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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Outsider
Plot:
After missing his train stop, a man finds himself in a cursed town stuck in 1949; and the townsfolk see him as the messiah who will set them free.
Episode:
0983
Air Dates:
First Run - May 28, 1979
Repeat - October 18, 1979
Writer:
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Rating:
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26 Responses to Episode 0983


I first heard this when it aired in 1979... as a matter of fact I recorded it on cassette tape.. I have listened to it many times and still really enjoy it. I did notice when he is in the diner and he says that nothing in the diner was from the 1970's or 1980's. Interesting tale about a man who sees the town of Hanover Hills as the Fountain of Youth, but the people there think it's a hellish Suspended Animation. The music at the end of Act-1 makes the story become more preternatural.

Wonder what ever happened to that blue stone? Since I am a tri-state area resident, I have always enjoyed all the local references on many of the shows, Mt Vernon for instance in this one! However Hanover Hill is completely fictitious , maybe a disguised reference to Bedford Hills? Although I found myself anticipating the conclusion, I enjoyed this. Reminiscent of a Twilight Zone episode. It was written by one of my favorite RMT writers (Bob Juhren) and had cast members not often heard on the show, which was refreshing.

I actually liked the fact it wasn't as dark as many of the RMT shows....it was a nice change, and good story as always, although I expected more of a mystery somehow Loved the scene where Doug & Kathy try to leave by walking along the railroad track only to find the next station is at the very same town they were trying to get away from! (Hanover Hills) Very "twilight zone-ish! This particular show just seems easy to listen too. The sound effects and all were well done. I also just got that pleasant feeling about Hanover Hills... I suppose that was intended. Cathy I am an avid fan of the twilight zone as well and yes I suppose maybe thats why I liked this one so much is it ddi have some similarities.

Doug Watson is heading home on the commuter train, his mind focused on the work he has brought home with him. When he looks up, he discovers the entire train is empty and that he has missed his regular stop. He steps off the train and finds himself in a strange little town: Hanover Hills. The residents claim that a mysterious occurence has cut them off from the world. They have not been able to leave and no one new has come into the town for thirty years and during the three decades no one in the town has aged a day. Watson is the "outsider" they have been waiting for and they hope he will have the key to releasing them back into the world. This is a well-done "mysterious small town" episode (in the tradition of "A Holiday Visit," or "The Summer People") that reminds me of The Twilight Zone. Genre: Science Fiction

Doug Watson is heading home on the commuter train, his mind focused on the work he has brought home with him. When he looks up, he discovers the entire train is empty and that he has missed his regular stop. He steps off the train and finds himself in a strange little town: Hanover Hills. The residents claim that a mysterious occurence has cut them off from the world. They have not been able to leave and no one new has come into the town for thirty years and during the three decades no one in the town has aged a day. Watson is the "outsider" they have been waiting for and they hope he will have the key to releasing them back into the world. This is also one of my all time favorite old radio programs and so far my favorite rmt. I remember when I first heard it back in 1979... I was 14 then and this happened to also be one of a few that I have actually recorded on cassette. It is one of those shows that you are just so cought up in... I also think it is simply very well done form techinical and acting perspective.. FOr example when at the end he return home and the "blue marble rock" falls out of his pocket and his wife goes to pick it up you can hear the inflextion in her voice as if she is bending down to pick it up... small detail but all adds up to a wonderful show!I say it is: Excellent

