I seem to have gotten in my head over the past 20 years that a vignette I saw on television in the early 1980s (in the style of Twilight Zone or similar show) was written by Ray Bradbury. I believe the segment was called "Dial Double Zero," but I'm thinking it could have been adapted from a short story of another name. The premise of the story was that a phone switchboard was gaining intelligence over time and it started making phone calls, talking, and terrorizing people by phone. It was creepy and fascinating. Does this ring a bell for anyone? ANY information or leads on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
It reminds me of a story referenced in a film about Bradbury's writing I watched back in the sixties. But I don't remember reading the story anywhere. I wish I had the film, though.
It was on something...Twilight Zone?? Probably. Main character's name was Barton, I recall. He calls himself from the past via recordings plugged into a phone system, to himself in the future, antagonizing him with....? Gee, my mind is blurring...Oh oh!!
Well, it was something like that. Does that at all sound familiar?
Ray and Rod Serling had some run-ins with each other, so there wasn't but a couple of Bradbury Twilight Zones. I know one was from "I Sing the Body Electric", and "maybe" this one aforementioned. There is a biography of Rod Serling that talks about all this...
The plot line you describe sounds like "Night Call, Collect" from I Sing The Body Electric.
Rodney, you are correct: it is the plot of "Night Call, Collect," in which the protagonist is named Barton. The name "Dial Double Zero" sounds vaguely familiar, though, and I'm not quite sure what the connection is.
Nard, unfortunately "I Sing the Body Electric!" was Bradbury's sole script for The Twilight Zone, though his influence on Serling is undeniable. Serling tipped his hat to Bradbury's nostalgic, small-town stories in "Walking Distance" (where the main character acknowledges the home of a Doctor Bradbury) and "A Stop at Willoughby" (where the ad executive mentions "the Bradbury account").
Bradbury's contribution to the television series was certainly meant to extend beyond one show. Before the series began production, he actually submitted a teleplay adaptation of his story, "Here There Be Tygers," but Serling and producer Buck Houghton passed on it, probably due to budget constraints that disallowed dramatization of a special effects-laden tale. Another story, "A Miracle of Rare Device," was also bought, and even had a director tentatively attached, but for some reason was never produced.
I acquired this information from The Twilight Zone Companion by Marc Scott Zicree, an excellent, fascinating book for TZ enthusiasts.
[This message has been edited by Nightshade (edited 09-14-2002).]
Well, it's an obscure little thing--not listed under that title in Internet Movie Database or any online source I could locate--but it DOES exist! The story "Dial Double Zero" was dramatized as part of the NBC-TV special, "The Story of a Writer," telecast November 20, 1963, and only on the west coast at that. This story has never appeared under this title in any printed publication, I can state with a fair degree of confidence, since my fiction list is complete, and up-to-date except for the latest collection. Where to get a copy now? Schools, which showed such programs as educational filmstrips, didn't own them, teachers rented them from a company and then returned them. It's listed as "A Wolper Production, Directed by Terry Sanders," for anyone wishing to trace it further. If anyone saw it on TV in the early 1980s, the program, or at least that part, must have been rebroadcast, a bit surprising, but not impossible. Regarding "The Twilight Zone," the story I heard, from a very reliable source, was that Bradbury became angry at Serling because he felt that four episodes borrowed too heavily, if not stole, ideas of his, for which he did not receive credit. I've yet to see all 154 episodes, but I've caught as many as possible on Sci-Fi and have yet to spot these four, any insight on which would be most appreciated!
To quote The Twilight Zone Companion:
"As for Bradbury, his comments shed little light on the subject: 'I would prefer not to write or talk much about Twilight Zone or my stories. The series is over and done, my work for it stands on its own. For various reasons two scripts were never done. I don't recall the reasons now, so many years later.'"
I would be interested in finding out which plots supposedly were "borrowed" from Bradbury; God knows I've seen most of the episodes and can only make inconclusive guesses ... several of them do seem Bradbury-flavored, like the one episode titled "I Shot An Arrow Into the Air," which is attributed as "an idea" by someone named Madelon Champion. It detailed a crashed rocket and its surviving crew who believe they've landed on an asteriod and wind up killing each other before discovering they've only relanded on Earth, in the Nevada desert.
