Thrilling Adventure Hour

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Thrilling Adventure Hour (August 2011) L-R: Josh Malina, Busy Philipps, Marc Evan Jackson, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, and Mark Gagliardi Thrilling Adventure Hour - August 2011 - Photo By LifeofReilly.jpg
Thrilling Adventure Hour (August 2011) L-R: Josh Malina, Busy Philipps, Marc Evan Jackson, Linda Cardellini, Nathan Fillion, and Mark Gagliardi

The Thrilling Adventure Hour was a staged production and podcast in the style of old time radio that was held monthly at Largo, a Los Angeles nightclub located in the former Coronet Theatre. The show ran from March 2005 [1] to April 2015. Each episode featured three non-serialized segments as well as songs and commercials from fictional sponsors. The show was written by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker; and directed by Aaron Ginsburg. The show's original songs were written by Acker & Blacker with the composer and band leader Andy Paley.



The roots of the Thrilling Adventure Hour began in Blacker's living room where he and Acker held a reading of their film script for a space western called Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars. Struck by the quality of the performances, they decided to launch a stage show with a radio conceit, so that the performers had the luxury of holding scripts in their hands and minimal blocking. The conceit allowed Acker and Blacker to not impose too greatly on their actor friends, while maintaining a regular deadline for generating material, honing their craft and workshopping content in front of an audience. [2]

The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour began a five-year run at M Bar in Hollywood in March 2005. The original WorkJuice Players were Dave 'Gruber' Allen, Paget Brewster, Craig Cackowski, Mark Gagliardi, Marc Evan Jackson, Hal Lublin, Annie Savage and Paul F. Tompkins. In episode six, Eban Schletter performed live musical accompaniment. Schletter wrote the theme song to "Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars". In episode seven, the show was joined by Andy Paley. Acker & Blacker and Paley created musical content for the show. Paley arranged Schletter's Sparks Nevada theme and performed themes and songs with his Andy Paley Orchestra, which, at the time, consisted of Jillinda Palmer, Ben Jaffe, and Brittney Westover.

In episode eight, the show was joined by Joel Spence, a Foley artist and actor. Soon thereafter, Aaron Ginsburg joined as director. Shortly after that, Samm Levine, Danny Strong, and John DiMaggio joined the cast. Then James Urbaniak, John Ennis and Autumn Reeser. The band Common Rotation made a guest appearance on the show and played afterwards. Common Rotation became a regular staple following the Thrilling Adventure Hour. Marc Evan Jackson hosted Common Rotation's segment, which featured songs performed by Common Rotation as well as WorkJuice players and guest stars.

The final performance of The Thrilling Adventure and Supernatural Suspense Hour at M Bar was in January 2010. In March 2010, The Thrilling Adventure Hour shortened its title and started its run at Largo at the Coronet where it continued. [3] Beginning in January 2011, the Thrilling Adventure Hour began podcasting sketches from past performances. [4] In January 2011, the cast took the show on the road for the first time and performed two shows at SF Sketchfest. [5] In October 2011, the Thrilling Adventure Hour podcast joined the network of podcasts released by Chris Hardwick's Nerdist Industries.

At SDCC 2014, Thrilling Adventure Hour performed a live crossover show with the cast of Welcome to Night Vale titled "Thrilling Adventure Hour & Welcome to Night Vale Crossover", which was released for sale on Night Vale's Bandcamp and the iTunes music store on October 1, 2014. [6]

In 2015, it was announced that after 10 years of live monthly Thrilling Adventure Hour stage performances, the last such performance would be April 11, 2015. [7] [8] Also announced, was that there will be two new monthly comics in the Sparks Nevada and Beyond Belief storylines, starting February 2015. The podcast will continue in the form of audio versions of the comic books.

TheThrilling Adventure Hour returned for new episodes in October 2018.[ citation needed ]

Recurring segments

Most episodes include both "Sparks Nevada" and "Beyond Belief". Normally "Sparks Nevada" begins a show and "Beyond Belief" ends the show.

"Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars"

"Sparks Nevada" is a Space Western set a thousand years in the future.


  • "The Red Plains Rider"
    • Starring Busy Philipps as The Red Plains Rider
  • "Cactoid Jim, King of the Martian Frontier"
    • Starring Nathan Fillion as Cactoid Jim
  • Tales of the Troubleshooters
    • Starring Jenny Wade as Mercy Laredo
  • "Those Jupiter Janeens!"
    • Starring Paul F. Tompkins as Jib Janeen
  • "Tales of the United Solar System Alliance"
    • Starring James Urbaniak as Captain Gene Peeples of the Starship Orsino.

"Beyond Belief"

Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster play Frank and Sadie Doyle, a pair of fast-talking married mediums in the vein of Nick and Nora Charles. Although this pair of high-society types would rather enjoy martinis and each other's company, Frank and Sadie usually end up solving paranormal mysteries. Hal Lublin has regularly acted as the announcer for the segment.

The Chronopatrol Universe

While not an official title, the Chronopatrol Universe is a convenient way to refer to several mid-show segments that share characters and themes.

Captain Laserbeam


  • "Phillip Fathom, The Deep Sea Detective" - He is the sub-aquatic darkness. He is the Abyssopelagic layer. He exerts the pressure of justice on the metazoic creatures who lurk in the deep. He is the hero the ocean deserves. He is your semiamphibious knight. AND HIS PARENTS DIED AT SEA!!
    • Starring Hal Lublin as Phillip Fathom

Other segments

Episodes of The Thrilling Adventure Hour tend to include one of the following segments. [9]



The Thrilling Adventure Hour began podcasting in January 2011. That same year, it became a member of the Nerdist Podcast Network. [4] [10] [11] The podcast stopped producing episodes in April 2015. [12] After a hiatus of a few years, the podcast was brought back on the Forever Dog podcast network, with the back catalog found on the show's Patreon.

Additional releases

The fourth season DVD of Castle features video of two episodes guest-starring people from the show—a Sparks Nevada with Molly Quinn, and a Cactoid Jim with Nathan Fillion as well as a behind-the-scenes documentary about the live show.

A graphic novel featuring stories based on each segment was released in 2013, [13] and a concert film recording of one performance was released in spring 2015. [14]

In October 2014, Image Comics digitally released two comics, both previews of 4 issue mini-series for Sparks Nevada and Beyond Belief. "The Sad, Sad Song of Widow Johnson" is a prequel to the canonical story of Sparks Nevada. Issue #4 of Beyond Belief was never released in print by Image Comics but is available digitally on Boom Studios took over the property in 2018, releasing a collected edition of the Beyond Belief miniseries and Issue #1 in a new run of Thrilling Adventure Hour stories. [15]

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  12. "Podcasts worth listening to". CNET. Retrieved December 18, 2022.
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  14. @comedyfilmnerds (June 1, 2015). "Thrilling Adventure Hour Concert DVD is here!" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  15. "A New Thrilling Adventure Hour Begins In July". Boom Studios. March 27, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.