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A Tiny Drop of Poison


A charming politician hides her dark part as a hippie radical and a murderer. But her game seems up as her husband is allocated the responsibility of cracking the case.



Air Dates

  • First Run - May 9, 1974
  • Repeat - July 30, 1974





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18 Responses to Episode 0089

Fairly good political story


While not one of the most sensational stories, it is a good moral story with a believable ending. Some of the more extreme stories start out with a great premise and they either run out of time of ideas on how to end it so they tack on a quick ending.


You are under no legal obligation to incriminate yourself. Not in a court of law, not in an interrogation room. She killed the man in self-defense--which is not a crime--and if talking to the police would incriminate her--and it always does--she is under no obligation to do so. Of course, she was acquitted. If her election took place in modern times, killing her attacker would win her a lot of votes in certain constituencies. This being said, if I were forced to kill an attacker, I'd be a basket case, and I can certainly understand it haunting her. Morality play; no supernatural elements.


Be aware, there are at least two skips in the recording which cut out half a minute or so (from what I can tell); the story is by no means unintelligible, though. Tacked-on ending left me feeling cheated - especially after the several definitions of morality they had taken such pains to set up - but still worth a listen. The really fun part of this recording, though, is that after the CBSRMT programme ends, we get ten minutes of news on the Watergate scandal. Definitely worth a listen for history and radio buffs!


A woman with principles is engaged in a political campaign when events from her past threaten her congressional future. Her husband, ironically, is the detective who is charged with solving a crime she committed.


A former hippie radical -- now a respected politician -- sufferes guilt for a murder she committed 5 years prior. Her husband -- a detective -- has been assigned the cold case. Grimes is superb in this intriguing story with tremendously strong characters. Highly recommended.

BJ Ryan

A vibrant woman is sought out to run for Congress by her community. During her campaign, her detective husband is assigned a 5 year old murder case that has never been solved. It coincides with the year her election handlers cannot find any information on her. Another morality play where an individual is confronted with the right thing to do, but doing so will come with dire consequences.

Heart Paciolco

Future CBSRMT host Tammy Grimes' performance is the best thing about this episode for me. You need to be willing to put up with a lot of coincidences in the story to really enjoy this episode, and after a while I couldn't do that anymore. I'm still glad I listened, though, and kept listening after the episode to hear the Watergate report at the end. It's really neat to hear about that stuff as it was actually happening.


I did think that the incumbant who knew he was going to lose his office, was way too jolly. I don't think American history has any such example of a US Senator laughing like Santa, because of the realization that he's doomed to lose an election. Compromise is integral to the democratic process . . . elsewise we'd have 435 Representatives and 100 senators never agreeing to pass any legislation . . . ever! Still there is that "drop of poison"; that gray line between necessary compromise and selling out completely. HL Mencken said he enjoyed democracy so much because it was the most entertaining form of government; the greatest show on earth, I think he said.


This episode was one of the biggest let downs in the history of Mystery Theater. I mean, it was just plain weak. The first 2/3 of this episode was stellar--completely original. Mystery Theater had never done a political themed episode to this point in 1974. Also, the murderer was identified at the beginning of the episode--another original concept to Mystery Theater. The story swelled and then in the 3rd act basically went no where More specifically, it just ended weakly. I would give it 5 stars for the first 2 acts and 1 star for the final act averaging out to 3 stars overall. On another note, you must listen to the news at the very end of this episode detailing the Watergate investigation. Great stuff from 1974.


A good moral story. It's interesting that the title of the story points out when people start failing at their jobs. The incumbent says he's already passed his a long time ago, she owns up to hers and we're told that she didn't win her run for office. I don't know if I would've voted for her either with the information provided, but I guess you'd have to be there to figure it out. I thought it was nice that the title character and her husband both felt the same way about the issue.


As a once avid listener to this program in my youth, I find your episode guide to be invaluable. However, I think your description blew it in this case. I just listened to this episode and it was not at all what I had expected from your description. There is absolutely no indication from the show itself that the now woman politician had ever been a “hippie radical.” At most she appears to have spent a year as a hippy=like drifter trying to “find herself.” There is absolutely no indication she was even involved in political action, radical or otherwise. I had expected some political bent to the episode regarding the killing or at least a tie-in.

