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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
A Choice of Witnesses
Plot:
The tables are turned on a seasoned blackmailer as his past victims team up to create a deadly plan to ensnare him.
Episode:
0047
Air Dates:
First Run - February 28, 1974
Repeat - May 22, 1974
Repeat - March 18, 1979
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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29 Responses to Episode 0047


In fact, an excellent morality play in that the morality is not black and white. It's easy to be moral when you have nothing to lose from being moral. I don't know if the conspiring witness approach would work in real life; real-life eyewitnesses seldom agree on anything. However, I don't know that it wouldn't work, either. Morality play, no supernatural elements.

Found this to be an original and fascinating take on the old blackmail story, along with a surprise ending.

This is one of my top favorite episodes, because of the writing and because of the acting talents of Ralph Bell

Super episode. I was riveted, and the protagonist really conveyed his feelings of remorse, unease, and fortitude very well. Whichever guy acted that part has a terrific voice, too. Ralph Bell?

A very solid episode--4 stars. Did anyone find his wife particularly forgiving? Maybe that's the way spouses were in 1974...

I thought this was one of the best episodes ever. It is one that can be enjoyed more than once. It has a believable moral dilemma. It has the classic good versus evil tone and a solid ending.

Liked this espisode. Did anyone else think that the protagonist was a bit of a stick in the mud? I can see him not wanting to be involved, but once it did happen why go on about it? Kellerman was scum and a major problem was solved. Did he not think that the group would get together again?

Mr. Bailey meets a man who makes his living by taking pictures. He doesn't sell the pictures. Instead, for a monthly fee, he promises not to reveal the photos. His "clients" decide that they've had enough of his service and plot action.

Really interesting watching a process come to life (or death).

A man is being blackmailed by a sleazy photographer with photos of him cheating on his wife. His predicament deepens when he he's approached by others who are being blackmailed by the photographer as well. They propose murdering the photographer in such a way that no one will be a suspect. A well-acted episode that deals with an interesting moral conundrum: If you could get out of a terrible situation by committing a murder with no chance of getting caught, would you do it? Genre: Suspense

A "professional" balckmailer is targeted by his victims who hatch an elaborate plan to get him. Complex story that is well acted. Recommended

A man is blackmailed by an unscrupulous photographer who caught him in a romantic daliance while at a conference. The man is approached by another man who is also being blackmailed who suggests, with the cooperation of a dozen others being blackmailed, a final solution to their problem. Despite the affair, he is a very moral man and struggles with the proposed solution.

I really liked it, had me guessing until the very end.

This is a really interesting well-acted episode that poses a challenging ethical/moral conundrum: If you could get out of a terrible situation by committing a murder of a despicable person, with no chance of getting caught, would you do it? This is a fine example of good storytelling with a very satisfying, although disturbing, ending.

I listened to this program during the first few months of my re-awakening to the CBSRMT. I enjoyed it then and I think it may have even improved with a second listen. Though a bit predictable, Henry Slesar wrote an enjoyable tale of blackmail and intrigue. Call it odd, but I tend to like programs, such as "A Choice of Witnesses", where we find ourselves pulling for the lesser of two evils. Great pick!

I really enjoyed the show, but then I'm a sucker for moral dillemas in drama. I found it interesting that Baily was a man of such divergent moral primacies. For example, the unwillingness to actively participate in a murder with the apparent (if only temporary) acceptance of being an accessory. Also, the guilt of cheating on his wife that was tempered by the belief that he was forcibly coerced by his boss. I know I've found myself to be morally inconsistent on a few occaisions (a lot more than I'd like, that's for sure), so I found Baily's actions quite believable - the other characters I found a lot less so, but I blame time constraints on lack of their character development. I give the CBSRMT credit, though, as television would likely have taken the easier road and made Baily a white knight. Playing the shades of gray made the story so much more believable and thought provoking. Holy smokes! I used the phrase "divergent moral primacies" in a sentence - Sorry, it must be time for another glass of wine and an episode of Mr. Ed on Nick@Night. Goodnight Wilbur!

