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The Death Wish


A young man asks his friend's son over to visit with him and his family. But the boy turns out to possess wicked powers.



Air Dates

  • First Run - February 17, 1975
  • Repeat - May 4, 1975





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27 Responses to Episode 0224

Episode 0224 and 1069 are both titled "The Death Wish", however they are uniquely different stories, not duplicates.

Mark Main


Randy Mc

Reminds me of another tale-I think by Saki-of a half animalman with evil tendancies.Also one by E F Benson.

Michel David

As a longtime follower of Michael Zaslow on Guiding Light I was thrilled to find this episode several years ago. I believe the actual title is "The Death Wisher",tho.

Ralph Bonacci

Excellent story! Interesting ending.

Roger Huggett Jr.

Cort Benson (who played the good neighbor "Paul" in the episode two entries above and did an excellent turn as the title role in "The captain of the polestar" (both two of the very most memorable episodes of the RMT, IMHO)) is the head of a victorian-era British family (not far removed in time from the younger American professor and his wife in "Pie in the sky"). Like the aforementioned professor's wife, this is a proper, aristocratic family in which the women, while dealing with certain changes in social structures, know and ultimately respect their place and their men of the household. However, the supernatural visitor in this episode is a bit less benign. He's said by Benson's father character to be the son of a fellow military officer who saved the father's life in a war. The ladies of the family (the wife and their two daughters) seem quite affected by the handsome son as he arrives in a carriage. He's described by the girls as like "a fawn", and "Roman" looking. He seems both well-mannered yet slightly smarmy. The older of the two daughters (who earlier had divorced her husband) says that for all his looks and charm she doesn't trust him. Wise decision on her part...he's a satyr. He laughs when one of the family's maids seems uncomfortable by his lecherous suggestions. Later that night, after the maid has said goodbye to her paramour in the court garden, she's confronted by the son/satyr, who assaults then kills her. Unfortunately for the mother of the family, she drops by the garden for a late night walk right after he's done it, though the satyr doesn't kill her. She (and the rest of the family) come to learn that he's got a special power...he can kill any living creature any where, just by wishing it to die. He says he was taught how to do so by his gypsy mother. He also is bitter because he "had no father". And there's another big secret that the family doesn't know about waiting to rear its ugly head later... Interesting listen.

Regina Court

An aristocratic family is visited by the son of the patriarch’s old army batman. Having lost all his family the young man seeks a home with the man whose life his father had apparently saved. The patriarch’s family consists of an older son who is off making his own way in the world, a daughter who has been recently divorced and is bitter toward men and relationships, and a younger daughter who still has her naïveté and innocence intact. The young man proves to be quite a lady-killer… and a killer of virtually any living thing with merely the utterance of a wish…

Mr. Eagle

I enjoyed this one a lot. It had a lot more going on than the typical episode, with good performances.


The twist at the end of this one was somewhat satisfying, however I found the rest of the play distasteful. It seems to have been conceived as a story about the infidelity of men (The father's, as well as the implied infidelity of Barbara's ex-husband) and that Anton was a metaphor for the father's past indiscretion finally coming home to roost and damage his family. But the actual plotline of a rapist holding a houseful of women hostage with this magical power was just offensive---not to mention inaccurate. There is nothing in Greek mythology endowing satyrs with such a death-wishing power. It was obviously something invented by Ian Martin to keep all the other characters at this guy's mercy. Weak. Really weak. Also, I thought that Barbara's dialog was written in an idiom that was ridiculously anachronistic---even if she was a "modern" experienced woman, she still sounded far too modern for the Victorian age. I mean, come on..."Cushy?" "Ralph-the raper?" Badly written. Big thumbs down on this one.

M. Deterala

Yes, it was a bummer about Scout! I thought this one was going to be a bomb in the first act. It took forever to get going! Once it did, it built the tension nicely. Everybody seemed powerless against the guy, then the really great twist! As Steve said, the women seemed a bit modern for the Victorian Age. I didn't find anything offensive about the play and I try not to look for metaphors -- prefering just to hear a good story. This was a good story with horror, suspense, and a twist. Good for a 4.


