Paul Frees was the deep voiced narrator of Bradbury 13.
1984 may have been a dreaded year for readers of George Orwell, but it was an exciting year from readers of Ray Bradbury. That was the year Brigham Young University recorded thirteen stories by Ray Bradbury which were then broadcast on National Public Radio. Everything about the show was quality. The writing reflected the best of a classic author, the acting was very professional, and the host was one of radio's most distinctive voices: Paul Frees.
Frees was somewhat of a legend for his voice. He had a long career announcing for tv, radio, and film. He played the newsman in the film War Of The Worlds, and The 27th Day. He could do very serious voices, like the voices to the spinning rings in The Time Machine, or various voices for Disney's Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean, as well as cartoon types, including Boris Badenov from The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, and the Pillsbury Doughboy. He was said to be one of the few voice talents that could do a woman's voice and make it sound believable. It was his serious low voice (the same one he used to introduce Escape) that was used to host Bradbury 13. He would raise philosophical questions and then offer the story as a possible answer. His concluding comments often underlined deadbeat endings, always with the baritone authority of God-- or at very least, Moses.
Bradbury 13 demonstrates what radio drama is capable of when decent resources are committed to it. Amazing stereo sound design was provided by Michael McDonough, who went on to do sound design for Hollywood. The music sounded like something orchestrated by Bernard Herman, but it was actually original music by Roger Hoffman and Greg Hanson. It was a feast for the mind's eye. I still remember feeling the hair on my neck raise listening to "The Veldt," "A Sound Of Thunder," "Here There Be Tigers," and my favorite, "The Fox and the Forest." Most of these tales I had heard before on OTR, but the music, performance and advanced sound design of Bradbury 13 took it to a whole new level. And the voice and comments of Paul Frees were an inspired final touch. These were productions I would have loved to see on film, and yet, I bet they could not have been as beautifully recreated as they were in the mind. One would think such a successfully executed series would have spawned new projects, but I'm unaware of any significant follow up series. It's almost as if NPR said, "Okay, we got that out of our system. Now back to the same old talk." At least we have one season of state-of-the-art radio production to show for it.
And good thing, too. Paul Frees (born in 1920,) died just two years later in 1986. It was one of his last and most unforgettable contributions to radio drama.
The Standard Introduction (Ray Bradbury):
"This is Ray Bradbury. Join me for the next 30 minutes on a tour through time and space. Come along to the far future. Follow me into a strange past, with stories that almost could be, or might have been, real or unreal. This is Bradbury 13."
"A Sound Of Thunder" was a stat-of-the-art production on Bradbury 13. Artist depiction courtesy of Tune In For Terror © 1992
An Opening Narration (Paul Frees):
(Sound effect: Monstrous roar fades.)
"They wiped the blood from their helmets. The monster lay, a hill of solid flesh. Within it, you could hear the sighs and murmurs as the furthest chambers died, the organs malfunctioning. Liquids running a final instant from pocket to sack to spleen. Everything shutting off. Closing up, forever. Ray Bradbury's, 'A Sound Of Thunder.'"
(Sound effect: Dinosaur roars.)
An Ending Narration (Paul Frees):
"It was just a small thing. A small thing that could upset balances, and knock down a line of small dominoes, and then big dominoes, and then gigantic dominoes. All down the years... across time."
OTR Plot Spot synopsis of various episodes from Bradbury 13: http://www.otrplotspot.com/Bradbury13pl.htm
Here them on line, FREE!
00 Press conference/interview (1984)
01 The Ravine
02 Night Call, Collect
03 The Veldt
04 There Was An Old Woman
06 Dark They Were And Golden Eyed
07 The Screaming Woman
08 A Sound Of Thunder
09 The Man
10 The Wind
11 The Fox and The Forest
12 Here There Be Tygers
13 The Happiness Machine
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