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A Bargain in Blood


When a strange turn of events allows a young man to switch illnesses with the diseased, a young man uses his gift to win the approval of his sweetheart's father.



Air Dates

  • First Run - June 10, 1974
  • Repeat - August 27, 1974





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26 Responses to Episode 0103

I listened to Radio Mystery Theater growing up. We heard it everytime we were on a road trip or I listened to it before I went to bed. I still enjoy it. Now I have my kids hooked.


I didn't quite buy the ending. I thought that someone would force a trade from him to lose everything or the dad would make him take his stroke if he had no compassion. The ending didn't make sense since the father would lose what he was trying to gain.


How does the father lose what he was trying to gain? He knew he was about to die. All he cared about was leaving his daughter safe. He protected her from a predator. With his compassion for Sal removed, he had nothing holding him back from taking the ultimate step he always really wanted to take to protect her. Sal's mistake was thinking only about what he would gain in that last trade and not what he was removing from his opponent. That was a fatal error! It's irony -- the thing he took because he wanted it to win the woman was what was protecting him from the father. With the father no longer having that, he was vulnerable and too short-sighted to realize that. The father, free of long-term worry because he knew he was about to die anyway and now free of moral restraint, acted rationally to defend his final concern.


This is a worthy "remake" of the Twilight zone episode "the self improvement of salvadore ross", moreso because Henry Sleser was the original author and prrpared the adaptation of his own work. It is interesting to compare the application to two different media.


I listened to the Mystery Theater long before I ever watched The Twilight Zone. (We didn't have cable, and it wasn't syndicated in our area.) However, this was not an episode I ever heard back in the day. But, yes, it is exactly "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross." More recently, this episode was done as Episode 73 of "The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas," so there are now two audio versions of this story floating around. Fantasy, supernatural abilities.


A young man acquires the ability to trade afflictions with sick people. He tries to make a living at it to impress the woman he loves and her father. It's not hard to sympathize with the character in this episode

Kevin Summers

A rough young man discovers he can make verbal deals for anything and have it come true. He bargains a broken leg for a flu, he bargains his hair for $110. After these initial experiments, he goes for larger deals. He begins to make deals that will win him the affection of his love interest, and the respect of her cultured father. This episode was extremely well developed. The plot moved along at an appropriate pace, and the twist at the end was unexpected… “Thankyou for swapping that television program for this one. We trust that you have seen pictures in your own mind that no television screen could ever match.” - E. G. M.


I have been listening at work and this episode stood out. Great voice acting in this one....and with a driving force of love to move this episode along. With every trade the tension much would you trade to gain the love of someone you love?

Rodney J.

It's a favorite of mine, and I welcomed the chance to listen to it again. As many people here already know, the original Henry Slesar short story (published in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1961) is best-known in its TWILIGHT ZONE incarnation, titled "The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross." No one loves TWILIGHT ZONE more than myself, but "Salvadore Ross" is a lesser episode, and the RMT version is a marked improvement on it; the 3-act, 45-minute structure allows the story more room for development and for clearer establishment of motivations. (Ironically, the longer running time was generally a detriment to the program--anybody who has heard many episodes knows that RMT had a terrible tendency to pad for length. Here, though, it works just right.) The only real problem with this otherwise wonderful show comes at the end--and its the same problem the original story and the TWILIGHT ZONE version had, too. We learn that the lady's father is Mr. Compassionate, and yet he knowingly takes advantage of Salvadore Ross, accepting a large amount of money from a young man he believes to be insane. Look at it this way: If someone you believed to be mentally ill offered you a huge amount of cash in exchange for your compassion, and you accepted the deal, wouldn't that pretty well prove that you lacked all compassion in the first place? So, the ending is a bit forced. And yet this story is, for the most part, a great RMT.

