The Monkey's Paw #2

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Written by Len Peterson Length: 28:45*
Based on "The Monkey's Paw" (1902) by W. W. Jacobs Genre(s): Horror

Produced at CBC Toronto Recording Date(s): 4/18/1980

Original CBC AirDate: 7/11/1980
CBC Repeat(s): 2/20/1981, 1/1/2000+
CBC FM Repeat: 12/13/1980
Arts National Rebroadcast Date: ---

Original NPR Tx Date: 1/29/1982 NPR Repeat Tx: 8/7/1982 NPR ID#: 820129

CBC Tape ID: 3NF-10 Released: 198x Flipside Episode: "Hands Off"

DH Tape ID: ---
ISBN: ---
Released: --- Flipside Episode: ---

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Cast & Crew
Ruth Springford   as   Dorothy Todd
Eric House   as   Fred Todd
Chris Wiggins   as   Sgt. Maj. Jeremy Morris
Michael Wincott   as   Herbert Todd
Graham Haley   as   Mr. Tilbury

Additional Casting Notes



Recording Engineer(s)
John Jessop

Sound Effects
Bill Robinson

Production Assistant(s)
Doris Buchanan

Story Editor(s)
John Douglas

Bill Howell

Additional Crew Notes

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Commercial Synopsis

[needed]  (CBC)

[needed]  (CBCE)

A British Army Sergeant-Major returns from years of service in India with more than just the usual military yarns.  (NPR)

A period retelling of the classic short story about the supernatural wonders of India that brings home the truth of the old addage, "be careful what you wish for".  (N25)

Detailed Plot Description

Sergeant-Major Jeremy Morris has returned from long service to the Crown in the far reaches of India and is enjoying a relaxing dinner with his long-time friend, Fred Todd, Fred's wife Dorothy and their son, Herbert. The topic of conversation naturally turns to Jeremy's years in India and Herbert expresses a desire to see  that fascinating land, but the sergeant-major says he's better off staying at home. "There's too much of everything in India", he tells the lad. "There's too many things ... off the map."

To illustrate his point, the sergeant-major pulls the mummified paw of a monkey from his pocket and shows it to the Todds. He tells them about some of the strange things he saw while he was there and how it's the mysteries of India that stay with you. When Mr. Todd asks his friend what's so special about the paw, the sergeant-major tells him about a spell put on it by a fakir, to prove that fate rules the lives of everyone. The spell granted three consecutive owners three wishes each. Morris is the second owner, having received the paw from a lance corporal friend whose last wish had been for death. Morris says he's made his three wishes, but refuses to recount how they were answered.

In a fit of anger and regret, disgusted with his own memories of the paw's effects on his life, Morris throws it on the fire, but Mr. Todd has Herbert fish it out. Morris begs the lad to leave it to burn, but to no avail. "If you don't want it, Jeremy, give to me," says his old friend. The sergeant-major can only admonish the Todds not to blame him for what happens if they keep the paw.

After Morris leaves, the Todds gather around and decide to make a wish for the £200 they need to pay off their home. When Fred makes the wish, the paw jerks in his hand, startling him, but nothing else happens -- no money is forthcoming -- so he and his wife toddle off to bed and Herbert heads out for the night shift at the local factory, Maw & Meggins.

The next morning, a man from the factory arrives at the Todd's home bearing the news that Herbert has been killed: caught in the machinery, drawn into the pulley system and crushed to death. But even as this news devastates the Todds, the horrible irony is yet to come. The management at Maw & Meggins, in compensation for Herbert's death and in view of his service to the factory, present his parents with the sum of £200.

Ten days later Mrs. Todd, still in shock and unable to sleep, paces their bedroom floor. After repeated attempts by her husband to get her to come to bed, Dorothy nearly collapses from the shock of realization: how come they hadn't thought of using the paw to bring Herbert back? They still had two wishes left. They had only made one. "Was that not enough?!" Fred cries, but she becomes possessed with the idea and will not be deterred. She begs him to make the wish and he relents: "I wish my son alive."

Nothing happens.

In one way dejected, in another relieved, Mr. Todd returns to bed and his wife soon follows thinking, perhaps, as Fred had suggested, that the wish can't be granted if it's something Nature won't allow. But not long afterwards she hears a sound at the gate outside and, believing it to be Herbert, bolts from the bed to open the downstairs door. Fred tries to prevent her from going, telling her it's only the wind, but she breaks free of him and rushes down the stairs.

The pounding on the door and raspy cries of "Mom!" and "Dad!" convince Mrs. Todd that her son has returned from the grave. She tries to let him in, but the bolt on the door is jammed. She wrestles with it desperately, trying to wrench it free. As she struggles with it, Fred searches frantically for the monkey's paw, hoping to find it before Dorothy opens the door and sees their son as Fred had seen him when he had to identify Herbert's gruesomely mangled body, this time as a walking corpse. Just as the bolt begins to slide free, Fred discovers the paw and he wishes, as a prayer to God, that his son be dead again.

The bolt snaps free and the door opens to reveal ... nothing. Only the gate banging in the wind.

Fred consoles Dorothy, telling her it's better that she not have seen Herbert so multilated and in such pain, but she admonishes him for not using the last wish of the monkey's paw to make their son whole.  (Neil Marsh)

Episode Review

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Memorable Moments

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Cast/Crew Commentary

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Additional Information

+This episode was re-broadcast by the CBC as a Holiday Classic episode of The Mystery Project on Jan. 1, 2000.  (Neil Marsh)

Chris Wiggins is probably best known, apart from his voice work, as Uncle Jack in the 80's cult TV favorite Friday the 13th: the Series.  (Neil Marsh)

Research Notes

The NPR Quarterly Listings title this episode "Monkey's Paw". All other sources call it "The Monkey's Paw".  (Neil Marsh)

*The LENGTH is taken from the CBC Enterprises audio cassette edition. The NPR Playhouse version was 28:59.  (Neil Marsh)

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Reader Comments

This is one of my all-time favorite old time radio stories. Nightfall does it justice, and once again raised the hair on my arms at the conclusion when the mother tries desperately to let in her guest who is knocking at her door. In spite of the lesson the story tries to teach, wouldn't we all still try and take a crack at that paw?  (Joe Goforth/

I had read the story and really enjoyed the Nightfall version. Hearing the voice of her son at the door was sick...and I loved it! Nice music selection in this for the paw theme. I'm curious to know what it is.  (Kevin Hartnell)

I think that it is a scary tale, but it's entertaining and I recommend it for everyone.  (Soni Pizza)

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