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The Beheading


A woman called Joyce narrates her life experiences to another woman. She paints a grim picture of her family portrait and other incidents of her past and then goes on to calmly explain that she has signed a deal to be decapitated by her physician and become the subject of the world's first head transplant experiment.



Air Dates

  • First Run - September 20, 1978
  • Repeat - March 23, 1979





49     15

25 Responses to Episode 0895

Has to be good with a title like that, right? It was about a woman with asthma, and her doctor recommends a HEAD TRANSPLANT. Stupidest RMT I've ever heard...


Except for the 'cat' episodes, you're probably right. This is one of the dumbest ever, lol!


A woman by the name of Joyce is speaking to another woman about her experiences. She provides the listener with family portraits (mother and father in unflattering lights) and explains details about her past. Without trepidation, she explains that she has agreed to be decapitated by her doctor.


A young lady, and a movie actress at that, has asthma problems. She's seen several specialists already and none have helped. She goes to see another doctor and he has a novel solution to the problem that plagues her - a head transplant! Or, perhaps this is not what is happening at all. You listen and tell me what you think happened here.

Rico J.

A woman recounts how she became the world's first head transplant recipient.

Nathaniel P.

A woman is plagued with headaches and asthma and elects to have the first ever head transplant at the suggestion of her trusted physician. There was a subplot about her career and husband that seemed to be merely filler and of little consequence to the story. An interesting concept with lots of potential that went unrealized.

Charles Dugan

Beheaded. Ho Ho. A story that’s heading is unclear until we learn it is a dream. A dream from a little girl like woman with an Oedipus complex...”he was so much like daddy” as are her husbands. Can I sit on your lap? Her near do well real estate husband is too much of a child himself, I suppose, so she seeks another father figure. She wants to sit on someone else’s lap. The good doctor is like daddy, isn’t he! “Oh Yes, Yes”. “When do you want to do it?” ‘Your friction’s will be eliminated” “Can I sit on your lap?” “Well, why yes, If you want to.” :twisted: Her throat tightens with bronco spasms...her life choking away much like her mother who managed but we learn really had not much of a life. “Can I sit on your lap?” I wonder. Then there is the reluctance to discuss the first marriage. Another mediocre type..who of course reminds her ultimately with her father a near do well who left her holding the bag. So she over fantasizes the father figure? I’m not really sure. The tale is a bit foggy...sort of semiconscious like our heroine. I know the bimbo nurse in the story can’t help us! She sounds like another “little girl” under he doctor’s care. The great doctor...the once great father. At least in a little girls eyes. Maybe she needs her head removed to rid her of the ghosts from the past. Do things repeat themselves, especially under our own unconscious will to manifest our beliefs based on passed events. I suppose so, to some extent. It certainly happens in a general sense, but not absolutely. Fortunately we also have intellect and choice. It was a nice touch to have our patient wake up from the dream and speak in a more womanly voice. It was obvious the session was a psychiatric one. I’m not sure if that was supposed to be a surprise in the end. The ending is flat nevertheless. E.G’s final question is interesting, “Would you like to live your life over again?”. Well, yes, probably. It’s a paradox, because if the premise of the story is believed, then we live our life over again all the time by recreating the past through some compulsive need. Overall I thought the story a bit less than entertaining with an ending that drops like a head visiting the guillotine. Psychobabble-drama

Leah Andrea S.

I just gave this a listen and I still can't read the other posts because this was a very different kind of episode. I'm going to need a second listen in order to take it all in.


While I didn't listen to the whole thing a second time, I did listen to parts of it twice. this is a character study rather than a plot driven show. Lot's of people like character studies (people who read Hemmingway). Elspeth Eric wrote a lot of charcter studies --- especially about women. If you like character studies, this was a good episode. It was well written and well acted. Other than the "can I sit on your lap," bit, the metaphor was subtle. I just don't much care for character studies. Nonetheless, it was a good selection because it was different than what most of us are used to listening to.


