Friday, December 14, 2012

CBS Radio Mystery Theater

If I hadn't done some background research I'd have assumed that CBS Radio Mystery Theater aired in the Forties or Fifties, or perhaps even as early as the Thirties. But it actually ran from 1974 to 1982, featuring host E.G. Marshall and a varying cast, including some luminaries, and with a new episode airing most weeknights.

Before it was all said and done there were a total of 1,399 episodes (really, they couldn't have done just one more?), many of which are available right out there on Al Gore's Internet. You can probably find these in half a thousand places, but for now I'm sticking with CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which looks impressive enough to be an official site but is apparently the work of a very dedicated fan.

Of the four episodes of the series that I've sampled thus far there were two that didn't really do it for me. Tom Sawyer, Detective, sounded promising and it wasn't a bad story but was bogged down by too much dialogue that sounded like a cross between a Stephen Foster song and a Gunsmoke rerun. Murder On the Space Shuttle also seemed promising and it was even based on a story by Jacques Futrelle, but I'd also rank this one in the so-so category.

The Old Ones Are Hard to Kill
1974

This episode kicked things off way back in 1974 and it was a pretty decent debut. It starred Agnes Moorhead as an older woman who runs a boarding house and who hears the deathbed confession of a boarder, one that might clear someone else of a crime. Rather than let well enough alone, she decides to do something about it and the plot thickens considerably. Not an absolute gem as far as the story goes, but nicely done even so.

Blizzard of Terror
1974

I liked this one the best of this small bunch. It features a bickering couple who are stranded in the mountains in a blizzard and who find their way to shelter in a cottage. Oh, and there's a mass murderer on the loose. Which is the cause of no small amount of concern on their part when they find the kitchen spattered with blood and a suspicious type character already in residence.

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