Theater Five - Single Episodes
Theater Five was ABC's attempt to revive radio drama during the early 1960s. The series name was derived from its time slot, 5:00 PM.
Running Monday through Friday, it was an anthology of short stories, each about 20 minutes long. News programs and commercials filled out the full 30 minutes.
There was a good bit of science fiction and some of the plots seem to have been taken from the daily newspaper.
Fred Foy, of The Lone Ranger fame, was an ABC staff announcer in the early 60s, who, among other duties, did Theater Five.
From the Old Time Radio Researcher's Group. See "Note" Section below for more information on the OTRR.
OLD TIME RADIO RESEARCHER'S GROUP
This is a production of the Old Time Radio Researchers Group located at Old Time Radio Researchers Website and the Old Time Radio Researchers Group.
It contains the most complete and accurate version of this series in the best sound possible at the time of creation. An updated version will be issued if more episodes or better sounding ones become available.
If you are interested in preserving old time radio, you may wish to join the Old Time Radio Researchers Group at Yahoo.
This is the Single Episode Page. The Certified Set includes extras not found here. It is located at OTRR Certified Set. This page is provided in case you want to sample the shows.
Note that in many cases, file names have been modified from the original OTRR names to conform to archive.org naming requirements.
Relax, listen, and enjoy!
OTRR Certified Accurate -- A series that is Certified Accurate indicates that all the episodes are properly identified and labeled but that the series does not contain all known extant episodes.
OTRR Certified Complete -- A series that is Certified Complete is the highest level of certification available under the OTRR Certified Standards. This certification level implies that all the files in the series are Certified Accurate but also indicates that the series is as complete as possible – it includes all extant episodes.
Subject: The Last of a Great Thing
Theater Five is probably the last well made radio show from the era when radio was king. Of course, 1965 is somewhat after television robbed radio of it's commercial and production precedence. How Theater Five got made is a mystery that I cannot figure out, Alas, Theater Five exists and is a treasure of great shows;
—the last of a really, really good thing. RADIO.
My top 5 episodes are:
Your Time Is Up
Discotheque (dated music but it works for the story)
Incident on U.S. 1
A Little Game on Saturday Mornings.
Other ok episodes:
Two Came Back (Also done on Escape. Escape's version is a little better, imo.)
The Imposters (Also done on Suspense. Both suffer from revealing the major twist in the story a bit too early.)
Noose of Pearls
Congratulations, Mr Mayor
The Protective Circle
Snow in April
A Dream of a Scheme
In Time of Trouble
The Underdeveloped Nation (Dated humor but still fun)
Subject: Good stories, good acting, and I can hear everything!
Next (spoiler!), and this moved me to remove a star from my rating of this favorite series: "World Enough and Time" did in fact make me feel like kicking poor Mr. Desktop PC across the room, even dragging myself out of my comfy bed to do it! The insistence of lower-brow fictional tales on pretending that hospitals can hold patients prisoner, forcing them to devise nerve-tingling escapes in terror of consequences too frightening to even be KNOWN to any of us, is so dumb!! This episode of Theater Five carried it so far, it left me as confounded as the poor man who wanted only to leave and go board his bleeping plane! AWFUL STORY. They should have just staged it on a different planet, to account for the ridiculousness of holding someone prisoner in a hospital in case a bump on his head had caused a concussion. And for not having him just WALK OUT.
I've yet to be intruded upon by music DURING these stories, but the intro theme is jarring, unmusical, and ear-splitting, though no worse than the deafening scream of rusty hinges that go on and on at the start of CBS Radio Mystery Theater, or the screeeeeeeeeeeching door leading to the Inner Sanctum, or the continuous, monotonous WHISTLER intro, and MOST of the noises that open the most worthwhile radio dramas, not to mention the million commercials left intact in most of them (for the OTR aficionado princesses to swoon over).
But regarding music, I was wondering, is Theater 5 the series with an episode about two deadly spies, a woman and a man, traveling in a cross-country bus? If so, it had the most memorable music I've ever heard in a radio mystery. Just one little child, deep in the background, singing "On Top of Old Smoky" as passengers fell asleep for the night.
(Thank you for reply on that, newdickmorris. I can find it now and hear it again! That doesn't happen much. :o)
Subject: Your Time is Up
Subject: Hits and misses
But there are a few rather notable flaws, the most apparent and egregious being the music. Even the incidental music bed during the play can be disrupting when it swamps the dialogue (and it does many times over the course of the series), but the intro, bumper and outro music is just plain wrong.
