The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 1

ray bradbury theater season 1 dvd episode guide list
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good cast, interesting stories

Dated visuals and sometimes feels long

ray bradbury theater season 1 title card review episode guide

Ray Bradbury’s stories spill out…

Trapped in the mind of Ray Bradbury, there are stories hoping to get out.  At his desk, Bradbury exorcises those demons.  From a company that creates lifelike duplicates of their clients, a spirit who searches for the man (Peter O’Toole) who wronged her, a father (William Shatner) trapped by his past, a mysterious crowd of watchers who gather at crash sites, a girl (Drew Barrymore) who could be witness to a crime, or a writer (Jeff Goldblum) who goes looking for a new idea in a small town, Bradbury’s stories seem to have lives of their own.

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 1 aired on HBO from May 21, 1985 to February 22, 1986.  The six episode season received positive reviews.

Not having cable, The Ray Bradbury Theater was a mystery to me.  I knew Ray Bradbury, and I knew he had a show, but I didn’t get to see any of the show until college when it would pop-up on stuff like Sci-Fi network (before it was SyFy).  As a fan of The Twilight Zone and other anthology series, The Ray Bradbury Theater is right up my alley…thought the pacing of the stories feels different.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 4 the town where no one got off intro

Where’s Ray taking us this week?

The show is based on Bradbury’s works, and Bradbury occasionally gets in on the action (as seen this season with “The Screaming Woman” and “The Town Where No One Got Off”).  His stories range from simple and rather typical sci-fi like “Marionettes, Inc.” to more cerebral science-fiction like “The Playground”.  Though largely science fiction, they also have elements of horror, mystery, and suspense tied in to them.  Episodes like “The Town Where No One Got Off” has a nice suspense and tension (in a great game of chicken) that is unusual for a show in this length and format.

That being said, the length of the show does become an issue at times.  With TV in the 1980s or pretty much any network TV to present day, you kind of have an expectation of the story and where it will go.  That path has a kind of pacing that isn’t had by The Ray Bradbury Theater since it is a cable TV show with no commercials.  I kept feeling like the show should be over and then realize I had another thirty minutes in the episode.  This sometimes felt like the show was drawn out slightly too long…it generally wasn’t too big of a factor, but it is a factor.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 6 peter otoole charles martin smith

Lawrence of Arabia welcomes you

Anthologies are great to watch simply for the cast and this show is steeped in 1980s goodness.  You have pretty big stars like Jeff Goldblum, Peter O’Toole, and Drew Barrymore (she had already started to make a name for herself) anchoring episodes while older celebrities like James Coco also get into the scene.  There is a lot of Canadian influence in the series due to its production and actors like William Shatner, Leslie Nielsen, and Kenneth Welsh who have Canada ties all pop up.

The show isn’t the most visual show around.  It feels kind of dated at times but none of the stories this season require a lot of visuals that push a budget.  Like the cast, it is very anchored in the 1980s, and the show looks it.

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 1 is a short, quick season to watch.  I love half-hour shows that you can really plow through and the fact that each story is self-contained helps you pick-up and put down the series if necessary.  If you’ve watched Tales from the Darkside, Twilight Zone, Night Gallery or other anthology shows, take a swing at The Ray Bradbury Theater…it is worth it.

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 1 marionette inc leslie nielsen james coco

“Marionette, Inc.”

1.1       Marionettes, Inc. Airdate:  05/21/85

Business man Braling (James Coco) is haunted by a company led by Fantoccini (Leslie Nielsen) called Marionettes, Inc. which could provide him with a relief to his busy schedule.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 2 the playground william shatner

“The Playground”

1.2       The Playground Airdate:  06/04/85

A man named Charles Underhill (William Shatner) is haunted by his childhood past on a playground and fears to let his own son Steve (Keith Dutson) experience what he went through.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 3 the crowd nick mancuso

“The Crowd”

1.3       The Crowd Airdate:  07/02/85

Joe Spallner (Nick Mancuso) survives a dangerous accident only to find a crowd of people quickly gathers around him.  When he questions how and where the crowd came from, the questions increase when he sees another crowd with the same people arriving at other accidents.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 4 the town where no one got off jeff goldblum

“The Town Where No One Got Off”

1.4       The Town Where No One Got Off Airdate:  02/22/86

An aspiring writer named Cogswell (Jeff Goldblum) is challenged to get off a train at a random country town and chooses to take the chance to find his next story…but a strange man (Ed McNamara) could provide the perfect idea.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 5 the screaming woman drew barrymore

“The Screaming Woman”

1.5       The Screaming Woman Airdate:  02/22/86

When Heather Leary (Drew Barrymore) hears a screaming woman in the woods, no one will believe her…but finding the source of the cries could be harder.

ray bradbury theater season 1 episode 6 the banshee jennifer dale

“The Banshee”

1.6       Banshee Airdate:  02/22/86

Writer John Hampton (Charles Martin Smith) visits director Douglas Rogers (Peter O’Toole) and learns of the myth of the banshee which is said to haunt the woods.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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