This production of X-Minus-One was a fun one!

Based on a book by Murray Leinster and airing on on Halloween, 1956, Sam This is You is smart and funny, with clever dialogue, lame puns, and two totally adorable leads who turned what could have been a silly voice-from-the-future story into comedy gold.

The interplay between the leads, Sam and Rosie, makes this production especially bright and their dialogue is so much crackling fun, no mere recap can do the story justice. I’ll drop a few of the snappier lines here, but I recommend you listen to the episode to get the full effect (see the bottom of the page for the full audio).

With that said, let’s go…

A jazzy guitar riff starts us off, followed by our story’s hero, Sam Yoder’s intro: “If I were you, I wouldn’t believe a word of this story. I’m still not sure if Rosie does, and as a matter of fact, I’m not so sure I believe it myself.” I’m thinking I may not believe him either, but his narration promises a trippy, rollicking good time, so I’m in.

Beginning at the beginning, Sam lays out his origin story. He strung communications wire during the war and spent so much time up a tree it was only natural he become a telephone lineman when he came marching home. A decent job, but not good enough for his girl Rosie, who thinks he needs more ambition, and good-naturedly nags him about it.

“Do you think a telephone lineman’s life is right for you?” she asks, coyly. “Well, it has its ups and downs,” he says, with a verbal twinkle in his eyes. Rosie huffs at the pun and I want to suggest she save her breath, because ol’ Sam’s got a million of them.

Brief aside here… I research all the actors in the shows I recap, and usually come up empty. But I hit the resume jackpot with this episode’s leads.

Sam is played by Larry Haines, who had a super-busy career. He was a veteran of many radio productions, including a stint on the long-running true crime potboiler, Gangbusters. He also appeared on Broadway, scoring 2 Tony noms, was in a bunch of movies, including The Odd Couple, and had a long-term gig on the TV soap, Search for Tomorrow, for which he won 2 Emmys.

Pat Hosley with Unknown Man in Natty Bow Tie

Pat Hosley, who plays Rosie, was basically the Goddess of All Media in her day: acting in several radio productions, including playing Gladys on the long-running Henry Aldrich family sit-com; lots of TV, such as a role as Alice’s sister on The Honeymooners, a recurring role on the long-running 1950s soap opera A Brighter Day (with guest cast including Hal Holbrook and Patty Duke); commercial voice overs; and on the page as the author of 3 young adult novels. Plus, in real life, happily married for an impressive 70 years.

Now, back to the show….

Sam and Rosie’s bicker-bantering about his need to improve himself ends with a misunderstanding about George Sand and Chopin (it’s complicated), and Rosie storms off in a huff. Sam tells us though his girl tends to fly off the handle, he likes her anyway. “When you climb up and down telephone poles all day,” he says. “You get tired of something straight up and down. Rosie is a refreshing change, know what I mean?” Wink, wink.

But she has a point, Sam concedes, and he starts studying electronics to improve himself. After several months of classes, he invites Rosie down to his basement to see his “invention.” She thinks he’s handing her a line to get her alone, but agrees to go. Sam shows her a gizmo that’s supposed to help have a private phone conversation on a party line. Sooo… a telephone then? Their conversation devolves into double-entendres and triple-innuendo and Rosie storms off in a huff.

Finally, we get to the meat of the story. Sam’s up a pole the next day, Friday, July 2nd, trying to revive a dead telephone line, when the phone rings. Sam’s stumped—how could someone be calling on a dead line? He answers and a chipper voice on the other end of the line says, “Sam, this is you. I’m calling from the future, the 12th of July, to be exact.”

Hosley (left) emotes on The Honeymooners

Sam’s stumped again. Stunned, too. “You’ve heard of time travelling?” Future Sam says. “Well, this is time talking. You’re talking to yourself ten days from now.” July 2nd Sam refuses to believe “Sam in the Week After Next” until Future Sam tells a nudge-nudge, know what I mean? story about a memorable date at the drive-in with Rosie no one else could know about.

Shaken, Sam goes home, has a cup of instant coffee (yuck!), then rearranges the circuits on his invention, as Future Sam told him to. Presto! His invention works, and he has a direct line to Future Sam. He goes to see Rosie, agog over his connection to the future and the possibilities of getting rich through insider info from himself. Rosie’s all, “Sam, you didn’t smooth down your cowlick! If you respected me, you’d smooth down your cowlick before coming to see me!” A girl’s got to have priorities.

