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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Dice of Doom
Plot:
A young gambler from the 1800s tries to outwit the Devil by using two special dice, thereby altering a predetermined fate he was bound to endure due to an ancestor's Faustian mistake.
Episode:
0181
Air Dates:
First Run - December 2, 1974
Repeat - February 12, 1975
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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6 Responses to Episode 0181


"The Dice of Doom" was a so-so listen worthy of 3 stars. It seemed to be progressive in its writing and daring for its time. One of its main characters was Satan. It followed a story line that a family with a long history of poor luck had sons that were doomed to do the devil's bidding. Kind of scary for 1974, but hey, this was Mystery Theater! I still can't believe my parents allowed me to listen to this stuff...

Some German guy (initially you're sympathetic to him) is talking to his father, the latter on his deathbed by a roaring fire in the fireplace. A night or two before the father had burned some papers of some sort in the fire and the son wonders what they were. The father won't tell him, but tells the boy he's essentially going to be blessed and cursed because of someone else in the family who made a bargain with Satan and sold his family's souls. ( :003: More on that in a minute.) Before the father can tell him any more he makes a horrifying gasp, then breathes his last. The German guy has everything to live for...he falls in love with the beautiful sister of a best friend and marries her. He also has a weakness for gambling with dice. But a war is raging (WWI? I forgot which.) and his best friend and another man are enlisting and implore the German guy to do so as well. It's a matter of honor to them. The German guy (foolishly) thinks he won't see active combat. His wife gets pregnant and begs him to de-enlist. He tries and fails. He then goes off to war and starts making bad choices. (He talks about how the closer the soldiers would get to the combat zone the more like heroes they were treated, and this happily married man and expectant father says there were women everywhere.) The other (not best) friend is in charge of their platoon. In the midst of battle, the other friend orders them to make an attack at the enemy which means almost certain death. The German guy thinks for a moment, then shoots his commanding officer. Later, he and his best friend are put on trial. (The C.O. was shot in the back of the head.) Each maintains his innocence, but the best friend knows he may die because of the German guy. In a strange decision, they are both found guilty but only one will be executed. The condemned men will each roll the dice, with the one who gets the lowest roll to be executed. The night before the execution, the German guy is visited by a priest, only he's not a priest. He's the C.O. who was shot. He also, apparently, is Satan in disguise, and the German guy's descent continues... (The RMT tried to go for "Good story, bad theology" here. Interestingly, while you never want to make a bargain with Satan for anything: - There's one way to break a contract with him. - Praise God that the only way Satan can get us is if we choose him, not because someone else sold our souls to him. I hate to think who I might have affected in my younger, more foolish days were it possible to do what the German guy in this (not my favorite) RMT episode did.)

A man sees his father die after burning a stack of papers on which was printed the family history. According to them this man was to be the last in the line and would have no children. Other prophesies in the papers came true in the past and there is no reason to believe that the future will unfold as printed. The reason for these prophesies was that the ancestor from whom they came had made a deal with the devil that was to last several generations. Our protagonist is the last in the line. When his fiancé tells him she is pregnant, it appears that he has beaten the devil’s deal…

Yes, well, let that be a lesson to the many of you who're undoubtedly listening to mid-70s radio mysteries in pursuit of sound ecclesiastical scholarship, I guess. Regarding the episode, it is slightly marred by the host revealing the ending up front, and it doesn't really spend enough time with any of the characters to build much identification or sympathy. On the plus side, the committed performances and bleak, fast-paced script really pile on the atmosphere and build a surprising (and welcome) amount of intensity to compensate as the protagonist's desperation grows. Above average, in spite of its flaws.

This was the most complicated episode I've heard so far. It takes a bit of concentration to keep track of the characters and the story line. There seems to be something going on with a family curse involving dice, but don't ask me to explain it to you.

Another "The Devil made me do it" episode. Good storyline but the ending was predictable. The aborted baby was a surprise and pretty risqué for the time. Still a good episode.

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