Amazing Stories (TV series)

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Amazing Stories
AmazingStoriesTVseries.jpg
Genre Anthology, fantasy, horror, science fiction
Created by Steven Spielberg (uncredited)
Developed by Steven Spielberg
Joshua Brand
John Falsey
Directed by Various
Theme music composer John Williams
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 45
Production
Executive producer(s) Steven Spielberg
Running time 30 minutes[1]
Production company(s) Amblin Entertainment, Universal Television
Broadcast
Original channel NBC[2]
Original run September 29, 1985[3] – April 10, 1987
Chronology
Related shows Family Dog

Amazing Stories is a fantasy, horror, and science fiction television anthology series created by Steven Spielberg. It ran on NBC from 1985 to 1987, and in 1992 was somewhat erratically screened in Britain by BBC1 and BBC2 - billed in the Radio Times as "Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories" - with episodes airing at any time from early on Sunday morning (such as "The Family Dog") to weekday evenings (like "Such Interesting Neighbors") to very late at night (for instance "Mirror, Mirror"); it later received a more coherent run on Sci-Fi.

The series was nominated for 12 Emmy Awards and won five. The first season episode "The Amazing Falsworth" earned writer Mick Garris an Edgar Award for Best Episode in a TV Series. It was not a ratings hit (ranking 40th in Season 1 and 46th in Season 2), however, and the network did not renew it after the two-year contract expired. The 1987 science fiction movie, *batteries not included was originally intended to be featured in Amazing Stories, but Steven Spielberg liked the idea so much that he decided to make it a theatrical release.[4]

The series title licensed the name of Amazing Stories, the first dedicated science fiction magazine.[5]

Episodes[edit]

The series list below is annotated with the Book numbers as they appeared in the US release on VHS; the Japanese LaserDisc and UK VHS (PAL) releases are indicated with volume numbers. Note that Vol. 7 and 8 are switched for the UK VHS release. All episodes have a running time of around 25 minutes, with the exceptions of "The Mission" and "Go To The Head Of The Class" (both running 50 minutes).

Season One (1985–1986)[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Airdate US VHS
LaserDisc
Japan
LaserDisc
Europe/Australian VHS
1x01 "Ghost Train" Steven Spielberg Teleplay: Frank Deese
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Sep·29 Vol. 2
1x02 "The Main Attraction" Matthew Robbins Teleplay: Brad Bird and Mick Garris
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Oct·06 Vol. 4
1x03 "Alamo Jobe" Michael D. Moore Teleplay: Joshua Brand & John Falsey
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Oct·20
1x04 "Mummy Daddy" William Dear Teleplay: Earl Pomerantz
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Oct·27 Vol. 1
1x05 "The Mission" Steven Spielberg Teleplay: Menno Meyjes
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Nov·03 Book One Vol. 1
1x06 "The Amazing Falsworth" Peter Hyams Teleplay: Mick Garris
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Nov·03 Book Three Vol. 2
1x07 "Fine Tuning" Bob Balaban Teleplay: Earl Pomerantz
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Nov·10 Book Five Vol. 7
1x08 "Mr. Magic" Donald Petrie Joshua Brand & John Falsey 1985·Nov·17
1x09 "Guilt Trip" Burt Reynolds Gail Parent & Kevin Parent 1985·Dec·01
1x10 "Remote Control Man" Bob Clark Teleplay: Douglas Lloyd McIntosh
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Dec·08 Book Two
1x11 "Santa '85"
a.k.a. "One Amazing Night"
Phil Joanou Teleplay: Joshua Brand & John Falsey
Story: Steven Spielberg
1985·Dec·15 Vol. 8
1x12 "Vanessa in the Garden" Clint Eastwood Steven Spielberg 1985·Dec·29
1x13 "The Sitter" Joan Darling Teleplay: Mick Garris
Story: Joshua Brand & John Falsey
1986·Jan·05
1x14 "No Day at the Beach" Lesli Linka Glatter Teleplay: Mick Garris
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Jan·12 Book Three
1x15 "One for the Road" Thomas Carter James D. Bissell 1986·Jan·19
1x16 "Gather Ye Acorns" Norman Reynolds Teleplay: Stu Krieger
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Feb·02
1x17 "Boo!" Joe Dante Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel 1986·Feb·16
1x18 "Dorothy and Ben" Thomas Carter Teleplay: Michael De Guzman
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Mar·02 Vol. 4
1x19 "Mirror, Mirror" Martin Scorsese Teleplay: Joseph Minion
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Mar·09 Book Four Vol. 6
1x20 "Secret Cinema" Paul Bartel 1986·Apr·06
1x21 "Hell Toupee" Irvin Kershner Gail Parent & Kevin Parent 1986·Apr·13
1x22 "The Doll" Phil Joanou Richard Matheson 1986·May·04 Vol. 5
1x23 "One for the Books" Lesli Linka Glatter Teleplay and Short Story: Richard Matheson 1986·May·11 3-tape-set
1x24 "Grandpa's Ghost" Timothy Hutton Teleplay: Michael De Guzman
Story: Timothy Hutton
1986·May·25

