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Amazing Stories, a Spielberg-produced fantasy/sci fi series that is tragically unappreciated.


Title: Amazing Stories
Year: 1985-86
Fix: 1980s celebrities, a good laugh and a good scare

Netflix Summary:

Steven Spielberg created and produced this 1980s anthology series. Each self-contained story stretched the boundaries of the believable, but Spielberg's deft touch (he directed some episodes as well) ensured that they never broke. Highlights from the first season include guest appearances by Kevin Costner, Keifer Sutherland, Gregory Hines, Anthony LaPaglia and many other well-known stars.

FYA Summary:

There have been countless knockoffs of the great Twilight Zone: Outer Limits, The New Twilight Zone, Tales From the Darkside, Tales From the Crypt, Freddy's Nightmares, etc. But Amazing Stories came the closest to capturing the original magic. It also had the greatest introduction of any TV show ever.

Familiar Faces:

Weird Al Yankovic as The Alien

He's here to insure the Miss Universe Pageant represents the entire universe...or else.

Christopher Lloyd as the decapitated English teacher

This episode didn't give me nightmares. It gave YOU nightmares.

Dom DeLuise (left) as the personification of Guilt

Loni Anderson as the personification of Love

I could go on and on. Like a lot of these shows, they cast dozens of celebrities.

Couch-Sharing Capability: Binge

This is one of those dangerous 'Oh, just one more episode' shows. The cheesy eighties clothes and celebrities alone make it worth watching. Check out the episode with the magic remote, where the guy turns his wife into June Cleaver, and his sons into Arnold Jackson from Diff'rent Strokes and Face from The A Team (Why does Mom keep calling me Wally?).

Amazing Stories is what The Twilight Zone  would have been with twice the budget and without Rod's preaching. I remember being infuriated when one week's episode was postponed in order to air a World Series game.

Recommended Level of Inebriation: Low...

For the most part, these episodes were silly: a houseplant, whose only light comes from the TV, becomes a sitcom writer. A college chemistry student discovers a potion that makes his pinup girls come to life (eleven-year-old me found that concept intriguing). A popular high school guy finds his body magnetized after a meteor strike.

But there were other, less cheery episodes. The headless teacher one up there, for instance. And then there was the episode where the guy has a nightmare that he witnesses a plane crash, then rushes to the airport to find his dream about to come to pass. That plane crash sequence was the creepiest damn thing I'd ever seen: the flaming wreck, an injured survivor screaming his son's name, a mutilated Teddy Ruxpin repeating the same line of dialogue...okay, enough memories. And no more drinks.

Use of Your Netflix Subscription: Memory Lane

It's nice to go back and watch these underappreciated, Spielberg-created gems. The cold war fears, the impressive special effects, and the big, big hair.

We'll never forget the episode about the cartoonist/gunner on the WWII bomber. "Just try the landing gear one more time for me, guys."

Brian Katcher's photo About the Author: Brian Katcher wrote his first YA novel when he was down and out in Mexico. He now lives in Missouri with his wonderful wife and daughter. He divides his time between writing and working as a school librarian. Brian still misses the preachy YA books of the eighties.