John Beal is cool, as I've said before. He's the main guy in this, which reminds me, strangely, of a that Twilight Zone story "It's a good life" (itself a Ray Bradbury story?), where a normal, small American town suddenly disappears off the map. This story's not nearly as malevolent as the TWZ play, though...nor is it like the RMT's "the fall of Gentryville". At the beginning of the tale, Beal's character is looking at a real, in-his-hand blue stone which is from a recent occurence in his life that he cannot fathom. He doesn't know if he just imagined it (though the stone is genuine) or if he had contact with some strange other existence. Turns out he's an analyst, and was on his way to work on the commuter train. He'd just exchanged niceties with a friend, and had become totally immersed in his figures for work. (I guess he'd had been staring at his laptop had this episode taken place today?) When he looks up, he's astounded to see that the train car is empty, save for him. In fact, the whole TRAIN appears to be empty. Disoriented, he exits the train at a stop he can't recognize. Immediately, he's met by a kindly woman who seems to be amazed that he's there. Taking him to her place to meet her husband, he discovers he's in a town called "Hanover Hills", that (they surmised) after some distant far off nuclear test was suddenly isolated from everywhere. The people are eternally youthful. They always have a plentiful harvest from crops in nearby fields. The town filling station's gas pumps are always full. Yet whenever one tries to leave town by rail or road, they always end up back where they started. Apparently, when the atomic test took place a mysterious vapor began emanating from a nearby hill. The townspeople can see it from far off but not up close. Beal's character, led by another townsman to the site, can see it up close, and they become convinced that whatever is inside that cave which is the source of the vapors is what's keeping their town mysteriously ageless and isolated. Nice ending, if a little inexplicable. Interesting to hear John Beal (who was a septugenarian when this play was performed) talking about a "disco"...

For thirty years the town of Hanover Hills has been cut off from the outside world. There have been no births, no deaths, no one has been able to leave, nor has anyone ever arrived—until Doug Watson somehow stumbles upon the town. The residents quickly come to see him as their savior.

John Beal was a wonderful RMT voice. Nice episode choice!

This one was straight out of "The Twilight Zone" or "The Outer Limits" (though, if it had been an "Outer Limits" --a bizarre alien creature would have been the culprit). John Beal was perfect for the role of Doug Watson. He has that kindly--easy-going--everyman--Jimmy Stewart--type of voice-- which was just what the part called for. This also had a "TZ" type moral to it. If you could live forever, without aging, would you really want to? Good choice...............

The ending lacked punch but overall it is a very fun episode. I expected that the protagonist would also be stuck in time at the end of the show after his wife found the object that had apparently triggered the time freeze. I would've liked a bit more explanation as to why the townspeople seemed to expect the arrival of the main character. Early on, I thought there must have been some sort of prophecy that foretold the arrival of a "savior" but that didn't seem to be the case. The story felt a little underdeveloped but it was still fun.

This is a well-written episode with a tight script that keeps the listener on the hook, wanting to see how it will be resolved. I put this episode in the category with other great CBSRMT "strange small town" stories like "The Summer People" and "Sleepy Village" and "A Holiday Visit." It's sort of a reverse Brigadoon (the story where this small town appears once every 100 years). Here these people are trapped in a town where time does not pass...and they desperately wish that it would. As is often the case in speculative fiction, immortality is not all it is cracked up to be. What is the value of life if we cannot grow and change and evolve? I agree with Steve that this is one of Bob Juhren's classic "Twilight Zone-ish" stories which is probably why I like it so much.

I really enjoyed this one, very engrossing and entertaining, great escapism.

Great episode. Being a commuter myself, I liked the way Bob Juhren used the occurance of losing track of time while on a train as a doorway to another dimension. Very simple and clever. Juhren is so good at this "twilight zone" type of story. It's definitely a close cousin to Rod Serling's "A Stop at Willoughby", only more complex I think. (As a matter of fact, Serling's story takes place on the exact same train that I take--the MetroNorth New Haven line. And I always wake up when they call out the Stamford stop, just like the guy in the show! Serling must've done some commuting on that line himself.) This episode also reminded me a little of a short story by Clive Barker about a late-night New York subway train that goes to hell for its last stop--- although, of course, not as gruesome. Super choice! Until next time,

This is a great example of simplistic storytelling from the RMT. Great choice! I really enjoyed it. It had a reminiscent quality of the old Outer Limits and Twilight Zone shows I grew up watching. While the show didn't strike me as terribly deep, it certainly masked a lot of metaphors of time. From the train and the train tracks, to the cycle of driving from one end of the town only to come back full circle into the same place, to the creeping vines that had eventually grown over the town when he returned. One thing that struck me was in regard to the people of the town. I was surprised that there was not more widespread aggression toward the situation. When the one man became volatile about wanting to get out, everyone seemed passive and even said, "I guess I never looked at it from his point of view" (or something like that). Now this is just me, but I think I would either have gone berserk trying to find my way outta there, no matter what -- never stopping, never accepting the way things were -- or, I'd have simply become content with the way things existed and enjoyed the benefits of never growing old and never having to worry. Despite the evidence against it, it still sounds like a utopia to me! The only other thing that surprised me was that there was no spiritual mention in the show. Usually a show like this has some kind of priest or spiritualistic character talking about the will of God or something. Just interesting, is all. I gave the show a hearty 4.4, as it was fun and easy to listen to, but for me there was a bit of depth that was lacking that I've found in other shows. Great choice and thanks for picking it!

