"Exactly one-half exhilaration. Exactly one-half terror."
June 2, 2017 4:02 PM   Subscribe

The Ray Bradbury Theater was an anthology series that began on HBO from 1985 to 1986 and then moved to USA Network from 1988 to 1992. All 65 episodes were scripted by Bradbury and many were based on short stories or novels he had written and published, such as the classic “A Sound of Thunder.”

The Guest Stars
The show was known for the high caliber of its guest stars, some of whom were character actors with decades of television, film and stage experience. Some names are listed next to many of the episode links.

The Episodes (Full playlist is also linked above. Some sources split up the seasons and order the episodes differently. This list puts them in airdate order.)

Season 1 (1985)
1. "Marionettes, Inc." (With James Coco and Leslie Nielsen)
2. "The Playground" (Starring William Shatner)
3. "The Crowd" (Starring Nick Mancuso)

Season 2 (1986)
1. "The Town Where No One Got Off" (With Jeff Goldblum and Ed McNamara)
2. "The Screaming Woman" (Starring Drew Barrymore, Janet-Laine Green and Alan Scarfe)
3. "Banshee" (With Peter O'Toole, Charles Martin Smith and Jennifer Dale. IMDb says Bradbury based the story on his working relationship with John Huston during the making of "Moby Dick" in the mid 50's.)

Season 3 (1988)
1. "The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl" (Starring Michael Ironside, Robert Vaughn and Sonja Smits)
2. "Skeleton" (Starring Eugene Levy)
3. "The Emissary" (Starring Helen Shaver, Keram Malicki-Sanchez and Linda Goranson)
4. "Gotcha!" (Starring Saul Rubinek and Kate Lynch)
5. "The Man Upstairs" (With Micheline Prelle and Féodor Atkine)
6. "The Small Assassin" (With Susan Wooldridge)
7. "Punishment Without Crime" (With Donald Pleasence, Peggy Mount, Iain Cuthbertson and Frank Williams)
8. “On the Orient, North" (With Magali Noël and Ian Bannen)
9. "The Coffin" (With Denholm Elliott, Dan O’Herlihy and Clive Swift)
10. "Tyrannosaurus Rex" (With Daniel Ceccaldi)
11. “There Was an Old Woman" (With Mary Morris)
12. "And So Died Riabouchinska" (With Alan Bates)

Season 4 (1989)
1. "The Dwarf" (Starring Megan Follows and Miguel Fernandes)
2. "A Miracle of Rare Device(With Pat Harrington, Jr., Wayne Robson and William Kircher)
3. "The Lake" (With Gordon Thomson)
4. "The Wind" (With Michael Serrazin)
5. "The Pedestrian" (With David Ogden Stiers))
6. "A Sound of Thunder" (With Kiel Martin and John Bach)
7. "The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone" (With John Saxon and Alan Scarfe)
8. "The Haunting of the New" (With Susannah York)
9. "To the Chicago Abyss(With Harold Gould)
10. "Hail and Farewell" (Starring Josh Saviano)
11. "The Veldt(Starring Linda Kelsey and Malcolm Stewart)
12. "Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar!" (Starring Charles Martin Smith)

Season 5 (1990)
1. "Mars Is Heaven" (With Hal Linden and Paul Gross)
2. "The Murderer" (Starring Bruce Weitz and Cedric Smith)
3. "Touched with Fire" (Starring Eileen Brennan and Barry Morse)
4. "The Black Ferris" (With Zachary Bennett)
5. "Usher II" (With Patrick Macnee and Ian Mune)
6. "Touch of Petulance" (With Eddie Albert and Dulcie Smart)
7. "And the Moon Be Still as Bright" (Starring David Carradine and Kenneth Welsh)
8. "The Toynbee Convector" (Starring James Whitmore and Michael Hurst)
9. "Exorcism" (Starring Sally Kellerman and Jayne Eastwood)
10. "The Day It Rained Forever(With Vincent Gardenia, Gerard Parks and Sheila Moore)
11. "The Long Years" (Starring Robert Culp and George Touliatos)
12. "Here There Be Tygers" (With Timothy Bottoms)

Season 6 (1992)
1. "The Earthmen" (Starring David Birney, Gordon Pinsent, Patricia Phillips and David Neale)
2. "Zero Hour" (Starring Sally Kirkland and Katharine Isabelle)
3. "The Jar" (With Paul Le Mat and Jennifer Dale)
4. "Colonel Stonesteel and the Desperate Empties" (With Harold Gould, Wayne Robson and Shawn Ashmore)
5. "The Concrete Mixer" (With Ben Cross and Howard Jerome)
6. "The Utterly Perfect Murder(With Richard Kiley, Robert Clothier and Eric Johnson)
7. "Let's Play Poison" (Starring Richard Benjamin and Shane Meier)
8. "The Martian" (With John Vernon, Paul Clemens, Sheila Moore and Janne Mortil)
9. "The Lonely One" (Starring Joanna Cassidy and Sheila McCarthy)
10. "The Happiness Machine" (Starring Elliott Gould and Mimi Kuzyk)
11. "Tomorrow's Child" (Starring Carol Kane and Michael Sarrazin)
12. "The Handler" (With John Sumner, Michael J. Pollard and Henry Beckman)
13. "Great Wide World Over There" (Starring Tyne Daly and David Orth)
14. "Fee Fie Foe Fum" (Starring Jean Stapleton, Robert Morelli and Lucy Lawless)
15. "The Anthem Sprinters" (With Len Cariou)
16. "By the Numbers" (With Ray Sharkey, Geordie Johnson and Marton Csokas)
17. "The Long Rain" (With Marc Singer and Michael Hurst)
18. "The Dead Man" (With Louise Fletcher)
19. "Sun and Shadow" (With Gregory Sierra, John Bach, Vicky Haughton and Stuart Margolin)
20. "Silent Towns" (With John Glover and Monica Parker)
21. "Downwind From Gettysburg" (Starring Howard Hesseman and Robert Joy)
22. "Some Live Like Lazarus" (With Janice Rule and Yanick Bisson)
23. "The Tombstone" (Starring Shelley Duvall, Ron White and Desmond Kelly )
posted by zarq (14 comments total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
So you've clicked on this post and found a huge list of 65 episodes and don't know where to begin. The truth is, not every episode of The Ray Bradbury Theatre was fantastic. Some were excellent. Some were clunkers.

