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Where it comes from

February 5, 2013

cbsMy sister recently gifted me with the book The CBS Radio Mystery Theater: An Episode Guide to Nine Years of Broadcasting.  It’s a book by publisher McFarland who is notable for their titles that are both expensive and at the same time unique as reference materials on popular culture.  I have all three volumes of their Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Television as I find them an invaluable reference for my genre tv viewing hobby.  This volume covers the radio drama CBS Radio Mystery Theater which was a 45 minute long radio drama anthology series that ran nightly from 1974 to 1982 (with a brief reprisal later in 1998).  I realize that the name of this blog is FantasticTELEVISION but, I figure a brief jump into radio, being the progenitor of tv, is not completely unreasonable.

 The biggest surprise to me was the sheer volume of episodes made for this anthology series.  The book itself has only eight pages on the actual history and production of the episodes because the rest of the 485 pages are devoted to the broadcast schedule and plot synopses of the 1,399 episodes of the series.  That number is not a typo.  I realized, at the time, that I was listening to the show nightly and never seemed to hear many repeated episodes but, the number was still mind boggling to me when I first cracked open the book.  Given that I grew up listening to this show on a regular basis on my old clock radio, it is probably one of the major contributing factors to my love of anthology tv series. 

 This series was the last great hurrah for radio drama programming.  It was created by Himan Brown who was a veteran of classic radio drama.  Prior to this he was probably best known for The Inner Sanctum Mysteries which used the same creaking door intro and outro that were reused in Mystery Theater.  The series was hosted by the actor E. G. Marshall and featured a large amount of suspense and crime dramas but, regularly drifted into the supernatural as well.  If you want to check out the show for yourself it is conveniently available for free (my favorite price).  All 1,399 episodes are available for download at  Given that the large number of episodes may be a lot to sift through, I thought my readers might appreciate a little guidance.  Here are four episodes that I remember from my listening as a youth.  The episodes are: the Golem #193, The Damned Thing #185, The Benjamin Franklin Murder Case #252, and The Devil’s Boutique #320.  I haven’t listen to them recently so, I make no promises as to how well they would hold up given I am recalling them through the filter of childhood memory.  I hope you find them as enjoyable as I did at the time.

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