Packer & Ratcliff is a segment in It's All Been Done Radio Hour. It was created by Jerome Wetzel, and was the sixth segment developed for the show, the first since the original batch of five. It is frequently the closing of the show due to its popularity and consistent hilarity, though does not appear in every live show due to limited cast availability.
The titular characters were first introduced as a commercial in the very first live show. At least one of them continued to appear every month through October 2016, their final short. The commercials are considered season one.
Early on in its run, it became clear that Packer & Ratcliff had the potential to be more than just a 2-3 minute commercial, and in November 2016, their first full segment premiered. In this episode, they returned to T.I.M. the Time Machine and left our present day, where they had been stranded during their commercial run. Since then, they have appeared less frequently, but for longer stretches of time.
Our heroes are immortal beings who can, with the aid of technology (including Pymer Labs' Gadget of the Month Club gadgets), travel to any time and through any dimension. This is convenient for cross-overs, as almost every segment in It's All Been Done Radio Hour takes place in a different dimension. (Most are set in the present day, except for Universe Journey and Space Dirt.) Packer and Ratcliff appear to be rich and self-involved, but they do have compassion to help others, if it's not too much trouble. They are deeply devoted to one another and have been a couple for several millennia, at least.
They are the only characters in Radio Hour who seem at least vaguely aware that they are in a show, or there is a show going on that they have interrupted. They have interacted with actual people and places from the real world, though it is unknown if those people and places are in our dimension or a fictional one.
Main article: List of Packer & Ratcliff characters
- James Packer played by Chase McCants. Packer is the more empathetic of the two towards others, though can be quite judgmental to his spouse, often believing he is a little bit better than Ratcliff. He likes to be treated like a queen, though a benevolent one. Packer is usually the one who agrees to help or lets T.I.M. speak a little. He is also the more likely to get mushy.
- Nicholas Ratcliff played by Dallas Ray (substitute Keith Jackson in "Love Story"). Ratcliff can come across as emotionally distant, but shows his affection for Packer, whom he is deeply devoted to, when the two of them are alone. He would rather spend all his time with his spouse and not have all the annoying people around. Although, he really likes traveling in T.I.M., even if he wishes T.I.M. didn't have speech capabilities.
- T.I.M. the Time Machine played by Nick Arganbright (season two to present). T.I.M.'s name stands for Technology for Innovative Movement. He (he identifies as male) was built by H.G. Wells, but grew neglected from lack of use. Escaping, he sought out Packer and Ratcliff, who would use him the way he wants to be used. He doesn't seem to mind their abuse very much, and delights in taking them places. His random travel option does not seem very random. He has a sort of plug-and-play technology, allowing him to add new hardware easily.
Major Recurring Characters
- Jonas Packer played by Addie Peelle (Jonas A) and Joe Morales (Jonas B). Jonas is an adolescent immortal who switches back and forth from male to female, sometimes without control, although his name indicates he is primarily male. His uncles do not like him and frequently forget his presence. To make up for their treatment of him, they let him run their Packrat Comics empire, although he keeps only a small cut of the profits.
- Penny Packer played by Kristin Green. Penny is James Packer's sister. They don't get along very well, possibly because she is protective of her son, Jonas, whom James doesn't like.
- H.G. Wells played by Dan Condo. Although he does not appear frequently, H.G. is the main antagonist to our heroes, having sworn to get his time machine back. So it can just sit around and gather dust.
- Stephen Woosley played by Stephen Woosley. Stephen is a very nice guy who works at MadLab theatre. For some reason, sometime between our present and the time Packer and Ratcliff left to begin their travels, Ratcliff was deeply offended by Woosley, for what Packer calls a silly reason, and loathes him deeply.
- Nikki Smith played by Nikki Smith and Justin McElroy. Nikki aged 'very well,' according to Ratcliff, and in their time, she runs MadLab theatre. But in any time, she is Ratcliff's bestie, getting his peculiar sense of humor. Packer does not care for her.
Main article: list of Packer & Ratcliff episodes
Packer & Ratcliff is one of the least serial segments of Radio Hour, at least since they left the commercials behind. Most installments find them traveling to a new time and place for a specific, often petty, purpose, where they end up helping someone with very little effort.
Season one is made up of 17 short commercials, with a running time of only a couple of minutes each. These ran from July 2015 through October 2016. Packer appears in most, while Ratcliff appears in them all. Sometimes, they are accompanied by Jonas.
Season two kicked off in November 2016 with a cross-over involving Universe Journey and The Topnotch Tangler, and also introducing T.I.M. (though he had existed, unseen and unheard, through the first season). After a brief stop home and a confrontation with H.G. Wells, the guys went on a series of adventures including visiting (and singing with) American colonials, tasting the first pizza, witnessing a murderous monster on a space station, and meeting Santa Claus. The season ended in March 2018 after eleven episodes.
Season three, which premiered in May 2018, began with an origin story for how the guys met. It is expected to continue to offer mostly stand-alone stories, though the return of H.G. will kick off a brief serial story.
In Other Segments
Since they can cross any time or dimension, Packer & Ratcliff occasionally pop up outside of their our segment.
- In Show XIII, they appear in the Cowboy Joe commercial "Ghost Trap."
- Packer and Ratcliff tend to introduce themselves by saying "I'm James Packer" "And I'm Nicholas Ratcliff," respectively. They do this even if only one of them is present, leaving space for their spouse's line.
- Packer and Ratcliff will usually, at least once per episode, drop into a quick back-and-forth of synonyms, often adjectives.
- Ratcliff especially, but also Packer, are always telling T.I.M. to shut up.
- T.I.M.'s time machine noises can be a bit sexual, and he often humps the boys a bit when they travel.
- Packer will often imply that Ratcliff is a bit less something (handsome, tall, youthful, smart) than Packer himself is.
- Both of the men love to drink alcohol, more than they like helping people.
- Packer and Ratcliff will almost always riff, bicker, and/or compete when singing their theme song.