Who am I trying to kid? I'm hooked on this blogging stuff. I didn't even make it a full week! But I just couldn't stand the idea that somebody out there might really need to know that S.O.S. COAST GUARD is a very good serial, and I don't want to let them down. Ralph Byrd is Coast Guard Lt. Terry Kent, who's trying to prevent evil scientist Dr. Boroff (Bela Lugosi) from getting the ingredients to make a disintegrating gas. Terry fails at that (no huge surprise), so then he has to find the plant where Boroff is making the gas and keep him from selling it to agents from the evil European country Morovania. Other than the disintegrating gas, this is actually a pretty realistic serial, with lots of underwater action on the sunker liner Carfax (an in-joke for Lugosi fans). Lots of good miniature work and stunts galore -- boat stunts, airplane stunts, motorcycle stunts, car stunts, etc. Ralph Byrd is as jut-jawed and hyperactive as ever. Lugosi underplays and is very effective in his role, coming across as more of a ruthless businessman than a mad scientist. Although there is one scene where he's playing with a dog that's absolutely chilling, because we know that he's about to test his gas on the poor pooch . . .
As far as I'm concerned, though, the show is stolen by an actor I wasn't familiar with at all, Richard Alexander. After looking him up on IMDB, I see that he had a long but undistinguished career as a supporting player and bit part actor (he's listed as "uncredited" in most of the movies he appeared in). Evidently he's most famous for playing Prince Barin in the Flash Gordon serials. In S.O.S. COAST GUARD, he plays Thorg, the mute, hulking, tormented henchman of Dr. Boroff. It's a fine performance, conveying both menace and tragedy.
This serial also has a slam-bang, very satisfying conclusion, unlike many that sort of just limp to an end. The photography is quite good, including an unusual number of scenes shot on location, and the direction by William Witney and Alan James keeps things moving right along. I highly recommend this one.
I've tried to start a couple of serials since finishing S.O.S. COAST GUARD but haven't found one yet that I liked. I'll keep trying.
Now, as for the infamous, short-lived hiatus . . . I've been having quite a bit of trouble with the book I'm working on, not getting anywhere near the pages I needed to be getting and falling behind on my schedule. I thought maybe if I stopped blogging for a while (and stopped reading blogs for the most part, too), I'd have more mental energy to devote to the writing. Ha! Didn't work out that way. So I'm back at it. If a few days go by with no posts, you'll know that more than likely I'm just rasslin' with them durned pages again. They're going pretty well right now, though (20 yesterday, 12 today), so I think I'm going to be all right. And I hope I didn't just jinx things by saying that. (From what I've seen, writers are just about as superstitious as baseball players. In fact, there are lots of comparisons that can be drawn between writing and playing baseball, but that's probably a discussion for another time.)
I'm currently reading THE PRINCE OF BEVERLY HILLS by Stuart Woods. I've read and enjoyed quite a few of Woods' books, but I don't like the series he's been writing about lawyer Stone Barrington. I quit reading those books, in fact. But this is a non-series book, about a Hollywood movie studio troubleshooter in the late Thirties (I wonder if the character ever runs into Dan Turner or Bill Lennox), and since I really like books set in that era, I decided to give it a try. Only about a fourth of the way through, but I'm enjoying it so far.
There. I feel much better now.