Sunday, October 2, 2011

Book to Radio: Mars is Heaven

Book to Radio: Mars is Heaven
by Ray Bradbury from his book, The Martian Chronicles
Adapted for radio by David Friedken
Escape! radio broadcast
Original Broadcast: June 2, 1950

Escape was the first radio show to adapt Ray Bradbury’s tale of the third mission to Mars to radio. To do so, they completely rewrote Bradbury’s story, changing it a great deal, but keeping the essential story intact.

The show was adapted for Escape by David Friedkin and starred Ben Wright.

The Escape broadcast opens with the news of the launch of the first manned mission to Mars (as opposed to the third). People of all faiths and creeds have come together to pray for the success of the mission and the astronauts aboard the rocket.

The characters from the crew are limited to the ship’s captain and the doctor who are the only two allowed to leave the ship. It is they who quickly discover that Mars bears a striking resemblance to their homes on earth. A resident tells them they are in Green Lake, Ohio.

The doctor finds his grandmother living in the house she lived in when he was a kid. She explains that Mars is a “second chance.” They soon hear a parade, complete with a brass band, leading the crew away from the ship. The Captain sees his old girlfriend among the crowd and decides to join her in an emotional reunion.

The Captain is sitting on the porch swing on a quiet summer evening when he starts to develop a hypothesis. He tells her, if the Martians wanted to manipulate the crew, they would use their memories and fondest desires to entrap them. The girlfriend tries to dissuade him. But when the Captain decides he’s got to talk to the doctor about his hypothesis, Phyllis turns on him and kills him.

After the astronauts have all been dispatched, the Martians hold a town meeting to analyze and discuss what has transpired.

This broadcast was the first of this Bradbury story (and perhaps the first of any Bradbury story), but it is also the weakest. The Dimension X and X Minus One broadcasts are far superior, relying on larger casts and sticking closer to the Bradbury story.

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