Friday, July 3, 2020

Amazing Stories? Not Exactly

Steven Spielberg's television series Amazing Stories was announced in 1984. I remember listening to the radio and feeling a little excited that someone was going to produce a weekly anthology television series based -- I thought -- on the old science fiction and fantasy pulp magazine of the same name.

September of 1985 arrived promising an exciting premiere of this highly anticipated series. A couple of friends came over to my res to share in what we students hoped would be a televideo experience to write home about.

It, "Ghost Train", was anticlimactic.

"That's it?!"

"That's Amazing Stories?"

"A train and a house?"


The opening episode's paper thin story did not bode well for the series. The three of us were underwhelmed.

Just to make sure, we got together for the following two episodes: "The Main Attraction" was an extended one-gag show; "Alamo Jobe" was best described as a counterfeit edition of a Classics Illustrated comic. But a very boring one. There was no risk of it ending up well-thumbed.

We did catch another episode: "The Mission", a Spielberg-directed overwrought and too-long run-up to a ridiculous ending. That's it? "Mister Spielberg?" (It was advertised as an "one-hour special", which in television series parlance generally means "two times longer crap".)

Mister Spielberg's Fantastic Television Picture Show needed some stomp and what was seen in the pages of the 'source' pulps. Fluttering whimsy is good for an episode or two; anything more gives the audience the impression that the filmmakers don't know how to fill a half-hour "SF & Fantasy" time slot every week.

A minor quibble, but one in synch with my criticisms: John Williams' theme music was wildly inappropriate.

Over the next week or two I will be revisiting this series -- a few episodes to give me a new perspective. Hopefully my reviews here will be every bit as amazing.

Stay tuned!


First posted as "Amazing Stories to be Revisited" on October 19, 2018.

1 comment:

Simon St. Laurent said...

I have not yet reviewed Amazing Stories. There may be a good reason for that.