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Episode 43: Thrilling Adventure Hour
Sparks Nevada, Marshal on…
Thrilling Adventure HourThrilling Adventure Hour

Thrilling Adventure Hour #43: Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, in “Companeros”

Starring Marc Evan Jackson as Sparks Nevada and Andy Daly as his faithful cyber-steed, Mercury. Also starring James Urbaniak, Craig Cackowski, Annie Savage, Colin Hanks, John DiMaggio, Hal Lublin, Busy Philipps, and Mark Gagliardi. Recorded April 2, 2011.

Blacker: Well, we are throwing you right into the Sparks Nevada saga here. I think we do a pretty good job getting you up to speed on what’s happened before in the beginning of the podcast. All you really need to know is that a few months prior to this, Sparks’ rocket-steed, Mercury (played amazingly by Andy Daly), was given the ability to speak. Before that, Sparks (Marc Evan Jackson) was joined monthly by his “faithful Martian companion,” Croach the Tracker (Mark Gagliardi). But Croach ran away with the Red Plains Rider (Busy Philipps), who had had relationships with both guys.


We’ll get into the stories of Sparks and Croach and Marc Evan Jackson and Mark Gagliardi—the latter of whom originated the roles of the former and have been playing their parts for the entire run of our series—some other time. For now, though, what I want to talk about is the effect of actors in our show. As originally planned (Acker and I tend to plan Sparks arcs 6-8 months at a time), Mercury having the ability to talk was a one-and-done occurrence (it happened in pod #33: “She Blinded Me with Technology”). But then, when we heard what Andy Daly brought to the part, we decided that there was a funny dynamic to be played out between Sparks and Mercury. Andy had done our show once before, and we were looking to include him more regularly. After he cracked us up at rehearsal playing Mercury, we found our excuse.

A similar thing happened when Busy Philipps started playing the Red Plains Rider, early in our Largo run. Red was a character we really loved—Annie Savage played her exceptionally well in our previous run—but she was also a character we could never quite wrap our heads around as writers. When Busy took over the role, she added so much of herself—and of her natural chemistry with Jackson and Gags—that she helped us see the potential in the character. She filled in the pieces we were missing. Since then, Sparks has become something of a three-hander, with Red appearing almost monthly.

A couple of other notes: We’ll exalt the brilliance of the WorkJuice Players (the name we give to our regular cast members, reflecting the fake-sponsor of our show) throughout these commentaries. For now, enjoy the two, wildly different roles played by James Urbaniak (Dr. Venture on the Venture Brothers), the bombastic hilarity of John DiMaggio (Bender on Futurama), and the hilarious, insane choice made by Annie Savage as the cow being rustled (her reading of “Well moo for horses” line just kills me).

Also enjoy Colin Hanks, who came to us through our director Aaron Ginsburg, who was a writer on Colin’s Fox series The Good Guys. The “space-spañol” line is Colin’s invention. Like many of the actors who have come to guest star in the past year, we wish we could have Colin in the cast every month.

And finally, Sparks Nevada’s theme song was performed by our friends Sara Watkins and Sean Watkins, formerly 2/3 of the alt-bluegrass outfit Nickel Creek. Getting Sara and Sean perform the theme (written by Eban Schletter) is one of those awesome, only-at-Largo happenstances that make the doing the show so much fun. Sara sent us a demo preceding their appearance and, to this day, Acker and Jackson and I can’t imagine anyone else bringing the same enthusiasm and, let’s face it, earnest adorableness to the “Pow!” line.

The reason the audience is laughing during the theme, by the way, is because Marc Evan Jackson stood with Sara and Sean while they performed, posing heroically. Something that comes naturally to him.

Acker: Hello and thanks for visiting my commentary track! Just like regular, non-podcast commentary tracks, please enjoy the show first before reading this or it may not make any sense at all.

Credits corrections: Annie Savage played Felton’s cow. James Urbaniak played Felton’s horse Cupid as well as the alien Kring the Cruel.

That’s Sean and Sara Watkins doing the Sparks theme. This was a big kick as we’ve been fans of theirs for years. Also they did such a good job on it. Marc Evan Jackson loves to sing the Sparks theme. When we told him he wouldn’t be singing it this month, he was dubious. Until he heard Sean and Sara. He is particularly taken with Sara’s “pow.”

Sara Watkins’s husband Todd Cooper works as the curtain engineer for The Thrilling Adventure Hour. You can hear the squeaks of his work at the end of this podcast.

I hope “I’m a horse!” becomes a catch phrase.

Andy Daly is great.

Another Thing: Colin Hanks, also great, made up “space-spañol.”


I do not like the taste of cilantro, but I claim to be allergic. It’s just easier. If something is trivial does that make it trivia? Yes, right?

Visual Elements:

When the Banditos Mutantes inched towards their ship, they moved as a group, huddled together, holding onto each other, edging over like a cartoon behind the rest of the actors.

Credit for visual elements goes to our director, Aaron Ginsburg.

The curtain work in the live show is unparalleled. If you’re in LA, come see Todd make the curtain go on the first Saturday of every month. It will take your breath away!

Thank You!

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  1. Duey says:

    Every time I listen to Sparks or any TAH shows I WISH I LIVED IN LA! Don’t tell NY I said that.

  2. Gilth the Helpful says:

    Ugh, I am under onus to correct myself. *Sparks

  3. Gilth the Helpful says:

    Cheese and crackers, a new Spark Nevada episode!?!?! Sign me up!

  4. Dario says:

    Nerdist network, I am under Ownis to you for bringing me the Thrilling adventure hour.

  5. Shawn says:

    Thrilling adventure hour is my new favorite thing. Thank you.