Only four television shows were really ever capable of capturing drama, psychological thrillers, fantasy, science fiction, suspense, and horror on a weekly basis – The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Ray Bradbury Theater. Of the four, only one was actually based on the stories of an established book and short story writer – The Ray Bradbury Theater.
Alliance Home Entertainment and Echo Bridge bring a re-working of the entire series of 65 episodes to DVD in a 6-disc collection this month. The collection is a welcomed treat for fans that missed the 2005 pressing and have been looking for another Twilight Zone/Outer Limits fix.
Bradbury is a great writer and it’s awesome to see him sway around his office in the opening credits of the early episodes, giving a generic introduction to the show. It adds a personal touch to the series.
Unfortunately, the transfer to DVD is mediocre and might be best compared to most bargan bin DVDs at your local Walmart. I think Echo Bridge suffers from having a lack of master source material and it really hurts the set. It’s a bit like all those Night Of The Living Dead DVD and VHS copies that float around in every store – even the Dollar Stores. Those copies are grainy, look like video tape copies and suffer from incorrect colouring, lighting and contrast. If you’ve ever seen the legit anniversary copy of NOTLD, you’ll get to see the difference and why master copies are the only way to do an authentic transfer. But until those masters surface or get released to companies like Echo Bridge, we’ll have to settle for what we have. For the stories in the collection that are produced well, it can be easy to get lost in the action and forget about the bad transfer.
Another error in the release is that the episodes are out of their original broadcast order. There doesn’t seem to be a rhyme or reason for putting these out of order and it certainly isn’t explained anywhere, but thankfully they are non-related individual episodes, so the order really isn’t a big problem, except for the purists. The out-of-order content was also a flaw on the 2005 collection, leading me to believe this is just a re-worked version of that 2005 collection.
For all its downfalls, The Ray Bradbury Theatre DVD set is a great collection to have available and is still fun to watch even 20 years later. Some of Bradbury's best short stories are shown, including "The Wind", "The Veldt", "The Town Where No One Ever Got Off", and "A Sound of Thunder" (which was actually made into a feature length film in 2005). Guest stars throughout the 65 episode collection include such notables as Jeff Goldblum, Drew Barrymore, Peter O'Toole and William Shatner in The Playground.
Bradbury has written over one thousand short stories – 400 of which have been published in such magazines as The New Yorker, The New Republican, The Saturday Evening Post, Amazing Stories, Colliers, Dime Detective and McCall's. This collection represents only 65 tales from one of the literary masters of all time.