The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 5

ray bradbury theater season 5 dvd cover episode guide
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Some decent stories

Short season, not as developed as some other anthologies

ray bradbury theater seaosn 5 episode 1 the earthmen space ship

Welcome to Mars and Bradbury’s world

Ray Bradbury is opening his shop of stories once again…and the horror and ideas growing more terrifying.  Earthlings invade Mars while Martians launch invasions Earth.  Teacher find unruly students that seem to have no fear and a boy learns that finding excitement in life could be a matter of perspective.  A cuckolded husband seeks to become the focus of attention with a sideshow purchase and a middle-aged man seeks to revenge on the bully that ruined his childhood.  The stories will take you to new worlds…but will you come back?

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 5 is a science-fiction horror anthology series.  Following The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 4, the season aired on the USA Network from January 3, 1992 to February 21, 1992.  The season received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (“The Utterly Perfect Murder” Richard Kiley).

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 2 zero hour katherine isabelle alien invasion

So ’90s, it crunches

Ray Bradbury is a classic of science-fiction.  While people like Rod Serling might be flashier and have more shocking stories, but Bradbury is a writer who has crafted some great tales.  These stories are converted to screen instead of written for the screen…and that leads success and so-so reaction.

The primary aspect of the series is the length of the stories.  While some stories feel stretched while other stories feel truncated.  With the shorter season, there are fewer chances to hit that happy medium and though the show does a decent job, only a few of the episodes reach the perfect fit.  The best examples of this season aren’t as much fantasy as much as drama and exploration of ideas (which really is the bigger definition of science-fiction).

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 6 the utterly perfect murder richard kiley robert clothier

A thinking episode is the best episode

The two best examples of this are “Colonel Stonesteel and the Desperate Empties” and “The Utterly Perfect Murder”.  Both have no scientific aspects but both play with time and perception. In “Colonel Stonesteel” how a child views time and how an adult feels it are explored…plus, how a spark of exploration and “newness” can change everything for people.  “The Utterly Perfect Murder” features a man haunted by childhood and his attempt to mend these wounds lead to a peace he’s never experienced.  They are simple, and they are effective.

The season features a few “Mars” stories which were featured in Bradbury’s novel The Martian Chronicles.  Both “The Earthmen” and “The Martians” were included in the novel and another Mars story “The Concrete Mixer” was featured in The Illustrated Man along with “Zero Hour” which features another invasion (though maybe not Martian).  It feels like the season is a bit heavier on these space stories than some of the other seasons.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 8 the martian special effects

First he changed into a bug monster thing in The Beast Within…now this (and The Beast Within looked better)

The joy of an anthology is the ever changing cast.  Footage of Bradbury is used for the intro (and previously used in other seasons), but the season has lot of actors making cameos from young actors like Shawn Ashmore and Katherine Isabelle to older actors like Harold Gould and Richard Kiley who have great turns in the season.

The show is rather low budget, but the scripts are constructed in a way that it doesn’t affect much.  Even in the stories involving Mars or aliens, most of the visuals are basic.  There are a few special effects like in “Zero Hour” and “The Martian” which obviously haven’t aged well, but it can be expected in a show that is decades old.

The Ray Bradbury Theater is a fun one.  There are good episode and there are episodes where you wish for more.  This season suffers from a shortened length, but it at least tries to do what it can with the few episodes it has.  The Ray Bradbury Theater returned for one final season following these episodes.

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 5 Complete Episode Guide:

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 1 the earthmen david birney

“The Earthmen”

5.1       The Earthmen Airdate:  01/03/92

Captain Williams (David Birney) leads a follow-up mission to Mars after losing contact with the two prior missions.  The reception from the Martians isn’t necessarily what they expected.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 2 zero hour alien invasion kids katherine isabelle

“Zero Hour”

5.2       Zero Hour Airdate:  01/10/92

The world is advancing, and the children of a neighborhood are playing a new game…and their new playmates aren’t from around here.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 3 the jar paul le mat

“The Jar”

5.3       The Jar Airdate:  01/17/92

Cuckolded Charlie (Paul Le Mat) is a small town guy who never has a break.  When he finds a strange thing resembling a head in a jar at a travelling circus, Charlie discovers new found popularity in town.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 4 colonel stonesteel and the desperate empties shawn ashmore harold gould

“Colonel Stonesteel and the Desperate Empties”

5.4       Colonel Stonesteel and the Desperate Empties Airdate:  01/24/92

Charlie (Shawn Ashmore) finds that time seems to be passing aimlessly as he approaches 13 and summer ends, but his friend Colonel Stonesteel (Harold Gould) promises to help Charlie find the new adventure with the help of a mummy.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 5 the concrete mixer ben cross john gilbert

“The Concrete Mixer”

5.5       The Concrete Mixer Airdate:  01/31/92

A Martian invasion force heads to Earth led by Assignor (John Gilbert) despite the objections of Ettil Vyre (Ben Cross).  When the invaders arrive on Earth, the invasion could find unexpected adversity.

ray bradbury theater

“The Utterly Perfect Murder”

5.6       The Utterly Perfect Murder Airdate:  02/07/92

Doug (Richard Kiley) is a middle-aged man tormented by an event in his past involving Ralph (Robert Clothier).  When wakes up and decides to get revenge, Doug sets out to find his childhood bully.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 7 lets play poison

“Let’s Play Poison”

5.7       Let’s Play Poison Airdate:  02/14/92

Michael McDonald (Shane Meier) is the teacher’s pet of Mr. Howard (Richard Benjamin).  In his attempt to help, Michael things seem to get worse…but a second chance might not be as simple as he thought.

ray bradbury theater season 5 episode 8 teh martian paul clemens sheila moore

“The Martian”

5.8       The Martian Airdate:  02/21/92

La Farge (John Vernon) and his wife Anna (Sheila Moore) mourn the loss of their son Tom (Paul Clemens) on Mars.  When a stranger in their son’s form comes, La Farge cannot accept the spirit in their home.

Related Links:

The Ray Bradbury Theater—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

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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