Tuesday, June 19, 2012


This is the penultimate tribute to Ray Bradbury in the "As Seen On TV" showcase, with one more running this coming Sunday.


Ray Bradbury

Roddy McDowall

'The Martian Chronicles'

Possibly unique to this production
For Toobworld Central, a dimensional recastaway

Alternate Toobworld

By Ralph Dumain:
The two priests debate theological issues as they hike back to home base. By dusk they are lost. Three blue spheres appear. Stone is afraid, convinced it’s the devil’s work. Peregrine is unafraid; he tries to communicate, showing his cross. The spheres depart.

But Peregrine’s shouting appears to provoke an avalanche. As rocks rain down from the mountainside, the priests prostrate themselves on the ground, fearing the worst. But a blue sphere descends from the sky, picks them up, and moves them to a safe spot. Peregrine is elated: this proves that the spheres have souls and free will. Stone as usual wants to limit his attention to Earth souls that need saving; he is averse to non-human creatures. Peregrine asks: “Can’t you recognize the human in the inhuman?” Stone replies: “I would rather recognize the inhuman in the human.”

I saw 'The Martian Chronicles' when it first aired on NBC decades ago and I was excited for it to be shown, not only because it was Bradbury, but because two of my favorite actors were in the production - Roddy McDowall and Darrin McGavin.

McGavin was McGavin - blustery and over the top and his two storylines served him well. But I was disappointed by Roddy's role at first. He was good as Father Stone, don't get me wrong. But his sidekick role left him a bit of a wet blanket with his fears of the Red Planet in comparison to Fritz Weaver's showier performance as Father Peregrine.

And when he showed up later as yet another sidekick - this time to Colonel Wilder on a visit to the Hathaway family - it was more like "We've got this big star, and we haven't done that much with him, let's stick him in another story."

Even his name, "Father Stone", was dull.

But now that I've been acting as an unofficial caretaker for the TV Universe for a while now, I've come to appreciate his performance and realize that Father Stone - on a televisiological level - could be the most important character to come out of this production of 'The Martian Chronicles'.

That's because he's the only character to actually appear in the dimension of Earth Prime-Time......


Paul W. Fairman

Roddy McDowall

'The Twilight Zone'
("People Are Alike All Over")

"Brothers Beyond The Void"

Dimensional Recastaway

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
A rocket piloted by two astronauts heads out on a mission to Mars. One of them, Marcusson, is a positive thinker who believes that people are alike all over, even on the Red Planet. The other astronaut, Conrad, has a more cynical view of human interplanetary nature. The impact of landing on Mars is so severe that Marcusson dies. Now alone, Conrad is consumed by fear when he hears a rhythmic sound reverberating upon the ship's hull. Expecting some unnameable evil, he finds his apprehension turning to joy when, upon opening the hatch, he sees Martians that indeed appear human, have mind-reading abilities and give the impression of being most amicable, especially the beautiful Teenya, who welcomes and reassures him. The hospitable locals lead their honored guest to his residence—an interior living space furnished in the same manner as one on Earth would have been. Conrad briefly relaxes, but soon discovers that his room is windowless and the doors cannot be opened. Momentarily, a wall slides upward, leading to Conrad's realization that he has become a caged exhibit in a Martian zoo. Conrad picks up a sign that says "Earth Creature in his native habitat" and throws it on the floor. In the episode's closing lines, Conrad yells to the heavens, "Marcusson! Marcusson, you were right! People are alike.... people are alike everywhere!"

One of the reasons I had to banish 'The Martian Chronicles' to an alternate TV dimension is because its timeline clashed with that established for Toobworld. They had a colony on Mars by at least the new millennium, whereas the first mult-staffed flight to Mars won't be happening in the main TV dimension until 2035. ('Life On Mars' - US) (Whatever happens in the real world by that point won't matter to me. I'll be dead.)

But there could be secret two-man flights going on already; the general populace just doesn't know about it.

After all, Mankind had been going to the Moon long before the first official moon landing in 1969. The spy agency CONTROL has a base there; the remains of Moonbase Alpha are still there - they'd be smoldering if there was an atmosphere. (I won't go into it here, but the events of 'Space: 1999' didn't play out in Toobworld as they were depicted on TV.)

So why not manned flights to Mars in the main TV Universe? I would think the greatest minds of the Galacticans living among the Earthlings (plus a rogue Vulcan) probably would be helping to make it so. It would be to their advantage as well to established a manned outpost on Mars to be the first line of defense against any more alien incursions into the Sol system.

Sam Conrad and Father Stone share the same timeline in their respective TV dimensions. (That 'Twilight Zone' episode may have aired twenty years earlier, but it was projecting an event in Toobworld's future.) They look exactly alike. So if they are the same character separated by a dimensional vortex, why do they have different names?

Either one of them was adopted and the other was raised by his birth parents, or they were both adopted. I'm leaning toward the idea that they shared the same life until they were both adopted - but to different parents. After that, their journeys through Life took different routes, but there was always that one over-riding destiny - to go to Mars.

Both of them show trepidation at the idea of being on a strange planet and encountering Martians. But then they each have different circumstances occur when they do.

So - for Toobworld purposes only, of course - Father Stone is the only character from Ray Bradbury's "The Martian Chronicles" to have appeared in the main TV dimension. At least for the time being. (He may have appeared, albeit with a different name, in one of the other Martian episodes of 'The Ray Bradbury Theater', but I've yet to see all of those.)



Jim Peyton said...

"Whatever happens in the real world by that point won't matter to me. I'll be dead.)"

Toby -- you of all people should know that no one dies on television. You live forever.

Brian Leonard said...

Besides, how do you know you won't live to be 79? I *think* I'll be dead, too, but ya never know.

Toby O'B said...

If I should live to be 79 and none of my enemies have killed me by that point, then I must have done something wrong.....