Air Dates: 1985 - 1992
Network: HBO, USA
Best Episode: "Playground" (June 4, 1985)

Even Stephen King would admit this fact of genre literature: Ray Bradbury was the original Stephen King. The comparison is multilayered. As far as productivity, both authors are known for writing more novels and short stories than any random pairings of four or more scribes combined; content wise, the tales of King and Bradbury are equally diverse, covering pee-your-pants horror as tightly as sentimental tearjerkers. One thing that sets the older Bradbury apart, though, is his greatness in the science fiction world, an area that King hasn't touched much.

Another pro-Bradbury advantage: He had his own anthology television series, one solely dedicated to adapting his stories and hosted by the man himself. And, like his writing, The Ray Bradbury Theater alternated between totally scary and oddly sweet.

The episodes that fall into the former category crash into it with the impact of Godzilla's foot. The scariest moments came in the show's first season: the William Shatner-led “The Playground” plays with the lasting effects of childhood bullying until its demonically bleak ending; “The Crowd” turns accident-watchers into malevolent phantoms; and “Banshee” flips an old Victorian ghost story and churns out a subdued chiller.