Apple’s Amazing Stories offers subscribers a family-friendly Twilight Zone

Victoria Pedretti and Dylan O’Brien in “Amazing Stories,” now streaming on Apple TV+.
Victoria Pedretti and Dylan O’Brien in “Amazing Stories,” now streaming on Apple TV+. /

Apple TV+’s revival of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories presents audiences with a family-friendly version of The Twilight Zone.

When it comes to telling strangely entertaining tales, the anthology series game seems to be all the rage these days. From FX’s American Horror Story to AMC’s The Terror, everyone seems to be getting in on the action of giving audiences basically a brand new show every season.

Then there are the shows that simply outdo themselves with providing different narratives every episode. Netflix’s Black Mirror, CBS All Access’ The Twilight Zone, and Amazon Prime’s Philip K. Dick’s Exotic Dreams all offer thought-provoking storylines that will send chills down your spine.

For those who find these programs to be too rich for their blood and would rather not sleep with the lights on, Apple TV+ is bringing an ’80s classic back from the dead that will provide viewers of all ages with some truly amazing stories.

Amazing Stories starts things off light with a touching time travel story filled with romance and a very poignant message for today’s society. Most shows try to go too big right out of the gate, but it’s clear from the Steven Spielberg reinvention that they have a lot more in store for audiences throughout the first season.

The Apple anthology series premiere is called “The Cellar” and is written by American Horror Story’s Jessica Sharzer and directed by The American’s Chris Long. The episode stars American Assassin and Maze Runner star Dylan O’Brien as Sam, a guy who doesn’t like to commit to anything from the girls he meets on dating apps to the job he does with his brother restoring old houses. On one assignment, he finds a portal to the past via a barometer. This gateway, however, only opens under certain conditions like during a thunderstorm

In the past, he meets Evelyn, played by The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti. She has a love for music and dreams of singing on stage, but because it’s 1919, she’s only allowed to get married and have children. It’s an interesting dichotomy between the two that adds value to the episode’s overall message. The person from the future has too many choices, so he never holds on to anything. The woman from the past has too little choices — what she does have to hold on to simply isn’t enough.

The two fall in love and plan to travel to the future together, but in their attempts, they get separated. Then Sam attempts to get back to Evelyn.

If you don’t want spoilers, you may want to skip the next paragraph!

After a series of mishaps and wrong directions, Sam ends up in the past, and Evelyn makes it to the future. The twist ending is both heart-wrenching and eye-opening. Sam needs to minimize the choices in his life, so he remains in 1919 while Evelyn needs to expand hers, which she has a much better chance of doing in 2020. Not everything happens the way we think it should, but if you can find a way to be happy, don’t hesitate to take that first step down whatever unorthodox path that journey will take you.

While the competitors’ shows utilize a much darker tone and are crafted for a more mature audience, the streaming service decided to go a different route and offer its subscribers the same experience but in a family-friendly manner. This feels like a smart move on Apple’s part as the playing field for dark-themed stories is pretty overcrowded at this point. Opting to be the show that the whole family can enjoy together will definitely resonate well with Apple TV+’s rather impressive number of subscribers.

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It will be interesting to see how the rest of the series plays out and if each additional entry can live up to its name. If this first installment is any indication of what the show has in store, fans won’t want to miss a second of any of the Amazing Stories Speilberg and company have to tell for Apple TV+.