I agreed that this one started out somewhat slow, but once the title character started delivering his "money shots" (I'm sorry to use what I know is a term for the pornography industry, but unfortunately that's appropriate here) the tension shifted (for me) dramatically. Thanks for calling my attention to "cushy", which according to didn't start appearing in the American language until around WWI. It's interesting that some of the other phrases Barbara used such as "peeping Tom" (which apparently originates from the (10th century?) legend of Lady Godiva, describing a lecherous man named Tom who allegedly was struck dead as he attempted to peer out his window at the naked noblewoman as she rode by) would have been known in Victorian times. Martin wrote some good scripts, but thanks for catching this flaw. And yet... I liked this story when I first heard it, but it grew on me even more when I heard it again and started thinking about both its content and when it aired (1975.) First of all, it might be easy to think of satyrs as lecherous but innocuous creatures, as dirty old men in cloven hooves. (Did you ever see the Disney animation of "Hercules" back in 1997? Danny DeVito played a satyr who was one of the GOOD guys...Hercules' friend. Perfect voice for the part.) Satyrs, however, are not just limited to Greek mythology. In fact, they are referenced twice in some translations of the Old Testament chapter of Isaiah, when he said "satyrs will dance" on a certain land. By saying that, he meant that land would become desolate and dead for human habitation, and indeed, prophecy was apparently fulfilled though I'd have to look up what land he was referring to.) Lasciviousness by itself isn't a virtue, but apparently in the Bible (elements of which were used so heavily in earlier RMT episodes) "satyrs" (and there's no doubt in my mind about which side of the ground "Anton Gitano" and his ilk live) carried a far more sinister connotation. The biblical elements I so often seemed to hear in the RMT was "sin = death". In one of the most depressing episodes (to me) of the RMT entitled "Out of focus", a beautiful succubus directly quotes "the wages of sin (is death)" to her not-so-innocent victim. Originally I thought the episode was slightly heavy handed, was aired in 1975, and with that in mind, I think Martin was making this episode about: -Divorce, and the unintended consequences of this sin - Steve, despite any implied infidelities of Barbara's ex-husband, I got the feeling that she was the one who may have had just as much if not more of a hand in initiating it. E.G.'s comments at the end of the show seemed to imply she had a lot to learn about marriage. I think Martin was trying to suggest that people who engage in divorce can open themselves up to sins and consequences they had no clue to expect. He wrote this play in or before 1975, when we apparently began to see the effects of "no-fault" divorce which itself mushroomed as a by product of the so-called "sexual revolution" in the previous decade. I know there have been people here who've been affected by divorce and I'm not trying to insult or condone them. I just know that my wife's parents were split by a so-called "no-fault" style divorce (initiated by her mother) and 20 plus years later her now grown siblings and she (and their children) are STILL feeling horrible aftereffects of it. The reason this play seemed slightly "heavy-handed" to me was because we (or at least many of us) now know what horrendous things divorce can open the door to. Yet back then 29 years ago, though, we as a society were just beginning to collectively learn these side effects as D-I-V-O-R-C-E no longer became a "dirty" word. Who, after poor Millie, Scout and that barn owl gets to suffer the most due to "Anton's" presence? Barbara, the one who (at first) didn't seem to think that she had sinned in getting a divorce. -Absentee fathers, and effects on their sons - When he lets his guard down, Anton shows himself to be a bitter, angry, self-centered man, instead of just being a self-centered one. What did he say: "I have no father." Obviously, his war-hero father (or whomever) was never around to show him such things as the meaning of true love, of sacrifice, of living for things bigger than one's self, and how to treat the fairer sex. Obviously, he never gave him even respect for life. -Families, and why a family unit is so important. (And believe me, I know we unfortunately can't all have one in this fallen world, as I lost my Dad at age 15 when I really (though I didn't know it at the time) needed him most.) So often, we refer to the Victorian times as a stuffy era that we'd never want to go back to. Indeed, we can't, and there are good reasons...but some things from that era weren't bad, either. One of them, at least as seen by Martin, was the importance of the family unit. It was interesting to me, for example, how Barbara seemed to be rebelling from it, not only by divorcing her husband but by not calling her parents "mama" or "papa" until after being confronted directly by evil. Or how she started trying to protect her little sister by that time, where previously (to a degree) she'd been poisoning her with her (Barbara's) views on men and marriage. -The dangers of bitterness (or "unforgiveness") and the all-consuming desire for revenge. It's been said that harboring bitterness (again, warned against in the Bible, mainly because of its effects on those who harbor bitterness) is like drinking rat poison and expecting the rat to die. Anton's mother harbored bitterness. And she apparently wanted revenge. Were he not such a character utterly lacking in any need for sympathy it would be tempting for me to say "poor fool"...because he NEVER KNEW why his mother (who was supposed to nurture and protect him...see "families" above) sent him (albeit unknowingly) to...well, end up experiencing the plot twist. -The sin of "lasciviousness". As I said, some might think a satyr, if indeed he was the epitome of this sin, would be no more dangerous than Arte Johnson's doddering old lecher in the old Laugh-in TV show. Not so, given the fact that sin does indeed equal death. A true satyr, by definition, could not be satisfied. And (from everything I see) would sooner or later (and probably quite frequently) show his true colors in the way that Anton did with Millie the maid. (And note how even though she was "cheeky" in a pleasant sort of way she wanted to preserve her virtue. Remember Satan and his one-track mind in the episode "The fall of Gentryville."?) What was it Anton said to Millie about virtuous women: "They're the best sort", then made that immature yet sinister snickering after she left the room?) -The dangers of keeping certain secrets from those you love. Some things, perhaps, a spouse might not always have to tell if they've done them prior to marriage. Others, though, need to come out. Like when said secrets are coming to live at one's house for purposes unknown. Or why you're being SENT to live at the house of a family whom you've never met. I'm sure I'll think of some other points I've missed later. I would have given this a "4", but knowing the message I believe Martin was trying to say for the time this program was created I give it a "5". And yes indeed, poor Scout, and that barn owl, and especially poor cheeky little Millie.