Sam tells her about his invention and the call from Sam in the Week After Next, offering up the intimate story Future Sam told him as proof. Rosie gets upset and storms off in a huff. She doesn’t storm very far since they’re at her house, sitting on the porch swing, with Rosie’s TV-obsessed father five feet away in the living room. Too close, Sam laments. “I stayed around until her father came out and asked me to go home so Rosie could finish crying and he could watch Hell’s Angels on the late show in peace.”

Current Sam and Rosie soon make up, and both decide they believe Future Sam is real. Doesn’t hurt that some of the predictions the guy made have come true.

Promises, Promises on Broadway: Haines wrestles w/Jerry Orbach in Tony-nominated role. Co-star Marian Mercer just wants to get some shut-eye.

The next time Current Sam speaks to his doppelganger, he learns he’s going to witness a bank robbery. Sure enough, it happens the next day. The thieves get away, cutting the telephone wires on their way out of town just to be jerks. While Sam’s fixing the lines, he ties himself into mental knots—if Future Sam didn’t tell him how to stop the bank robbery, then he is a crook; and if Future Sam is a crook, then that means Current Sam is too. Oy!

He goes to see Rosie, surprised to see her father in front of the TV “in suit and tie because he was expecting her Supreme Highness Princess Grace and Slapsy Maxie Rosenbloom with Ed Murrow Face-to-Face.”

Sam and Rosie plop onto the porch swing. “I come to tell you goodbye,” he says. “I just found out I’m a criminal, so I’d better go and commit my crimes far away from hearth and friends who would be hurt, hurt, hurt.”

Rosie’s all, what you talkin’ about, Sammie? She tells him how things are going to go–she plans to stick by his side, wearing her tapered slacks, 24-7 so he won’t have the chance to turn into a crook. “You won’t do anything criminal with me along. And if that other you starts talking to you on the phone I’m going to climb the telephone pole and tell him where he gets off.” Whew! Rosie’s a gal who knows how to put her foot down.

True to her word, she sticks with Current Sam for the next week, carrying a crescent wrench in case of emergencies. In her tapered slacks. “She made me stay over in her brother who’s away in the Marines’ room,” Sam laments. “And locked me in at night while in the living room her father watched Meet the Press and asked Nixon and Kefauver questions which they never answered. All the disadvantages of being married a long time without the obvious advantages.”

Promo Poster for A Brighter Day (Pat Hosley, bottom left)

A week passes. They’re driving in the telephone company truck—or rather Rosie’s driving, to keep Sam from crossing a double yellow line or failing to stop for a school bus or any other nefarious crime that will instantly turn him into a crook like Future Sam.

A car comes out of nowhere and they smack into it. Rosie worries the man driving the other vehicle is hurt, but not only is he not hurt, he pulls out a gun and shoots at them! Man, that escalated fast.

Sam recognizes the man as one of the bank robbers he saw last week. He tries to shove Rosie behind him to protect her, but she’s having none of that Damsel-in-Distress crap and comes out swinging. She bashes the bad guy on the head with her crescent wrench. Sam ties the guy up with some wire from his tool box and they haul the guy in to the sheriff, where he confesses everything.

Next day, Rosie goes out in the truck with Sam. He’s in a grinning mood, which makes her huff, but at least she doesn’t storm off this time. “Do you realize there’s a $5,000 reward for catching those crooks?” he grins. “And we get it!”

Haines (2nd from right) Antes Up in The Odd Couple

Rosie’s still concerned about Future Sam corrupting Current Sam, but for our hero, everything falls into place. It’s July 12th, the day he called his former self. He’s now Future Sam and he knows he’s got to climb the pole and make the call to the past.

The phone rings, we hear beleaguered Sam from ten days ago answer on the other end of the line, and Current-now-Future Sam drops his opening line, “Sam, this is you…”

Epilogue: Sam and Rosie get married and with the reward money and the money Sam makes from betting on horse races and baseball, they’re doing pretty well. Thanks to his invention–and inside info from a friend from the future.

So, ready to hear the whole episode now? You can enjoy it here:

 

Janet Raye Stevens
Contrary to what her kids will tell you, author Janet Raye Stevens was not around during the 1940s, though she regularly time travels to WWII while writing her mystery and romance stories. When she isn’t visiting 1944, Janet spends her time drinking tea (Earl Grey, hot), plotting revenge (best served cold), and indulging in all things time travel. Janet lives with her family in the Massachusetts suburbs, where, as we all know, nothing is as it seems.

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