Radio: Riders Radio Theater

Is this the end of Riders in the Sky?!
Too Slim, on too many occasions to number

Riders Radio Theater, also sometimes known as Riders in the Sky (the name of the group that performs the show), is a Radio Drama (well, comedy/drama) that airs on National Public Radio. Set as an anachronistic western melodrama, the stories follow Ranger Doug, Woody Paul, Too Slim and their compatriots as they fumble, yodel, and hero their way through misadventures and regular adventures - usually opposite the villainous A. Swinburne Slocum and his henchman Charlie.

As the show is a satirical take on actual radio melodramas, it is rather Troperiffic and the Fourth Wall takes a heavy, heavy beating. The characters all alternate between varying degrees of Genre Savvy and Genre Blindness from moment to moment depending on what best entertains, and the writing is definitely not above invoking Meta Humor.

Recorded live at the Emory Theater in Cincinatti, Ohio (The Queen City of the West), the show not only has story exposition but also featured musical guests and short comedy skits.

Incidentally, these are the same guys who performed the theme music to Woody's Round-Up in Toy Story 2.

Riders Radio Theater provides examples of:

  • Anachronism Stew - Set in an anachronistic period where ranching, rustling and riding is still a thing but seems to sometimes cross over into modern day times as well, as if there's a special force that keeps Tumbleweed Valley rooted in the late 19th century while the rest of the world moves on, but moving between the two is seamless and doesn't seem odd to anyone. Just as an example, one story involved Slocum building a clandestine nuclear reactor in an abandoned mine.
  • Brains and Brawn - Slocum and Charlie.
  • Cameo - the week's musical guest usually gets a small speaking part in the episode as well.
  • Card-Carrying Villain - A. Swinburne Slocum. Because, in his own words, "The Plot demands an evil man. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it."
  • Catch Phrase - Several, but the most obvious is Ranger Doug's "That would be the easy way, but it wouldn't be... the Cowboy Way."
  • Cliff Hanger - Every episode ends this way (well, except for the final episode of each arc, of course).
  • Cowboy - Just about every single character, given the western setting.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices - as the cast is entirely male, any female supporting character is usually one of the Riders doing falsetto. And usually not particularly convincingly.
  • Deadpan Snarker - A great many of Woody Paul's lines, despite an earnest delivery, seem to absolutely drip with irony.
  • Ending Theme - "So Long, Saddle Pals"
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness - Ranger Doug, provided he hasn't hit his head recently.
  • Large Ham - in keeping with the radio melodrama theme, all the main characters.
  • Lethal Chef - Sidemeat's biscuits are the hardest substance known to man.
  • Medium Awareness - All the characters at one point or another seem to be aware of the audience, the narrator, the existence of the show's script, sometimes even interacting with them. Ranger Doug and Slocum both have explicitly taken actions because of something they heard the narrator just say.
  • Power Trio - perhaps of the Knight, Knave and Squire variety - the trio being:
  • The local Schoolmarm is named... wait for it... Miss Marm.
  • Recycled In Space: In 1991, CBS gave them their own Saturday-morning series. It was basically Pee-Wee's Playhouse in the Wild West! The two series even had designer Wayne White in common! note 
  • The Dragon - Charlie is this to Slocum. He's much larger, stronger, and more intimidating, but dumb as a post and needs "the Boss" to tell him what to do.
  • The Good Guys Always Win - This show seems completely immune to Darker and Edgier
  • The Sheriff - Obviously, "High Sheriff" Drywall
  • The Western - Self evident, and see above in Anachronism Stew.
  • Trauma-Induced Amnesia - The "Phantom of the Valley" arc involves Ranger Doug losing his memory and believing himself to be a Zorro Expy after awakening in said Expy's lair.
  • Western Characters - Obviously.