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"The Ray Bradbury Theater" TV series (1985-1986; 1988-1992)

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by The Drifter, Jun 19, 2019.

  1. Message #1 of 6 Jun 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    I'm a big fan of Ray Bradbury's short stories/novellas & have also enjoyed the filmed adaptations based on his work (notably The Martian Chronicles mini-series, Something Wicked this Way Comes, etc.). So, I was surprised when I recently found out about the anthology TV series "The Ray Bradbury Theater" - this ran on HBO from '85-'86, and the USA Network from '88 - '92. I was never even aware of this show when it was originally out, never having had cable back in the day.

    So, I recently started watching the show on the 5-disk DVD set. I am extremely impressed by the quality of the show itself, but very underwhelmed by the DVD's. I've only seen the first Disk (so far):

    Technical review:

    Not at all impressed by the presentation here - extremely sub-par:

    - These episodes all have extremely poor PQ, a lot of which probably has to do with them cramming a lot of episodes on each disk. In Disk 1, they include 14 episodes, all of which are 25-30 minutes each. I'm sure if there were fewer episodes per disk the quality may have been at least a little better.
    -No subtitles.
    -No chapter breaks.

    The show itself:

    Excellent sci-fi/horror/suspense anthology show. Due to being a cable series, the show seems to have a bigger budget/production values than similar TV shows - and, has some familiar faces - i.e., Jeff Goldblum, Bill Shatner, Michael Ironside, a young Drew Barrymore, etc. Some of my favorite episodes (so far) have included:

    The Crowd - creepy & disturbing
    Marionettes, Inc.
    The Town Where no one Got off
    The Man Upstairs - great "modern" vampire tale set in one of my favorite cities, Paris.
    Gotcha! - funny, bizarre, and creepy
    The Woman who Screamed
    The Coffin - great episode, with a fitting ending.
    The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl
    The Playground

    My only issue with the series is the intro./opening, which simply shows Bradbury himself going into an office filled with fantastic knick-knacks/toys, and starting to type a story. Fairly boring & self-indulgent introduction, and I feel this could have been a lot more original. But, this doesn't mar my enjoyment of the show - and, that's what the fast-forward button is for - LOL.

    Also, note that the shows aren't nearly as good as Bradbury's stories - but, from what I can remember of them, are decent adaptations.

    Note that nostalgia probably has a lot to do with my enjoying the show so much. I.e., I am an '80's kid, and do remember similar anthology shows like the '80's Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside, Amazing Stories, and the underrated '80's Alfred Hitchock Presents - this last show still has never gotten a DVD/Blu release.
     
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  2. Hollywoodaholic

    Hollywoodaholic Edge of Glory?

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    I had this series on DVD, was a huge lifelong fan of Ray Bradbury, even met the man, but found the quality of the images on this release unwatchable. It was just an insult, I felt, how poor the PQ was for this release. Why bother? I'll be there if they ever remaster and release again, but I'm not holding my breath.
     
  3. Message #3 of 6 Jun 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    Oh, I completely agree that the PQ on these TRBT DVD's sucks @$$. However, the show may never get re-released. So, I'd rather watch it this way vs. not at all.

    That being said, a Blu release of this series would be fantastic. However, '80's/early '90's genre anthology shows typically don't get released to Blu - and some don't even get released to DVD. So, I won't be holding my breath - LOL.
     
  4. sjbradford

    sjbradford Stunt Coordinator

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    I loved the 80s “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” - the first season, on NBC. After that, they changed producers, moved production to Canada, and moved the show to USA (I think they also started editing on videotape). After that, it was just a cheap shadow of itself.
     
  5. Message #5 of 6 Feb 24, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    Though it's taken me a while, I finally got to the 3rd volume of the DVD set of TRBT. Great anthology sci-fi series. As was mentioned, the PQ is awful - but the show is, overall, very good. Though this didn't have as many great episodes as the first 2 volumes, they were still interesting & worth seeing.

    I'm not thrilled with the fact that the episodes are being shown out of order (re: the airdate) on these DVD sets. However, given that this is an anthology show with no connection between episodes, it's not that big of a deal.

    Some of the more notable episodes/adaptations from this 3rd Disk:

    -Touched with Fire: Two pseudo-"insurance salesmen" (though, not really) are going around & gauging the likelyhood of irritating people getting killed, and then warning them about it. They focus on a shrill, ill-tempered woman (Eileen Brennan) who they're sure will die due to her eventually ticking of the wrong person. Added to all this is that it takes place during an extremely hot summer, which makes everyone more bad-tempered than usual.

    This is a re-make of an episode of the original b&w Twilight Zone.

    -The Long Years
    -Mars is Heaven

    These above adaptations were also included in the superb 1980 TV mini-series The Martian Chronicles

    -Usher II: One of my favorite stories from the "Martian Chronicles" original book. This story focuses on a wealthy man (Patrick Macnee) who builds a huge house on Mars that recreates many of the stories & characters from literature, with a strong focus on stories by Edgar Allen Poe. When the "powers that be" find out about this, they want to burn the place down because it's "indecent", but not before the owner invites them over for a farewell party. Very disturbing & clever, especially the way androids & Poe's "The Pit & the Pendulum" and "The Cask of Amontillado" were seamlessly woven into the story.
     
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  6. Message #6 of 6 Feb 24, 2020
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
    The Drifter

    The Drifter Supporting Actor

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    I would be completely onboard for a DVD/Blu set of the 1985-1989 Alfred Hitchcock Presents; AFAIK, this hasn't been released to DVD/Blu anywhere. I do especially remember the first season being excellent; it was on right before (or after) Amazing Stories on Sunday nights. Can't remember much beyond S01, but I'm a completist so would still be interested in buying a (at this point, theoretical) boxed set of the entire series so I could judge for myself re: the later episodes.
     

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