The Great Detectives of Old Time Radio Blog site had some nice words to say about CRT's full-cast radio drama Zorro and the Pirate Raiders.
If you grew up in the 1950s, when you think of Zorro as Guy Williams in the Disney series. Or if you grew up in the late 80s and early 90s, Duncan Regehr may have provided your vision of Zorro. Others may remember Antonio Banderas as Zorro and for many classic film buffs, it is without a doubt Douglas Fairbanks who defines the character in the silent film version.
Zorro did make it to radio in 1957, in a short-lived serial based on the Curse of Capistrano, however only two episodes of this series survive.
Zorro has been interpreted and reinterpreted so many times throughout the years that it's hard to remember that Zorro originiated in the pulp magazines in stories by Johnston McCulley. may have passed Zorro by for the most part, modern producers of radio drama have picked up the torch.
The Colonial Radio Theatre brought two of these stories to radio in Zorro and the Pirate Raiders and Zorro Rides Again.
In Zorro and the Pirate Raiders, the commandante of the pueblo, Captain Ramon, forms an alliance with cutthroat pirates to raid the pueblo and split the booty. Ramon also orders the pirates to kill Don Diego de la Vega and kidnap his bride-to-be. Zorro thwarts the attack on Don Diego with the help of other caballeros and then pursues the pirates across the sea.
In Zorro Rides Again, Zorro has retired after The Pirate Raiders but is forced to return when an imposter begins to commit injustices in the name of Zorro. Zorro must clear his name and find the imposter before friends turn against him and the government executes.
These Zorro productions are superb swashbuckling adventures. Each feature length adventure was filled with action, adventure, and surprise twists throughout the story. The sound effects were amazing, and help to transport you back to Old California.
There were differences between this production and most Zorro adaptations. The biggest was that Zorro had allies: twenty caballeros who fought alongside him. This is a stark difference between modern productions which have Zorro fighting a lone battle against evil, which has become the trend. However, the CRT's version of Zorro remains faithful to the original vision of McCulley.
Zorro and his caballeros are courageous and gallant, living by a code of honor. McCulley's vision of Zorro was as a North American version of the knights of old and this really shows through in the Colonial Radio Theater production. The cast from the stars to their supporting players were all excellent. In particular, Sam Donato shined in the role of Sergeant Garcia. Oftentimes, the role of the Sergeant in Zorro is often played as buffoon or coward, but Donato's portrayal was more nuanaced, and there was a lot more to Sergeant Garcia than meets these eyes.
There were very few flaws in these productions, and they were a result of being faithful to the source material, so I can't complain about them. I will say that when a radio drama features a fight between two guys with knives in their mouths, the theater of the mind has to work overtime to supply the images.
Overall, these are great productions that represent Zorro as he was meant to be and provide hours of fun and excitement.
Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0
Zorro fans also be sure to check out The Mark of Zorro radio drama as well.