We’ve got a vested interest in this new streaming service owing to the fact that we’ve licensed the name Amazing Stories to NBC/Universal and, through a production deal, to Apple.
The Spielberg Executive Produced re-boot of the 80s television series was largely touted as a flagship show for the new service during early promotional efforts and then faded somewhat as “something” led to its not being ready in time for Apple’s announced launch date (apparently the fate of several other shows. It is also possible that it has, along with those other shows, been reserved for some kind of follow-on promotional push for the service, perhaps awaiting a Super Bowl commercial moment in February…).
Recent events, such as formal listing on IMDB (here), however, give the re-boot much needed solidity. We’ve even managed to ferret out the plots for two of the six (so far) planned episodes (summaries at the end of this piece).
So we watch with interest as the service develops, promotions promote and, finally, as of yesterday, the service is unveiled. We’ll reserve our own critiques for a more appropriate time. Meanwhile, here’s a round up of what others are saying across the web:
“The new streaming service opens with just nine TV shows and films: four live-action scripted series, three kids’ shows, a nature documentary and a revival of Oprah’s famed book club. The series are all quite different, spanning multiple genres and styles, but they have the uniting factor of being rather bland and generic, without much vitality, save one potential gem. Apple may expect viewers to love the series simply because they come from a storied brand, but, like the company’s much-derided stylus pen, not everything the company makes is perfectly designed.”
A summary of their reviews of the individual shows states that they range from “…the truly terrible to the pretty good.”
“Apple TV+ is basically just exclusive content with the power of major celebrities and creatives, like Oprah and Steven Spielberg, behind it.
After spending several hours with it, the best I can say is that Apple TV+ is… fine?”
“It’s here: With Apple TV+ set to debut Friday, November 1, the streaming service kicked off premiere week by lifting the review embargo on its four most-anticipated original series. But rather than cheers and confetti, “The Morning Show”, “Dickinson,” and “For All Mankind” were met with a collective shrug.”
“They [TV shows] have to be entertaining, informative, or they just have to be good. That early reviews say they aren’t is a ding on the nascent service.”
“So is it worth it? That’s obviously a personal call, but for my (literal) money, I decided it was. I don’t love any of the new shows, but I like them all and I’m looking forward to watching them.”
“Unless you’re getting it for free, there’s no reason to subscribe out of the gate.”
“…at the moment, the problem with Apple’s offerings is that they don’t feel like theft; they feel like copycat programs—like focus-grouped market responses done as HBO pastiche.”
…” In fairness, For All Mankind, an alternate history about a never-ending space race, is more in the mold of a stale CBS drama.”
“Each of these shows is meant to make you want to spend $5 per month on yet another streaming service. So far, none of them is worth the money. But one might be worth a one-month free trial that you may or may not forget to cancel.”
“After six months of buildup, opening Apple TV+ this morning felt like unwrapping socks on your birthday.”
“In September, we pulled the Rotten Tomatoes scores for every original streaming service title to find out which one had the best original content. It turns out that Apple TV+ would rank dead last (with the caveat that it’s an extremely small sample size).”
CNET offers a very comprehensive roundup of the service and the shows, they’ve been following developments from the first announcement. Of particular interest is this:
“That one-free-year deal, though, has some. Your service is set to automatically renew at the end of the free year. If you cancel it before the end of that term, the service will shut off immediately and cannot be reinstated. You must wait until the day before the deal runs out to cancel or you forfeit any remaining free viewing time.”
Here is where you can read Apple’s own description of both their current and up-coming shows.
There are reviews of the individual shows, two of which are of particular interest to genre fans – For All Mankind – the alternate history take on the space race, where the USSR makes the first landing on the Moon. (The description alone bothers me if only because it presents the US as doing nothing but playing the Soviety game. Kennedy introduced the Moon Shot as a way to get out of playing copycat to the Reds. The show’s description has NASA (at least not yet) continually trailing and copying the Soviets, rather than declaring a Mars Shot. Maybe it will be in there in future episodes, but for now its absence rankles.) And See, which, from the descriptions, is apparently a far-future apocalyptic sequel to Day of the Triffids. Everyone has gone blind, civilization has collapsed and all anyone seems to want to do is engage in epic hand-to-hand blind combat.
Like everyone else, we’ll “wait and See”….
Amazing Stories was originally scheduled for ten episodes, then subsequently dropped to six. On the other hand, the newly minted IMDB listing for the show (referenced above) catalogs ten episodes, albeit only six have titles and any additional information such as the episode’s director, or writer and/or cast.
Research has uncovered the plot summary for two of the six titled episodes, while the casting for one other strongly hints at the subject. Forthwith, two plot summaries and a speculation:
The very first Episode, The Rift: “The Rift tells the story of a single mother and her son whose lives change forever after witnessing a WWII fighter pilot from 1941 crash land in present-day Kansas. They find themselves drawn into the work of Section 47, a secret government organization responsible for responding to Rifts that open in space and time.” The episode is based on a comic of the same name. The episode summary is provided by Comixology.
The third episode – Dynoman and the Volt: According to Deadline, one of the leads, Robert Forster, died shortly after filming this episode and the show will be paying tribute in the titles. In additional coverage, they state that the episode “Dynoman and The Volt is about an awkward tween boy and his grandpa (Forster) who wrestle with feeling powerless. When a superhero ring Grandpa ordered out of the back of a comic book arrives 50 years late, they discover it has the power to turn them into actual superheroes.”
Another episode, The Heat (#6) must involve some kind of sports metaphor and probably a play on words that juxtaposes a race “heat” with the old but fairly common nickname for police, as the characters are named – Officer McPhereson, Timer, Team Medic, Spectator, etc. The cast is entirely people of color as well, suggesting there might be commentary along Black Lives Matter lines.