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Catch the Smallest Devil


A cantankerous and horrid old man perishes after heart surgery. He is denied entrance into Heaven, even as a timid young nurse is admitted into the Pearly gates despite her self-deprecating remarks. Now the self-serving man must confront his wicked ways and the devil makes sure he does so.



Air Dates

  • First Run - January 1, 1981
  • Repeat - January 1, 1982





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20 Responses to Episode 1141

One of my favorite episodes...kind of "A Christmas Carol" for New Year's Eve. Depending on your beliefs it can be quite uplifting. Fred Gwynne didn't appear in many CBSRMT episodes but when he did, he always created memorable characters. He's terrific here. Never mind that you can see the finish a mile away; this one is a lot of fun and it will make you feel good.



Cash Harris

Ummmm...Fred Gwynn was in like a gazillion episodes.


No, Don, just 82. He was outstanding in every episode he was in, too. He was so gifted as an actor who appeared in comedies, dramas, even musicals, but, sadly, so many people know him as Herman Munster. That's not to denigrate a Sixties TV icon, but this man was so much more. He wrote some very clever children's books, which are very hard to find now. I'm not sure what your remark means, Don, but I treasure his performances, even in episodes I'm not fond of. RIP, Fred Gwynne.


Fred Gwynne. Full on rockstar.


This is an excellent episode to listen to on New year's Eve. Fred Gwynne was again great in this episode. I give this episode 5 Stars!

Don Heiland, Jr.

I rate this episode 4 stars for GOOD. Here’s what I liked the MOST. First, the cast: Fred Gwynne (as J. Barnabus Whitney), Teri Keane (as Nurse Lydia Mae Stewart), Court Benson (as Dr. Fowler and the Devil), and Norman Rose (as Chaplain Peterson and Saint Peter). All 4 them did a splendid job, especially our leading actor Mr. Fred Gwynne. Second, our Host when he discusses on dreaming in his Prologue. In ACT-1, our main character is introduced and his shred of dignity is fading. In ACT-2, E.G. Marshall informs us that our main character has faced the pearly gates and also a “fowl fiend.” At the end of ACT-3, he informs us about psychologists’ definition about dreaming. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall informs the CBSRMT fans about the origin of the pearly gates from the 21st chapter of the Bible’s Revelations. Our Host was informative on dreams defined and informative on spiritual circumstances. What I like the LEAST was the music and sound effects. There were less music tracks played in this episode, not many tunes to change scenes or make the scenes feel “holy” or “demonic.” The sound effects we only heard were creaking doors, bells chiming, shaking of the pearly gates, unrolling the scroll, and pearly gates closed shut. Some were repeated in the 2nd and 3rd Act. As for the script, Nancy Moore wrote a good mystery tale, fitting for a New Year’s Day story, but the ending was predictable that our main character got a second chance at life; kind of like Ebenezer Scrooge from #0402-A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I think the storyline would’ve been better if our main character, J. Barnabus Whitney, also met the Grim Reaper other than Saint Peter and the Devil. He met someone from Heaven, met another person from Hell. But how about the Grim Reaper where he meets him at the Crossroad of the afterlife? Anyway, the Title of this is suitable, but another way to call this would be, “Reap What You Sow” because that’s exactly what our main character has done. A rare mystery tale for New Years, but entertaining to listen to if you’re a fan of Fred Gwynne’s work. Also, check out episode #1231-LET NO MAN PUT ASUNDER for it is a mystery tale that takes place on New Year’s Eve. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)


Like this one! Hard to not like one with Fred Gwnn in it. Excellent story and acting. Check it out!


The writing by Nancy Moore is the real gem in this episode

Edward Hayes

Mr. Gwynne's performance in this one was great. Well worth a listen.


Wealthy, tight-fisted J. Barnabus Whitney, hospitalized for heart surgery, wakes up New Year’s Day in typical fashion: He insults his nurse, scorns his doctor and turns the visiting chaplain out of his room. But under sedation, he has a troubling dream and wakes up full of resolutions to do good before it’s too late.


One of my favorite episodes!


This is one of my favorite episodes to


Apart from his excellent and versatile performances as a visual actor (TV's ‘The Munster's’ and movies ‘My Cousin Vinny’ and ‘Pet Cemetery’), I usually find Fred Gwynne's radio performances quite wooden and sniffing of an overarching arrogance. Gwynne's performance in CATCH THE SMALLEST DEVIL however, is ONE OF HIS BEST in the Mystery Theater series. His performance as protagonist J. Barnabus Whitney, an aging and bed-ridden ungrateful crank, is overplayed but works very well in how it contrasts Teri Kean’s equally wonderful performance as Whitney’s gentle and selfless nurse. Writer Nancy Moore’s recycled Dickensian premise is actually unique and fresh, and Moore excels in developing the characters and thus the listener's interest in them. The play’s predictability in no way diminishes its enjoyment, and references to Holy Scripture circle back repeatedly and relevantly, both in the story and in E.G. Marshall’s excellent commentary. Like earlier reviewer Russell, I never knew the term ‘Pearly Gates’ stems from the 21st chapter of the Revelation to John. CATCH THE SMALLEST DEVIL nets 4 out a 5 stars – JUROR # 4.


I truly loved this episode. Going on my favorites list too.


Wonderful episode!

Mr. Silva

Thoroughly enjoyable - and I was very impressed that E. G. Marshall gave the source of the term 'pearly gates'!


A very good "rotten" episode. Always a great performance by Fred Gwynne! This is one of about 4 episodes about New Years Eve. A good listen to put you in a "Happy" new year's mood, CBSRMT kinda way! I grew up in Cleveland, and RMT aired on 850 WJW. My dad told me about it, and I started listening every night since the first episode when I went to bed on a transistor radio much like the one in the picture. Dad would listen in his work shop and we would talk about it over breakfast the next morning. Now I've been listen here for the last 5 or 6 years, I never get tired of the program and still find it a special treat to listen to.

A. Fan

Hi folks. What are the other New Year's Eve episodes? I'm looking for one that starts off with the husband and wife at home, instead of going out.


Very good one..... This hit the spot.......


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