In 2012 the world lost one of the great lights not just of literature, but one of the defining optimists, chroniclers, and definers of the breadth of the human condition, I speak of Ray Bradbury.
I grew up reading Bradbury’s fiction, as well as Asimov and Poe and Ellison and Baldwin and Shakespeare, and the four color adventures of Lee and Thomas and Claremont and Kraft. But Bradbury stood out even among that august assemblage as a unique and seminal voice.
While others looked to the dark, a genre Bradbury was no stranger to, there was in all his writing a strong belief in something, indelible and good, and worth saving in the human condition, if only in a sole character, a sole survivor. His words were always lyric, and redolent with bitter-sweet days, not yet lost.
The best way to remember Bradbury is of course his written body of work, But I did also want to give some attention to his work in other mediums. This installment we take a look at one of his forays into television, THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER.
Typically the direction on the 80s show RAY BRADBURY THEATER was… well 80s. Stagnant, slow, and pedestrian. The stories seldom seemed to adapt as well to the silver screen as they did on the page. All the more mystifying giving Ray Bradbury’s participation in the shows.
But typically a combination of lackluster budget and uninspired direction and adaptation keeps the majority of RAY BRADBURY THEATER from being remembered fondly or holding up well to today’s audiences. The vast majority of episodes are just not very good. So much of what defines a great Ray Bradbury story, is the words, is the sublime, haunting use of language, and in this case a picture is decidedly not greater than the words.
GOTCHA! is one of those exceptions, a good RAY BRADBURY THEATER episode. Some innovative and even stylish direction, complemented with an intriguing script and earnest performances really make this a quite engrossing and compelling watch. Having not read the 1976 story GOTCHA (available here) I admit to being mystified by the ending, it is open ended and left open to interpretation, but this abstraction of narrative can’t derail the fact it is a quite engrossing ride and makes me interested in picking up and reading the original story. Definitely re-watchable and recommended. Grade: B.
Come back next installment for more REMEMBERING BRADBURY.