By John Stark
July 01, 1985 12:00 PM

HBO (Tuesday, July 2, 10 p.m. ET)

Trying to avoid hitting a cat, artist Joe Spallner (Nick Mancuso) manages to flip his car upside down on a deserted avenue. As he tries to free himself from the wreck, a crowd of gawking, zombie-like onlookers suddenly arrives on the scene. Seems this exact same group appears at car wrecks all over town, no matter what time of day. Thus begins The Crowd, the last half-hour episode in the three-part Ray Bradbury Theater, which is based on the sci-fi author’s own writings. (The previous one starred William Shatner as an overly protective father who suffers from a fear of children at play, a justifiable phobia in my book.) These well-acted, eerily photographed tales are reminiscent of the old Twilight Zone. Trouble is, accepting supernatural hokum isn’t as easy as it used to be nor is it as scary. Even so it’s fun to observe Bradbury’s weirdly imaginative mind at work. Bradbury, like Rod Serling, introduces each episode. Serling had better diction.