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Amazing Stories: Five Essential Episodes From the Original Series

Get ready for Apple's revival by streaming these classic episodes today.
  • Amazing Stories (NBC)
    Amazing Stories (NBC)

    Although it only lasted two seasons, Amazing Stories remains one of TV's most well-known anthology series. Created by Steven Spielberg back in 1985, many of the show's episodes were directed by notable filmmakers, and most starred at least one recognizable actor. Despite the level of creative talent involved, it wasn’t a ratings performer during its initial run, leading to its cancellation in April of 1987.

    Since getting axed by NBC, the series has taken on cult status among genre fans and TV aficionados. Now, over thirty years after its cancellation, Steven Spielberg and Apple TV+ are bringing Amazing Stories back for a new season, which is set to debut on the streaming service this week.

    For anyone curious to check out what the original was like before watching the reboot, here are five of the very best Amazing Stories episodes from the first two seasons, each available online for free streaming:

    “Ghost Train”

    Original airdate: 9/29/85
    Where to stream: NBC.com

    This episode falls very much in line with Spielberg’s other work in the 80s, which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as the filmmaker both wrote and directed it. Offering a unique take on a ghost story, the episode follows an old man (Home Alone's Roberts Blossom) who becomes convinced the train he accidentally caused to derail 75 years ago will be coming back through time to crash through his grandson’s home. It reaches for the same sense of wonder of so many of Spielberg’s films, albeit on a much smaller scale, and it does a pretty good job accomplishing that goal. As the series' pilot episode, it makes for a great introduction to the kind of storytelling that Amazing Stories specialized in.

    “Go to the Head of the Class”

    Original airdate: 11/21/86
    Where to stream: Dailymotion

    This unique installment is a comedic horror story starring Christopher Lloyd and directed by Robert Zemeckis (both fresh off Back to the Future), and co-written by Mick Garris, Tom McLoughlin, and Bob Gale. It follows two students who cast a spell on their sadistic English teacher, only to reverse the effects of the spell with terrifying consequences for all involved. “Go to the Head of the Class” is possibly the craziest episode that Amazing Stories ever attempted, but thanks to the stellar creative team, it works. Once you see it, you'll never forget it.

    “Family Dog”

    Original airdate: 2/16/87
    Where to stream: Dailymotion

    Long before he directed the animated feature films The Iron Giant, The Incredibles 1 & 2, and Ratatouille, Brad Bird made his directorial debut with 1987's “Family Dog,” the only animated Amazing Stories episode. Written and directed by Bird, the episode is split into three segments, each of which follows the misadventures of a suburban family’s dog. The episode later spawned a Family Dog series, which aired 10 episodes on CBS during the summer of 1993. Don’t let the spinoff’s short run deter you though, as Bird’s original Amazing Stories episode is still an enjoyably clever animated short in its own right.

    “Mirror, Mirror”

    Original airdate: 3/9/86
    Where to stream: NBC.com

    One of Amazing Stories’ more chilling installments, “Mirror, Mirror” follows an egotistical horror novelist who is terrorized by a mysterious hooded figure every time he looks into a mirror. This memorable episode not only features performances by Sam Waterston and Tim Robbins, it was directed by none other than Martin Scorsese, which helps to explain both the legitimately creepy mood and the sustained tension. Definitely one of Amazing Stories’ most effective efforts.

    “The Mission”

    Kevin Costner in Amazing Stories. (Photo: NBC)

    Original airdate: 11/3/85
    Where to stream: NBC.com

    A routine World War II mission takes a deadly turn for the crew of a bomber when their plane loses its landing gear. Directed by Steven Spielberg, this 45-minute episode is perhaps the most cinematic of any Amazing Stories outing, and features a few familiar faces in its cast, including Kevin Costner and Kiefer Sutherland. For fans of the series, it’s widely considered one of its best and most ambitious episodes, and is a great example of how the show sought to combine human stories with some truly fantastical elements.

    The Amazing Stories revival premieres this Friday, March 6th on Apple TV+.  

    Alex Welch has written about television and film for TV by the Numbers, IGN, The Berrics, Paste Magazine, Screen Rant and GeekNation. Follow him on Twitter @alexrwelch.

    TOPICS: Amazing Stories, Apple TV+, NBC, Steven Spielberg