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As a kid, I couldn’t wait for each new episode of Stephen Spielberg’s anthology series Amazing Stories. Each week the show would take viewers on a whole new adventure, transporting everyday characters into some fantastical new world and story. It was like a more family friendly Twilight Zone, with the movie magic and wonder of Stephen Spielberg and starring an all-star cast. Today, Apple TV+ kicks off a 5-week reboot of this classic series, this time with longer, hour-long stories. As I checked out today’s premiere, I was instantly transported back 35 years when that familiar theme song started playing.
On the first episode, “The Cellar,” brothers Jake (Micah Stock, The Right Stuff) and Sam (Dylan O’Brien, Teen Wolf, Maze Runner) are restoring an old house from the early 20th century, when something magical occurs. Jake is older and more mature. He’s married, with a newly adopted baby at home, and wants his brother to join his construction business full time. But Sam is a bit more free-spirited. He likes to have fun, flipping through Tinder to find a one-night-stand while at work, and doesn’t really want to settle down or know what he wants to do with his life. While the brothers are doing some demo on the house, Sam discovers a box hidden in the fireplace, containing an old photo of a beautiful woman in a wedding dress and a matchbook with a code word written on the inside. The next day, while they are working on the house, a siren goes off and a major storm quickly moves in. Sam heads down to the storm cellar, where he hears a disorienting, high-pitched buzzing, and then suddenly finds himself transported back in time 100 years. He soon finds himself face to face with Evelyn (Victoria Pedretti, You, The Haunting of Hill House), the woman from the photo, who is holding a shotgun and demanding he leave her home.
After the initial shock and things calm down, Sam learns that Evelyn is unhappy. She has a deep love of music, but her mother (Sasha Alexander, Rizzoli & Isles) doesn’t approve of her spending time on such foolish things. Her family is in danger of losing their home, and so it has been arranged for Evelyn to marry a widower she doesn’t even love. Evelyn doesn’t really have much choice in the matter and is prepared to accept her fate in life. That is, until she starts falling for Sam, who tells her about a future where women can be and do anything they want. Now, they must figure out how to get back to the year 2019, and they only have 10 days until Evelyn is to be married.
It was so great to have this show back on my TV after so many years. I really enjoyed the premiere – it had that same sense of wonder and adventure I remember from the original series. While the show is mostly family friendly, there were a couple of minor bits of dialogue in this episode that may cause parents of younger children to take pause…perhaps it’s a PG-13, but there was nothing too shocking. If this first episode is any indication of the level of production value and story we can expect from the series, it makes me really excited to see what other tales and actors will show up this season.
I’ll also be watching/recording Spenser Confidential and Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector.
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