Amazing Stories (TV series)

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Amazing Stories
AmazingStoriesTVseries.jpg
Genre Anthology, fantasy, horror, science fiction, comedy-drama
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 film Batteries Not Included was originally intended as a story for Amazing Stories, but 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)
A grandfather (Roberts Blossom) disapproves of his son building a country home on the site of a train accident from 75 years ago.
2 2 "The Main Attraction" Matthew Robbins Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Brad Bird and Mick Garris
October 6, 1985 (1985-10-06)
A high school jock (Scott Clough) up for Prom King develops a "magnetic" personality.
3 3 "Alamo Jobe" Michael D. Moore Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
October 20, 1985 (1985-10-20)
A young man (Kelly Reno) travels through time to 20th century San Antonio.
4 4 "Mummy Daddy" William Dear Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Earl Pomerantz
October 27, 1985 (1985-10-27)
An actor (Tom Harrison) cast as a mummy in a horror movie rushes to be with his wife when she goes into labor.
5 5 "The Mission" Steven Spielberg Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Menno Meyjes
November 3, 1985 (1985-11-03)
A belly turret gunner (Casey Siemaszko) is trapped in the compartment of a WWII bomber.
6 6 "The Amazing Falsworth" Peter Hyams Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
November 5, 1985 (1985-11-05)
A magician (Gregory Hines) creates visions of murder.
7 7 "Fine Tuning" Bob Balaban Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Earl Pomerantz
November 10, 1985 (1985-11-10)
A science-project receiver picks up transmissions of aliens imitating classic TV characters.
8 8 "Mr. Magic" Donald Petrie Joshua Brand & John Falsey November 17, 1985 (1985-11-17)
An illusionist (Sid Caesar) uses an old deck of cards to stay in the spotlight.
9 9 "Guilt Trip" Burt Reynolds Gail Parent & Kevin Parent December 1, 1985 (1985-12-01)
The personification of Guilt (Dom DeLuise) takes a cruise where he meets the personification of Love (Loni Anderson)
10 10 "Remote Control Man" Bob Clark Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Douglas Lloyd McIntosh
December 8, 1985 (1985-12-08)
A henpecked husband (Sydney Lassick) buys a remote control that brings characters out of the TV.
11 11 "Santa '85" Phil Joanou Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
December 15, 1985 (1985-12-15)
When Santa Claus (Douglas Seale) is sent to prison on Christmas Eve, it falls to a boy (Gabriel Damon) to restore the Christmas spirit in a sheriff (Pat Hingle).
12 12 "Vanessa in the Garden" Clint Eastwood Steven Spielberg December 29, 1985 (1985-12-29)
An artist (Harvey Keitel) finds a way for his deceased wife (Sondra Locke) to live on in his work.
13 13 "The Sitter" Joan Darling Story by : Joshua Brand & John Falsey
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
January 5, 1986 (1986-01-05)
A babysitter (Mabel King) uses voodoo to get two overactive boys under control.
14 14 "No Day at the Beach" Lesli Linka Glatter Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
January 12, 1986 (1986-01-12)
A GI (Larry Spinak) tries to be a hero during a World War II assault on Italy.
15 15 "One for the Road" Thomas Carter James D. Bissell January 19, 1986 (1986-01-19)
During the Depression, a bar patron (Douglas Seale) is tricked into signing an insurance policy so the regulars can collect the money once he drinks himself to death.
16 16 "Gather Ye Acorns" Norman Reynolds Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Stu Krieger
February 2, 1986 (1986-02-02)
A tree troll (David Rappaport) encourages an 18-year-old (Mark Hamill) to follow his dreams.
17 17 "Boo!" Joe Dante Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel February 16, 1986 (1986-02-16)
A porno star and her husband (Wendy Schaal, Robert Picardo) move into a house haunted by its previous owners (Eddie Bracken, Evelyn Keyes).
18 18 "Dorothy and Ben" Thomas Carter Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Michael De Guzman
March 2, 1986 (1986-03-02)
A man (Joe Seneca) wakes up from a 40-year coma and communicates with another comatose patient (Natalie Gregory).
19 19 "Mirror, Mirror" Martin Scorsese Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Joseph Minion
March 9, 1986 (1986-03-09)
A horror novelist (Sam Waterston) is haunted by a figure in his mirror.
20 20 "Secret Cinema" Paul Bartel Paul Bartel April 6, 1986 (1986-04-06)
A woman (Penny Peyser) believes that life is secretly being filmed.
21 21 "Hell Toupee" Irvin Kershner Gail Parent & Kevin Parent April 13, 1986 (1986-04-13)
A bald man gets a hairpiece that drives him to murder a lawyer.
22 22 "The Doll" Phil Joanou Richard Matheson May 4, 1986 (1986-05-04)
A lonely man (John Lithgow) buys a special handmade doll for his niece.
23 23 "One for the Books" Lesli Linka Glatter Richard Matheson May 11, 1986 (1986-05-11)
A janitor at a college can suddenly master any subject of the classroom he cleans. When this becomes public, he becomes subject to a heated debate amongst professors about the ability of human intellect, proving to be more than he can handle.
24 24 "Grandpa's Ghost" Timothy Hutton Story by : Timothy Hutton
Teleplay by : Michael De Guzman
May 25, 1986 (1986-05-25)
A man (Andrew McCarthy) isn't around to see the ghost of his grandfather.