This episode has to be the one with the most bizarre plot progression I've heard to date. Initially, it was not very alluring. Fairly happy family meets new guest who seems to good to be true. But, as in a previous episode, perhaps EG Marshall's words of "too true to be good" are more appreciable here. I really enjoyed the show. This fellow Antoine was a real bugger, to say the least. I didn't like him from his initial introduction. However, I had no idea what was around the corner. One thing that was a relief in this episode, was the whole "family" dynamic they shared. That the daughter went to her father and trusted him enough to disclose such disgraceful goings-on. Much like the blackmailer in another recent episode, this was a cancer that could easily have been done away with if the right measures were to be addressed. In this case, it was obvious that they needed to dispense with this character and quickly. I felt bad for three characters in the show. The Owl, The dog Scout, and - Antoine's mother! It seems to me that the father's "sin" with her was the actual root of this whole mess, and had he dealt with her more appropriately and respectfully, perhaps this event may never have risen. But, he who is without should cast first, right?  Everything was above average for an RMT show.


Thanks for putting so much thoughtful consideration into your writing. As one who tends to run on around here, it is nice to read such a hearty presentation. Your review really opened my eyes a bit more. While I think production/acting/presentation of the show were worthy of a higher rating, I applaud your candor and respect your position on being offended. I think the idea had slipped right by me. It's refreshing when someone can have a point of view that enlightens me. Or, as UNT might say, "when someone slams a show." Thanks! I guess, for me, I didn't get too involved in the family. Though they were fairly well developed, there wasn't much warmth coming from them. They weren't exactly cold, either though. And let's just say it is hard to relate to or identify with or even sympathize with anyone who is luke-warm. And I wonder if that may have been part of the intention of the writer? To create a family that is somewhat snooty and satisfied with their position, despite its obvious bruises, that the coming of the Death Wisher was meant simply to shake their foundation and awaken their sense of vulnerability. Perhaps, too, it could have been a reminder for the audience as well. Perhaps again, I am rambling and the writer was eating a tuna sandwich when he wrote it! Who knows! And yes, a total bummer about Scout.