The RMT, at its best, captured the humanity of people so well. More so than so many programs have since. We all, in our earthly bodies in this fallen world, have a mixture of virtue and sin. Bailey exemplifies that so much...as proof, it's striking that after he makes the big revelation to his wife (Evie Juster could be tremendous, and sound so vulnerable with her little-girl-grown-up voice) and she not only forgives him but asks him to hold her, that he skips out on her when given the chance to close the loop with Robert Dryden's character. (BTW, Dryden's portrayal in this show reminded me of his role as the, for lack of a better term, "dispatcher of assassins" in "The moonlighter". Notice also the references to the Ten Commandments, specifically "thou shalt not kill"? Just like "The moonlighter's" corrupted protagonist did.) And Bailey's disdain for Christian hypocrites is the hallmark of a scriptwriter who knows a lot about people and how they work, rather (as so many scriptwriters seem to do today) than creating fantasy on fantasized behavior. I enjoyed this when I first heard it last year. Thanks.

I think the story was very clever and plausible. While some of the mechanics can be viewed as silly, such as visiting and collecting monies in person, the overall premise is sound. A guy cheats on his wife, feels guilty and hides the fact. In the fantastic realm of radio, a master blackmailer finds similar guilty parties and exploits them I think at this point in the drama we are to enjoy the ride as entertainment, a fantastic idea who's application would probably be impossible. So, I suppose I am so enamored with the story itself that I overlook the flaws. I enjoyed it an hope you do too.

I felt this one was pretty predictable, although it was just well written enough that I listened to the whole thing hoping that maybe there would be a clever twist. Unfortunately there wasn't. I was distracted during the whole show because I just kept thinking, "If the guy really loves his wife, why doesn't he just tell her the whole story first thing and not pay the blackmailer?" Oh well. Guess there wouldn't have been a story if he'd done that. For that reason, I thnk it's a pretty weak story----although the acting and production values were great as usual.

Another excellent episode! I didn't see the twist until near the end. I had to listen to it in the context of being broadcast in the mid-1970's. Scandal was still not wanted. I just can't see a blackmailer making any money today. After the Clinton scandal and Jerry Springer and all those other shows, it is not a a scandal to do what this guy did. You just admit your mistakes and beg forgiveness. I am not saying I would want such secrets known about me, but today we mostly admit, forgive, and forget. Keep the good episodes coming!

This one wasn't bad, although Bailey's fate was pretty much predictable the moment he admitted to Bliss he couldn't promise he wouldn't go to the cops. Ya don't tell a group of people harboring a murder secret that you're a loose cannon. Bailey was actually pretty stupid throughout the whole thing, not to mention, as Bliss pointed out, something of a hypocrite. First, he put impressing his boss over fidelity to his wife. And it seemed pretty clear that he would have never admitted anything to her had Kellerman's blackmail never happened--even when it did, he held off saying anything. Then, as Bliss mentioned, he didn't rat out Kellerman to the cops because it served his purpose not to but he didn't consider Bliss a threat at that point and considered squealing on him because he didn't think he would lose anything by doing so. Then, knowing what he knew about the deadly dozen, he still was stupid enough to meet with Bliss at the bar. I found myself not really having much sympathy for Bailey. Maybe he was supposed to be the "good" guy to root for but I thought him rather idiotic and someone whose sense of morality seemed to come into play more with regard to how it would affect him. Even his ultimate confession to his wife had more to do with relieving his conscience and loosening the blackmail stranglehold on him than it being out of respect for her. I would probably give this one a 3.5 out of 5. It was well-acted and the concept of a group of strangers being complicitous in the "perfect crime" is interesting. But the onset of Bailey being blackmailed and ultimately sent to his demise by Bliss was predictable long before it happened.

This show is another one of my favorites. (Following my formula - interesting idea and thought provoking, not supernatural, but quite unlikely to occur. I did see sort of a twist). I believed the character. He cheated on his wife (in his words by coercion). Every one makes mistakes, even good people. This was just a big one and he was sorry. Everyone thinks he should have come clean to her in the first place. I kind of see why he didn't - because when he did she almost seemed more angry that he told her and upset her when she would not have known. "Why did you have to tell me? I never would have found out." She acted like it was a selfish move on his part. Telling her to make himself feel better at the expense of her feeling hurt. Maybe she felt what she didn't know wouldn't hurt her. Also, I believe her character. I know that many households have a primary wage-earner that handles the money. This was probably more true in the 70's. I know my mother left it all to my father to handle and she would not notice $40 a month. (We were very traditional...she was no Gloria Steinem.) I did find myself comparing this one to The Chinaman Button. They are both written by Henry Slesar, both morality subjects, and each had someone trying to "inch" the other toward committing an evil. In the Chinaman Button, he asked Walter if he cared if any of the people in the obituaries were dead...In Choice of Witnesses Bliss asked him if he would have been upset if the blackmailer was killed in a true accident, or if he would have been happy. In the Chinaman Button Walter finally caved, but in this story Bailey never could accept murder. He was about to turn the others in. At the end, I noticed Bliss was one of the witnesses to Bailey's shooting. I felt this was a bit risky since he had just been cleared in the 'accident'. I thought they would use all different witnesses to prevent any connection.

