Saturday, 24 October 2015

NBC's AMAZING STORIES returning with HANNIBAL's Bryan Fuller in charge

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Do you remember the anthology drama AMAZING STORIES that ran from 1985-87, executive produced by Steven Spielberg? It was the E.T generation's Twilight Zone, basically. Only 45 episodes were made before NBC cancelled it after two seasons, but during that time it earned 12 Emmy nominations and won 5. Well, it's coming back! And this time with Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) replacing Spielberg as head honcho.

This marks a continued resurgence of the anthology format on television, following the likes of American Horror Story, Fargo and True Detective. But while those shows stick to seasonal shake-ups, Amazing Stories' return is more inspired by the success of Channel 4's Black Mirror for Netflix—a show that Netflix have now bankrolled for a 12-episode run next year.

Amazing Stories won't be as bleak as Black Mirror (clue's in the title), but with Fuller involved I'm intrigued to know what the tone will be. Spielberg had a very specific '80s-ness that he brought to the table—in an era that gave us stuff like Gremlins, Back to the Future, and *batteries not included (which started life as an Amazing Stories pitch). Fuller can run the gamut from syrupy fairy tale to nightmarish operatic drama, so hopefully the stories will reflect that in some way.

And who will direct and write the episodes? Amazing Stories was famous for getting big names involved, like Peter Hyams, Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Joe Dante, Martin Scorsese, Irvin Kershner, Danny DeVito, Kevin Reynolds, Tom Holland, Robert Zemeckis, Mick Garris, Richard Matheson and Tobe Hooper. It was also an early proving ground for the likes of Brad Bird (The Iron Giant), Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men), and Rockne S. O'Bannon (Farscape).

Interestingly, Todd Holland—who wrote and directed "Welcome to My Nightmare", and directed "Thanksgiving" in season 2—co-created Wonderfalls with Bryan Fuller many years later. Will Fuller give him a call?

Anyway, this is very exciting news. I love the anthology format for sci-fi, horror and fantasy stories. Too many modern shows take a routine high-concept idea and use it as the basis for 100 episodes of what's an otherwise dull cop show. It's about time we got some stories that just made a big weekly impact, and a show that has that 'you-don't-know-what-you're-gonna-get-next' feeling about it.

Do you have any favourite Amazing Stories to share? I love season 1's "The Mission" about the crew of a WWII bomber in dire straits in the sky, although its ludicrous twist-ending makes me cringe.

I also really enjoyed "Go to the Head of the Class" with Christopher Lloyd, about a school kid who uses black magic on his teacher. That's a great one for Halloween.

How about you?