A woman by the name of Joyce is speaking to another woman about her experiences. She provides the listener with family portraits (mother and father in unflattering lights) and explains details about her past. Without trepidation, she explains that she has agreed to be decapitated by her doctor. The woman who listens to Joyce acts much like a counselor or psychologist but we're told that the two a not very close friends and yet she asks a lot of personal questions. I note this relationship as strange but intriguing. I was very confused that the doctor had planned to do a transplant of the head for what appeared to be a simple case of asthma...a pretty drastic course of action for a relatively benign affliction. Oddly, Joyce accepts the prescribed course with excitement and only musters a minimal set of questions. She's accepting of the procedure even before she realizes she will receive a replacement head via a transplant. I wonder if this excited reaction isn't somehow related to the fact that her life is otherwise boring. We know that her life is less than exciting because her husband, a relatively unsuccesful real estate agent, is a bore. Her family life was less than satisfying and her fist husband is described much like her second husband. I distinctly noticed that this play is presented with minimal music, unlike most CBSRMT presentations. Instead, this play uses a single tone from a marimba, or similar instrument, to indicate the beginning and ending of a flashback. Otherwise, the play is without dramatic music except during the bridges that E.G. Marshall presents. The technique is oddly effective but I kind of miss the dramatic effect provided by music in other plays.

Brian Pontillas

I didn't notice the music. good pickup. Asthma is an affliction of the lungs. A head transplant wouldn't do much good. I just don't have an appreciationof Elsepth Eric's work. It's not bad. It's just not what I consider to be real "mystery theater."

Roland Abot

Hmm. Just for accuracy sake: Asthma is an afflicion of the traceobronchial tree to various stimuli..often an allergic reaction so it ultimately an autoimmune disease. Cutting her head off would do good in one would be a brain change!

C. Briggs

DEFINITELY the strangest and most un-CBSRMT-like program I\'ve heard. I\'m glad you chose it, though it\'s not my favorite, because it was a completely different type of show.

Justin Ralph

I can't say that I like the program. It really is confusing and I am not sure if something is at work here that I do not understand. Who is the woman that she is talking to? How could someone think that a head transplant would work? Your brain would go with your head wouldn't it? The woman sure seems trusting of the doctor. What's this "sit on your lap" stuff? That's pretty strange. I still need to listen to the ending of the program again because I am not sure what happened or what was happening here. This must be about something that I can not grasp. I will read the comments now and see if anyone else has an answer.

Meljohn Forbes

It's about 'daddy issues', so you don't need to 'grasp' anything else, lol!


It was tough to tell where the story was heading!


Though many CBSRMT episodes have a moral to the story, this is the most philosophical one I’ve heard so far – it’s almost like the moral *is* the story. So here are my philosophical (meaning “rather boring”) comments about it. To me, the main point is made in E.G. Marshall’s comments preceeding Act III about the Trouble Tree . We all prefer our own troubles - even if we are given the chance to change them, nobody actually wants to or tries to. It hammers on this point pretty heavily: from Alice in Wonderland, “We run all day just to stay in the same place”; the heroine’s line at the end, “To have gone through all that, and then to have to face it all over again”, and the therapist’s assessment, “What we’ve done, we must do again and again” until we find the root cause of the compulsion to repeat. I thought the fun was in guessing the real-life analogies to the dream elements, and I’m flattered as a listener that there was no “Moishe the Explainer” scene (as Peter Falk once called it) at the end where the therapist tells us all what everything in the dream means. Here’s my take: as some have already pointed out, the surgeon pretty obviously represents her father. But he also represents her longing for someone to authoritatively show her what to do in life, to answer her questions and help her out – a role she herself plays for her husband (both present and former). But the pressure of this constant demand by her husband to “tell me what to do”, while he doggedly avoids making any positive contribution to any decision, triggers her asthma attacks (and we hear an example of this happening). This all leads me to conjecture that the head represents her husband – she needs a husband transplant. Actually, the first answer was to “remove your head”, not transplant it. “It was so simple, so obvious. It seemed good, right, the absolutely correct thing to do.” But then of course, he wouldn’t just leave her with nothing, so we’ll give you a replacement. The tragedy is that when she actually did it (the first divorce) what she got as a replacement was another copy of the same thing. Just as with the new head. So she was repeating her life (and her mother’s life), destined to do so until we uncover the root cause of the compulsion, which we are led to believe lies in her parents and their relationship to each other and to her. There’s more to dig for there, but this is already a pretty long and dry post, so I’ll stop here as a public service. Great episode, though.