AHA! I knew it! The Twilight Zone comparison was made in every post preceding mine.

OK, I cheated a bit, I posted a one-liner so I could go back and read everyone else's comments to gauge the thread. Since I have mentioned TZ a time or two already around here, I thought I'd lay low on that comparison, but, as a TZ lover also, the similarity in this episode is one reason I found it so riveting. For some reason, I can get picky with certain perceived absurdities in some of the episodes that have a "real world" base. But, because life in a TZ type world is intrinsically absurd, it didn't bother me at all that gas, oil and groceries never disappear in Hanover Hills, etc. I loved the scene in the diner where the malcontent spouted off about how it sucks that, among other things, his kids never grow up! Here are comments I wholeheartedly second: As is often the case in speculative fiction, immortality is not all it is cracked up to be. What is the value of life if we cannot grow and change and evolve? ...when it was explained by E.G. Marshall how this kind of life disallows one from being able to look forward to new things, made me realize that maybe it wasn't such a great thing afterall. I enjoyed the music in this. I love it when, during the aforementioned "into the mist" scene, Beal describes it as "like a disco". (Would have been funny if he'd have encountered John Travolta in a white leisure suit on the other side of that stone. Very good choice, Hamlet! I hadn't heard this one before and I really enjoyed it. A solid 4+ episode.

I would have to agree with the TZ comparison. Which I love. I was a little disappointed with the ending. Not from any fault of the show. I had recently listened to Journey Into Space and the whole time halting of time and the results of a return to normalcy, or earth in the case of JIS, were the same. Long winded way of saying "I saw it coming". All in all a very good show. I was surprised when it neared the ending. Time had flown by for me also.

I really enjoyed the Journey Into Space shows, though it was somewhat laughable when they were trying so hard to be serious. Bard, are you loving the Hitchhiker series? I assume it's the BBC collection, right? That's the series that stared me on this whole whacky, OTR thing! Hitchhiker is just wonderful!

A nice episode of CBSRMT at its most Twilight Zoney. The story resembles several TZs--not only "A Stop at Willoughby," which someone else mentioned, but also "Valley of the Shadow," about a similarly impossible-to-escape small town. "The Outsider" made for quite engrossing listening, I thought, though I must confess to a feeling of letdown at the end. This kind of tale seems to demand a double whammy--something more at the climax, some new revelation that throws everything we've heard before into a new perspective. Maybe the whole town suffered a catastrophe back in 1950 or whenever it was, so everyone we've met in the show is dead--and our narrator has unwittingly brought them all back to life in 1980. Something like that. Thoroughly enjoyable.

I like Douglas Adam's humor. I had read Hitchhiker's Guide and I think maybe So Long And Thanks For All The Fish about 16 years ago. This series is as good as the book. In fact, it is laid out like the book with the alternation between dialogue and narration. Yep, Ima likin' it

I really enjoyed this episode. It was creepy and a story that captured me and brought me to that town. I liked the story line and was impressed the man who stepped into that town was able to bring it back to the future. My only complaint is that this story gave only a little of an explanation for why the town was stuck in the past. I have an active imagination and can come up with my own explanation, but I want to hear what the writer thought it was. What was that rock? What happened in the past to create that fissure and that rock? Just my questions! Overall, a good episode.