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)
A wax-museum dresser (Danny DeVito) takes a ring from a statue that turns his wife into a femme fatale.
26 2 "Miscalculations" Tom Holland Michael McDowell September 29, 1986 (1986-09-29)
While fooling around in chemistry class, a college student (Jon Cryer) spills a chemical element on a picture of a puppy and brings it to life. He tries doing the same thing to his pornographic magazines, with surprising results.
27 3 "Magic Saturday" Robert Markowitz Richard Matheson October 6, 1986 (1986-10-06)
A 10-year-old boy uses a spell to swap bodies with his grandfather.
28 4 "Welcome to My Nightmare" Todd Holland Todd Holland October 13, 1986 (1986-10-13)
A film buff (David Hollander) has become the subject of concern from his family that he is out of touch with reality and declines a date from a new girl in town (Robyn Lively). Angry that the real world is so dull, he wishes he was in the movies, and gets his wish: being on the set of Psycho.
29 5 "You Gotta Believe Me" Kevin Reynolds Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Stu Krieger
October 20, 1986 (1986-10-20)
A man (Charles Durning) tries to prevent a plane crash he saw in a dream.
30 6 "The Greibble" Joe Dante Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Mick Garris
November 3, 1986 (1986-11-03)
A housewife (Hayley Mills) encounters a creature with a taste for inanimate objects.
31 7 "Life on Death Row" Mick Garris Story by : Mick Garris
Teleplay by : Rockne S. O'Bannon
November 10, 1986 (1986-11-10)
An inmate on death row (Patrick Swayze) is struck by lightning and given miraculous healing powers.
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)
Two students (Scott Coffey and Mary Stuart Masterson) cast a spell on their English teacher (Christopher Lloyd) taken from a rock-and-roll record played backwards.
33 9 "Thanksgiving" Todd Holland Story by : Harold Rolseth
Teleplay by : Pierre R. Debs & Robert C. Fox
November 24, 1986 (1986-11-24)
A man (David Carradine) and his stepdaughter (Kyra Sedgwick) find treasure in a dry well.
34 10 "The Pumpkin Competition" Norman Reynolds Peter Z. Orton December 1, 1986 (1986-12-01)
A miser (Polly Holliday) gains a botanist's secret to win a pumpkin contest.
35 11 "What If...?" Joan Darling Anne Spielberg December 8, 1986 (1986-12-08)
A boy who sees things randomly disappearing worries why his status-seeking parents are more concerned with their social outings than they are with his problems.
36 12 "The Eternal Mind" J. Michael Riva Julie Moskowitz & Gary Stephens December 29, 1986 (1986-12-29)
A dying scientist becomes the first subject of a test merging man and machine.
37 13 "Lane Change" Ken Kwapis Ali Marie Matheson January 12, 1987 (1987-01-12)
A divorced woman (Kathy Baker) gets a glimpse of her past when she picks up a stranded driver (Priscilla Pointer).
38 14 "Blue Man Down" Paul Michael Glaser Story by : Steven Spielberg
Teleplay by : Jacob Epstein & Daniel Lindley
January 19, 1987 (1987-01-19)
A cop regains his confidence with the help of his new partner.
39 15 "The 21-Inch Sun" Nick Castle Bruce Kirschbaum February 2, 1987 (1987-02-02)
A sitcom writer (Robert Townsend) writes a script thanks to a spider plant that absorbs TV rays.
40 16 "Family Dog" Brad Bird Brad Bird February 16, 1987 (1987-02-16)
In this animated episode that led to the cartoon series of the same name, a dog goes through life with his family.
41 17 "Gershwin's Trunk" Paul Bartel Paul Bartel & John Meyer March 13, 1987 (1987-03-13)
A lyricist (Bob Balaban) seeks inspiration from the spirit of George Gershwin.
42 18 "Such Interesting Neighbors" Graham Baker Story by : Jack Finney
Teleplay by : Mick Garris & Tom McLoughlin
March 20, 1987 (1987-03-20)
A family suspects their new neighbors of causing time to repeat.
43 19 "Without Diana" Lesli Linka Glatter Mick Garris March 27, 1987 (1987-03-27)
A man and his dying wife are comforted by the daughter they lost 40 years ago.
44 20 "Moving Day" Robert Stevens Frank Kerr April 3, 1987 (1987-04-03)
A teenager (Steven Geoffreys) learns he and his family are moving to another planet.
45 21 "Miss Stardust" Tobe Hooper Story by : Richard Matheson
Teleplay by : Thomas E. Szollosi & Richard Christian Matheson
April 10, 1987 (1987-04-10)
An alien (Weird Al Yankovic) threatens to destroy Earth if the Miss Stardust beauty pageant doesn't allow contestants from other worlds.

