Amazing Stories – tape 410

Here’s the answer to the trivia question ‘When did Steven Spielberg direct Kevin Costner’?

After a brief BBC2 introduction to a Frankenstein movie, recording switches almost immediately with the end of Disney Time. Remember that? When Disney movies were so rarely released that it was special to get a programme of clips from them every holiday.

Then a trailer for Perry Mason – The Case of the Musical Murder.

Then, the first episode in Steven Spielberg’s anthology series Amazing Stories, which opens with a very early CGI title sequence.

Amazing Stories Knight

The first episode is The Mission in which Kevin Costner captains a heavy bomber which is badly damaged during fighting and its wheels won’t deploy – while the man in the belly gun is trapped and can’t get out, and will be killed if they land without landing gear. It’s directed by Spielberg himself, and it not a little schmaltzy.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 19th April 1992 – 17:30

Next episode is Ghost Train. Roberts Blossom plays an old man who’s taken to the new house of his daugher and son-in-law, and he’s rather upset that the house is built on the location of an infamous train crash many years ago. This episode is also directed by Steven Spielberg.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th April 1992 – 16:25

The next episode is Fine Tuning, and this one is directed by Bob Balaban, who played the interpreter in Close Encounters. Matthew Laborteaux, off of the seminal TV series Whiz Kids, stars as a young boy trying to make a more efficient TV antenna.

Matthew Laborteaux

He manages to pick up signals from a planet ten light years away, whose TV consists of their versions of all the old American TV shows like I Love Lucy. Then they send three of their race to Earth to bring back some of the old stars.

They try recruiting Milton Berle, but he’s not interested, then the round up a lot of old vaudeville acts, and we’re treated to five minutes of old vaudeville acts entertaining some unconvincing aliens. But their spaceship is pretty.

Aliens in Hollywood

BBC Genome: BBC One – 3rd May 1992 – 17:25

The Main Attraction is next, written by Brad Bird (The Incredibles) and Mick Garris (loads of not brilliant Stephen King adaptations) and directed by Matthew Robbins (Dragonslayer).

An obnoxious jock becomes magnetised when a meteor hits his bedroom. This is pretty awful, and the climax revolves around how awful it would be if this jock was magnetically attracted to the ‘ugly girl’ of the school. Nasty.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 10th May 1992 – 17:15

The Greibble is directed by Joe Dante, so I hope for a little better. Hayley Mills is a mother who throws out some of her son’s old children’s books, and is then visited by one of them, The Greibble of the title.

The Greibble

Dante aficionados will recognise the work of Rob Bottin there.

It’s a Joe Dante film, so sure enough, here’s Dick Miller.

Dick Miller in The Greibble

BBC Genome: BBC One – 24th May 1992 – 16:55

Before the next episode, a trailer for Sunday Night.

Then, the last episode on this tape, Alamo Jobe. Directed by Michael Moore, but not the Michael Moore of Farenheit 9/11 fame but the veteran assistant director on many Spielberg movies.

A young boy fighting at the Alamo keeps seeing strange things – tourists walking around, and a gift shop.

Alamo Jobe

The music for this episode is by James Horner.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 31st May 1992 – 16:55

After this, there’s a trailer for Airplane. And for Boys from the Bush. Then the recording ends.

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5 comments

  1. “Ghost Train” was actually the first episode – I guess BBC1 wanted to kick the series off with a bang. If you or anyone managed to record the whole run over the Beeb sending it all over the schedules, congrats.

    Why mention James Horner and not the other allstars on musical duty? John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Danny Elfman, David Shire, Georges Delerue, David and Thomas Newman, Alan Silvestri, Bruce Broughton, Leonard Rosenman… most impressive composer lineup for any series ever.

    1. I don’t know why I particularly singled out Horner, except that his score was extremely Horneresque. It was a stellar set of composers – which shows Spielberg’s clout. It’s just a shame the resulting shows weren’t a bit better.

      1. Agreed (“Mirror, Mirror” was dreadful, and “Go To The Head Of The Class” is Robert Zemeckis’ low point as a director). It did get Clint Eastwood to step WAY out of his comfort zone for “Vanessa In The Garden,” however (historical romance! Harvey Keitel as a painter!), so that’s no bad thing.

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