Thrilling Adventure House #51: Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, “A Mind is a Terrible Thing… In Space!”
By Katie Levine on December 12, 2011
Starring Marc Evan Jackson as Sparks Nevada and Mark Gagliardi as his faithful Martian companion, Croach the Tracker. Also starring Busy Philipps and Mike Phirman. Recorded June 4, 2011.
First thing you should know about this episode is that the first five minutes were lost due to a recording error, and our podcast producer/engineer Barre Duryea worked some crazy audio magic to fix it. That’s his voice you hear at the top of the episode. What, unfortunately, got lost is Mark Gagliardi performing the Sparks theme (as Sparks-in-Croach’s-body). It was pretty spectacular, not least because Marc Evan Jackson was relegated to performing the back-up parts and “Pow!”
In any event, this episode came into being because everyone in the TAH cast does an impression of Marc Evan Jackson. How can you not? What you don’t quite get from this podcast is that in addition to matching MEJ’s voice, Gags embodies MEJ as Sparks. He has a stance, a look, a way of interacting with other characters that makes you think Sparks and Croach really have swapped minds.
I completely love the audio slapstick that comes from Sparks trying to use Croach’s body. (You can hear someone in the audience say “Oh my god,” when Croach-in-Sparks says that Sparks-in-Croach created an “embryonic sac”). Our sound effects designer, Joel Spence, created these ridiculous squishy noises that make me laugh every time.
Besides the body-switch shenanigans, there’s a really nice emotional story going on in this episode of which I am very proud, giving some closure to the Sparks/Croach/Red Rider triangle. Busy Philipps runs the gamut of emotions as Red in this episode, and you buy every single turn she makes. This episode is really indicative of why we love writing for Busy.
And finally, while we were bummed that Patton Oswalt couldn’t perform Billy the Bot two months in a row, we are thrilled whenever Mike Phirman can do the show. He stepped into big shoes and was absolutely brilliant. About fourteen minutes in, Billy starts to add his two cents to the love triangle in small asides. These are the sort of tossed-off jokes at which Mike excels. We were lucky to have him.