son should be. Stifling his editor, Clark tells Jimmy's mother that the cub reporter is on an assignment.
Determined to solve this strange mystery, Clark brings Lois' Siamese cat and an extremely nervous Perry to his apartment. It's 2:45 AM, and Kent is convinced that the fawn-colored feline will talk right now. It doesn't, but Clark sees a Coupe that had followed him and Perry when they had taken the Siamese cat from the editor's suburban home. He thinks the cat's voice is coming from the car. The car drove away as if to prove the mild mannered reporter wrong.
Seeing that Perry's new watch is broken, Clark is about to give the editor his timepiece. Suddenly, the cat warns Clark about Perry like it did for Lois and Jimmy. He asks Perry to go into the bedroom thinking that something the editor has was the source of the speaking. He is again mistaken, but he believes he knows how to solve this unusual riddle. Looking at the watches given to him and Perry by Mister Grayson, Clark realizes that the timepieces were the sources of the voices heard by Lois, Jimmy and Perry.
Clark and Perry are examining the reporter's watch and attempting to figure out how voices were transmitted through the miniature radio found inside. They were broadcasted on a low frequency so as not to be found by the government. At first, Clark thinks the Coupe was sending the cat's words, but he then remembers seeing the funeral hearse that the cab driver Joe Ross had seen before Lois had disappeared. It was on the street too far from his apartment.
Clark has left Perry in his apartment to follow the hearse as Superman. Only the tall man is inside the car, which is traveling at great speeds. The automobile runs a red light and crashes into another vehicle, whose driver isn't injured. With the aid of a taxi driver, Superman pulls the tall man from the hearse. Unfortunately, he may not be able to learn where Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen were taken. The tall man is now dead.
Inspector Henderson and Perry White have arrived at the scene of the hearse accident. Clark Kent is showing them the broken shortwave radio transmitter. Kent explains the recent events to the inspector. Further investigations find nothing about the tall hearse driver. The only lead that Henderson, Perry and Clark have is Mister Grayson. They feel that he can tell them where he had purchased the watches that contained the miniature radio receivers. Unfortunately, according to his butler Thomas, Grayson left for Europe by clipper plane at midnight. Clark suddenly thinks of something and leaves Henderson and Perry.
In an abandoned warehouse not far from the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen are being held in a dark room, where they hear the meow of a cat. Jimmy, who was captured when he fell through the trap door Superman had discovered in the old house on 807 Myrtle Drive, is trying to console the frantic Miss Lane. A plump, middle-aged, pasty-faced man named Mister Cedric Ames and his partner Herbert listen to Jimmy and Lois on a dictograph and smile. They are intent on making both Lois and Jimmy think that they have lost their minds.
Superman has found and questioned Mister Grayson about the radio watches. The publisher says that he bought the timepieces at Croiser's Jewelry Store in the district of High Meadows Metropolis where he lives. Clark Kent asks Mister Croiser about the watches in a way that tells him that he knows about the talking cat and radio set. He wants Croiser to fix his watch so he can hear Lois and Jimmy. Croiser tells Clark that he sold similar watches to Grayson, but none of them had radios in them. Clark says that he will check with the watch manufacturer before returning with the police. Croiser calls Mister Ames when Clark leaves. Clark had hoped for this and resumed his true identity as the Man of Steel. Superman now wants to speak with Mister Croiser about Ames.
Mister Ames is speaking with Herbert, who is worried. Ames wants to leave Metropolis and eliminate Lois and Jimmy. Ames wants revenge on the Daily Planet staff for sending him to prison for the subversive activities of his racist newspaper that had spread hate propaganda. He had ordered radios placed in the Christmas watches to make everyone think that they were going insane, but Clark was able to figure out the talking cat ruse. The drivers of the Coupe and funeral hearse were Ames' henchmen. Ames is about to shoot Jimmy and Lois when Superman bursts in to stop him. Inspector Henderson and his men have now arrested Ames and Herbert thanks to Superman and his friends.
Lois, Clark and Jimmy are having fun joking around about the talking cat incident in Miss Lane's office when Clark receives a phone call from Bruce Wayne, who is really Batman. He wants Kent to come alone to police headquarters. Once there, Wayne asks where Clark was on three separate occasions. Clark cannot remember what he did on those nights. On the dates mentioned, three small bank robberies occurred. The stolen money was given to three different charities. The trio of bank vaults had their doors ripped opened as if by a person with superhuman strength, and a lot of money was left behind.
Suddenly, Bruce receives a call. Last night, ten thousand dollars was taken from the Linhaven National Bank. A witness had seen a man in a blue costume and red cape come out of the bank with a sack full of money. "Is There Another Superman?" Both Batman and Superman will ask this question, boys and girls, as this baffling mystery deepens next week in The Adventures of Superman.
Jackson Beck returns to narrate the final chapter.
Lois talks about her sister Diana in "The Talking Cat." It would later be established in future incarnations of the Superman characters that Lois' sister is named Lucy.
One thing really irritated me about "The Talking Cat." That's the character of Poco. He makes one long for the quiet dignity of Jar Jar Binks from the Star Wars prequels. His rhyming gets on the listeners' nerves after about two seconds. I found myself wishing that Clark would burn Poco to death with his heat vision, but the radio version of Superman doesn't have that power yet, so I'll settle for a superhuman punch in Poco's mouth. I especially wanted to kick the writers when Bud Collyer started rhyming after his talking to the fat cook. What were they thinking when Poco was created? Unfortunately, I get the feeling that we haven't seen the last of him. I shudder in disgust for his next appearance.
On a small side note, I kept picturing Angus Scrimm in my mind when the tall funeral hearse driver appeared. Scrimm played the Tall Man in Don Cascarelli's Phantasm films. That's what I get for growing up in a small Ohio farming community with a steady diet of comic books and sci-fi and horror films to warp my mind. I'll probably have mental images of Robert Englund when I listen to the next serial.
"The Talking Cat" has elements that seem to come from episodes of The Shadow and The Green Hornet radio programs, but they also function perfectly for The Adventures of Superman. There's the creepy atmosphere of one of Lamont Cranston's tales blended in with the mystery and action that Britt Reid's alter ego has always stumbled upon. They're mixed together with everything that make classic Superman radio serials great, and all the parts work well together.
The aforementioned Poco aside, "The Talking Cat" is a great serial. I wasn't expecting this after being somewhat disappointed with "Looking For Kryptonite." Sure, the solution to the mystery was easy to predict, but it was still fun to see if I foresaw the correct answer to the enigma. This has always been true of the some of best stories in the Superman radio show. The title of this arc made me believe that it would be silly, but it is quite the opposite. This saga was simply, if you'll pardon the pun, super.
The absence of Jackson Beck can be felt in the vast majority of "The Talking Cat." The other narrators do a fine job, but they lack the charisma and excitement Beck put into his delivery when telling a story in The Adventures of Superman. Very few announcers have Beck's ability to make the audience feel that Superman and his friends are in for the biggest adventure of their lives. That's how good he is at his job.
The second half of the last chapter gives us a taste of what will happen next week when Batman and Superman ask "Is There Another Superman?" I honestly have to say that I'm curious about what will happen. We'll find out together in seven days or so, Superfans. Until then, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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