This was a pretty good episode. It could have been avoided if Mr. Bailey didn't cheat on his wife in the first place, but what's done is done. ops: What I was thinking was that when he finally told his wife, why didn't he tell her the REST of the story? Not only that, but when Bailey told Bliss that he had told his wife, what made Bliss think he didn't tell her all about him murdering the blackmailer, too? If Bailey DID tell his wife about Bliss, then Bliss killing Bailey would have accomplished very little. "Okay honey, now that I told you I bonked some hooker, there was a really bad man who had pictures of me bonking said hooker who was whacked by another schmoze he was blackmailing. Now that I have come clean with you, I'm going to narc on this other guy, okey dokey?" See? That wasn't that hard. I loved the dog.

First, did anyone else notice the dog? The dog makes his appearance infrequently, but at moments when things are amiss. Once when Mr. Bailey comes home after meeting Kessler and he tells the dog to "shut up!" Again when Bailey meets Mr. Bliss and Bailey says, "I'm trying to walk my dog who is being a non-performer." Again when Bailey's wife becomes tense, she tells him to "shut up!" and finally, toward the end after Kessler's death when the dog stared at the door barking. Coincidentally, the dog's name was Lockjaw. I doubt any of that means anything, but funny enough to note. Second, This was among the first three episodes I'd heard when I re-discovered the RMT here. However, the outset of this program is so much like many, many other stories in which the character fails to see the obvious solution right in front of him: honesty. I kept thinking to myself, "Why wouldn't you just come clean with your wife?" It would have rid him of the blackmailer, rid him of any guilt he had festering within, and would have put him in a more honest position in his marriage, giving his wife the respect she deserved in knowing the truth. I remember watching Three's Company where Jack Tripper (John Ritter) would always find himself in the most ridiculous situations, which made watching the show dreadfully hard. If he'd just come clean up front it woud be done with. It boggles me. Especially when Mr. Bailey begins to reason and plea with Kessler, giving him explanation. It was painful to listen to, and I mean from a critical viewpoint. Of course, the show must go on. The episode really begins with the entrance of Mr. Bliss (?), who eventually reveals himself as the true "villain." This is also where the writing turns from painful to masterful. And this is not only what saves the show, but makes the show as well. There were many character flaws in this story which made the suspension of disbelief a little harder to raise. The fact that Kessler collected money in person instead of using a PO Box or something. The writer should have considered that. The chance that he would encounter confrontation was too great. Bliss could have still followed him and such, but the idea that Kessler was visiting at least 12 people monthly was a bit of a stretch. Other flaws, like Bailey cheating on his wife, was out of character itself. Suspending disbelief, it can be accepted, but this is a man who would not have been able to live with that guilt. A man who would not have been able to supress a mistake like that. Not a man who won a prize as a child for memorizing the Commandments and still adhered to them. Again, a bit of a stretch but within the realms of believable. Bailey himself was an ironic character. He was an official in the transportation department and he used his car as the vehicle of death for Kessler. HA! Funny stuff!! And finally, the wife. If my spouse were making monthly payments to someone in person for reasons that were as vague as a Pollock painting, you can bet bean sprouts to bacon that I'd have been a bit more curious about it. Why she didn't inquire about the transaction a little further was a question in my mind. Again, Bailey said it was for a car... coincidental that it in the end it was a car that killed the blackmailer, driven by an official in the transportation department (Sorry for repeating). Lastly, the words of EG Marshall were especially humorous: "Welcome to the fear you can hear;" "It's not your eyes we want, it's your ears!;" and "Join us again to be an EARwitness"... yuk yuk... Overall, this was an enjoyable - if not dark humored - episode, and by suspending disbelief a little further than normal, and not questioning certain character flaws, it was a high-octane thrill-ride that blindsided me, only to rear-end me at the finish-line. I gave it a 4.4 on the scale. Thank you once again for a great show! Best wishes!

