In 1985, Steven Spielberg backed this TV anthology series. It took its name from the very first SF magazine (which was briefly revived to coincide with the TV show), but have very little in common with that mag. It was almost purely fantasy-oriented, and its real model was the likes of The Twilight Zone (which itself was revived for TV the same year). Spielberg himself directed the pilot, and plenty of other big names singed on as well. So Harvey Keitel stars in an episode directed by…Clint Eastwood, for instance. Other directors of note include Joe Dante and Martin Scorsese.
The results? Entertaining enough, but hardly the masterpiece one might hope for. Take the Dante and Scorsese episodes, for example (“Boo!” and “Mirror, Mirror” respectively). Dante’s is a comic piece about two elderly ghosts trying to frighten and porn star and her husband out of their house. The story is mildly amusing, but there is very little of the manic energy and invention of Dante’s Gremlin movies or, for that matter, his segment of the Twilight Zone movie. “Mirror, Mirror” not only has Sam Waterston and Tim Robbins in the cast, this is Scorsese doing supernatural horror! But though there are some sharply edited moments, the script is very pedestrian, and there really isn’t anything to shout about here. In other words, the limitations of 80’s network TV cast a heavy, bland hand over the series, preventing it from being truly Amazing. It would pass from the scene in 1987.
The audio is 5.1, and the result is as mixed as the quality of the episodes. In some cases, one has to wonder how, exactly, the sound qualifies as 5.1. Returning to the earlier examples, “Boo!” is a case in point: nary a peep emerges from the rear speakers, though the sound is clear enough. “Mirror, Mirror,” on the other hand, is a much more successful case. Now there is a properly immersive environment, certainly by TV standards anyway. So expect minimal distortion, but don’t expect to be surrounded by sound.
Essentially the same qualities as the sound: acceptable, but not amazing. The quality is more consistent, however. The colours are solid, if not hugely strong. The blacks are good. There is a bit of grain, but it isn’t bad. The sharpness is exactly what you would have seen on the air in 1985. Not a jot worse than its original broadcast. But no better, either.
Nothing here but a bunch of deleted scenes, attached to their respective episodes. I might also add that the packaging is a bit awkward, with the discs tending to fall out of their positions.
Valuable for those nostalgic for the 80’s, and certainly interesting, but hardly groundbreaking.
Special Features List
- Deleted Scenes