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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
Star Sapphire
Plot:
After adopting a teenage girl to keep his wheelchair bound spouse company, a man teaches the girl how to hunt and kill using the sapphire ring she has become obsessed with.
Episode:
1076
Air Dates:
First Run - April 14, 1980
Repeat - August 5, 1980
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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26 Responses to Episode 1076


An older rural couple adopts an unattractive 16 year old orphan with a hip disorder. The director of the Home for Foundlings is skeptical and has misgivings about the arrangement but allows the adoption to go through. The young girl is captivated by her new father's star sapphire ring and he discovers he can hypnotize her with it making her do whatever he wants. A rather disturbing episode that hints at sexual abuse. Bold territory for the writers at CBSRMT. It certainly would have been interesting to hear the discussion around the production table when this script was pitched.

Another good one with Fred. This one would have made a good TV show.

Another KOA one! Sweet! I kinda dug this one. He got his cumuppins!

I could not help but think of the ongoing Austrian story as I listened to this episode. Fred Gwynne plays one of RMT's most despicable villains in this show. He drips creepiness. The writers deftly sketched a character who clearly had sexual designs on his adopted daughter and Gwynne executed the role with skill. This is the kind of tale that sticks that can justly be called haunting.

Anyone wanting to hear another good Gwynne episode should check out "The Theraputic cat."

I loved this one and it's difficult to say more without giving away the plot. I enjoyed the twist of the son's suggestion that his dad get a cat... and he does. Great story. Another one that I enjoyed was "Second Sight", where Fred Gwynne is a blind detective. With the Fred Gwynne marathon concluding, I think my favorite was "The Magic Stick of Manitu". Good stuff.

I agree that "Magic Stick" was a good one for me too. I really enjoyed the marathon. We should do it again some time!

Interesting (and disturbing) episode, with an appropriate ending. The subject matter was especially interesting for me, in the sense of network censorship and the gradual widening of the boundaries over time. I wonder if the censors would have given the "green light", if this episode would have been produced during the first year of production (1974). I have enjoyed the Fred Gwynne marathon very much and would be interested in another theme-related set in the future. Thanks!

Thank you for your comments, guys. I actually debated a little about whether or not to use this one due to the strong theme of the show but decided to present it based on recommendation. I, too, enjoyed our marathon and will plan to do another similar event in the future.

3 last things and then I won't comment on this thread any more. 1. I consider myself an evangelical conservative Christian, and the way (ostensibly, given the content of the show) Christianity was treated could have been bad, but IMO ended up being quite good in this show. Fred Gwynne's character, a churchgoing man who seemed so kindly at show's beginning, turned out to be quite evil. However, his fellow parishioners played by Benson and Teitel, who led a prayer group, seemed portrayed as quite genuine and quite favorably. I found myself hoping that THEY would give the girl the home she so desperately needed. 2. Speaking of Christ, who in my experience is The One who gives we males the power to truly grow up and become men (different thread, different board, but I'll be glad to share my testimony if anyone wants it)... I don't want to get into a discussion of wars and why people get into them here. That being said, look again at what I called "the clothing incident" within this "Star sapphire" RMT show. Look at Benson's character and his actions during that entire part of the show from start to finish. What I've found in life, and what I think Ms. Eric perfectly epitomized through the actions of Benson's character, was this: Sometimes, things get to the point where words don't mean anything any more and where people will be killed (in one way or another) unless a man stands up and physically defends them and/or himself. 3. (my last point, I promise) It's been awhile since I last heard "Star sapphire" so maybe my opinion will have changed. However, I complimented E.G. on his opening act "intro/outros". By the "outros" of the third act, I found myself wondering why he was saying (IMO) such gobbledygook. It was as if the true meaning of the show seemed to fly over the head of he, Eric or whomever wrote those closing remarks. So, were I to do the final statement to that third act, "piggybacking" on the first/second act outros, I'd say right as that great aforementioned "final music bed" was echoing through the speakers: "Power. If it's all that motivates a man he'll never get enough of it, and never find an end of his need to dominate another. And where I think (Gwynne's character) is going, he's going to find out...forever...just what it's like to be dominated by such a person.

It's been years since I listened to this show, but as I recall, it was quite dark. Elspeth wrote a lot of sappy, new age crap. Most of what she wrote was sappy, new age crap. But when Elspeth got dark, like she did here and in "A Horror Story" she was among the best.

man, i haven't read this much since Kindergarten! seriously! excellent thoughts by all! thanks for such thoughtful and well-formed responses everyone! it makes my heart pump to read this kind of shizzle! again, seriously!

