The Last Chance Detectives
The Last Chance Detectives logo
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Country of origin||United States|
|Syndicates||Focus on the Family|
|Created by||Robert Vernon|
|Written by||John Fornof|
|Recording studio||Burbank, California|
|No. of episodes||12|
The Last Chance Detectives is a series of Christian television movies, and later a radio drama series created by Robert Vernon and produced by Focus on the Family in the mid-1990s. The production of each video episode cost approximately one million USD. The series focused on four preteen "sleuths" who solve mysteries in their fictional desert town of Ambrosia, Arizona. When the radio shows were airing, Canyon Quest, a prequel book to the show, was released.
12-year-old Mike Fowler lives in the minute community of Ambrosia, Arizona (a fictional town) with his single mother and his paternal grandparents. The family runs the Last Chance Gas and Diner highway stop near the town's municipal limits, as well as the small hangar and airstrip nearby. The diner property is also home to Lady Liberty, a B-17 Bomber flown by Mike's grandfather in World War II; it is in the plane that Mike and his three friends—Ben Jones, Winnona "Winnie" Whitefeather, and Spencer Williams – run their detective agency called the "Last Chance Detectives". Together, they solve mysteries and have adventures, while learning Christian morals.
The radio series included a brand new cast, and Jason Whittaker, from Adventures in Odyssey in the first album. Both made by Focus on the Family, the two series were partially joined together for this series. Three albums were created:
- The Last Chance Detectives: The Day Ambrosia Stood Still
- The Last Chance Detectives: Mystery of the Lost Voices
- The Last Chance Detectives: Last Flight of the Dragon Lady
The Last Chance Detectives television films were filmed at Kingman Airport in Kingman, Arizona. Focus on the Family Films paid $3,000 to lease the land to film it there. There were three films created:
- The Last Chance Detectives: Mystery Lights of Navajo Mesa
- The Last Chance Detectives: Legend of the Desert Bigfoot
- The Last Chance Detectives: Escape from Fire Lake
- Mike Fowler: Mike's father and grandfather both served in the Air Force as pilots. Mike's family is the most examined in the series—when he was six (according to the opening of the first video episode, Mystery Lights at Navajo Mesa), his father was listed by the airforce as "Missing in Action" after the aircraft he was flying exploded in midflight. While it appears that he has died in the video episodes, the radio episodes indicate that Mike's father may still be alive, and merely suffering from a case of amnesia sustained after ejecting from the plane. Mike is the unspoken leader of the group. In the film series he was played by Ryan Calhoun. In the radio series, he was voiced by Adam Wylie.
- Winnona "Winnie" Whitefeather: Little is known about Winnie, except that she lives with her grandmother. Winnie finds cases for the team to solve, and is often involved in conflict with Ben. In the film series, Winnie was played by Crystle Lightning. In the radio series, she was voiced by Mae Whitman.
- Spence Williams: Spence is the group's technical expert who spends his time refurbishing electronic devices (most of which are found in the B-17) for use in solving cases. The only mention of his family is that his father is a geologist working in the vicinity. Even though he is the youngest of the group, Spence serves as the voice of reason of the group and uses his genius and creativity to solve problems. In the film series Spence was played by David Netter. In the radio series, he was voiced by AJ Noel. He is the only black character in the show.
- Ben Jones: He is somewhat overweight, and reads comic books. He comes up with conspiracies, and often clashes with Winnie with his opinions. His background is the most clouded, as it is only known that he has parents. In the film series Ben was played by Davin Carey. In the radio series, he was voiced by Daryl Sabara.
- Phan, Katherine T. (June 8, 2004). "FOTF Announces New Radio Series 'The Last Chance Detectives'". The Christian Post. Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- Ferguson, Tim W.; Josephine Lee (1997-01-27). "Spiritual reality". Forbes. p. 3. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
Last Chance Detectives, patterned after the Hardy Boys stories and produced for $1 million an episode with Focus on the Family
- Howard, Judith Lynn (May 27, 1995). "An Industry in Fast Forward". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- "A Curriculum Guide for Teachers of Mentally Retarded Pupils" (PDF). Oak Park Public Schools. 2005. p. 25. Retrieved 2009-03-03.
- "Focus on Family joins list of area's top tourist draws New attractions aimed at bringing in youngsters". The Gazette. August 2, 1997. Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- "Television series to be filmed near Kingman Airport". Kingman Daily Miner. January 16, 1994. Retrieved February 28, 2009.
- "'Casino' Stuntman Brings High Adventures To New Kid Video Series". PR Newswire. November 21, 1995. Retrieved February 28, 2009.[dead link]