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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
Pie in the Sky
Plot:
After picking up a strange gift as a result of a tobacco pipe mix-up, a young man gains the ability to foresee the future. In an attempt to use it in a get-rich-quick scheme, he accidentally transports himself and his wife to an alternate dimension.
Episode:
1222
Air Dates:
First Run - July 17, 1981
Repeat - October 15, 1981
Writer:
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Rating:
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11 Responses to Episode 1222


"Things that really matter Are the things that gold can't buy" Alternate chorus from Irving Berlin's Let's have another cup o' coffee, quoted at the beginning and the end of this episode. Now for a bit more pleasant, albeit maybe slightly maudlin, RMT episode. A retired college professor in his seventies is sitting on a porch, pleasantly reminiscing with his wife of 47 years. "I could have been a millionaire, a billionaire, a...trillionaire" he says, as she chuckles at his memories. He recalls his earlier days several years ago at the turn of the century when, stopping by a club frequented by other professors, he meets a mysterious professor of metaphysics who advises him of a new company called "General Engines" which makes "horseless carriages" that will be a tremendous investment for some lucky shareholder. Skeptical, the other professor (and hero of the story) returns home to his wife, who's just come into a $1,000 inheritance. She stuns her husband by saying that her brother-in-law has advised her to invest in a company called "General Engines" which will make "horseless carriages". (No, her brother's not the prof of metaphysics.) The professor is further baffled when, each time he fires up his pipe (his tobacco bag has the same initials on it as the other professor had) his memory plays strange tricks on him. He thinks things have happened that haven't yet, or he'll think things haven't happened that already have. In addition, he meets the other professor again later at the same club, who advises him to buy stocks in electric companies, another emerging industry... This is a sweet little program (except for the fate of the metaphysics prof) that sounds as if it could have been a Jimmy Stewart movie along the lines of a non-holiday "It's a wonderful life."

This episode had the Mystery part I like so much for Radio Mystery Theater. I like the fact that this episode takes place in 1907 and some later date in the future that isn't 1981. That way it is an episode that isn't dated to one time period. I liked the way the married couple interacted. It reminded me of my interactions with my husband. Not the "I don't know what to do with money" part, the "I knew I was right" part of course! The creepy part that makes me wonder was the whole tobacco smoking part. What was it in that other professor's pouch? Why wouldn't the main character believe his visions? That is the way it always goes though, the characters never believe the future if they see it. Overall, an entertaining episode.

This struck me as a reasonably entertaining episode, though not a standout. The nostalgia of it was nicely handled, with the elderly narrator looking back on his life--though I wondered about his weight, since according to him his wife has served him pie *every day* for 40 some-odd years! It's also kind of amusing that the agent of the time-traveling in this episode seems to be a kind of wacky tabacky! The plot was a fairly familiar one, and the resolution somewhat "easy"--is it really true that he's better off not being rich? Perhaps if he'd spent more time in his alternate future he might have discovered that, though he didn't have his wife anymore, he had another kind of exciting, adventurous life filled with all kinds of things he could scarcely even have imagined in his other, pie-eating existence. All I can say is that his wife must have made mighty good pie. I'm more of a cake man, myself.

What was the significance of what he was smoking? Good question that's open to conjecture, but: "'jyou cut me ANOTHER slice of that pie an...hey man, we havin' an earthquake or somethin'?"

I enjoyed the nostalgia and whimsy of this episode, and who can resist a sappy ending like this when it is oh, so true that it is the people, not the possessions in our lives, that make our lives whole. In essence, the sequence where the prof realizes he has riches but has lost his wife along the way, is akin to a kidnapping; he willingly pays the ransom to help ensure that the most valuable, irreplaceable part of his life remains in it. And, at the end of the day, no matter how much sits in the bank, or what kind of motorcar is in the garage, a slice of pie with a soul mate is priceless. The pipe smoking angle was weird to me. The doper prof didn't have his own pouch but was still preaching new visions of the future. The poor prof had the wacky pouch, but one of his time warps was backwards; he didn't remember his speech and lost four hours. I do recognize that hort term memory loss, in addition to hallucinations, can each result from an altered mental state, but I thought the backwards time lapse was just an unnecessary red herring. It woul have been more consistent if it were reversed; if she said it was dinnertime and he said that he had already given his speech, like what happened with the prescription. Kaliban and Keane did a great job with their voices as interchangeably old and young characters. Now I've read others' comments. Someone pointed out that these dramas about how love is more important than money often come from the affluent. That makes perfect sense. People that have money but no love are generally unhappy, and may imagine that they could get by on love and pie to exorcise their woes and relieve the pressure. People without money often imagine what their life would be like if they had it. People without love do the same thing.

E.G. Marshall really nailed it for me when he asked near the end of the epilogue; "How many people out there lament what they consider their lost opportunity?" God knows that I did as I thought back to 1999 and the year of the "Dot.bomb" euphoria that was going on in the stock market. I'm sure that there many posters here who have similar stories as well. But this story really wasn't about gaining riches monetarily. No, it actually rose above that as it's meaning was trying to convey that true riches came from within and not something as superficial as financial wealth. Here, we have a story of a couple looking back on their lives when they were younger and the chance to strike it rich with a little financial windfall that Luther's wife, Agnes, received in the form of an inheritance back in 1907. Luther was given sound investing advice from a professor who happened to be an aquaintance of his at the faculty club. At three different points in the story, the professor tried to convince Luther to invest the inheritance in automobiles, airplanes, and electrical power. Knowing as we all do now, either one of these investments would have payed off handsomely for the two if only Luther had listened to the professor. The fact is that Luther didn't listen, preferring instead to leave the money in a savings account. It wasn't until near the end of the story that Luther had almost given into the idea of investing since Agnes, too, was pressuring him to do something with her inheritance. That night, after Luther had told his wife to do with the money what she wanted, he had a bad dream of being filthy rich and living a grand life full of luxury. The professor (who was also in the dream) had shown him what his life would be like if he would only consider investing. The problem is that Agnes was not a part of his life in this dream, as it was explained to him by the professor that she had left him after Luther met another woman because of the money. Luther wakes from his dream and decides once in for all to keep the money safely in the bank while keeping Agnes safely in his life. It was at this moment of the story that Luther realizes that his life with Agnes, even though a much poorer one financially, was far richer than a life full of wealth and her removed from him. And isn't that what life really is about? Now take that and put it in your pipe and smoke it...