Jack Cassidy

What a trip. Nice comments, bwonka. Sorry it took me so long to review this. I think you're right that this was a marimba on that single tone. Very interesting use of that minimalist music (if there is such a phrase) on this particular episode which was a psychological drama with little action. This sort of reminded me of some of the old "Twilight Zone" episodes wherein someone would die and be condemned to live out their mistakes over and over again. I reviewed an RMT play "The bloody legend" (more of a mystery in the traditional RMT sense, but I don't think quite as well written as this one) that had a man in psychotherapy who apparently had a similar dysfunctional family. I was left with a more hopeful sense for "Joyce" in this play than the guy in the other...maybe just because I perceived that the psychotherapist did seem caring and perhaps even cautiously optimistic for her patient at the end. Teri Keane (she with the Jane Curtinesque voice) did a great job and was excellent for this. Cort Benson as the doctor (and her second husband, I believe) also did a fine job, as did Bryanna Raeburn in her limited role.

Julius B.

Woo hoo. I don't like to plug another show all the time on the posts on this website, but I just heard a DY-NO-MITE performance by Teri Keane that trumps her role in this's an RMT play called "Who has seen the wind?". I'll review it over on the other board, but if you're a Keaneophile this episode is worth listening to after "The beheading".


The other day I was in the waiting room while my girlfriend had an eye examination and I read in a Reader's Digest about a doctor that expiremented with head transplants on monkey's starting in the 1960's. I think they did about 14 of them and one lived for 2 weeks following.


I don't think she actually got a head transplant. It's something she simply dreamed. The woman she's talking to is her shrink. The dream was telling her that we are doomed to repeat ourselves and she realizes that with proper therapy she can beat her problems.


It's interesting to listen to shows like this in the context of what we thought in the 1970s. With Science and Medicine, a lot of us thought that everything would someday be possible. We believed in ESP (It seems every other show in TV was about that). Well, I was a teenager, so maybe it was just shows that I watched. Yes, I thought this show was bizarre. But the question that came to my mind was this - If you were able to transplant the head of one person on another - which person would you be - the one with the head or the one with the body? (It would seem that your brain (and mind?) would go with the head. I thought, perhaps, that this one was headed in another direction. It wasn't clear to me that the other woman was dead (at first). And because of EG's little diatribe about the trouble tree, I thought that each woman was going to have inherited the problems of the other. So while one fixed her problems, she got the others. Well, that wasn't the direction it went. I have to say, I am disappointed in where it went - She went through all this - but ended up in the same place. (But it was all a dream, anyway).


Nobody but Elspeth Eric would write a story like this. Sometimes I think she wrote these stories to work through her 'daddy issues'. Everything about this episode is so stupid! The dialogue is dumb, Terri Keane's childish tone inflections are painful to listen to, her character sitting on the doctor's lap is just....eeeew! Also, asthma is a lung condition, so a head transplant wouldn't do any good, as pointed out above. This is one of the top ten stupidest CBSRMT shows ever! I guess they can't all be gems. I think Elspeth wrote the biggest percentage of duds, compared to other writers of the series, mostly because of her recurring 'daddy' theme.


Elspeth must've been quite a scary individual in real life. The psycho things that come out in,her writings guve me the heebiejeebies! And ..."may I sit on yoyr lap doctor?" omg! That is a twist that is going to give me nightmares!

Jim K.

Ha - I am going through these shows for the second time. I don't remember how many years it's been since I first discovered this website - but I am enjoying them while I work each day. It's probably been five years. So, it is particularly interesting when I see that I have commented on it already. I have to admit, that when I hear that an episode is written by Elspeth Eric, I cringe a little bit. I don't quite know how I'm going to deal with it. Usually they are dealing with emotional issues and human interaction. And, I should find that interesting. There is something that is so 1970s about them. As I remember, the whole psychology thing was kind of odd and interesting to people at the time. (Even maybe a little bit mysterious). If someone saw a counselor of any kind back then, they were thought to be tainted. Richard Nixon had a running mate (I think) that was disqualified when it was discovered he had seen a psychologist (or psychiatrist) . I may be wrong, but I remember the name "Eagleton". Anyway, no one admitted to it then. So, that makes this even more interesting to me. But, I'm glad that Elspeth's episodes only come up in my listening every couple of weeks.


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