Acting as a spiritual reboot for the series of the same name from the 80’s, Amazing Stories fails to live up to its premise. More “Enjoyably-Forgettable Stories” than amazing, Apple TV+’s anthology squanders its potential with five tales that feel like throwbacks to a bygone era. While there’s nothing wrong with that of course, in this golden age of television and with so much choice on the small screen, the series feels formulaic and slightly lackadaisical with its writing, despite its lavish production budget.
To be fair to Amazing Stories, a couple of the tales are decent enough to sit through and enjoy but whether you’ll ever return to this one in the future, remains to be seen. With tales surrounding time travel, superheroes and a displaced World War II pilot, most of the stories set up intriguing enough hooks before quickly descending and relying on deus ex machina to resolve any conflict. Episode 2 is a particularly bad example of this, with one of the oldest tropes in the book being used to resolve its tale. Given the negative reaction to this episode, it certainly didn’t go down well with audiences.
With Steven Spielberg acting as the executive producer on this one and lots of money poured in from the behemoths at Apple, Amazing Stories could have been great. There are glimmers of that familiar Spielberg magic here, with some lovely wondrous scenes and heartwarming messages, but these moments are infrequent and too infrequent. The first episode is solid enough, while a couple of the others do well to stand out at key moments as well, but beyond that there just isn’t enough here to make for a compelling and wholly satisfying anthology series.
Given the fleeting five-episode run, whether Apple will renew this one for a second season or not remains to be seen. There’s no denying that the cinematography and production design in this one are both good but it’s not enough to save the stale and sometimes formulaic writing. If this was released back in the 90’s, it could have been a smash success. This series highlights the quality we’re spoilt by right now and with so many options out there, Amazing Stories is amazingly mediocre by comparison.
While there are a few episodes worth diving into and exploring to kill some time, Amazing Stories is not a must-watch, nor does it have enough pizzazz to stick with you long after you’ve watched. If you’ve exhausted the other options on Apple TV+ or fancy killing an hour or two then Amazing Stories is worth checking out for production-design alone, but beyond that there just isn’t enough here to justify the time investment.
Verdict - 5/10