Following are two (2) alledged "stolen" stories by Twilight Zone. If they were posted already...Ooops!
The main character reverts back into his childhood by the turns of a merry-go-round. The question is: A rip-off from Ray's, "Black Ferris"? In that one, the character returns to the past via the revolutions of a ferris wheel.
"Where is Everybody?"
In July, 1959, right near the start of production for the first season for The Twilight Zone, Ray submitted an adaptation of his story, "Here There Be Tygers." When Ray saw the pilot of "Where Is Everybody?" he "privately" accused Sterling of stealing his story.
If these are two of the stories in question, I find the accusation hard to believe. In "Walking Distance," the main character meets his younger self in a scenario much more Harlan Ellison than Ray Bradbury. It resembles "It's a Wonderful Life" much more than "The Black Ferris." A carousel does appear late in the story, but has nothing to do with the time travel element and is a device symbolizing the innocence of childhood and so on. If mere use of a carousel in a story constitutes a ripoff, then "The Black Ferris" was a ripoff of the ending of "The Catcher in the Rye," by J. D. Salinger, whose carousel Serling's resembles more than it does Bradbury's. (I haven't read "The Circus of Dr. Lao," but I have it, and will be most interested in looking for resemblances in *that*!) The only Bradbury story I can name about a character meeting/influencing/changing his younger self is "A Touch of Petulance," not published till many years later. I've seen "Where is Everybody?" quite recently and there are more differences to "Here There Be Tygers" than similarities. There are probably scores of SF stories that resemble "Here There Be Tygers" more than does this. If you don't have time to go through a shelf of anthologies looking, watch any episode of the original "Star Trek" involving landing on a planet and I will guarantee you'll see something more like "Here There Be Tygers" than this is. "The Twilight Zone" didn't rip off Bradbury with "Where is Everybody?" but it did rip off "Where is Everybody?" several more times. See "Elegy," written by no less than Charles Beaumont, and "Stopover in a Quiet Town," to name a few--there may be more. Even "A Thing About Machines" is not terribly Bradburyesque, though Stephen King has written at least several stories like it. It's a lot more like "2001: A Space Odyssey," because in Bradbury's stories, when machines take over and terrorize, a human element is generally involved through direct influence or tampering, such as in "The Veldt," or "Night Call, Collect." The main character in "The Murderer" has a definite thing about machines, but they get the worst of it--at least they don't fight back. Twilight Zone's "The Fever" also features a machine with a life of its own wreaking vengeance on a human, but, for an author so accused of disliking machines, can anyone name a single Bradbury story like it? In "There Will Come Soft Rains," the machines continue obliviously, without developing any intelligence of their own. About the only Bradbury story I can name with a machine developing its own intelligence and taking over is in "Marionettes, Inc."--and that was a robot about half a step from human anyway. If these were really the stories involved, and we are talking about the aired episodes, and not some earlier versions, I shudder to think, because it would indicate that no one can be in the least influenced by Bradbury in hardly any way without ripping him off. In this case, both "The Addams Family" and "The Munsters" are ripoffs of Bradbury's Elliott Family--their resemblances are much closer than are these "Twilight Zone" episodes.
[This message has been edited by dandelion (edited 09-16-2002).]
I got the info from:
Rod Serling, The Dreams and Nightmares of Life in The Twilight Zone,
a biography by Joel Engel.
It does mention about Charles Beaumont. William F. Nolan, it states, remembers Serling explaining "...that he read so much science fiction and was under so much pressure to turn out scripts that he hardly questioned where an idea came from when it popped into his head--and even if he did question, he could never trace it to the original through the devasting clutter of his mind." (p. 220)
The Twilight Zone would be sued successfully 3 times for plagiarism of stories Serling had written himself:
"The Parallel," a story about a world parrallel to Earth;
"Short Drink from a Certain Fountain," about a man who regresses to infancy; and
"Sounds and Silences," about a man who tries to shut out his wife's constant chattering.