ApplCinamn, I find that the problems you describe in this episode (which I remember well; I've heard it a couple of times) are pretty typical of the RMT's forays into Twilight Zone-type stories. Too often a fantastically interesting situation is set up, only to have the story itself dissolve in contradictions and unresolved questions (try "A Holiday Visit," 12/25/80, for another example of this syndrome). Part of the issue was certainly the crazy rate at which scripts had to be written for the series, most of them originals, with only a very few writers--sloppiness in plotting could hardly help but creep in. Also, I've long felt that the three-act structure crippled a lot of the tales, forcing writers to find ways to fill time in a piece that would have worked better, and left fewer illogical and confused moments, if it had simply been shorter. But you know what? I like "The Outsider," too--quite a lot, in fact. (And "A Holiday Visit," as well.)

I'm thinking the "time freeze" was caused by the sort of thing that was often a tool of sci-fi in the 50s and early 60s -- failed nuclear experimentation. These people had been frozen since about 1950... a time when these kinds of stories were, including TZ, were popular.

I enjoyed this the first time I heard it, and I enjoyed it more just now upon finishing it. - Good comparisons to "The twilight zone". (I'm reminded of the aforementioned "A stop at Willoughby" (train travel to a strange place) and, I think, an episode named "A hundred yards over the rim" with Cliff Robertson playing a country man whose child is very sick, and while in search of a doctor he goes over a hill to (as I recall) stumble into a future town, and then somehow finds his way back home with medicine that cures his child.) However, this one had a very nice ending that, in an RMT sort of way, kindly tied everything together. It's nice to hear stories like this. - John Beal was cool. - I enjoyed the music in this. I truly love the music at the beginning of the first act, when Beal's character is describing the mysterious stone. It has a wonderful both slightly sinister yet dreamy (in a reminiscing sort of way) quality. This same interlude was well used in a previous RMT: "The secret chamber." - A lesser used but very menacing piano, marimba, piccolo and bassoon interlude is at the very end of the first act, when the man tells Beal's character they're relying on him to get them out of their situation (while Beal has no idea how he got into it). This was used, as I recall, at the end of an act of another episode, "The house on Chimney Pot Lane". - "The vampire plant", used quite frequently the strange sound (I don't exactly know how they made this sound effect, though it appears to use an echo chamber) that they used when Beal's character finally goes into the mist. (It's not the humming noise...I'm not sure if I'd ever heard that before on the RMT, but it's playing right underneath it.) - I love it when, during the aforementioned "into the mist" scene, Beal describes it as "like a disco". (Would have been funny if he'd have encountered John Travolta in a white leisure suit on the other side of that stone.  Thanks for suggesting this...I'm glad to listen to it again.

After Act I, I was asking myself the same question that Doug had asked when he discovered the kind of life that they were living, "And you want to change all of this? It's utopia!" Here they were living in a land where nothing grows older, nothing's worn out, everything stays the same. How can this be such a bad thing? I guess that it was in the concluding act, when it was explained by E.G. Marshall how this kind of life disallows one from being able to look forward to new things, made me realize that maybe it wasn't such a great thing afterall. Still, I liked the story very much. I've always had a keen interest in sci-fi when it explores the time-space continuum thingy. And this one does so quite nicely and that's why I gave it a 4 out of 5 rating. In true fashion (as per the rules of this board), I'm writing this without having read other posters comments, but I'm betting that someone has already mentioned how this story is eerily similar to something taken right out of the Twilight Zone.

I really liked this story. At first I thought that either everyone was dead or that Doug was dreaming. There were some things that confused me or that I thought weren't really explained. For instance, what happened to all of the people on Doug's train and why was he the only one that was left, not even the conductor? How/why did Doug and the train breach the curtain of time that day and never any other day? Are we supposed to think it was because his birthday was coming up and he was wishing time would slow down? If that were the case, then everyone would have visited Hanover Hills at some point. Also, if time had frozen or was rewinding itself every day (like the store shelves being refilled), why did the people continue to remember from day to day and note what would have been the passage of normal time? Maybe I've watched too much Star Trek. I'm reminded of a scene in DS9 where O'Brien is working with his future (a few hours ahead) self to save the station and they're trying to make sense of the whole time thing in terms of having memory of it and they both blurt out something like "I hate temporal mechanics." But this story was more "Twilight Zone" than "Star Trek." It had that whole "average guy being snapped up into the Zone to achieve some outcome" thing going. But I did like the story a lot.

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