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
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
Producer(s) Brad Bird
Running time 30 minutes[1]
Production company(s) Amblin Entertainment, Universal Television
Release
Original network NBC[2]
Original release September 29, 1985 (1985-09-29)[3] – April 10, 1987 (1987-04-10)
Chronology
Related shows Family Dog

Amazing Stories is a fantasy, horror, and science fiction television anthology series created by Steven Spielberg. It originally ran on NBC in the United States from 1985 to 1987.

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 52nd 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 1 (1985–86)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
1 1 "Ghost Train" Steven Spielberg Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Frank Deese
September 29, 1985 (1985-09-29)
2 2 "The Main Attraction" Matthew Robbins Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Brad Bird and Mick Garris
October 6, 1985 (1985-10-06)
3 3 "Alamo Jobe" Michael D. Moore Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
October 20, 1985 (1985-10-20)
4 4 "Mummy Daddy" William Dear Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Earl Pomerantz
October 27, 1985 (1985-10-27)
5 5 "The Mission" Steven Spielberg Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Menno Meyjes
November 3, 1985 (1985-11-03)
6 6 "The Amazing Falsworth" Peter Hyams Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
November 5, 1985 (1985-11-05)
7 7 "Fine Tuning" Bob Balaban Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Earl Pomerantz
November 10, 1985 (1985-11-10)
8 8 "Mr. Magic" Donald Petrie Joshua Brand & John Falsey November 17, 1985 (1985-11-17)
9 9 "Guilt Trip" Burt Reynolds Gail Parent & Kevin Parent December 1, 1985 (1985-12-01)
10 10 "Remote Control Man" Bob Clark Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Douglas Lloyd McIntosh
December 8, 1985 (1985-12-08)
11 11 "Santa '85" Phil Joanou Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
December 15, 1985 (1985-12-15)
12 12 "Vanessa in the Garden" Clint Eastwood Steven Spielberg December 29, 1985 (1985-12-29)
13 13 "The Sitter" Joan Darling Story by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
January 5, 1986 (1986-01-05)
14 14 "No Day at the Beach" Lesli Linka Glatter Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
January 12, 1986 (1986-01-12)
15 15 "One for the Road" Thomas Carter James D. Bissell January 19, 1986 (1986-01-19)
16 16 "Gather Ye Acorns" Norman Reynolds Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Stu Krieger
February 2, 1986 (1986-02-02)
17 17 "Boo!" Joe Dante Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel February 16, 1986 (1986-02-16)
18 18 "Dorothy and Ben" Thomas Carter Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Michael De Guzman
March 2, 1986 (1986-03-02)
19 19 "Mirror, Mirror" Martin Scorsese Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joseph Minion
March 9, 1986 (1986-03-09)
20 20 "Secret Cinema" Paul Bartel Paul Bartel April 6, 1986 (1986-04-06)
21 21 "Hell Toupee" Irvin Kershner Gail Parent & Kevin Parent April 13, 1986 (1986-04-13)
22 22 "The Doll" Phil Joanou Richard Matheson May 4, 1986 (1986-05-04)
23 23 "One for the Books" Lesli Linka Glatter Richard Matheson May 11, 1986 (1986-05-11)
24 24 "Grandpa's Ghost" Timothy Hutton Story by : Timothy Hutton
Teleplay by : Michael De Guzman
May 25, 1986 (1986-05-25)

Season 2 (1986–87)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
25 1 "The Wedding Ring" Danny DeVito Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Stu Krieger
September 22, 1986 (1986-09-22)
26 2 "Miscalculation" Tom Holland Michael McDowell September 29, 1986 (1986-09-29)
27 3 "Magic Saturday" Robert Markowitz Richard Christian Matheson October 6, 1986 (1986-10-06)
28 4 "Welcome to My Nightmare" Todd Holland Todd Holland October 13, 1986 (1986-10-13)
29 5 "You Gotta Believe Me" Kevin Reynolds Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Stu Krieger
October 20, 1986 (1986-10-20)
30 6 "The Greibble" Joe Dante Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
November 3, 1986 (1986-11-03)
31 7 "Life on Death Row" Mick Garris Story by : Mick Garris
Teleplay by : Rockne S. O'Bannon
November 10, 1986 (1986-11-10)
32 8 "Go to the Head of the Class" Robert Zemeckis Story by : Mick Garris
Teleplay by : Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin and Bob Gale
November 21, 1986 (1986-11-21)
33 9 "Thanksgiving" Todd Holland Teleplay by : Pierre R. Debs & Robert C. Fox November 24, 1986 (1986-11-24)
34 10 "The Pumpkin Competition" Norman Reynolds Peter Z. Orton December 1, 1986 (1986-12-01)
35 11 "What If...?" Joan Darling Anne Spielberg December 8, 1986 (1986-12-08)
36 12 "The Eternal Mind" J. Michael Riva Julie Moskowitz & Gary Stephens December 29, 1986 (1986-12-29)
37 13 "Lane Change" Ken Kwapis Ali Marie Matheson January 12, 1987 (1987-01-12)
38 14 "Blue Man Down" Paul Michael Glaser Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Jacob Epstein & Daniel Lindley
January 19, 1987 (1987-01-19)
39 15 "The 21-Inch Sun" Nick Castle Bruce Kirschbaum February 2, 1987 (1987-02-02)
40 16 "The Family Dog" Brad Bird Brad Bird February 16, 1987 (1987-02-16)
41 17 "Gershwin's Trunk" Paul Bartel Paul Bartel & John Meyer March 13, 1987 (1987-03-13)
42 18 "Such Interesting Neighbors" Graham Baker Story by : Jack Finney
Teleplay by : Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin
March 20, 1987 (1987-03-20)
43 19 "Without Diana" Lesli Linka Glatter Mick Garris March 27, 1987 (1987-03-27)
44 20 "Moving Day" Robert Stevens Frank Kerr April 3, 1987 (1987-04-03)
45 21 "Miss Stardust" Tobe Hooper Story by : Richard Matheson
Teleplay by : Thomas E. Szollosi & Richard Christian Matheson
April 10, 1987 (1987-04-10)