You know, if I were going to try and place bets on one metaphor, allegory, comparison, lesson, whatever that Ian Martin was trying to make with this show, I'd be willing to place money that he was trying to show, in a very interesting way (which was a delayed reaction with me) the effects of the aforementioned "sexual revolution" of the 60s. Remember, we were just starting to intensely experience the aftereffects (which are, sadly, lingering with us today) of it around the time of this play's original airing. But I'm not a betting man, and that's probably for the best.

Jeff Lindsey Oliver

Hmmmm.....I still liked this story better when it was "Wuthering Heights".

C. Osborne

I always appreciate that you pull no punches in your reviews. In the earliest days of the band "Alice Cooper" (who, in a strange way, were contemporaries of the RMT in the mid-70s) it was said that the late musician Frank Zappa was impressed when he went to one of their shows and everyone but he walked out of the auditorium in mid-performance. He was convinced that a band which could evoke that much of a reaction had something going for it. Guess this show's somewhat the same, IMO.

D. Garbo

Well, actually, I listened to the whole thing, so I guess that's not really the equivalent of walking out of the auditorium. Anyway, what the hey! Everyone else liked it. Thanks for an interesting show choice. I definitely enjoy just listening to what I consider good stories and not looking for metaphors. But I also very much enjoy analyzing all kinds of stories and their subtexts---even if I don't like 'em so much! Thanks for enduring my opinions/insights.

D. Lamit

This was a strangely written one. I completely forgot it was supposed to be set in Victorian times because Barbara's speech was too modern. It could just as easily have been set a century later in a conservative town in the countryside. I did guess at the twist of Anton being the son at the point when the father was saying he couldn't tell him to leave because he had to repay a debt. I thought only a father's guilt would have compelled him to keep around the guy his family begged him to throw out. What a nice surprise to hear at the end that Anton was played by the late Michael Zaslow, who won an Emmy for playing a character not too far removed from Anton, the unforgettable Roger Thorpe on Guiding Light. Both actor and character are still missed.

Dwight Cetera

This guy is very creepy! I did have to google the term Satyrosis and now I know that Gitano means Gypsy in Italian.

Gina Schackel

A bit of the supernatural in this one that was still somewhat enjoyable. A strange power, but if he has to say the words for them to take effect, how could he say them faster than a bullet? Still, a satisfying ending.


The death wish" (or sometimes referred to as "The death wisher", which may have been its real title) was an interesting program. Generated some lively conversation on the old CBS RMT forum from last decade.


The title of this episode has a history of controversy. E.G. Marshall announces it as "The Death Wish" but the story is about a person who can wish someone to death. Many people claim the real title is "The Death Wisher", me included. I now have some additional evidence that Wisher is the correct title. I am currently processing this broadcast from WBBM. The person who made the original recording kept notes. Those notes were kept with the tapes and when I acquired the raw digital transfers, the person also sent along scans of those notes. The note that was with this tape has this:

Track 1, Left, Side 1
1. "The Death Wisher" Michael Zaslow 2-17-75
2. "Love Me and Die" Mason Adams 2-18-75
3. "Must Hope Perish" Hugh Marlowe 2-20-75

Then there's the already established evidence that in "The Book", it's listed as "The Death Wisher". My theory is that the correct title is "Wisher" and EGM just mispronounced it. I plan to call it Wisher until I come across a convincing argument for Wish.


This was a good episode. Great acting, writing, direction and sound effects.


Good sound quality. I fall asleep to these episodes, so I'm a bit sensitive to the sounds, accents, etc.: The effect used to signal "the deed" (don't want to spoil it for folks) is pretty annoying, but what's one to do about that?


The quiet, well-ordered life of the Cutler family is suddenly disrupted with the arrival at their mansion of young and handsome Anton Gitano, whose father had saved Mr. Cutler’s life during the Battle of Gallipoli. Gitano, who secretly suffers from satyriasis and whose past is a mystery, terrorizes the entire family, but especially one of the Cutler daughters, when he demonstrates a supernatural power—he can kill any living thing or person by simply wishing them dead.


Good episode with Antoine about the feminist aspect! Bismillah Antoine!!

Scooter D and the Greens

Good story of the Stupidnatural, very satisfying ending...


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