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Title

Sophia and the Pilgrim

Plot

A strange mystic charms young women into following him on his trip. His mysterious influence makes them forget who they are, chant indecipherable doctrine, get depressed and die. A gentleman decides to interfere as his friend's daughter gets under the mystic's spell too.

Episode

0767

Air Dates

  • First Run - January 19, 1978
  • Repeat - June 15, 1978

Actors

Writer

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Rating

49
31     18


8 Responses to Episode 0767

Not an American thanksgiving tale, this somewhat downbeat episode is based on a tale by the Russian writer Ivan Dragonis, according to E.G. Sometimes the RMT versions of Russian tales could be a bit slow-developing...this one is somewhat, but is still interesting and with an RMT star-packed cast. Gordon Heath (who I believe was a man "of color"...his gravelly voice was somewhat refreshing, if non-accented) is a Russian census taker who arrives at a remote village and finds a friend of his from university days living as a wealthy man with a large family. The friend introduces the census taker (apparently that was a government position that had a higher prestige than it does today in the U.S.) to his daughter Sophia, a strong-willed, quiet, independent girl. On a lark, the census taker decides to visit a local religious man who is rumored to be able to talk to "the dead". To his surprise, Sophia wants to go as well. They arrange to meet him at a location in the night...strangely, he just appears, staring right at them, and they're unable to move. Sophia is impressed by him...the census taker is scared, as the religious man brings a vision (or something) of a university professor the census taker knew was long dead. Later, Sophia and the census taker dance at a formal ball at the request of her father. She can't stop talking about the experience they had. A day or so still later, Sophia's father confronts the census taker, begging him to marry his daughter. He, too, is aware of Sophia's attraction to this strange figure. He's also aware that the daughters of some other villagers also became enamored with this man (more in a spiritual sense than a romantic one, apparently) and then just disappeared... (This is the RMT "stay away from cults" message episode...not a bad message at that.)

Joemel M.C.

I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I admire G. Frederick Lewis’ on how his stories are structured. This Drama-Mystery, adapted from Ivan Turgenev’s story, had a good plot, but it was going at a slow pace. Several Russian novels are like that where they have many characters introduced, but not many of them are moving forward to change plot points. And the 3rd Act was heart-rending. CBSRMT fans need to find Ivan Turgenev’s story and see how deep this story goes. A lot of melancholy music tunes were played and music tracks from THE TWILIGHT ZONE were a nice touch. Sound Effects of the howling wind, doors, dog barking, patrons murmuring, horses and carriages, bells, orchestra music, train whistle, thunder, and rainstorm were beneficial. In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall’s topic was on Generation gaps and how puzzled parents are when kids live their own way. In ACT-1, we meet our main character: Ivan Trepolov who is a census taker that traveled to Tula, Russia to reunite with an old friend from college that has a daughter who is very important. But the Host repeats his narration right before commercial break. In ACT-2, the important girl, Sophia, is apprehensive as they go into a wooden house. In ACT-3, the girl leaves town, yet dies in the end (SPOILER ALERT). In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall states that this story was written in 1881 and the author wrote hope, which influenced the Czars to liberate the Serfs. Don’t know where he got these Fun Facts from, but his narrations were informative, yet repeatable. But what I think stood out the most in this, was our ensemble cast: Gordon Heath (as Ivan Trepolov), Jada Rowland (as Sophia), Robert Dryden (as Boris), Bryna Raeburn (as Madame Karpovna), and Russell Horton (as Andreas and the Holy Pilgrim). Kudos to all them that performed with Russian accents. And it’s always a delight to hear Jada Rowland since she’s my favorite actress on CBSRMT. But I’d give a round of applause to Gordon Heath for playing the leading role. His performance was just as brilliant as his roles in #0950-THE DOMINANT PERSONALITY and #0921-THE GREY SLAPPER. For those that are fans of Gordon Heath, you’ll like this dramatic tale. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)

Russell

This is a very well done episode. It's especially interesting because it explores the all-consuming relationship between "guru" and "disciple" without becoming a stereo-typical love story between a man and a woman, as these stories usually become. That's what makes it more realistic, because guru-disciple relationships are often way beyond "boy-meets-girl." Sophia's obsession and devotion to her "guru" was actually authentically portrayed and well-acted. It was also very sad to see this young girl, who had so much going for her, to be totally sucked away by this kind of relationship. It is a perfect example and carries a warning to avoid falling into the "guru" trap. I rate this as a very good episode for realism and authenticity.