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), as well as two alternate versions of Williams' main title theme, one used just once (Alternate #1, on "Alamo Jobe")[6] and the other never used.[7] 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 and Billy Goldenberg are the only composers 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.[8][9][10] 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."[11]

Primetime Emmy Awards[edit]

Year Category Nominee(s) Episode Result
1986 Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Steven Spielberg "The Mission" Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series John Lithgow "The Doll" Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Series John McPherson "The Mission" Won
Outstanding Achievement in Costuming for a Series Sanford Slepak, Carol Hybi, Daniel Grant North, Deahdra Scarano, "Ghost Train" Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series Joseph Roveto, Jane Ruhm, James Cullen, Fran Vega-Buck "Gather Ye Acorns" Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Richard L. Anderson, Wayne Allwine, James Christopher, George Fredrick, John Stacy, Burton Weinstein, Lettie Odney, Denise Whiting, Kenneth Wannberg "The Mission Won
Outstanding Achievement in Costuming for a Series Joseph Roveto, Jane Ruhm, James Cullen, Fran Vega-Buck, "Gather Ye Acorns" Nominated
Outstanding Editing for a Series – Single Camera Production Joe Ann Fogle "Mummy, Daddy Nominated
Steven Kemper "The Mission" Nominated
1987 Outstanding Makeup for a Series Michael Westmore,

Mark Bussan, Chuck House, Fred C. Blau Jr.

"Without Diana Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Series John McPherson "Go To The Head of the Class Nominated

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.[12]

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.[13]

  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.

The 1987 film Batteries Not Included was originally planned to be a segment for the series[citation needed], but Spielberg thought the story would work better on the big screen instead of the small screen.

New series[edit]

Bryan Fuller is writing a new edition of the series for NBC; Spielberg will not be involved.[14]

Home video and rebroadcasts[edit]

DVD

Between 2006-2009, The Complete First Season was released on DVD in the US, UK, France, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, Spain and Australia. In 2009, both seasons were released in Germany and Japan only. In Germany both seasons were released as 12 separate DVDs or a complete box set, which was also reissued in 2011. All countries' DVDs contain the original English soundtrack, while Italy, Germany, France, Spain and Japan have a second soundtrack, dubbed in their respective languages.

VHS

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)

Foreign broadcasts

In 1992, the series 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. 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 Sci Fi Channel in the United States showed episodes on an irregular schedule. The MoviePlex channel also showed the series as a collection of "movies," which are blocks of three episodes.

Both the first and second seasons are available in Canada to Shomi subscribers.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gendel, Morgan (October 31, 1985). "Nbc Executives Mull 'Amazing' Comeback". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  2. ^ Harmetz, Aljean (June 2, 1986). "'AMAZING STORIES' TRIES NEW TACTICS". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  3. ^ Gendel, Morgan (September 11, 1985). "Spielberg's Amazing Pr Tour By Satellite". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  4. ^ Gordon, Larry (December 5, 1985). "Leap to Spielberg Show Is Director's 'Amazing Story'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  5. ^ Bennetts, Leslie (July 31, 1984). "SPIELBERG TO PRODUCE ADVENTURE SERIES FOR NBC". The New York Times. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  6. ^ Burlingame, Jon, liner notes, Amazing Stories: Anthology Two, Intrada, 2006
  7. ^ Burlingame, Jon, liner notes, Amazing Stories: Anthology Three, Intrada, 2007
  8. ^ Tartikoff, Brandon (June 6, 1986). "`Amazing Stories` Failed In Ratings, But Will Return". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  9. ^ Kelley, Bill (November 1, 1985). "Sunday`s `Amazing` Story One Of The Best So Far". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  10. ^ Kelley, Bill (September 22, 1985). "Speilberg`s Tales For Television Filmmaker Steven Spielberg Says Brevity Is The Soul - And The Challenge - Of Amazing Stories.". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  11. ^ Jarvis, Jeff (November 11, 1985). "Picks and Pans Review: Amazing Stories Nbc". People. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  12. ^ Plunkett, Luke (November 2, 2011). "So, a Giant Asteroid is Heading for Earth...Again...". Kotaku. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  13. ^ "Amazing Stories". gamebooks.org. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  14. ^ Hibberd, James (October 23, 2015). "'Amazing Stories' being revived at NBC with 'Hannibal' boss". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 

External links[edit]