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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Memory Killers
Plot:
In order for the company to survive, an advertising executive works hard to land a major account. However, he is haunted by ghosts from the past who revealed a disturbing tale-- that the head of their corporation is the same Nazi prison guard that tortured them to death.
Episode:
0404
Air Dates:
First Run - December 29, 1975
Repeat - June 1, 1976
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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4 Responses to Episode 0404


Excellent episode. Ralph Bell is a middle-aged, public relations executive assigned to his company's new client, a major german automobile manufacturer. (Can you say (sic) Fahrvergnugen?) Bell isn't prepared to fall in love with the firm's key marketing executive, a "beautiful, glamourous, mysterious" blond who also falls for him. She's intrigued by his German...very conversational and somewhat dated. She wheedles out of him the fact that he helped fly sorties over Germany during WWII, and that he ended up being a prisoner. Bell's character is less prepared for something worse...her brother, also a key industrialist, is a man he recognized as an SS major who tortured Bell and his mates in a stalag. He killed Bell's good friend, who on his deathbed during their incarceration made Bell's character swear that he in turn would kill the SS major who'd made them suffer so much. Bell spends most of the rest of the episode seeing or carrying on imaginary conversations with his dead friend, and trying to learn whether the man who is about to become his brother-in-law is really the Nazi major / tormentor from his past. Robert Dryden is the brother-in-law...excellent casting choice, as is Bell for the American executive. Again, very good episode.

A former German POW, now successful businessman, reluctantly returns to Germany to secure a lucrative contract. He immediately falls in love with the assistant vice president, and her brother, the president, looks very familiar...

When the protagonist wavers about exacting vengeance, I was reminded of Hamlet and his father's ghost. We are left wondering whether or not the American would have acted if his hand had not been forced by the ex-SS officer. Ghosts of Yesterday was good but I think it faltered a bit under the weight of its anti-death penalty message. It seemed as if the writer wanted to have it both ways; the death penalty is immoral but life in prison is a worse fate anyway for the criminal. I think that is something of a cop-out. If prison is preferred by the criminal over death, is it still better to opt for incarceration? The writer avoids the question by having the Nazi seek death. That struck me as too contrived. I was actually beginning to think the Nazi was a victim of mistaken identity; it would have been interesting if she had shot him only to find out later that he was not the SS officer. Anyone remember the Barney Miller episode about the toy dealer who was an ex-Nazi?

I really enjoyed this one. Nazi war criminals were a real issue in the 70's, with some people even believing Hitler was still alive. Ralph Bell's character seemed rather reluctant to seek vengance against the man who might have killed his wartime buddys. After all, if he lets sleeping dogs lie he has a lot to gain: He loves the man's sister and their business venture is going very well. While I know what I would have done in that situation, I was very annoyed by the ghost of his "buddy" who seemed more fired up for retribution than his living comrade. At first I thought the voice of his dead friend was merely Ralph Bell's conscience, but this agitated ghost hammers the point home until we realize he is probably the real deal. It was almost funny listening to him pressure his living friend with the kind of vehemence usually reserved for those who need assistance with some pressing financial difficulty. It occurred to me that some dead people really need to get a life!

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