The Ray Bradbury Theater 2.7 – Punishment Without Crime

When the USA Network ordered 12 episodes for a second season of The Ray Bradbury Theater, the producers looked for some partners in other countries to fill the order. I picked this installment because it was one of the ones made in collaboration with Granada Television and looked like it had the sort of powerhouse cast I enjoy. Unfortunately, the great Iain Cuthbertson and Peggy Mount just have very small parts. That leaves Donald Pleasance, who, in my humble opinion, gave far, far greater performances in so many other things. I started the story by telling the kid what a great actor he was, and honestly, he phoned this one in and looked bored.

I seem to enjoy creepy Bradbury more than speculative Bradbury. This time, he goes back to the well of businesses that build robots. But this one doesn’t build electric grandmothers or replacement spouses, it builds… well, it builds replacement spouses as well, I suppose, but these are meant to be short-lived replacements for angry, jilted husbands to “murder.” Sadly, the writer had to add some mighty convenient plot complications to make the jilted husband’s subsequent arrest for murdering the robot make any sense. It’s dreary and weak, although the design and execution kind of reminded me of the original Max Headroom pilot, when it wasn’t reminding me of a music video from the period, anyway. Nobody liked it, and I should have gone with my notion to replace it with “Gotcha!,” which starred Saul Rubinek, just to see whether the kid would recognize him after seeing him in Stargate the last two nights.


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