In all three cases a judge deemed the plaintiffs' original stories sufficiently similar to the produced scripts to warrant damages, but the "final products" as seen in the series... seemed substantially dissimiliar.
(PS) That Serling had named a character Bradbury in "Walking Distance" seemed to Ray an indication of theft. Supposedly this particular situation resolved itelf later.
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 09-16-2002).]
Thanks, Nard. I did understand, from my highly placed source, that the episodes in question were aired, and only AFTER seeing them, did Bradbury object--it was nothing in the "planning stages." It just totally creeps me out that a person couldn't write a Bradburyesque, but original, story, and then make a reference--either to the name Bradbury or some other name associated with his life and work--how many people must have done such a thing (referencing Bradbury or some other author) as a tribute? (Look how many times Bradbury has done this himself--consider the Laurel and Hardy stories alone, not to mention Thomas Wolfe, George Bernard Shaw, Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemingway, poems about Emily Dickinson and Jules Verne, and others, many referenced in more than one work.) Was only Serling jumped on for it? This either seems to indicate that Bradbury is (or was, 40 years ago) touchier than his fans would like to believe of someone so nice, or that he had such a personal dislike for Serling it made him more touchy. No wonder Serling became frustrated enough to write in "A Stop at Willoughby," about a man driven to the edge in part because "the negatives for the Bradbury account are all scratched." From what I understand, "Sounds and Silences" was hardly worth suing for. It's made some peoples' worst lists. People get away with more than this every day. I KNOW I've seen the same plots on different programs--I ought to start keeping a list if I was planning on watching that much television.
Oh, please, please take it easy on our Ray.
Years ago, while in the printing field, I had a client up in Hollywood. It was there I also met a "potential" client. They claimed they produced low-budgeted movies. Now, I never found out exactly what they did, and as far as I knew, they could've been a front for the CIA. All in all, they managed to get me to design a logo for their "company". I'm getting off the track a little here, but the point is that after quite a bit of work in designing, they finally said, No Thanks! Just like that. . I didn't bill them for anything, and let it all go. Just trying to be a nice guy! Well, three months later, I see their logo. And it was "My" logo Morale of the story? What must it be like in the highly competitive TV market? It must be maddening, that's what!! Even for a still young Ray Bradbury....
I met Rod Serling once, as he came out of a restaurant with his arms piled high with carry -out orders. As he was geting into his car, I came up to him and expressed my genuine enthusiasm for his work, etc etc. He must of had a very long, long day, for both his eyes were completely bloodshot. But he was most happy and cordial as he took time to answer my few questions. Eventually, he made his way into his car with all those white wrapped goodies. I'll always have fond memories of that moment. (But I do seem to remember a Twilight Episode of an extra -terrestrial getting a carry out order from a restaurant and, before leaving Earth with it, being stopped by someone with some silly questions. Hmmm, was there really an Episode like that, or.....??)
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Nard Kordell:
[B]Following are two (2) alledged "stolen" stories by Twilight Zone. If they were posted already...Ooops!
Nard, I remember seeing an episode about an elderly lady who isolates herself from the world to avoid encountering Death. A very young Robert Redford guest stars in this episode.
The basic theme reminds me of "There Was An Old Woman" in October Country and Dark Carnival.
Though I haven't reread it in a long time, the episode also reminded me of "Death And The Maiden" in the Machineries Of Joy". Both stories had similar themes.
Do you think Rod borrowed from these?
Rodney:::::: You know, I kinda remember that Robert Redford episode...but that wasn't exactly yesterday..
"Death and the Maiden" ranks as probably one of two of my favorite Bradbury stories.
I really have no idea how close that Redford one is to Death and the Maiden I would have to find a re issues of Twilight Zone and watch it again. Comment later.
[This message has been edited by Nard Kordell (edited 09-20-2002).]
It runs on Sci Fi from 11 pm-midnight, but they may be showing only the half-hour episodes. I understand there were some hour ones, too. You can learn which episodes Redford appeared in by looking him up at www.imdb.com and for excellent overviews of episodes, go to www.thetzsite.com and click on "Credits." That way you at least get an episode summary. Some have even been fully transcribed, with notes on what Sci Fi cuts out!
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