Tuesday, June 21, 2011

RBT: Top Ten Episodes

Someone over on IMDB has posted a list of their top ten episodes of Ray Bradbury Theatre. It's an interesting list, and inevitably got me thinking about my favourite episodes.

In some cases, "best episode" would coincide with "best story" - but in other cases, this simple equation doesn't hold. There are great stories that made good episodes, such as "The Long Years" and "A Sound of Thunder"... but also great stories that didn't turn out so well on screen, such as "Skeleton" (which I tend to think is almost unfilmable), "The Man Upstairs" (just too badly made) and "Tyrannosaurus Rex" (please don't make me watch that one again).

The best episodes strike a happy balance of fulfilling our memory of the story, but surprising us with something unexpected in the plotting, shooting or - more often than not - in the casting or performances. I quite like "Gotcha" and "The Crowd", although they both look quite dated. "The Small Assassin" never fails to hold my attention, largely thanks to Cyril Cusack's turn as the doctor. "Mars is Heaven!" is just about as good as it could be on TV - although I think radio is capable of doing this story more effectively. And "Emissary" and "By the Numbers" are always watchable.

Looking over the entire episode list again, I am reminded that Ray Bradbury Theatre started with great promise - look at the cast list: William Shatner, Jeff Goldblum, Drew Barrymore! It then shifted in subsequent seasons into a really mixed bag of international co-productions, with dreadfully variable production values. But toward the end, it hit its stride, and produced some strong, consistent episodes.

What are your top ten episodes?

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