1985 was the year of the television anthology series. CBS brought back their second iteration of The Twilight Zone, while NBC resurrected Alfred Hitchcock Presents. But NBC also had another anthology series in the mix – a show called Amazing Stories.
Each self-contained show featured drama, fantasy, horror, science fiction and excitement. It was a decent half-hour of escapist entertainment on Sunday nights, and no less than director Steven Spielberg was the executive producer (and, in some cases, the actual producer) of the show.
First off, you had major Hollywood stars taking a run in the small screen. A one-hour episode from the first season, “The Mission,” featured Kevin Costner and Keifer Sutherland as Air Force bomber pilots on a bombing run that goes horribly wrong. Another episode, “The Amazing Falsworth,” saw Gregory Hines as a magician who has a precognition of two murders.
And when Spielberg wasn’t directing the episodes, a crew of established and up-and-coming talent was. Burt Reynolds helmed an episode called “Guilt Trip,” starring his wife Loni Anderson and best bud Dom DeLuise. Clint Eastwood directed an episode, “Vanessa in the Garden,” with Sondra Locke and Harvey Keitel. Heck, even “Weird Al” Yankovic starred in an episode – which was originally written by Twilight Zone auteur Richard Matheson.
But Amazing Stories was not a ratings hit. Spielberg received a two-year commitment from NBC to air his series, and after two seasons, the show was cancelled. The episodes were combined into movies for the syndication market, but nothing else came of the show.
The new Apple TV+ service has brought back Amazing Stories as a new anthology series. Beginning March 6, new fantasy and sci-fi and horror and wonder will emanate from the streaming service. And here’s a trailer for the new show.
This is the second of the 1985-era anthology shows to reappear on streaming media; the FIFTH iteration of The Twilight Zone is a big hit on CBS All Access.
Now … when do we get that Netflix reboot of Alfred Hitchcock Presents? 😀