I will say that I enjoyed the episode a lot. It had great richness in detail, especially in word use. For example, just saying the word "PIE" can make a person hungry because of the way the lips smack out the letter P... I could almost smell the pipe tobacco whenever it was discussed. The rich, velvety "mojo" which carried the tobacco was never described, but somehow, I got a wonderful image of it. As for the story, I was engrossed. Right from the start I was guessing. This is my favorite kind of RMT tale. It was a sweet, foreboding tale!

Ok, I am a beginner and I don't know much but... 1. What was the significance of what he was smoking? 2. What exactly happened to him? time warp, worm hole? All in all, I liked the nostalgic feel. I really liked the moral or point of the story. The wife getting her "told you so" in was overdue. My wife would have hit me with it by at least 1929.

I really don't think it's specified how the time travel is being achieved. It certainly has something to do with what's in the professor's pipe. That's the fun of this sort of story, I suppose. And sure, Texas, I understood Dann's point. My only argument is that the character gives up on his alternate future awfully quick. To me it might have been more interesting to have him spend an entire act in that time--to get a real sense of what it would be like to live there/then, as the rich guy he might have been. In other words, to allow the character to make an informed choice about which life he wanted, as opposed to a minute or two of panic in which he decides to immediately head back to the familiar pie-heavy world that he knows. It's pretty easy to equate money with shallowness and superficiality, as this episode does. I have noticed that Hollywood movies often do this too--the same movies that are generally made by some of the most affluent people in the country!

A couple of thoughts: 1. Can anyone identify for me (I honestly don't know the name of it) the song that's playing on the phonograph at the 4:50 mark on this show? (It goes: "dahh...dahh...dahhhh....dada-da-da-da-da-da-dadada-da-da-DAAAA-dada-da-da-da-da-da?" (I've heard the Texas A & M band play this song when they're playing (and usually LOSING) a football game vs. the Texas Longhorns. 2. Chris, I agree with most of your comments, but did you notice that Bob Kaliban's (the "good" professor) character kept asking: "What happened to Agnes...what happened to AGNES" at the end? Those of us who've been through, nearly been through or had family members go through divorce know how deeply it hurts, especially when you still love the person. In the professor's case, he clearly, deeply loved his wife and couldn't bear the thought of life without her (or of hurting her) no matter what other material possessions he'd give up. I'd cited the alternate chorus to "Another cup 'o coffee" ("The only things that matter, are the things that gold can't buy") above...at one point during the professor's "I'm a rich man now" dream sequence he said that everything he'd chosen had turned to gold, but notice how little it meant to him at the end? I think that was Sam Dann's main message on this. 3. BTW, speaking of how things could have been, did you hear E.G.'s final outro about the fate of the "other" professor? One could almost miss it if you tune out after the third act outro as I often do. 4. Here's a little more interesting background on "Face the music", the musical from which the "Another cup o' coffee" song came from. I also like reading about its composer, Irving Berlin, who really seemed to have written "cup o' coffee" from the bottom of his heart. 5. This summer, we lost another RMT regular who made one of his first appearances in the RMT with this episode. Bernard Grant, who played both the "other" professor and the doctor in this episode, did a lot of plays for the RMT in its final two years. He passed away from lymphoma and pneumonia a couple of months ago. 6. I couldn't tell if Teri Keane's character's comments about how she grew up learning how to please a man (and how someday women would be more free to be financially independent) were meant as a backhand to stay-at-home wives or as a backhanded compliment to them. In the end, I get the feeling it was the latter. (It's really funny...the daughter I've talked about above has gone from wanting to be the first lady president of the U.S.A. to (and she reiterated it on the way to school today) wanting to be a novelist and stay-at-home wife/mom of 8 kids. I just want and pray what's best for her, whatever that is...I'm not wise and/or precognizant enough to know.)

"The only things that matter, are the things that gold can't buy, so let's have another cup of coffee, and let's have another slice of pie." Alternative chorus to "Another cup o' Coffee", by Irving Berlin, with MIDI file and lyrics at this link. (Bob Kaliban's character kept singing or saying this tune, and in an unusual ending an old-time windup instrumental version of the song was under E.G.'s outro to the final act.) Hey, gang...this was a good episode, though not my all-time favorite. If he'd be my "D.J." on this one ("D.J. Jazzy Fizz"?) and let me dedicate it to my daughter. For my daughter, it's because she's starting a new school year in her life, and it's turning around after a horrible year last year when she was diagnosed with major depression. The other day after her school open house (she's in 8th grade, and you know how junior high is anyway without having to live through a problem like that) we were so happy that she (a devout RMT fan at age 14) and I kept singing alternative choruses to "another cup of coffee". It's so good to see her with happiness and hope again. That Irving Berlin song was released during the great depression, and the musical its from ("Face the music") basically focuses on staying cheery and upbeat in the face of tremendous adversity. My daughter has, and that song kind of captured the moment for us this past Tuesday. There've been some good school-related RMTs before, but this time I wanted to do this one in honor of her.  

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