Amazing Stories (1985) - The Complete First Season

Genre(s): Adventure / Drama / Mystery / Science Fiction
Universal || NR - 570 minutes - $49.98 || July 18, 2006
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2006-07-25


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Steven Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, et al
Writer(s): Steven Spielberg (developed by/stories), Joshua Brand (developed by), John Falsey (developed by)
Cast: Beau Bridges, Kevin Costner, Seth Greem, Mark Hamill, Gregory Hines, Harvey Keitel, John Lithgow, Tim Robbins, Charlie Sheen, Kiefer Sutherland


Theatrical Release Date: NA


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Deleted Scenes


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 4
  • Full Screen (1.33)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

“As one experience ends, another adventure begins... in the extraordinary worlds of ‘Amazing Stories’!” (from DVD back cover)

Seeing as I was only five-years old when “Amazing Stories” aired, I have no nostalgic connection to this series as many do, so I am jumping head first into this with a blank slate. As a cross between “Twilight Zone” and “X-Files”, “Amazing Stories” features a wide variety of stories. Ranging from comedy (a high school jock becomes a human magnet after a close encounter with an asteroid, leading to some funny sight gags) to World War II heroics (this applies to a couple episodes) to the downright weird time warp (a young “Alamo Jobe” finds himself in 1980s San Antonio), each episode is unique and oft enough, is great to watch.

The first episode, ‘Ghost Train’, is written and directed by executive producer and show creator Spielberg, who gives a story that tugs at the heartstrings. Despite it’s less than a half hour, I found that even though it isn’t the strongest of the 24 episodes, but it was certainly a good start to the series (and the finale had a great sense of de ja vu, going back to Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

There isn’t a clear cut favorite out of the bunch for me, but tied for first is between ‘Vanessa in the Garden’ -- starring Harvey Keitel and Beau Bridges and directed by Clint Eastwood -- and ‘The Mission’ -- directed by Spielberg and starring Kevin Costner and Kiefer Sutherland. Both episodes feature great stories and amazing, pardon the pun, performances from its stars.

All in all, the season on the whole is good, a little spermatic as it goes from comedy weird to weird weird to dramatic weird, but the supernatural element does keep everything together nicely and makes the entire season worthwhile.

Here are the episodes featured in the season one set:

Disc 1:
Ghost Train (directed by Steven Spielberg)
The Main Attraction
Alamo Jobe
Mummy, Daddy
The Mission (directed by Spielberg, stars Kevin Costner, Kiefer Sutherland)
The Amazing Falsworth (starring Gregory Hines)

Disc 2:
Fine Tuning
Mr. Magic (starring Sid Ceasar)
Guilt Trip
Remote Control Man (featuring several key cameos of 80s players)
Santa ‘85
Vanessa in the Garden (directed by Clint Eastwood, stars Harvey Keitel, Beau Bridges)

Disc 3:
The Sitter
No Day at the Beach
One for the Road
Gather Ye Acorns (starring Mark Hamill)
Boo!
Dorothy and Ben

Disc 4:
Mirror, Mirror (directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Sam Waterston, Tim Robbins)
Secret Cinema
Hell Toupee
The Doll (Emmy winner John Lithgow)
One for the Books
Grandpa’s Ghost



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Given the cult status this series has received, despite only running for two seasons, one would hope for a featurette or two with interviews with Spielberg and others involved and how and why they came up with the ideas they did. A featurette covering the numerous guest stars (and actors in minor roles like Forest Whitaker) and directors would’ve been interesting to watch.

Deleted Scenes - As it were, we are given deleted footage from 12 episodes. Some episodes only have footage lasting 30 seconds or so, but others run over 3 minutes in length. Episodes that have deleted scenes include: ‘The Main Attraction’, ‘Guilt Trip’, ‘Remote Control Man’, ‘Vanessa in the Garden’, ‘One for the Road’, ‘Gather Ye Accorns’, ‘Boo!’, ‘Dorothy and Ben’, ‘Secret Cinema’, ‘The Doll’, ‘One for the Books’ and ‘Grandpa’s Closet’.

Given each episode is only 24 minutes long -- except for ‘The Mission’, which was 50 minutes or so --, some scenes are pretty good and just were excised due to time constraints rather than pacing or what have you.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The show is more than 20 years old and yet the picture, presented in the standard full screen, looks pretty damn good. At first glance, I didn’t notice much, if any, scratches or aging so either it was remastered or the film was kept in a safe place. We’re presented with a new Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that, though not overly impressive, is certainly better than a stereo surround that other shows (even one not as old) are usually given.



.::OVERALL::.

Over the years, “Amazing Stories” has garnered a cult status thanks to its heavy use of talent in front of and behind the camera. It’s not on the same level as “The Twilight Zone”, but because of those behind it, namely Spielberg, makes this set worth a try if you’ve never seen it before (and even if you have, it probably would be a great trip down memory lane).