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The Ray Bradbury Theater: Colonel Stonesteel and the "Desperate Empties"

A retired military colonel comes to the aid of a teenage boy seeking relief from the last boring days of summer, and together they invent a hoax involving a mummy.

Episode Info  

Episode number: 5x16
Airdate: Friday January 24th, 1992

Guest Stars
Harold GouldHarold Gould
As Colonel Stonesteel
Harold GouldHarold Gould
As Colonel Stonesteel
Wayne RobsonWayne Robson
As The Sheriff
Wayne RobsonWayne Robson
As The Sheriff
Shawn AshmoreShawn Ashmore
As Charlie Flagstaff
Shawn AshmoreShawn Ashmore
As Charlie Flagstaff

Co-Guest Stars
Walter KaasaWalter Kaasa
As Mayor
Walter KaasaWalter Kaasa
As Mayor
Main Cast


It's the last days of summer in Greentown, IL, and a young boy, Charlie, is bored and waiting for excitement. He runs to the house of Colonel Stonesteel, an elderly neighbor. Stonesteel notes that the Labor Day parade occurs the next day, but admits that things tend to run down when a boy is 13. Charlie looks to Stonesteel for an idea and the colonel bets him six cans of pop against mowing the lawn that something miraculous will happen in town in the next 24 hours during the slow time of the year, the desperate empties. Charlie agrees and Stonesteel goes inside. They finally go upstairs to the attic and Stonesteel offers to create a mystery...

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Episode Notes
Based on the short story "Colonel Stonesteel's Genuine Home-Made Truly Egyptian Mummy" by Ray Bradbury. This story was first published in Omni (May 1981).

Acknowledgments: Chinook Theatre, Old Stratchcona Foundation

Episode Quotes
Colonel Stonesteel: How old are you, Charlie.
Charlie: Thirteen, almost.
Colonel Stonesteel: Thirteen. Well, things do tend to run down come 13. Come to a dead halt when you're 14. Might as well die at 15.

Colonel Stonesteel: Meanwhile, Charlie, what do we do to survive none of this very day?
Charlie: Only you know, Colonel.
Colonel Stonesteel: Oh, son, you know, I can move politicians big as prize hogs. I can make locomotives run backward uphill. But small boys and long autumn weekends with a bad case of the desperate empties...

Colonel Stonesteel: You hear that, Charles? What's it say?
Charlie: Well..
Colonel Stonesteel: Time, mostly, it says. Oldness, memory, dust. Listen! You let the autumn wind shake the skeleton of this house, you'll get true-time talk. Bombay snuffs, tombyard flowers gone to ghost.
Charlie: Boy, Colonel, you ought to write for Topnotch Magazine.
Colonel Stonesteel: I did once. Got rejected.

Colonel Stonesteel: Oh, child, life is a magic show. At least it could be, if people didn't go to sleep on each other. Always got to leave a bit of mystery for folks, son.

Charlie: Colonel... what's he truly made of? What's he mean?
Colonel Stonesteel: Boy, you were there. You helped. You saw.
Charlie: No. Tell me, Colonel.
Colonel Stonesteel: You want to know who he truly was, once upon a time? Well, he was everyone. He was no one. He was someone. He was you. He was me. Well, his body.. his body's made of crushed flowers. New wedding and old funerals. Ticker tapes, unraveled, gone off forever. Egyptian pharaoh midnight trains. Circus posters, torn off seed barns in Northstorm, Ohio, shuttered south to Fulfillment, Texas. All the things that were once need, hope, first nickel in a pocket. framed dollar on the cafe wall. Printed there by odd old men and time-orphaned widows, saying, "It'll happen tomorrow." "Tomorrow it'll happen!"

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRay Bradbury
Executive ProducerLarry Wilcox  |  Peter Sussman
Supervising ProducerTom Cotter (1)  |  Mary Kahn
ProducerRandy Bradshaw  |  Tom Cox
Production DesignerJohn Blackie
EditorDoug Forbes
CastingSusan Forrest  |  Darlene Kaplan
First Assistant DirectorDavid Webb (3)
Second Assistant DirectorColin Leadlay
Music SupervisorDavid Greene (4)
Costume DesignerWendy Partridge
Make-upGail Kennedy
Key GripOstap Toroshenko
Camera OperatorJohn Holbrook
Set DecoratorLouise Middleton
Location ManagerMurray Ord
Transportation CoordinatorColeman Robinson
Construction CoordinatorBill Rayment
Production CoordinatorNancy Gullett
Post Production SupervisorJohn Harcourt
GafferBruno Bittner
Director of PhotographyPaul Birkett
Art DirectorScott Dobbie
Post Production CoordinatorPaul Winestock  |  Catherine Hall (2)  |  Steve D'Onofrio
Production ManagementLes Kimber
Sound EditorDavid Evans (4)
Special EffectsRichard "Buck" Stevens
Dubbing MixerSal Grimaldi
Sound RecordistGarrell Clark
Third Assistant DirectorEhud Ellman
Boom OperatorPeter Wugalter
Production AccountantMarilyn Moyer
Set DresserJim Murray
Wardrobe AssistantDiane Routly
Assistant Production ManagerDavid McLeod (2)
Executive In Charge Of ProductionNicholas Wry
Assistant To The Executive ProducerDel Mehes
Dolly GripMichael McLellan
ContinuityLeslie Druker
Focus PullerJim Stacey
Assistant Sound EditorJudy Kemeny  |  Richard Harkness
HairRosemary Diekmann
ComposerChris Dedrick
Still PhotographerDouglas Curran
Assistant Set DecoratorAllan Marx
Model MakerViola Park
WranglerCaroline Girdlestone
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