1 9 8 5 – 1 9 8 7 (USA)
44 x 30 minute episodes
This modern-day Twilight Zone was an anthology of sci-fi and fantasy dramas from NBC and Universal, produced by Steven Spielberg.
The series attracted the cream of Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera; Martin Scorsese, Clint Eastwood, Paul Bartel, Robert Zemeckis and Spielberg himself were amongst the directors involved while guest stars included Kevin Costner, Drew Barrymore, Mark Hamill, Milton Berle, David Carradine and Charlie Sheen amongst many, many others.
One special hour-long show (‘The Mission), directed by Spielberg, took place in a World War II plane in which the crew frantically tried to save a machine gunner trapped in a turret next to the damaged plane’s locked wheels.
As it happened, however, the trapped man was a cartoonist with ambitions to work for Walt Disney, and the story ended with his drawing the wheels that would enable the plane to land safely.
The cartoon had become reality, distilling in a single image the essence of the Spielberg phenomenon.
Each half-hour instalment of Amazing Stories was allotted a budget of $800,000 to $1 million dollars, but the series did not strike a chord and fared badly against CBS’s Murder, She Wrote.
The New York Times called Amazing Stories a “spotty skein of cliches, sentimentality, and ordinary hokum” but Spielberg had made a deal with NBC that they couldn’t cancel his series even if the ratings were bad (which they were), so 44 episodes were filmed.