Amazing Stories was always rather fun for its two seasons from 1985 – 1987.
But in the intervening 33 years (yikes!) the anthology genre has had a resurgence, largely as a result of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story.
Indeed, we’ve had Black Mirror, Channel Zero, Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone, Electric Dreams, amongst others, all delving into sci-fi / fantasy short stories.
In the one preview episode made available for the revived Amazing Stories (complete with John Williams theme tune), it’s clear producers are looking to replicate its broad appeal -but that may be its downfall.
What was previously fun in Amazing Stories now feels decidedly light. This may be produced by Steven Spielberg, but it’s practically Hallmark in tone.
The episode begins in 2019 with Sam (Dylan O’Brien), helping his gay brother Jake (Micah Stock) renovate an old Iowa farmhouse for Jake’s family (the very modern marriage was a nice touch). But Sam, who is otherwise a bit of a lone wolf, finds his world turned upside down whilst in the old cellar during a storm.
Emerging from the cellar he discovers he has travelled back in time by 100 years to find its former occupant, Evelyn (Victoria Pedretti) -brother Jake and the 21st Century are nowhere to be seen. Evelyn is a frustrated if talented young woman who is about to be wedlocked into a marriage she doesn’t want.
You can see where this is going for our single leading man… but Outlander this is not.
Cue the usual tropes of the hero having to convince his chief accomplice he is telling the truth, followed by tests of faith, jeopardy and a ticking clock. But at least it commits the genre if failing to offer anything new.
The leads in Dylan O’Brien and Victoria Pedretti are likeable and full of zest, however there’s no remaining room for anybody else other than to facilitate the destiny of our heroes.
I’d like to think other episodes are capable of deeper and more original adventures, but as it stands this reboot is essentially Saturday afternoon fun.
Not so amazing.
Amazing Stories is now screening on Apple TV+