This is the first CBSRMT episode that I'd heard since I was a kid, in the 70's. Last night, for some reason, after not thinking about the show for 25 years, I had this odd desire to see if any broadcasts were available. I listened to this episode today, between patients. Wow - I can't believe that the disrobing thing made it on the airwaves in the 70's. The whole episode is much darker, and creepier than my memories of CBSRMT. I'm looking forward to hearing more episodes, and comparing my childhood impressions with my adult impressions.

I found this episode to be unique among RMT shows. The whole disrobing thing was pretty creepy, but I think that it was added as a diversion to the real motive that the father had in mind. I mean, once you realized that he really had the power to hypnotize the girl, then you're thinking, " alright, what's his agenda?" When the whole disrobe scene takes place, your thinking..."oh, that's what he's doing!" So when you get to the end of the show, his real agenda comes at you all of the sudden. I think that scene was nessecary to divert attention away from the obvious.

Indeed, I thought the same thing. And such is testament to the "creepiness" and power of the show and the talent of Elspeth Eric that we're almost hoping that the only way he abused her is by training her to kill his wife. (Which brings us to...what would have happened afterward had he been successful?)

Well after all that has been posted already there isn't much left to say. I very much enjoyed the show. It surprised me a little as my memory of mystery theater had no recollection of anything in the light of the undressing scene. Kudos to Fred Gwynne as usual. He is one of my favorite actors from the show.

I finally got to listen to this episode and I thought it really was one of the best. First off, Fred Gwynne turns in one of his usual great performances. He just had a voice for radio. He brings passion to this role and alot of others along the way. I thought the undressing scene was pretty powerful for radio for 25 years ago. I was shocked at how far it went. There are some episodes that stick out in my mind ....and this is one of them. I loved towards the end that the story started to come from the perspective of the couple that was looking on. Excellent episode.

A weird, weird show. Not sure I can really remember it though. Can anyone explain to me why, when the show was over, I found myself sitting naked with a 22 rifle in my lap? I hate it when that happens.

I'm going to start wearing a ring around the house.....maybe I can get my wife to do some cleaning around the house!!!

(WARNING: 1. Don't listen to this if you're easily upset by stories where children are involved in bad situations, and; 2. I belong to a message board where we have one convicted pedophile/ephebophile who served time in a Wisconsin prison and, since release, has founded a ministry to work with others who have his condition. He wasn't born that way, but even though he didn't choose his attractions he realizes acting on them was both wrong and illegal. From his testimony and other stories I believe that was, unfortunately, a theme of this episode.) Imagine the old TV sitcom Green Acres' Fred Ziffle as a man who is both fascinated by the power of hypnosis and who has the ability to do so, except 1.) This man doesn't own a pig who shares his dinner table, and; 2.) he's a key player in a program that isn't a comedy. Daniel Ferris (played in an excellent RMT performance by Fred Gwynne) and his wife Betsy are a 52-year-old couple who own a truck farm. They're also childless, and want to adopt. Ferris goes to the "Foundling Home" orphanage in search of a child to take in. In fact, he seems to have his eye on one, an older child around 16 years of age (he says it's his understanding that older ones are harder to place) who's been a lifelong ward of the home. She's partially crippled, having a hip condition of some sort, is described as unattractive and seems to be of at best average intelligence. She also seems to have a relationship with the older man, asking him "have you come to take me home with you, Mr Ferris?" He seems kindly enough, telling the orphanage acting director that a family home would be better for the girl (named "Edna") than the orphanage. The director agrees to let the Ferrises take Edna for a trial period. He takes her home. On the way, Edna becomes fascinated with Mr. Ferris' ring, which features a star sapphire set in pure gold. Ferris says it's his most prized possession, but that Edna may inherit it someday. Taking her in to meet his wife and a couple (Paul and Mary) who live across the road and are close family friends, Edna is quiet. She's got a bad headache. Ferris takes her in a different room and, when she starts staring at his ring, asks her to stare at it intently. He's hypnotizing her...he tells her the headache's gone. After clapping his hands, she doesn't remember what he's done but her pain is indeed gone. Later, Edna's startled by a rifle shot outside as Mr. Ferris is hunting rabbit for their meals. (This takes place at a time when the Ferrises travel by horse-drawn wagon). Still later, Mrs. Ferris (who's confined to a wheelchair) is amazed to see Edna shooting jars with pinpoint accuracy. Asking Mr. Ferris about it, he tells her he hypnotized Edna into doing the shooting with the aid of his star sapphire ring. Mrs. Ferris is incredulous, but says if it's the truth she wants him to hypnotize her into walking out of her wheelchair. She later confides what he told her to Paul. Paul and Mary join the Ferrises for dinner later on, and Paul asks Mr. Ferris if what he said was true. Ferris says it was and brings Edna (who seems to respond to his beck and call) into the room for a demonstration. Hypnotizing her, he asks the girl in front of his stunned guests to take off all of her clothes...  

