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THE REAL MYSTERY BEHIND
By Tom Soter
I have no memory of the making or creation of MYSTERIOUS ADVENTURES. It's certainly one of the most atmospheric and yet pedestrian suspense shows Christian Doherty and I ever produced.
It is an early series - from 1969 – before our voices got deeper (which explains why on most of the initial episodes, Christian is playing girls). But beyond that, it's never clear what the program is about. The heroine – if she can be called that – is Josephine "Grandmother" Moses, the "best trunk murderess in the business," according to one of her colleagues, although what a "trunk murderess" does is never explained. Unless it's driving people mad by making threatening phone calls with cryptic questions (Grandmother: "Why?" Marie: "Why what?" Grandmother: "Why are you alive?" Or, "Will you join us in our little plan?" "What plan?" "To kill you").
Grandmother is the most unsympathetic creation in Doherty's oeuvre. She just exists to kill, threaten, and connive, along with her dim-witted grandson Oliver (my recurring role), who likes to recite a Robert Howard poem ("One fled, one dead, one sleeping on a golden bed"). She apparently works for the Mafia – though there's not an Italian to be heard, and the headman is called No. 1 not Godfather – but she seems to freelance a lot, and in one episode even hints at being a vampire (she does sleep in a coffin).
The series seems, at times, to take ts inspiration from women's suspense pictures (like SORRY, WRONG NUMBER) in which a young girl is menaced by an unseen villain. Yet at other times, it has echoes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE ("But, my dear, you are dead," says a character in an illogical surprise ending to one installment) and sci-fi invasion movies of the 1950s.
In fact, the three invaders episodes (Episodes 2, 6, and 7) offer some of the best moments of the series, thanks in part to the addition of Tom Sinclair as the money-hungry Klingon Grave. His fanatical ravings for cash (anticipating his later character on I HEX) bring a welcome spark of crazy humor to this somber, murderous show. We couldn't have enjoyed making it much, either. It was one of the few series that we actually cancelled after only one season of eight episodes. I guess even Oliver's poetry recitals couldn't save it.
Pilot episode: Fragment
This is all that remains of the pilot episode of the series.
Louise Sorel portrays Josephine "Grandmother" Moses, a Mafia trunk murderess. Tonight: Marie Dexter (Naomi Madison) is hunted down by Grandmother and Oliver. Oliver: Tom Soter.
Grandmother faces the threat of deadly invaders from outer space. Grandmother: Louise Sorel. Oliver: Tom Soter. Magician of Horror: Ty Phillips.
Patricia Grave arrives at her uncle's house to find her uncle presumed dead and a woman named Grandmother in charge. Grandmother: Louise Sorel.
Grandmother (Louise Sorel) seeks revenge against the three men who betrayed her in a bank robbery 20 years before. Oliver: Tom Soter.
In an homage to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, ten potential beneficiaries of the late Uncle Grave's will are being systematically killed. Sam Kropie: Christian Doherty.
Taped: December 27, 1969.
In the first of a two-part episode, the alien invaders return with a plan to freeze the earth. Clement Hobard: Patrick Johnson.
Taped: July 27, 1970.
In the conclusion of a two-parter, Grandmother (Louise Sorel) seeks out the help of Klingon Grave to best the invaders. Klingon: Tom Sinclair. Oliver Tom Soter.
Taped: July 30, 1970.
In the final episode of the series, Grandmother resigns from the Mafia - even though No.1 insists that no one quits his organization and lives. Assassin: Ty Phillips.
Behind the Scenes
ACD newsman Harry Reason hosts a comic look behind the scenes at MYSTERIOUS ADVENTURES.