Stefano Baklers

good point on "Mr. Compassionate". In fact, the way Mandel Kramer (always one of the RMT's finest actors) played him, I never thought he sounded sensitive and/or compassionate, only disdainful. Kramer as the "bum", however, made for some fun interplay: Quote: TONY ROBERTS/SALVATORE ROSS: "Hey, that's a nice head of hair you got there, Pop." MANDEL KRAMER/THE BUM: "What are you, some kind of pansy or somethin'?" GRRRRRREAT SELECTION


i agree fully. this was a sheer joy to hear again and glad it was tossed out there for us! perhaps i'm being too persnickety about it, but the one thing that intrigued me was that our "hero" was smart enough to figure out how to trade off the one-year-for-a-thousand-bucks. he didn't strike me as a very advanced thinker and it's easy enough to suspend disbelief and suppose he either had some amazing brainstorm or perhaps assistance from someone to come up with the idea, but in my opinion, Salvatore just wasn't smart enough to come up with that schtick all on his own. That was a great line and i'm glad you posted it. as soon as it was said, i cracked a smile. funny stuff!


The reason why I like this episode so much is because it does remind me of The Twilight Zone. Even the music at the end with E.G's closing was very good stuff. "You have just heard the incredible rise and fall of Salvadore Ross, isn't easy to make the right bargins in life.....sometimes we create our own devils the way Sal Ross did". Really good stuff.

Neil Tull

Perhaps the reason why this episode reminds you of The Twilight Zone is because the music used in the CBSRMT *is* from The Twilight Zone TV series. The network owned the scores used in the series so it was logical for it to provide them as the basis for the canned music used for the radio shows. Some of the best (IMHO) cues were written by Bernard Herrmann, the legendary film composer who wrote spooky film scores such as Psycho and The Day the Earth Stood Still, and can be found in the first season episodes "The Lonely", "Where is Everybody", and (I think) "Judgment Night".


Fantastic story--5 stars. As the story moved through the acts, I wondered what I would give up for money, love, peace, etc... Well done story that allows the listener to come up with their own moral lesson.


Even though I did enjoy the episode, I didn't really "get" the ending. Even if he took the father's compassion, it doesn't seem to follow that the father would kill him to stop him from taking his daughter. Specifically, he would be easy found guilty of murder and, if he had thought about it, he would have been taken care of by Salvadore now that he has compassion for him. I don't remember the TZ episode, but now I can look for it.


This is plagiarism of "The Self Improvement of Savlvador Ross" Twilight Zone episode season 5, episode 136. Or else the TZ episode is a plagiarism of this. Strange no one noticed. They didn't even bother to change the character's name.


Commercials (yay!!!) + good sound quality + no annoying fake cat or dog sounds or screeching = a fine episode.


Stefano Baklers said that the father wouldn't have sold his compassion to Sal if he had much of it in the first place. But what Stefano may be forgetting is that people could swap, even if they thought it was ridiculous. The father didn't really think his compassion could be sold, but he "agreed" to the "trade" to get Sal to stop bugging him. Actually I thought the ending was a brilliant twist, especially what the father did at the end, (but I won't give it away here). I got a kick out of the scene where Sal trades pneumonia for a broken leg in the hospital. That was well done, lol! Sal was really kind of a jerk, but they made him an interesting character to listen to.


Sal was a jerk because he had little compassion. We all see how that changed!!!

Scooter D & the Greens

This episode is fairly insulting to one’s intelligence. But worth hearing Tony Roberts’ putting on his “street” accent which is so unlike his normal roles.


A fun remake of a fun Twilight Zone! Well worth the listen.


Much better than the twilight zone episode of the same short story it is based on, due to the fact of the longer length. Plus any CBS radio mystery theater with Tony Roberts and Mandel Kramer ( Expense account number 57621 yours truly Johnny dollar.) is a home run


Yes good ole commercials in this one and what about E G Marshall! A good episode to make you think on what your morals would be like given this capability. Honestly just how far would you go? The father does not appear to compassionate to me but unwilling to let his daughter grow up. We all have to live out lives, hopefully morally. Great acting!


"What would you give up if you were Salvador Ross?". Good story, great sound quality, nice acting. Thank you for providing these episodes.

Kathy D

A very good episode created and cast in the mold of the Twilight Zone.


Definitely one of my favorite episodes!


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