Steven Spielberg’s mid-’80s TV series Amazing Stories may be, as MCA/Universal Home Video claims, one of the most requested titles in its vaults, but it’s sure hard to imagine why. For all the high-priced talent the Spielberg imprimatur was able to attract to the show, it often seemed both knowing and stupid, an odd hat trick exemplified by this new tape’s lead episode, Go to the Head of the Class, directed by Back to the Future-meister Robert Zemeckis. The story is simple: Teens put a curse on a hated English teacher, courtesy of a backwards-masked incantation on a heavy-metal album; when they try to lift the curse, they don’t quite get it right. But the script takes forever to get where it’s going, then flaunts a ”surprise” ending that makes no sense.
Fortunately, the second episode — Family Dog, an animated sitcom designed by Tim Burton (Batman) and directed by Brad Bird — is far better. In fact, it’s one of Amazing Stories’ rare unequivocal successes. Visually imaginative and very, very funny, it is the story of a suburban burglary told from a pet’s-eye view. This darker and more mordant version of The Simpsons should prove to be a heck of a series when — and if — it makes its long-awaited, long-delayed network debut. In the meantime, the cartoon pooch will have to share space on this tape with a dog of a different breed. B