The Ray Bradbury Theater 4.3 – Touched With Fire

We’ve introduced our son to the concept of failing a perception roll. And knock me down, but it was actually us parents who failed our perception rolls when we started this show. There’s a whacking great replica of the Nautilus from Disney’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on Bradbury’s desk in the titles. We didn’t notice it, but he did.

But actors? As longtime readers know, this kid can barely tell any two adults apart, so we have to point out actors to him. I didn’t expect him to recognize Eileen Brennan, because I think he’s only seen her once, in Clue. But no kidding, we watched an episode of Space: 1999 (“End of Eternity,” with Peter Bowles) about three hours earlier and the boy had no idea that was Barry Morse as the retired insurance salesman in this. I’m just about ready to give up!

Anyway, none of us liked this one very much. Morse’s character has a notion that he can identify incredibly irritating people and save them from their impending murder, before they annoy somebody into killing them. This is not a theory that his character has the people-skills to actually explain to one of the aggravating “murderees.” It was a bit amusing seeing him exude confidence when detailing his hypothesis to a colleague only to become hopelessly tongue-tied in front of Brennan.

The strangest part was that a key element of his notion is that more murders are said to be committed at 102° than any other temperature. Now, when I first heard this, it was in the Siouxsie & the Banshees song “92°,” which opens with some sampled dialogue from the film It Came From Outer Space, which tells us that “more murders are committed at 92 Fahrenheit than any other temperature? …Lower temperatures, people are easygoing. Over 92, it’s too hot to move. But just 92, people get irritable!” It turns out that Bradbury actually wrote one of the early treatments for this film, and reused the concept when he published “Touched With Fire” as a short story in 1954. By the time this episode was filmed in 1990, the temperature had gone up from 92° to 102°. Blame climate change.  (Source.)

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