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Picks and Pans Review: Star Wars on Radio

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Parents who listened to such radio-drama classics as The Lone Ranger, The Green Hornet, Captain Midnight, The FBI in Peace and War and Sergeant Preston—and who remember how radio engaged their imagination—may enjoy steering their children to this 13-part National Public Radio series running weekly in some 200 cities. Star Wars director George Lucas donated the rights to his title and characters to series co-producer KUSC-FM, a station run by his alma mater, the University of Southern California, and the plots follow his original film with a few variations. For one, Luke Skywalker’s boyhood friend, Biggs, is introduced; for another, Princess Leia is captured by Darth Vader. Two members of the movie cast—Mark Hamill as Luke and Anthony Daniels as the android C-3PO—appear in the radio version, along with Perry King as Han Solo, Ann Sachs as Leia and Brock Peters taking over James Earl Jones’ ominous voicing of Darth Vader. Though radio accentuates Hamill’s all-encompassing weaknesses as an actor, the rest of the cast is proficient, and the experiment of trying to turn such a spectacularly visual film into an aural experience is laudable. Those who have seen the movie will fill in the “right” images for the sound effects, of course, but it’s more than possible that even the eight—or is it nine?—American youngsters who have yet to see the film can enjoy the radio plays. They may even get more out of them by imagining their own alien planets, spaceships, monsters and heroes. Check local radio listings for day and time of the broadcast.