I certainly like "Star Sapphire" as well. It's interesting that, for all the negativity aimed at Elspeth Eric on this board (some, but not all, deserved), her scripts often seem to evoke very strong emotional reactions. I once pitched her episode "The Train Stops". People disagreeing on the meaning of the story but all agreeing that she had dealt with some very heavy emotional material. Same with "Star Sapphire." Personally I would nominate the scene in which the father gets the adopted daughter to disrobe as possibly the single most disturbing scene in the entire run of RMT (at least based on my listening to several hundred episodes). As for Marshall's outro, a couple of comments: 1) I suspect that the reason the outro focused on the nature of hypnosis instead of the "power" theme is because that had already been thoroughly covered in his earlier comments...Something on the nature and limitations of hypnosis was therefore appropriate. After all, the whole story hinged on it. 2) I think I posted this sometime before, but Marshall's comments for all episodes were definitely scripted. They appear in the original RMT scripts right along with the dialogue and sound effects. In fact, anyone can see an authentic Bob Juhren RMT script right here: Personally I doubt Marshall or Grimes ever actually read or heard most of the shows. Marshall is known to have recorded his commentaries separate from the rest of the cast (this is revealed in the Payton/Grams RMT book); most likely he did them in bunches, when he had the time, perhaps at the CBS studios in Hollywood. Anyway, "Star Sapphire" is certainly one of the darkest and most disturbing of all RMTS. Great choice.

Ladies and gentlemen, This episode hit home to me as my mother was adopted by a loving central Illinois farm family around 1935 (and I promise you that though they watched their money well and raised their kids well, they didn't have much) from a catholic orphanage in circumstance much like Fred Gwynne and his wife (played by the wonderful Evie Juster) adopted the girl in the show (whose voice was also done by Ms. Juster...sometimes her "little child" voice could be grating (like Joan Shay's "frumpy old woman" or Lloyd Battista's "hoarse irish cop"), but unlike the latter two, there were times when her "child" voice was very well placed and utilized by the RMT producers writers). Someone once posted about this show that they thought it would have been good to have an abuse hotline number mentioned by E.G. at show's end (they weren't doing that much then as I recall except around things like telethons). Adoption's something one mustn't rush into and must prayerfully consider, but I must say that this episode led me to prayerfully consider adoption for our family.

I certainly like "Star Sapphire" as well. It's interesting that, for all the negativity aimed at Elspeth Eric on this board (some, but not all, deserved), her scripts often seem to evoke very strong emotional reactions. I once pitched her episode "The Train Stops." Same with "Star Sapphire." Personally I would nominate the scene in which the father gets the adopted daughter to disrobe as possibly the single most disturbing scene in the entire run of RMT (at least based on my listening to several hundred episodes). As for Marshall's outro, a couple of comments: 1) I suspect that the reason the outro focused on the nature of hypnosis instead of the "power" theme is because that had already been thoroughly covered in his earlier comments...Something on the nature and limitations of hypnosis was therefore appropriate. After all, the whole story hinged on it. 2) I think I posted this sometime before, but Marshall's comments for all episodes were definitely scripted. They appear in the original RMT scripts right along with the dialogue and sound effects. Personally I doubt Marshall or Grimes ever actually read or heard most of the shows. Marshall is known to have recorded his commentaries separate from the rest of the cast (this is revealed in the Payton/Grams RMT book); most likely he did them in bunches, when he had the time, perhaps at the CBS studios in Hollywood. Anyway, "Star Sapphire" is certainly one of the darkest and most disturbing of all RMTS. Great choice.