Season Two (1986-1987)[edit]

Title Directed by Written by Airdate US VHS
LaserDisc
Japan
LaserDisc
Europe VHS
2x01 "The Wedding Ring" Danny DeVito Teleplay: Stu Krieger
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Sep·22 Book One Vol. 2
2x02 "Miscalculation" Tom Holland Michael McDowell 1986·Sep·29 Vol. 3
3-tape-set
2x03 "Magic Saturday" Robert Markowitz Richard Christian Matheson 1986·Oct·06 Vol. 8
2x04 "Welcome to My Nightmare" Todd Holland 1986·Oct·13
2x05 "You Gotta Believe Me" Kevin Reynolds Teleplay: Stu Krieger
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Oct·20 Vol. 8
2x06 "The Greibble" Joe Dante Teleplay: Mick Garris
Story: Steven Spielberg
1986·Nov·03 Vol. 3
3-tape-set
2x07 "Life on Death Row" Mick Garris Teleplay: Rockne S. O'Bannon
Story: Mick Garris
1986·Nov·10 Book Three Vol. 5
2x08 "Go to the Head of the Class" Robert Zemeckis Teleplay: Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin and Bob Gale 1986·Nov·21 Book Two Vol. 1
3-tape-set
2x09 "Thanksgiving" Todd Holland Teleplay: Pierre R. Debs & Robert C. Fox 1986·Nov·24 Vol. 5
2x10 "The Pumpkin Competition" Norman Reynolds Peter Z. Orton 1986·Dec·01 Book Five Vol. 7
3-tape-set
2x11 "What If...?" Joan Darling Anne Spielberg 1986·Dec·08
2x12 "The Eternal Mind" J. Michael Riva Julie Moskowitz & Gary Stephens 1986·Dec·29
2x13 "Lane Change" Ken Kwapis Ali Marie Matheson 1987·Jan·12 3-tape-set
2x14 "Blue Man Down" Paul Michael Glaser Teleplay: Jacob Epstein & Daniel Lindley
Story: Steven Spielberg
1987·Jan·19 Book Four Vol. 6
2x15 "The 21 Inch Sun" Nick Castle Bruce Kirschbaum 1987·Feb·02 Vol. 8
2x16 "The Family Dog" Brad Bird 1987·Feb·16 Book Two Vol. 4
3-tape-set
2x17 "Gershwin's Trunk" Paul Bartel Paul Bartel & John Meyer 1987·Mar·13 3-tape-set
2x18 "Such Interesting Neighbors" Graham Baker Teleplay: Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin
Short Story: Jack Finney
1987·Mar·20 3-tape-set
2x19 "Without Diana" Lesli Linka Glatter Mick Garris 1987·Mar·27 Book Five Vol. 7
2x20 "Moving Day" Robert Stevens Frank Kerr 1987·Apr·03 Vol. 3
2x21 "Miss Stardust" Tobe Hooper Teleplay: Thomas E. Szollosi & Richard Christian Matheson
Short Story: Richard Matheson
1987·Apr·10

Soundtrack[edit]

In 1999 Varèse Sarabande released a CD containing a rerecording of the scores for the episodes "The Mission" and "Dorothy and Ben" (John Williams and Georges Delerue respectively) plus Williams' opening and closing themes, performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by John Debney.