Here's a short list of some good episodes, with links:
1. "A Sound of Thunder"
2. "The Playground"
3. "The Lake"
4. "Mars Is Heaven"
5. "The Screaming Woman"
6. "The Long Years"
7. "The Emissary"
8. "Gotcha!"
9. "The Small Assassin"
10. "To the Chicago Abyss
11. "The Veldt

Some clunkers to avoid:
1. "Tyrannosaurus Rex"
2. "Skeleton"
posted by zarq at 4:03 PM on June 2, 2017 [17 favorites]

Yes, Bradbury was not always great, but I was massively impressed when he appeared at an '80s animation festival to 'interview' his friend and cartoon legend Chuck Jones. That was one of the two best things he did in that decade... the Theater series was the other... the worst was an attempt to write a sci-fi-free mystery novel set in Venice, California (where I was living at the time). Painful.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:22 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

We still have to find whoever crushed that damn butterfly and break their legs.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on June 2, 2017 [13 favorites]

Wonderful! What a terrific compilation. I'll add a plug for the series of audio plays Bradbury 13, which seems to be available online. The adaptations of "Dark They Were and Golden Eyed", "The Wind", and "Night Call, Collect" scared the crap out of me when I was a teenager driving alone at night through the silent cornfields of the Illinois countryside.
posted by informavore at 5:05 PM on June 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

This is my first comment ever (total lurker) because DEAR GOD YES THIS SHOW. Thank you so much for posting.
posted by Kemma80 at 5:48 PM on June 2, 2017 [11 favorites]

I remember this show from my earlier humanhood. Standout memory: the Helgremite Worm
posted by battleshipkropotkin at 7:33 PM on June 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Artw: "We still have to find whoever crushed that damn butterfly and break their legs."

But we got an iron man now, a man with guts!
posted by Chrysostom at 11:41 PM on June 2, 2017 [7 favorites]

Oh wow. We just blind-bought this series on disc a few weeks ago and have been working our way through it--only midway through season 3 so far. The big standout for me has been The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl. Michael Ironside was absolutely terrific in that, so impressive and fun to watch.

I found Gotcha incoherent. At the end of the episode, it was unclear to me what we were meant to believe had happened. I am told that this one was two different Bradbury stories awkwardly mashed together.
posted by heatvision at 3:29 AM on June 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have fond memories of this show; I was just the exact right age to watch it when it came on. Can't really remember any episodes, but I do remember that intro with Bradbury talking in his office (or set that looks like his office). Thanks for this.
posted by zardoz at 4:24 AM on June 3, 2017 [2 favorites]

posted by Artw at 12:09 PM on June 3, 2017 [4 favorites]

Aw I liked his murder mystery, partly because it was terrible, but in an enjoyable way.

And the thing is, it was no worse in terms of his little writer tics than a lot of his sci-fi. As with Stephen King, the ideas were there, but so were his blind spots, his favorite used-to-death tropes, inability to close plot holes, and so on. I loved Bradbury unreservedly from age 12-15 or so, but I haven't read him much since.

I remember watching some of these, but I was on the downslope of my Bradbury phase at the time so I never watched consistently. Thanks for the post, maybe my kiddo is the right age to watch some with me now.
posted by emjaybee at 12:46 PM on June 3, 2017

I always wondered about the point of view of the people working in the Tyme Sefari. They send out a "sefari" and they come back not knowing how to spell and going on about the president? It would look like time travel has given them false memories.
posted by RobotHero at 3:50 PM on June 3, 2017

which gave us this..
posted by judson at 7:58 AM on June 5, 2017

That movie took it mostly as an excuse to throw strange creatures at us and didn't concern itself with the political element.

Interesting difference with the original story vs. the TV adaptation, the "But we got an iron man now, a man with guts!" line isn't there, and instead they say, "What election?" to underline how undemocratic things are. So which is more terrifying, that the government has suspended elections or that the people are crueler than they were, that they would elect him. (Though that he was a serious contender in both timelines means there was always some percentage of the population either way.)
posted by RobotHero at 9:09 AM on June 5, 2017

« Older Moustache, on a train. With a twist.   |   Untitled, 2017 Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments