US tv series (1985-1987). Amblin Entertainment/Universal/NBC. Pr Steven Spielberg, David E Vogel. Exec pr Spielberg. Created by Joshua Brand, John Falsey, Spielberg. Dir Joe Dante (see SFE link below), Danny DeVito, Clint Eastwood, Paul Michael Glaser, Tobe Hooper, Peter Hyams, Burt Reynolds, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis and many others. Writers Jack Finney, Richard Matheson, Spielberg and many others. Stars included Loni Anderson, Milton Berle, Beau Bridges, David Carradine, Kevin Costner, Dom DeLuise, Charles Durning, Stan Freberg, Mark Hamill, Gregory Hines, Harvey Keitel, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Richard Masur, Bronson Pinchot, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland, Patrick Swayze, M Emmett Walsh, Ray Walston, Sam Waterson. 2 2hr episodes and 43 30min episodes. Colour.
Spielberg's amazing theatrical success led NBC to sign him up to create a new series for the network for 1984; in an unprecedented show of faith, they committed to two seasons before a single episode had been filmed. Spielberg, who outlined most of the stories for the series, set about assembling an impressive group of directors and performers for what many assumed would be one of tv's finest moments. They were quickly disappointed. But, while the talent involved was excellent, the stories generally proved rather predictable (the same charge was levelled at The New Twilight Zone [1985-1988], which debuted the same year). For example, in the first, "Ghost Train", it was obvious that a house built on the route of a now-vanished railroad would soon have a spectral visitor. "The Mission", starring Kevin Costner, was a dramatic portrayal of a WWII bombing mission – until the end, which featured a very out-of-place cartoon effect. Other stories featured Timeslips, a demonic Ring, an actor in an sf movie who is mistaken for a real Mummy, and a lonely man overly attached to a Doll. While NBC continued to voice support for Spielberg, work was halted before the entire set had been completed.
Spielberg attempted to create a series based on "Family Dog", an animated episode from this series, only to discover that producing a weekly animated series was far more complex than originally thought. After several embarrassing delays Family Dog (1993) finally made it to the air, but it vanished after a month.
Two book adaptations were produced: Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories * (coll 1986) and Volume II of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories * (coll 1986), both by Steven Bauer. [BC]
- The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction: Joe Dante.