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 television.

Reboot[edit]

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

On May 5, 2017, NBC/UT were formally notified that their option rights to the Amazing Stories properties had been withdrawn. Rights for the development of a genre television series under the name AMAZING STORIES were subsequently sold to Experimenter Media LLC.[15]

On October 10, 2017, it was announced that Apple Inc. made a deal with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and NBC Universal to develop a new, ten-episode series.[16]

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) - contains "The Mission", "Mummy Daddy" and "Go To The Head Of The Class"
  • Amazing Stories II (1987) - contains "The Amazing Falsworth", "Ghost Train" and "The Wedding Ring"
  • Amazing Stories III (1988) - contains "The Griebble", "Moving Day" and "Miscalculation"
  • Amazing Stories IV (1988) - contains "Dorothy And Ben", "Family Dog" and "The Main Attraction"
  • Amazing Stories V (1989) - contains "The Doll", "Thanksgiving" and "Life On Death Row"
  • Amazing Stories VI (1989) - contains "Mirror, Mirror", "Blue Man Down" and "Mr Magic"
  • Amazing Stories VII (1990) - contains "The 21-Inch Sun", "Magic Saturday", "You Gotta Believe Me" and "One Amazing Night (Santa '85)"
  • Amazing Stories VIII (1990) - contains "The Pumpkin Competition", "Without Diana" and "Fine Tuning"

US VHS series

  • Amazing Stories: Book One (1993) - contains "The Mission" and "The Wedding Ring"
  • Amazing Stories: Book Two (1993) - contains "Go To The Head Of The Class" and "Family Dog"
  • Amazing Stories: Book Three (1993) - contains "Life On Death Row", "The Amazing Falsworth" and "No Day At The Beach"
  • Amazing Stories: Book Four (1993) - contains "Mirror Mirror", "Mr Magic" and "Blue Man Down"
  • Amazing Stories: Book Five (1993) - contains "The Pumpkin Competition", "Without Diana" and "Fine Tuning"

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.

Until 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.

US cable TV movies

  • Amazing Stories: The Movie (1992) - contains "The Mission" and "Go To The Head Of The Class"
  • Amazing Stories: The Movie II (1992) - contains "Santa ('85)", "The Wedding Ring", "Ghost Train" and "The Doll"
  • Amazing Stories: The Movie III (1992) - contains "Mummy Daddy", "Family Dog", "Remote Control Man" and "Guilt Trip"
  • Amazing Stories: The Movie IV (1992) - contains "Life On Death Row", "Mirror Mirror", "The Amazing Falsworth" and "Vanessa In The Garden"
  • Amazing Stories: The Movie V (1992) - contains "The Sitter", "Grandpa's Ghost", "Dorothy And Ben" and "Gershwin's Trunk"
  • Amazing Stories: The Movie VI (1992) - contains "The Main Attraction", "Gather Ye Acorns", "You Gotta Believe Me" and "Lane Change"

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. 
  15. ^ Davidson, Steve. "Experimenter Publishing Company Forms Experimenter Media LLC to Develop Amazing Stories Name". Amazing Stories. Experimenter Publishing Company. Retrieved June 4, 2017. 
  16. ^ Koblin, John. "Apple Joins Forces With Steven Spielberg's Amblin Television". nytimes.com. The New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2017. 

External links[edit]