I'm not saying it's bad music or poorly done, because for one thing, it is done quite well, certainly no less accomplished than any such music at the time of its popular use in the industry, and for another thing, I enjoy music from all eras and kinds and genres and styles, and to me cheesy music is where you slice it, so to speak, and one man's cheesiness is another man's perfectly-suited-to-its-time-iness. I made up that phrase.
But for this series the music is blaringly wrong -- bombastic, overwrought, fit for television ads and cartoons, not dramatic productions. It tends to disrupt mood and atmosphere in some way in just about every episode I've heard thus far, which is about 80% now. It robs some episodes of their power and punch at the end, that is how badly it fits this series.
Also, I find the writing very hit and miss, and a few episodes had me wanting to kick my computer across the room for the sheer illiteracy and ignorance of the writing. Most of this series is just fine, but some may turn off listeners of radio drama who know what good writing sounds like.
The acting is almost always consistently competent and for the most part just plain good. I have been enjoying the surprise appearances of radio stalwarts of the era such as Robert Dryden, Ralph Bell, and Norman Rose, when they pop into an episode. Some of the most prolific and respected names in voice acting were used here and I always appreciate hearing them.
I am happy to find this series and enjoy it, surely, but its flaws are egregious enough to me to only give it a 3 on the scale.
Subject: Still unsure
Subject: greats 1960s radio
Subject: Nice series!
Some winners here.
Nice, clean renditions.
Subject: Great radio drama for contemporary audiences
Subject: Generally good stories, lousy music.
Otherwise, the stories are pretty good, though "trite" in many cases, with unresolved endings
Nonetheless, it's one more series of radio dramas to listen to. I've heard most of the old ones.
Subject: This is one of the best Suspense programs i've heard
Subject: OGG VORBIS DOWNLOADING
Subject: Awesome show. Discovered it by accident.
I don't think a similar show could get on the air today.
Subject: Glad to find this
Subject: Oh.. wow
These are short stories of all kinds. Suspense! Pathos! Sci Fi! Drama! you name it.
What a cool show and awesome upload. Thanks so much for the files
PS the music is great too- jazzy, complex intro and effects. The baby-sitter episode about the liar had the Beatles in it: "Bug Off". Suspenseful. Highly recommended show. Must listen.
Subject: Awesome Series
This is a wonderful chest of treasures to complement those other superior series. I'm giving it a top rating, though, because it is so enjoyable, varies subject often and keeps your interest.
Subject: Incomplete Episode
Subject: The Last Of The Best
Special thanks to OTRR for uploading this. Your effort is much appreciated.
Subject: Highly Entertaining & Provocative Tales -- High Quality Productions
The stark lack of sentimentality stands out among other "feel good" programs.
Of note, episode 51, All The Bright Young Ones, a story about a future society in which those age 41+ are forcibly retired to old people's centers on edges of society so the world can be managed by the young. The "old people" are forced to live in hiding.
Episode 47, The Last Land Rush, tells the story of a future over-populated world where citizens turn on one another violently as they stake out a patch of open ground in a surviver style government land program.
The production quality is superior and the writing is stellar. Highly recommended for your listening pleasure.
Subject: Well kept secret
The performances are gritty, and the stories uncluttered with too much background story, leaving much more to the imagination. The effect is stronger than CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Fans of CBSRMT will also discover some familiar voices.
For conveneince I downloaded this from the zipped page.
Note: episode 227 stars Alan Alda.
Subject: 'Discotheque' is my favorite one
Subject: Theater Five is Excellent!
The worst one is that one with the stamps...too ridiculous. The best are "It's a work of Art", the nuclear shelter one, "Fog", and many others.
Subject: Quit complaining
Now to the show. I really find this show quite fun to listen to, it's not as good as Golden Age'd Radio classics such as Suspense, Escape, Gunsmoke, ETC but it is fun to listen to, some of the stories can be quite engrossing.
Subject: Theater Five
Subject: Theater Five = OTRules!!!
Thank you for the all hard work you have put into this website! And especially wonderful is the consistent labeling of details for each episode!! dL speeds are fast too!
Enough of the complaining about the zip files seriously now.... GREAT show thanks again OTRR
Subject: Singles work for me;Whole Item does not.
Subject: "House of Cards"
Subject: You will become an instant fan!
Subject: The Best!
Enough about the zip file, ok? How about some reviews about episodes of the show instead?
Subject: Zip download fails "Corrupted header" message
Subject: single episodes
Subject: "Not a valid archive"
Uploaded by OTRRArchive on