Series / Amazing Stories

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Amazing Stories is a 1980s TV series produced by Steven Spielberg for NBC. This Genre Anthology series is similar to The Twilight Zone, although with a distinctly larger proportion of happy endings. The show had very impressive visual effects for the time. Of course, given Spielberg's involvement, that's not surprising. It also had episodes directed by people who hardly ever do television (Robert Zemeckis, Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorsese, etc).

Despite all this, the series didn't do that well in the ratings. It lasted from September 1985 to April 1987 for a total of 45 episodes in two seasons. Still, a revival was announced in 2015.

Amazing Tropes:

  • Afterlife Express: "Ghost Train" has an old steam engine arrive to take a boy's grandfather to the afterlife.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: The main character of "Vanessa in the Garden" burns his priceless paintings in a drunken rage, jeopardizing his art career.
  • Angry Guard Dog: The last act of "Family Dog" has the dog being trained to become one. It works too well, as it follows the burglars to their lair and becomes their Attack Animal.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: "Guilt Trip", in which the personification of Guilt is forced to go on vacation for messing up on the job, and meets and falls in love with the personification of Love.
  • Beauty Contest: In "Miss Stardust", one is crashed by an alien ("Weird Al" Yankovic) who threatens to destroy Earth unless the contest lives up to its name Miss Galaxy and allows contestants from other planets to participate (and ideally win). To make matters trickier, the new entrants aren't Human Aliens...
  • Black Widow: Mentioned as the previous ring owner in "The Wedding Ring". Makes you wonder if she imprinted on the ring or was the victim of the ring too.
  • The Cameo: "Remote Control Man" is a huge conglomerate of television favorites. It has everyone from Face to KITT to Arnold, with almost all of them played by their original actors.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: The characters habit of saving his old junk in "Gather Ye Acorns" ends up benefiting him gracefully by the end.
  • Coincidental Accidental Disguise: "Mummy Daddy". The actor protagonist is in a mummy costume, and there's also a real mummy lurching around.
  • Dead Man Walking: "The Mission". The gunner's bubble won't retract and the landing gear has been destroyed, meaning when the plane lands, it's going to be very messy.
  • Deep South: The movie the actor is making in "Mummy Daddy" is being shot in this reigon.
  • Deus ex Machina: Happens a number of times, but the most extreme example is possibly "The Mission".
  • The Doll Episode: "The Doll". Largely avoids the creepiness common with the trope, though.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: A number of episodes, such as "Gather Ye Acorns." A rather literal example in "Secret Cinema."
  • Hollywood Voodoo: "The Sitter" uses this against her two trouble-making young charges.
  • Losing Your Head: "Go to the Head of the Class" has Sadist Teacher B.O. Beanes, after accidentally being killed, coming back to life with his head separate from his body because the picture used in the resurrection spell got torn in two.
  • Monster is a Mommy: Inverted/parodied in "Mummy Daddy", where an actor trapped in a highly constricting mummy costume frantically attempts to reach the hospital where his wife is giving birth. His task is further complicated by two things: a hostile band of backwoodsmen and a real mummy.
  • Mood Whiplash: As each episode is done very differently this happens often and can catch people off guard. One episode will be whimsical and comedic, then the next will be dark and serious.
  • Mummy: "Mummy Daddy" has a man dressed as a mummy and later features a real mummy who has been kept in a sarcophagus.
  • My Skull Runneth Over: "One for the Books" has a man unwillingly soak up all the knowledge in a university library, during him into rambling distracted mess.
  • Not-So-Phony Psychic: "The Amazing Falsworth" is a play on this, where people believe he's an act but he really can read minds.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • "The Amazing Falsworth" is one big episode of this. Falsworth does his mind-reading act and winds up picking up on the thoughts of a serial killer. Worse, he was blind-folded at the time, so he doesn't know who the killer is.
    • Even through his bandages, the poor actor in "Mummy Daddy" flashes an hilariously epic one after the Shaming the Mob moment listed below.
  • Opposites Attract: "Guilt Trip" has Guilt and Love personified falling in love with each other.
  • Pop Culture Symbology: The episode Go To The Head Of The Class features a necromantic spell hidden on lyrics of Michael Jackson's Thriller - in order to hear it, you need to play an LP of the song backwards.
  • Precision F-Strike: A TV-friendly version. In "Family Dog," the husband blames his wife for buying "cheap damn dog food" which gives the dog gas.
  • The Renaissance Age of Animation: "Family Dog" is noteworthy in that, while the era was already taking effect on feature films (some of which even shared the same producer), this was the first example of high-quality animation created for television.
  • Saving Christmas: "Santa 85" has Santa end up in jail and a boy has to help break him out so he can deliver presents.
  • Shaming the Mob: Subverted in "Mummy Daddy", with a young child saying to the lynch mob that the costumed actor looks like a good mummy, but.. "..we better not take any chances! String 'em up!"
  • Something Completely Different: "Family Dog," an entirely animated episode directed by Brad Bird. On top of being animated, it also has no overt fantasy elements.
  • Spin-Off: Family Dog, although picked up by CBS instead of NBC. The series was notably done without the input of Brad Bird, who intended the original episode to be a stand-alone outing and didn't feel the concept could support a series. (Given its Troubled Production and the fact that CBS sat on the finished episodes for years before burning them off over the course of five weeks during the summer of 1993, he was probably right)
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Family Dog", Ms. Lestrange promises to turn the dog into "a quivering, snarling, white-hot ball of canine terror." Later, when the dog attacks burglars, one exclaims, "He's turned into a quivering, snarling, white-hot ball of canine terror!"
  • Sudden Intelligence/Suddenly Bilingual: "One for the Books" has a man unwillingly get all the knowledge in a library crammed into his head, with this as a result.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night: Summoned by the babysitter in "The Sitter".
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: "Life on Death Row". Thankfully, the inmate gets better with help from the friends he has healed.
  • Trapped in TV Land: A horror movie fan makes the mistake of wishing life were more like the movies in "Welcome to My Nightmare".
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: "Mummy Daddy" is inspired by an incident in which Boris Karlof, in full Frankenstein makeup, had to leave the set of a Frankenstein film when his wife went into labor.
  • Visual Pun: In "Thanksgiving", what's left of Calvin does indeed look like a turkey in silhouette.
  • Why Won't You Die?: The characters in "One for the Road" keep trying to kill the Disposable Vagrant with lots of alcohol, kerosene, and walks in the freezing cold, but he just won't keel over. He never does.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/AmazingStories