Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bradbury 13: Night-Call Collect

There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves. –Ray Bradbury

Continuing with my series of thirteen posts about Bradbury 13 {an old-tyme radio drama from the spring of 1984}, today's Bradbury is Night-Call Collect. It is based on a short story from the collection in I Sing the Body Electric and is a variation of The Silent Towns, which is found in The Martian Chronicles. In my last post, I mentioned that I would include a link to a site where you could download the mp3 file for each episode. However, in my travels along the information super highway, I found that Amazon has the set of 13 stories available on CD for $18.21, so I'm including a link to that with each post as well.

Night-Call Collect
He sat silently. He sat, a man eighty years old. He sat in an empty house on an empty street in an empty town on the empty planet of Mars. He sat as he had sat for sixty years, waiting. Outside the martian wind raged, shaking the telephone poles and causing the wires to sing in chorus. Inside on the table in front of him lay a telephone that had not rung for a long, long time. Until now.

My Rating: :paranoid: :paranoid: :paranoid:
I gave this episode a three out of five, but you have to understand that they all start out with the rating status of really cool. The reason it gets a three is because I think that Barton's reaction to the phone call is pretty disproportionate, a little bit paranoid and lacks rational thinking. Then again, I've never been stranded on an empty planet for sixty years.

And so I had to stop and think about it; what would I do if suddenly there was no one left on the planet but me? That would be pretty cool for about 20 minutes. Imagine all the goods {read quilting fabric} out there, free for the taking. But it would get lonely fast. And the supply of fresh food would run out quickly. Frozen and canned foods don't last forever either. I could get by on my meager gardening skills, but I know absolutely nothing about raising livestock, and I really would rather not go vegetarian. After thinking it over, I realize the implications of being alone on a planet are huge. And I have to give Barton credit just for surviving, not to mention the creative ways he kept himself entertained all those years.

{Mike McDonough recording for
Night-Call Collect.
Photo courtesy of Phil at
Ray Bradbury & Media
©Mike McDonough}
Air Date:
April 7, 1984

Paul Frees

Morgan White
Mike McDonough

Roger Hoffman
Greg Hansen

Production Assistant:
Patrick Mead

Associate Producer:
Jeff Raider

Created, Produced, Directed:
Mike McDonough

Executive Producer:
Dean Van Uitert

Audio Clip of Night-Call Collect
Buy Night-Call Collect mp3
Buy Bradbury 13 Audio CDs


Michelle said...

I love the way your mind works. You've really given the scenario--being alone in a Martian city--a lot of thought.

Shay said...

Ok you just scared me with all this talk of being the last person on the planet.

I'd starve to death . And if there was no electricity I 'd have to hand sew. Ugh!

Phil said...

Great to see someone sharing their enthusiasm for Bradbury 13. I see you have a photo of Mike McDonough from my website ( - perhaps other readers might be interested in the background to the series which I published on my site here:

Keep up the good work!

- Phil

Jill said...

I find this one incredibly eerie. The recordings are such that he can have a conversation with himself. And he's far too cruel as a younger man. I hate how what might have been a comforting break in the loneliness becomes such torture to himself.