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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Boy Wonder
Plot:
On a quest to find a missing child named Buchanan, his team slowly disappears one after another. It's no coincidence that the boy and his friends possess amazing talents, and only too late does the man learn the futility of his search.
Episode:
0463
Air Dates:
First Run - April 6, 1976
Repeat - August 21, 1976
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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13 Responses to Episode 0463


I really appreciate that this site is up and has done this. Thank you very much. I'm a fan of both Alfred Bester and CBSRMT so . . . but this one was a bit of a disappointment. Painfully out of date in so many ways, from the lameness of the original scam, to the way folks deal with strangers at their doors, to the fact that "wild talent" would either be snapped up by the government or completely ignored in the current surreal times we live in. I suppose it makes this even more of an escapist treat . . .

This is an adaptation of Bester's story "Star Light,Star Bright".

Scam artists search out a boy who has the unique talent of identifying prodigal contemporaries.

An assistant principal is searching long and hard for a child who has disappeared from his school. During his search he is approached by mobsters who are also searching for people with the same last name. The mobsters are running an inheritance scam, while the assistant principal is searching for a boy and his friends with extraordinary talents. The pair team up and cooperate to find these children who appear to have invented amazing and powerful things.

Shows like this fascinate me because they dwell into the science fiction fantasy aspects of mystery drama, one of the strengths of CBSRMT. From the start, we're led to believe that this is some sort of a "treasure hunt". In it, we find this guy checking out anyone with the last name of Buchanan. He doesn't explain why he seeks out these people with this last name until confronted by another group of con men who have the same purpose but with a different hidden agenda, a desire in cheating people out of there money by running a scam. When the gentleman (who we later find out is named Warback) explains why he is pursuing a young boy with the last name of Buchanan, he quickly convinces the con men to join him on this endeavor. As the story progresses, we find out that the "Boy Wonder" is some sort of 10 year old kid genius that has invented a series of scientific marvels that would make anyone who possessed such things incredibly rich. We also discover that those who go looking for him somehow wind up disappearing without a trace. It seems no matter how close one gets to finding this kid, he always manages to stay one step ahead of them as if knowing that they're on to him. In each passing minute as the story unravels, you begin to wonder just who exactly is this kid and what is it that makes him so special. The story does a good job of keeping you guessing throughout the ordeal, a lot of twists and turns as you listen on the edge of your seat. I liked it a lot and would have rated it a 4 out of 5 if the rating system still existed.

Wow this is a good show. This is my second listen and I just upgraded it from ***1/2 to **** (top ranking). From the beginning there is something weird going on, I think great writing involves among other things involving the listener directly into something already happening and not having to build the story first. First the show brings to my mind the OTR sci-fi shows of the 50's like Dimension X. By that time these shows had gone beyond trips to mars and were bringing the science and the mystery down to earth. The gangster angle brings to mind some of the cold war film noirs that got into some weird ("atomic") science. And I think the character names were great, like Charlie the Clown. And finally the notion of kids constructing a world of their own and keeping out adults (whether wildly-talented kids or all-too-real troubled teenagers) was disturbing, especially the line, "what happens when they grow up?". Another great line: "and she gets into movies for free". So I'll just say I really enjoy this show, I've listened to it twice and it involved me all the way to the end both times.

The funny thing is, I thought this was supposed to be a humorous show. I thought William Redfield's character had some kind of scam going on the con men, especially when he read the letter about the "spinack". I'm going to listen to this one again very shortly.

This is what I like to call a gimmick script. It relies almost completely with the listener buying into the hook-concept and be carried along. I think the episode would have been stronger if the writer had provided supporting evidence to the boy’s letter. I think if the lead character had found an article in the newspaper citing a disturbance (or destruction of) on an orbital satellite. This would have been more concrete evidence than the letter and led credence to the concept of the “disintegration beam.” Maybe also include a series of mysterious and unexplainable robberies to support the teleportation concept. I think the inclusion of these sorts of items would have only taken a minute to include and increased the credibility of the boy’s concepts in his letter because the boy could just be a nutcase. My other problem with this one is that it takes awhile to get going. I would have like to have seen the story get into the action a little quicker. The last niggling problem I had with the episode is the portrayal of the woman conspirator. I could it somewhat anachronistic and too much of a characterization rather than trying to make her real. On the whole, the episode had more potential than it delivered. I liked the ending but felt that a sound effect (disintegration or teleportation) would have been a nice way to end the episode after the character is cut-off. I would give it two stars (out of four).

I enjoyed this episode, primarily because I couldn't figure out where it was going. I do think it was written to be somewhat tongue-in-cheek. The characters were just a little too easily taken in to the whole plot, just a little too gullible, a little too trusting, and basically led around by the nose by children we never see. Perhaps some commentary adulthood?

@Richard: SUSPENSE did "The Pit & The Pendulum" on Nov 28th, 1947. CBSRMT did Episode #0233-"The Pit & The Pendulum" on March 4th, 1975. Also, SUSPENSE did "An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" on July 19th, 1959 starring Vincent Price. CBSRMT did Episode #0101-"An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge" on June 4th, 1974.

A few weeks back I listened to episode 463, "Who is George Williams," from 1978. A few days later I happened to listen to an episode of Suspense from 1945 featuring Boris Karloff. After a few minutes I realized the plot seemed very familiar. It was basically the same as the CBSRMT episode I'd just listened to. The timing was very coincidental, but it also got me wondering how many other CBSRMT shows might have been lifted from the old Suspense series.

In this episode the main character never actually appears. I liked it very much.

Alfred Bester is a good Sci-Fi/Fantasy writer, but this is a story that you have to listen to twice. ACT-1 starts off slow, ACT-2 takes place in 1 scene, and the story becomes adventurous in ACT-3. Both the music & sound effects I like. And I would've rate this 4 out of 5 if the cast was different. William Redfield (as Warbeck), Kenneth Harvey (as Jason Buchanan), Danny Ocko (as Foster Buchanan), Robert Dryden (as Walter Herod), and Martha Greenhouse (as Daisy) are good radio actors, but this particular CBSRMT episode would be much entertaining if they were replaced by Fred Gwynne, Norman Rose, Russell Horton, John Lithgow, and Jada Rowland. If you enjoy the writings of Alfred Bester, you should check this out.

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