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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Good Times Express
Plot:
A snow storm in the middle of June forces a tradesman to abandon his flight and catch a train. But he finds himself amid weird fellow travellers journeying to strange places.
Episode:
0857
Air Dates:
First Run - June 30, 1978
Repeat - January 2, 1979
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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10 Responses to Episode 0857


Great episode. Good story, good sci-fi. Holds up today.

LOVE this episode!! This is one of my favorite ones. :)

After his plane to Boston is cancelled due to snow, a man finds his only mode of transportation to be a train: the Good Times Express and discovers that this train not only travels through space but also through time. A weird episode, well-acted. Genre: Sci-fi

for me, i think the basis of this show is the main character's inability to make a moral decision despite the obvious consequences of his actions. for example, he designs a children's game that promotes global annihilation? yikes! and in the end, despite knowing the rule of the apple in Eden, he decides to indulge... or so we are led to believe. the whole redirection of "knowledge" seemed more of a device to keep the story going than it did as an integral part of what was going on, though Dann certainly kept it all tied together wonderfully. there were a lot of themes at play here, ranging from ethics and morals, to psychology and sanity, to even the theme of death, which is said or implied throughout the show.  overall, i really enjoyed this one. it was a quick listen that moved along at a good pace and held me til the very end. i especially like when an episode has some moral dilemma at its core and this one delivered that in full.

a terrific show. just getting re-acclamated. great script, effects, twists and turns in the story. and that voice of eg marshall. wow - its like im a ten year old kid again! thanks for setting this up.

An interesting tale that collapses under its own whimsical weight, “The Good Times Express” keeps the listener wondering to the bitter end. The provender of a crab apple?. Neglecting here to prune beyond the teeniest tendrils of meaning, substance and consistency, the tale grows wild. What sustains us is the mystery. Our imagination is nourished with the hope (expectation) of deriving some order from this tale. Just what is developing here? At root, in the end, we discover, and this is most pervasive since it is discovered and not told, (or is it?) that men and women will do what the want and be blinded by it. Did not Polly-2, Meliphisant, deny the oncoming ugliness of WW2 for the sake of living out her Shangri-La fantasy of 1937? Did not Max 2, the historian, focalize the greatest meaning to American history as a disgruntled citizen and historian? I do not begrudge the characters their decisions….in fact they make sense for what we know of them. However, our scientifically minded physicist entertains a fantasy that can not hold up to the barest of inspection. Surely he has a more fertile mind! This is manifest whether or not one takes the Adam and Eve-Garden of Eden scenario as fact or myth. In either case the story becomes unsustainable. If one does not take credence with the tale, the significance and relevance here in our story suffers because after all…it is just a myth. Contrary, if the tale of the Garden of Eden is to be accepted wholly, as by our Calvin Smith, then we must ask: Knowing that all ( or at least most) knowledge will be absent when existing pre-gnash, how in the world can our protagonist not understand, especially AS A SCIENTIST that the acquisition of knowledge is an inalienable human characteristic. A structure of human anatomy…the frontal lobe, is blatant enough for physical evidence…the fact that we have acquired knowledge historically, and feel it’s lure as individuals whom may and probably are not even scientists…So, this leaves this listener with the above stated conclusion that people will do and believe what they want, despite the evidence. Surely, Calvin Smith here was making an emotional decision, that is what he wanted, for an intellectual perspective can not rationalize his behavior. I do not infer here that the author intended this meaning consciously…though it is possible.

To me, this show boils down to a phrase I've heard more than once, in reply to a question: Quote: Q: "Would you ever go back in time to your teenage/childhood years?" A: "Only if I could take the wisdom I've gained as a mature adult back with me." There was an episode that dealt with this subject ...it involved Mercedes McCambridge as a woman who had the chance not to steal some money (which she had, and had messed up her life) and was given a second chance...which she messed up again. This OTR, however, goes back to The ultimate mistake...another RMT reference to the Christian Bible. And...it was predictable. (I liked the touch of the train whistle in the background as Ralph Bell's surveying his final destination.)

As for the show, I was fascinated by the context within the story. Fast paced and edge-of-your-seat kind of story that was very enjoyable to listen to. If Sam Dann had any kind of sense of humor, I wonder if it didn't cross his mind to end this show where the character winds up getting off the train only to be greeted by a bunch of primates instead - ala Darwinism? That would've been good for a laugh! 

"If Sam Dann had any kind of sense of humor, I wonder if it didn't cross his mind to end this show where the character winds up getting off the train only to be greeted by a bunch of primates instead - ala Darwinism? That would've been good for a laugh! "................................................. ...............................Interestingly enough the same thought occurred to me, though not as a source of humor, irony or bemusement. Finding primates, or at least primatives, would have enriched the story and allow it to evolved beyond the expected.

Well, this was certainly a fun episode, and an improvement over the last couple of (which I listened to but couldn't think of anything to say about). As with so many RMTs, the Twilight Zone influence is clear in this story, and I found myself trying to guess which Twilight Zone ending they were going to borrow from. At first I thought it would turn out he was dead and on his way to heaven or hell---in Act 1 Polly says something like, "You look dead on your feet," which I suspected was a, well, dead giveaway. I also guessed that he might be locked in some sort of eternally replaying nightmare. But the real resolution was more creative and more thought-provoking, even if it seemed a bit tacked-on---we needed to know more about our brilliant physicist's mental magnificence throughout the story to really make the "knowledge" idea hit home, I think. Still, I certainly never guessed where we would be in that last scene, and with whom. Pedantic note: the opening credits indicate that the episode was written by that most prolific of tale-spinners Sam Dann, not the nearly-as-prolifically-spinning Ian Martin. I mentioned this a long time ago, but I'll say here again that Sam Dann wrote a couple of novels back in the 1970s and '80s that are worth searching out on the Internet. One, "Goodbye, Karl Erich," has as its basis the RMT episode of the same name (though the book itself never acknowledges this). Anyway, I found "Good Times Express" a very engaging show, prime CBSRMT.

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