In 2006-2007, Intrada released three volumes of original music from the series, covering the impressive lineup of composers who worked on it and featuring all of the most noteworthy scores (with the exception of Danny Elfman and Steve Bartek's "The Family Dog," because the masters could not be found - a brief suite is on Music for a Darkened Theatre: Vol. 2, however). The album is also notable for the premiere release of the music Williams composed for the Amblin Entertainment logo (although the logo music is not heard on the show itself).

Other than Williams, Bruce Broughton is the only composer to be represented on all three volumes. The running times below indicate the cumulative time for each score rather than the time of each track. (The series theme is not quoted in any of the episode scores, with the exception of "Ghost Train.")

Volume 1 (2006)

CD1:

CD2:

Volume Two (2006)

CD 1:

CD 2:

Volume Three (2007)

CD 1:

CD 2:

Reception[edit]

The series gained a number of positive reviews.[6][7][8] However some reviewers were unimpressed with the show with Jeff Jarvis of People saying "Amazing Stories is one of the worst disappointments I've ever had watching TV."[9]

Spin-offs[edit]

One episode of the show, "The Family Dog", was spun off into its own series. Six years after Amazing Stories finished its run, Family Dog ran on CBS for ten episodes before being pulled off the schedule.

The video game The Dig originated as an idea Spielberg had for Amazing Stories, but decided it would be too expensive to film.[10]

In 1985-86, TSR published six tie-in novels under the banner "Amazing Stories". They were branching (Choose Your Own Adventure style) books where the reader chose where to jump at key points.[11]

  1. The 4-D Funhouse by Clayton Emery and Earl Wajenberg. Cover by Jeff Easley.
  2. Jaguar! by Morris Simon. Cover by Jeff Easley.
  3. Portrait in Blood by Mary L. Kirchoff (credited as Mary Kirchoff). Cover by Jeff Easley.
  4. Nightmare Universe by Gene DeWeese and Robert Coulson. Cover by Jeff Easley.
  5. Starskimmer by John Betancourt. Cover by Doug Chaffee.
  6. Day of the Mayfly by Lee Enderlin. Cover by Doug Chaffee.

Home video and rebroadcasts[edit]

A selection of the original series episodes were released in the VHS format in 1993; these were titled "Book One" through "Book Five" in the US. In Japan and Europe episodes were cut together as movies and released in 8 volumes during the late 1980s, early 1990s. A 3-tape VHS (PAL) set was released in the UK in 2001.

Europe/Japan VHS series

  • Amazing Stories: The Movie (1987)
  • Amazing Stories II (1987)
  • Amazing Stories III (1988)
  • Amazing Stories IV (1988)
  • Amazing Stories V (1989)
  • Amazing Stories VI (1989)
  • Amazing Stories VII (1990)
  • Amazing Stories VIII (1990)

US VHS series

  • Amazing Stories: Book One (1993)
  • Amazing Stories: Book Two (1993)
  • Amazing Stories: Book Three (1993)
  • Amazing Stories: Book Four (1993)
  • Amazing Stories: Book Five (1993)

The Complete First Season (DVD) was released on July 18, 2006, in the US.[12] The second season of the series has not been released on DVD in the US yet, but is available in Japan (Region 2, NTSC) and was released there on July 8, 2009. The full series was also released on DVD in Germany (Region 2, PAL) with both English and German dubbed audio as 11 single DVDs or a boxset containing all episodes, which was released on November 20, 2009.

Three of the episodes ("The Mission", "Mummy Daddy" and "Go to the Head of the Class") were packaged together as an anthology film and released theatrically in several European countries such as Spain, France (July 10, 1986) or Finland (June 26, 1987), and also in Australia on September 17, 1987. It later appeared on LaserDisc in Japan as Amazing Stories: The Movie shortly afterwards.

As of 2006, the SciFi channel in the United States showed episodes on an irregular schedule. The MoviePlex channel also shows the series as a collection of "movies," which are blocks of three episodes.

Both the first and second season are available on Netflix.

References[edit]

External links[edit]