Bob Schenider

I rate this episode ★★★★☆ for GOOD. I enjoyed this Drama-Mystery written by Sam Dann. A great set of characters, suspenseful flashback, gripping plot points, and a significant climax. SPECIAL NOTE: Listen to the dialogue at the 37-minute mark and you’ll notice that it’s been skipped or repeated. The Title of this mystery tale, “A Tiny Drop Of Poison,” works perfectly. Other titles could work like, “The 5 Year Secret” or “The Other Killer.” There were a great number of sound effects in this, such as the cups clinking, newspaper, doors, engine motor running, frogs, crickets, the Slap, body thud, crowd cheering and music playing at the political rally, rushing footsteps, birds chirping, customers murmuring and piano playing at the restaurant, doorbell, rotary phone ringing, pills, cell gate, crowd murmuring at the Luncheon, typewriter, and the tearing of the resignation letter. There was a lot of great music tracks in this. All dramatic, suspenseful, and gripping tunes in every scene. What I enjoyed the most in this CBSRMT episode, was the cast: Tammy Grimes (as Eleanor Dailey Hartley), Paul Hecht (as Tom Caldwell and Hugo), Robert Dryden (as Ted Hartley), and Earl Hammond (as Paul Grover, Vince Perry, and Jim Parkerst). Kudos to Earl Hammond for playing characters that were both good and evil. And great job to Robert Dryden & Paul Hecht for playing protagonists. But I’d give big props to Tammy Grimes for this was her debut on CBSRMT. Listening to her character’s dialogue & inner thoughts was believable; like there was no way out of her predicament and her past would continue to haunt her. Excellent job, Tammy Grimes! Now here's why I rate this 4 of our 5 stars: The Host’s Epilogue…it’s not there! In his Prologue, E.G. Marshall starts it off by saying the Truth shall make you free, but it can also send you to jail; which hints us that this is a Drama-Mystery, not a Fantasy-Mystery. In ACT-1, he introduces us to our main character that will have a fateful day. Later on, he questions about clues; not just physical clues, but clues in the mind/heart/conscience. In ACT-2, he lets us know that there are 2 different stories that turned into 1. Later on, he questions on who is the “other” killer. In ACT-3, he makes a statement that people can be murdered twice, but our main character did it in self-defense and she has to make a crucial decision. After the Climax, E.G. Marshall gives the listeners the “unusual” Resolution: she was found not guilty and not elected. Plus, pointing out that there’s a limit to the unusual. We know the result of this mystery tale, but it’s a mystery as to what E.G. Marshall said in the missing Epilogue. But still, it’s a great story to listen to. Plus, it has commercials of Budweiser, Suburban Savings, Kellogg's Special K, Shop Right, Diet 7UP, AAMCO, "The Good Old Days of Radio" on WOR radio, and the CBS NEWS report on Richard Nixon & the Watergate. Until next time…pleasant dreams. =0)


After Russles very comprehensive review I always wonder what to add. I also enjoye dTammy Griems very much and even before I read Russles words I thought she did an exceptional job on the dialogues and "inner" thoughts. Well acted and all around a great show! Check it out! Let us know your thoughts?


Good episode, great sound. Thanks for the review too Russles! Comprehensive!

Scooter D & the greens

What to say after Russell blows you away with his in-depth review! Wish i knew when reviews were done, i enjoy seeing reviews consistently written by dedicated CBSRMT fans. This episode storyline was intriguing, and makes one ponder morality and truth. Enjoyed they used politicians as the test subjects, in this day and age finding an honest politician is like finding a needle in a haystack! How appropriate that Watergate is in the news! Loved the commercials especially AAMCO and the lady's comment she has a Chevy Mustang. Truly enjoying these programs!


Great story. Really enjoyed this one.


This woman is running for Congress, and her main staffer -- her employee -- assesses her as being a strong candidate because of her looks. Repeatedly. A reflection of the times? Maybe... but I remember in the '70s, not long after this aired, Jane Byrne rising to prominence in Chicago, and not because she was hot in a bikini. In addition, this whole twist of fate was just had too many unlikelihoods. A woman running for Congress killed an attempted rapist and murderer in self defense, and he turns out to have been a spy. And her husband turns out to be the detective investigating. And a low-life turns out to have been following him to rob him the very time he picked up his intended victim. How many spies are working in the world? And how many of them happen to be rapist/murderers? And how many are killed in the act? And how many of those surviving women go on while still a 20-something to run for Congress (because of a number of strong qualities, first and foremost, we are told more than once, because they are beautiful), marry a cop who makes detective at a young age and gets assigned to the same cold case? I mean, credulity can stretch only just so far. But it's all just set up by the writer to get where he wanted to go, not to be a good story of tension. It's a simple morality tale, with a way-too-complicated contrived setup.


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