I listened to this program during the first few months of my re-awakening to the CBSRMT. I enjoyed it then and I think it may have even improved with a second listen. Though a bit predictable, Henry Slesar wrote an enjoyable tale of blackmail and intrigue. Call it odd, but I tend to like programs, such as "A Choice of Witnesses", where we find ourselves pulling for the lesser of two evils. Great pick!

This was a pretty good episode. It could have been avoided if Mr. Bailey didn't cheat on his wife in the first place, but what's done is done. ops: What I was thinking was that when he finally told his wife, why didn't he tell her the REST of the story? Not only that, but when Bailey told Bliss that he had told his wife, what made Bliss think he didn't tell her all about him murdering the blackmailer, too? If Bailey DID tell his wife about Bliss, then Bliss killing Bailey would have accomplished very little. "Okay honey, now that I told you I bonked some hooker, there was a really bad man who had pictures of me bonking said hooker who was whacked by another schmoze he was blackmailing. Now that I have come clean with you, I'm going to narc on this other guy, okey dokey?" See? That wasn't that hard. I loved the dog. Good name; Lockjaw.

First, did anyone else notice the dog? The dog makes his appearance infrequently, but at moments when things are amiss. Once when Mr. Bailey comes home after meeting Kessler and he tells the dog to "shut up!" Again when Bailey meets Mr. Bliss and Bailey says, "I'm trying to walk my dog who is being a non-performer." Again when Bailey's wife becomes tense, she tells him to "shut up!" and finally, toward the end after Kessler's death when the dog stared at the door barking. Coincidentally, the dog's name was Lockjaw. I doubt any of that means anything, but funny enough to note. Second, This was among the first three episodes I'd heard when I re-discovered the RMT here. However, the outset of this program is so much like many, many other stories in which the character fails to see the obvious solution right in front of him: honesty. I kept thinking to myself, "Why wouldn't you just come clean with your wife?" It would have rid him of the blackmailer, rid him of any guilt he had festering within, and would have put him in a more honest position in his marriage, giving his wife the respect she deserved in knowing the truth. I remember watching Three's Company where Jack Tripper (John Ritter) would always find himself in the most ridiculous situations, which made watching the show dreadfully hard. If he'd just come clean up front it woud be done with. It boggles me. Especially when Mr. Bailey begins to reason and plea with Kessler, giving him explanation. It was painful to listen to, and I mean from a critical viewpoint. Of course, the show must go on. The episode really begins with the entrance of Mr. Bliss (?), who eventually reveals himself as the true "villain." This is also where the writing turns from painful to masterful. And this is not only what saves the show, but makes the show as well. There were many character flaws in this story which made the suspension of disbelief a little harder to raise. The fact that Kessler collected money in person instead of using a PO Box or something. The writer should have considered that. The chance that he would encounter confrontation was too great. Bliss could have still followed him and such, but the idea that Kessler was visiting at least 12 people monthly was a bit of a stretch. Other flaws, like Bailey cheating on his wife, was out of character itself. Suspending disbelief, it can be accepted, but this is a man who would not have been able to live with that guilt. A man who would not have been able to supress a mistake like that. Not a man who won a prize as a child for memorizing the Commandments and still adhered to them. Again, a bit of a stretch but within the realms of believable. Bailey himself was an ironic character. He was an official in the transportation department and he used his car as the vehicle of death for Kessler. HA! Funny stuff!! And finally, the wife. If my spouse were making monthly payments to someone in person for reasons that were as vague as a Pollock painting, you can bet bean sprouts to bacon that I'd have been a bit more curious about it. Why she didn't inquire about the transaction a little further was a question in my mind. Again, Bailey said it was for a car... coincidental that it in the end it was a car that killed the blackmailer, driven by an official in the transportation department (Sorry for repeating). Lastly, the words of EG Marshall were especially humorous: "Welcome to the fear you can hear;" "It's not your eyes we want, it's your ears!;" and "Join us again to be an EARwitness"... yuk yuk... Overall, this was an enjoyable - if not dark humored - episode, and by suspending disbelief a little further than normal, and not questioning certain character flaws, it was a high-octane thrill-ride that blindsided me, only to rear-end me at the finish-line.

Interesting review. You used most prose...Good episode.

A good episode I thought as well. I agree with others that at the end if he confessed to his wife about his indiscretion that he should've told her about the blackmail as well (and how that was resolved). If he had such a tough time with his conscience you'd think he'd come complete clean with her. It could've left a different twist to the end of the story.

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