Amy

Just a follow up to my last comment above. But you've got to wonder if this old "guru" figure preys on young women for sexual favors, as it is so common with elderly "gurus" and young women. It isn't at all uncommon for sleazy "guru" types to con young women into believing that sex with them will lead them to some form of "enlightenment" and a young, innocent girl like Sophia would be naive enough to fall for it. (I think this was one thing the older man looking out for her was concerned about, even though he doesn't come right out and say it. This story was written in the conservative 1800s, where things were implied in stories, rather than always stated outright.) They don't make it clear in the story just exactly what their relationship is, but clearly, she starts out being enchanted with him, and later on acts totally miserable, as she pines away. It seems that, at the very least, he might be some kind of psychic vampire who sucks away the energy of these young girls who follow him, and apparently they don't end up so good.

Amy

I loved watching Care 54 Where Are You! On Nick @ Nite in the 80s. He was quoted as saying: "Voice work is the kindest thing that can happen to an old actor." (Though wasn't he a judge in "My cousin Vinny", long after the last RMT episode - think it was Mr. Gwynne's final role before he passed.)

Chris

I rate this episode ★★★☆☆ for AVERAGE. I’ll review what I enjoyed the most first and then finish off what I disliked. First, I enjoyed the cast: Kevin McCarthy (as William Gillette/Sherlock Holmes), Jada Rowland (as Pamela Watson), Russell Horton (as Jim Watson), and Carol Teitel (as the Tour Guide and Mrs. Hudson). Carol Teitel was terrific in her 2 roles. Jada Rowland is my favorite actress in the CBSRMT series and having her partner up with Russell Horton again, like many episodes before, was delightful. And Kevin McCarthy was entertaining, just like his performance as Sherlock Holmes in previous episodes before this one. Next up, music and sound effects. Dozens of dramatic tunes were used, but no suspenseful or chilling tracks were used to match the feel of being trapped in a castle. Sound effects of car engine running, tires screech, footsteps, tourists murmuring, sliding doors, cat meowing, howling wind, gong, lamp breaking, doors, cane hitting clothing, gun shot, tapping of the phone, drawing the curtains, carriage rolling up, pouring of drinking glasses, and doorbell were very supportive in this tale. Next is our Host and his narrations. E.G. Marshall’s Prologue focused on castles and our story takes place at a castle in New England. In ACT-1, meet Jim & Pamela Watson where one of them is a Sherlock Holmes buff. In ACT-2, knowing so little about William Gillette’s career and we get a sense that some actors like him can go too far to create an illusion of reality. In ACT-3, after the strange turn of events, our Host’s only explanation to the Climax is to mention a quote from a playwright about the 6th sense of the Imagination. In his Epilogue, he recommends CBSRMT listeners to take a tour of the Gillette Castle itself in Connecticut. Good recommendation, but no Resolution explained on what happened to our characters afterwards. And so, it comes down to the final segment: the Script. Elizabeth Pennell has written decent drama mysteries and even did the adaptations of #0605-JANE EYRE and #0643-WUTHERING HEIGHTS. But this story was Fair. So-so, I should say. I was expecting it to be a haunting mystery about a haunted castle with the Sherlock Holmes references. But instead, this story’s turn of events created massive questions to think about. Like, how did the Jim & Pamela Watson hear about this castle? Was Mrs. Hudson going through nightmare problems? Was William Gillette really dead? Was he putting on a show for his guest just so he can play Sherlock Holmes for fun? Did these 2 tourists actually travel back in time? Was the castle actually haunted? Was it really a nightmare? Was anything resolved after Jim & Pamela Watson escaped from the castle? There are so many fill-in-the-blanks in this, the episode’s title should be changed and call it “A Bad Case Of The Jitters” or “Elementary, My Dear Guests.” Tune in to this, if you like. There are better castle stories in the CBSRMT vault. SPECIAL BONUS: This episode has commercials of AMEX travelers checks, Bob Armstrong’s Diamond Center, “The Ritual” novel, CBS-News, First Federal of Gary, Radio Advertising Bureau, Jewel’s Discount Grocery Store, CBS-Sports News in Chicago, CBS-News on Election 1980, Susan Anton for Serta Sleeper Mattresses, and Smokey Bear Program. Until next time…pleasant dreams.

