The re-emergence of a nostalgic and well defined brand is always very tricky. Very few reboots or sequels in any way, shape or form can pull it off. The only one that comes to mind in recent memory is “Blade Runner 2049” which tends to get better with each subsequent viewing. The newest addition to this pantheon (dependent if it can sustain) is the Apple TV+ restarting or restoration of the brand of “Amazing Stories”. With Steven Spielberg involved and some former X-Files exec producers, it could have gone many different ways depending how they launched. The first episode is a simple story but updated for modern times but it understands exactly what “Amazing Stories” is about: awe, heart and dreams. Though it takes a couple minutes to get going, once it grabs hold, it is phenomenal. It feels like the 80s series but with everything we have today. It is hard to describe at times but even the opening credits set to the same original music just thrills. “Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access tried but it didn’t catch on. Maybe it will soon. But something was missing from that iteration. That is not the case. At least for this first episode.
This first episode, entitled “The Cellar” is both heartbreaking and yet a genre piece. A love story yet an adventure. It doesn’t need to explain everything and yet it shows the viewer everything they need to see and know. “Modern Love” did this to a point with Amazon but it came and went with certain episodes. With this kind of beautiful and lingering piece out of the box, here’s hoping “Amazing Stories” in its new form knows how to maintain. This reviewer doesn’t want to give any of the story away lest it be ruined but everything seems to work effortlessly. Casting of the episode is exactly right at the beginning even if you don’t know it. The scenes, especially in a certain club or sorts, is perfectly balanced. It is not overdone with effects or camera tricks. It is simple story with flourishes at certain points but, in no way, overdone. And at an hour long, this reviewer was worried the story would drag. It did not. “The Cellar” points to the basis of the story but it revolves in a different circle. For a return to form, this new “Amazing Stories” is just what is needed.
By Tim Wassberg