Here's my thoughts on the episode: - One of Elspeth Eric's best, though it still might have been even better. Once again, she liked to go into psychological studies, and that was particularly evident in the first act. - It was evidenced by E.G.'s comments at the intro to the same. (Makes me ask the question again: were E.G.'s intros/outros scripted or did he do them "off the cuff"?) He mentions the need some people have for "power", which, from every psychological study I've seen or heard, in the end is what abuse of any kind is all about, child or otherwise. It's the need to dominate someone. (And no, you didn't ask but I'll put my .02...I don't believe child abusers/pedophiles are "born that way". I've heard the testimony of Bob Van Domelen (who, as an ephebophile, sexually molested post-pubescent boys including some of his students, spent time in a Wisconsin prison, and indeed is sorry and knows he DESERVED the punishment he got) on Dr. James Dobson's "Focus on the family" program...in addition, a woman I know who is very much the gay activist (her daughter's a lesbian) knows Mr. Van Domelen personally and quite much respects him. By contrast, lots of such activists discount and are even hostile to the message of people such as Mr. Van Domelen and his ministry. I think if one knows the truth in the case of most true child abusers you'll hear variations of Mr. Van Domelen's story over and over and over and over again.) - We never know the extent of the abuse of the girl. Court Benson and Carol Teitel's husband/wife characters talk about the former's suspecting (or at least wondering) the worst, particularly after the bizarre incident with the clothing where he tried to show them his "power". We know that, at best, she was abused hypnotically (if that's a word). - A side note to abuse...note how Gwynne's character's crippled wife doesn't seem to say anything (though she may have felt it) during the clothing incident, or any of the other incidents. A year and one half ago, my daughter, suffering from major depression, wanted to be and was hospitalized for two months. (She was 14 at the time.) One of the chief questions her counselors there were wondering was what her true relationship with me was - read: did I abuse her in any way. Can't say that it was easy going through that, but IMO is was quite a necessary thing to ask. When my wife was able to convince the counselor that I truly never had (in fact, I'd have and still would give my life to protect my daughter from abuse of any kind) the counselor said words to the effect of "Good...you wouldn't believe how many of the kids here have mothers who will not do anything about the men they're married to who abuse their kids." Ms. Juster's "wife" character's behavior was the hallmark of such a woman...one who's likely been hurt deeply emotionally, yet through her choices in response to that pain has not grown out of the internal state in which she was pushed into, who basically is saying (sorry to put it this way) "PLEASE DON'T LEAVE ME! I'll do anything, anything, including letting you have your way with my/our kids, but PLEASE don't leave me." Ms. Eric captured this perfectly. - The RMT had its share of episodes with things TV that I recall at the time generally wouldn't touch. (And we were just getting into the cable age in a significant way around the time of "Star sapphire".) I wonder how much controversy, if any, this episode caused at the time. - GREAT performance by Fred Gwynne. - Finally, the music (what sounded like a combination of an electric organ interrupted by staccato marimba-sounding notes) used whenever Gwynne started using his ring on the girl was another RMT music bed that I always found interesting. - My favorite music in this episode, however, is the powerful piece at the very end of the third act...used as a finale for a TON of great RMTS. Very apt here. - One last thing about parents...isn't it interesting Gwynne got that ring from his father (and no, most fathers aren't bad men by any means, not the way so many of them are portrayed in today's media). Was it used on Gwynne's character when he was his adopted daughter's age, or did he just watch his FATHER use it? We never knew and may never know that answer. Whew... (Steps off the soapbox...)

I was too long winded. Can't resist doing this as a trip down RMT "Memory Lane"...here are two of our more lengthy discussions apart from "Star sapphire", and they both involved daughters (real or created) who were trapped and doomed for one reason or another: "The train stops" (one of Ms. Eric's "other" best episodes), which involved a daughter who almost seemed to will herself to death, and; "Life blood", a play off a former original Twilight Zone episode which involved a beautiful android who was in essence, the "daughter" of the scientist who created her, and who was (like Edna Farris in this episode) used and abused by him albeit in different ways. (One similarity between the "clothing incident" in this episode and the worst (for the android) scene in "Life blood" is that they were effectively "dehumanized" in both...during the moments the bad things were happening, neither said a word.) We're chivalrous here at cbsrmt.com...we HATE to see a lady in distress.

Some might think certain elements of "A Christmas Carol" would qualify as "horror" but I would suggest perhaps the most powerful and disturbing "non-horror" episode would be #1076 "Star sapphire". (WARNING: there is implied child abuse, definitely emotional and borderline sexual, in this Elspeth Eric tale...and to some that would qualify as "horror" and I wouldn't blame them. This episode made me want to adopt a poor child and give him/her a home, as my own Mom was herself adopted.) For the second most powerful "non-horror" RMT I would suggest episode #1096 "Life blood". This one will bore some as it's nearly all melodrama, but in the wonderful old (if you can call the mid-2000s "old", sure is in Web terms) CBS RMT website this was the most discussed the episode ever in terms of sheer number and length of responses. It's fascinating - the writer was the same guy who wrote the original screenplay for "Casablanca", but for inspiration he clearly took the original "Twilight Zone" episode "The lonely"...not surprising as that show (and its incredible music) inspired other RMTs...yet this show was "The lonely" told completely in REVERSE in all aspects, which made for an interesting hour.

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