Russ

I rate this episode ★★★★★ for EXCELLENT. I'd think that Robert Barr would have been pleased of the adaptation of this by James Agate, Jr. It has intricate clues, it has peculiar motives, and it has a surprising twist in the end. And above all, it has a great detective in this: Eugène Valmont. Robert Barr’s character ranks up with Jacques Futrelle’s Professor Augustus S.F.X. Van Dusen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. Another way to title this story would be “A Case Of Interest” or even “The Parisian Detective.” In our Host’s Prologue, E.G. Marshall starts it off by comparing one of the characters as a “Scrooge.” In ACT-1, the bloodline of the James Dudley Hills on their fortunes. As the plot thickens, we realize that not all clues were divulged in the first Act alone. In ACT-2, questions pop up. More importantly, they see the evidence clearly, but not recognize it. In ACT-3, quoting Sir Francis Bacon about suspicions and our main detective plays a waiting game. In the end, after discovering where the loot was hiding all along and discovering who else was related to the family, we learned a private post-mortem joke that money would bring out the worst in those with the least character. In his Epilogue, E.G. Marshall finishes it off with the comparison of the Midas myth - great wealth does not equal great happiness. Outstanding narrations. Sound effects of bells, footsteps, background noise at the police station, phone receiving line, seals, patrons murmuring, paper note, newspapers, doors, dog wincing, phone ringing, paper bills, intercom buzzer, emergency sirens, pulling off wallpaper were terrific. As for the music, great selection of dramatic tunes that moved the story forward. And let us not forget our amazing cast: Norman Rose (as Eugène Valmont), Russell Horton (as James Dudley Hill III and Inspector Graves), and Robert Dryden (as James Dudley Hill, Jr. and Elijah Browning). These 3 worked well together. Norman Rose, performing with a French accent, was very entertaining. This is one mystery story that CBSRMT fans should not pass up on. Until next time…pleasant dreams.

Russ

I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I admire Murray Burnett’s work, particularly his adaptions of the Sherlock Holmes stories. But the story originally from Edith Wharton was better. The novelist’s ghost story had a Narrator without a name. In Murray Burnett’s version, we got a fashion designer that’s interested in the castle while the other male characters act persuasive and vulnerable. I was more interested in the mystery of the dogs and hope that they would play a bigger part to this tale. Other ways to title this would be “Dogs Of Kerfol” or “Strange Vendetta.” In our Host’s Prologue, that I had to find on other OTR websites, E.G. Marshall’s topic is about castles with ghosts. In ACT-1, meet our main character who’s interested in buying a castle. After digging into the story within the story, our Host points out the lifestyle differences of adultery from 2 different time periods. Our main character must’ve seen dogs or ghost dogs. After too many conflicts about pets getting killed in this story, E.G. Marshall mentions ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Was E.G. Marshall trying to advertise this non-profit organization into the episode? In ACT-3, he understands the reaction that our main character felt when reading the history book. When the story was over, E.G. Marshall stated that when he talked about this story to a psychiatrist and what was his take on this? Was E.G. Marshall talking about his personal life on this? Or was this something that Murray Burnett wrote for him? What’s even weirder, is the Epilogue. E.G. Marshall tells the world’s shortest horror story ever. It’s a classic, but it’s irrelevant to this particular story. E.G. Marshall wasn’t off topic with his narrations, but he could’ve saved the ASPCA mentioning, the psychiatrist moment, and the shortest horror story for other episodes. The music was OK, but the tunes for the chilling moments kept on repeating in every Act. Sound effects of birds chirping, bell ring, iron gate squeaking, footsteps, car tires screech, jewelry case, door knocking, howling wind, violin music, and unbolting the door were good. And of course, the sounds of dogs barking were helpful. And finally, our cast: Mercedes McCambridge (as Paula Randall and Anne de Cornault), William Redfield (as Herve de Lanrivain and Andre de Lanrivain), Ian Martin (as Baron Yves de Cornault), and Guy Sorel (as the Judge and the Gypsy). I like this choice of cast members. In fact, this was my favorite part of the episode. All of the actors were great. But it was Mercedes McCambridge, our leading lady, who was superb. Her performance in this reminds me of her performance in Ep. #0318-CARMILLA where she played 2 roles: The Narrator and the Woman who dealt with death. Fans of her would enjoy this episode. Check this one out, but also check out Edith Wharton’s original ghost story. Until next time…pleasant dreams.

Russ


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