Thursday, October 13, 2016

Bradbury 31, Day 13: "Marionettes, Inc."

"Marionettes, Inc." has boasted a number of adaptation since its debut in 1949. The concept of the series - a company which manufactures lifelike robots - was one Bradbury revisited in a few other tales, most notably "Punishment Without Crime." In this introductory tale, a man who has tired of his wife buys a robot double so he won't have to make time for her any longer. The problem is, the doubles have ambitions of their own.

In 1951, Dimension X adapted the story to radio. Although subsequent adaptations would be very close to Bradbury's text, this version is rather different as it continues past the point of the short story's climax and gets into the "master plan" of Marionettes, Inc. It's an interesting expansion but makes it a little more typical of 50s sci-fi than what Bradbury originally wrote; Bradbury imagined machines who felt as humans do; the radio version imagines machines as conquerors. You can listen to the version for yourself here.

In 1958 Alfred Hitchcock Presents brought the story to televion as "Design for Loving." It was an unusual choice for that program as Hitchcock preferred stories of mystery and crime, not sci-fi. And yet, for all his credentials Bradbury had significant trouble selling his sci-fi stories to The Twilight Zone (even though his philosophies and Rod Serling's seem very similar to me) so kudos to Hitch's staff for knowing a good story when they heard it, regardless of genre.

In 1985 another television version appeared via The Ray Bradbury Theater. It's a pretty good adaptation, with Leslie Nielsen as the head of Marionettes, Inc. The Ray Bradbury Theater did a great job of casting fine Canadian actors, even amongst those who'd spent most of their careers down south.

Lastly, there's a comic book adaptation from 1992 courtesy of Topps, who brought in Wally Wood's one-time assistant Ralph Reese to pencil it. Reese was an inspired choice, considering how many Bradbury tales Wood drew in the 1950s and he certainly brought a Woodish charm to the adaptation.

Another visit from Bradbury tomorrow!

No comments: