Continuing on with our essay, we present – Anthology Television Series Shows – A Study of TV’s Best – Part 2. If you missed the first part you can access Anthology Television Series Shows – A Study of TV’s Best – Part 1 directly here.
DARKROOM aired from 1981 to 1982, each hour-long episode featuring two or more stories of varying length hosted by actor James Coburn. Starring Steve Allen, David Carradine, Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs, June Lockhart and Esther Rolle, in stories of suspense and terror which characterised the short-run series: An imaginative teenager suspects that her sister’s handsome boyfriend is a vampire; A Vietnam veteran gives his son an army of toy soldiers only to have them come to life and attack him; A ruthless young hoodlum finds himself stalked by an eerie black cat; A French rogue tries to escape the guillotine with an ingenious plot to execute the executioner.
FAERIE TALE THEATRE retold popular fairy tales, produced and narrated by actress Shelley Duvall from 1982 to 1987, featuring very well-known actors and directors who gave their awesome talents to create this unforgettable series. Every episode opens with Shelley Duvall introducing herself and provide a brief synopsis of the story that would follow. All the episodes are directed by such diverse filmmakers as Tim Burton, Francis Ford Coppola, Eric Idle, Peter Medak, Nicholas Meyer and Roger Vadim, and each episode was inspired by specific artists including Jean Cocteau, Maxfield Parrish, Arthur Rackham and Norman Rockwell.
The truly amazing cast included Nancy Allen, Eve Arden, Alan Arkin, Rene Auberjonois, Ellen Barkin, Jennifer Beals, Ned Beatty, Ed Begley Junior, James Belushi, Karen Black, Jeff Bridges, Matthew Broderick, Art Carney, Robert Carradine, Dennis Christopher, Candy Clark, James Coburn, Joan Collins, Tom Conti, Tim Conway, Sofia Coppola, Bud Cort, Billy Crystal, Timothy Dalton, Beverly D’Angelo, Pam Dawber, Brian Dennehy, Roy Dotrice, Paul Dooley, Carrie Fisher, Stephen Furst, Teri Garr, Jeff Goldblum. Elliott Gould, Jerry Hall, Katherine Helmond, David Hemmings, Barbara Hershey, Howard Hesseman, Anjelica Huston, Mick Jagger, James Earl Jones, Alex Karras, William Katt, Carol Kane, Sally Kellerman, Lance Kerwin, Klaus Kinski, Diane Ladd, Maurice LaMarche, Christopher Lee, Richard Libertini, John Lithgow, Keye Luke, Peter MacNicol, Mako, Howie Mandel, Roddy McDowall, Malcolm McDowell, Burgess Meredith, Liza Minelli, Helen Mirren, Laraine Newman, Leonard Nimoy, Edward James Olmos, Tatum O’Neal, Chris Penn, Valerie Perrine, Bernadette Peters, Brock Peters, Vincent Price, Vanessa Redgrave, Christopher Reeve, Carl Reiner, Lee Remick, Paul Reubens, Clive Revill, Michael Richards, Doris Roberts, Susan Sarandon, Vincent Schiavelli, Ricky Schroder, John Schuck, Dick Shawn, Talia Shire, Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Steenburgen, Ben Vereen, John Vernon, Herve Villechaize, David Warner, Peter Weller, Fred Willard, Robin Williams, Treat Williams, Mary Woronov and Frank Zappa! Whew!
THE HITCHHIKER aired from 1983 to 1991, each episode introduced by a mysterious wanderer known only as ‘The Hitchhiker’ and explored the foibles of humanity and its dark spirit. The title character was played by Nicholas Campbell in the first three episodes, then by Page Fletcher for the eighty-two remaining episodes. Some of the more interesting appearances include Kirstie Alley, Sandra Bernhard, Karen Black, Timothy Bottoms, Gary Busey, Robert Carradine, Peter Coyote, Willem Dafoe, Joe Dallesandro, Brad Dourif, Louise Fletcher, John Glover, Elliott Gould, Bruce Greenwood, C. Thomas Howell, Helen Hunt, Margot Kidder, Klaus Kinski, Lorenzo Lamas, Michael Madsen, Virginia Madsen, Darren McGavin, Franco Nero, Jerry Orbach, Geraldine Page, Joe Pantoliano, Bill Paxton, James Remar, Gene Simmons, Tom Skerritt, Robert Vaughn and Fred Ward.
Produced by Night Of The Living Dead (1968) director George Romero, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE was a stylish if rather low-budget anthology of horror stories – many with an O. Henry-style surprise ending – which aired from 1984 to 1988. Performers were generally lesser-knowns and veteran character actors, among them Harry Anderson, Justine Bateman, Eddie Bracken, Peggy Cass, Phyllis Diller, Bill Macy, Jean Marsh, Darren McGavin, Christian Slater, Brent Spiner, Arnold Stang, Connie Stevens, Fritz Weaver and Keenan Wynn.
Two decades after the original ALFRED HITCHCOCK PRESENTS left the air – and five years after Hitchcock’s death – the famous director achieved another unique distinction: He was the first person in history to return from the dead to host a brand new television series. You see, his original black-and-white introductions were colourised and used to introduce new episodes, some were new stories while others were remakes of original scripts. Hitchcock’s black humour is even more eerie being, as it were, from beyond the grave. It was the sort of macabre touch that I’m sure the filmmaker would’ve enjoyed. Following a one-year run, additional episodes were filmed in 1987 and the last episodes were broadcast in 1988.
AMAZING STORIES ran from 1985 to 1987, producer Steven Spielberg’s first foray in the television industry since the early seventies. As a child, Spielberg was a fan of such television anthologies as The Outer Limits, One Step Beyond and The Twilight Zone. He began his career at twenty-one years of age directing the pilot for Rod Serling’s NIGHT GALLERY, and gained attention for his unusual made-for-television movie Duel (1971). Then he moved on to the big screen to create such monster hits as Jaws (1975), Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (1977), Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981) and E.T: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982).
In 1985 he was lured back to television to produce a series that was supposed to mark the revival of the kind of short-story anthologies he had loved as a child. It didn’t, but during its two-year run, Amazing Stories did provide innovative, sometimes scary, sometimes whimsical, little films from some of Hollywood’s leading talents, people who otherwise had little to do with television. Episode directors include Paul Bartel, Tim Burton, Clint Eastwood, Burt Reynolds, Martin Scorsese and Spielberg himself, and guest stars include Drew Barrymore, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, David Carradine, Kevin Costner, Charles Durning, Stan Freberg, Mark Hamill, Harvey Keitel, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, Sondra Locke, Dick Shawn, Charlie Sheen, Sam Waterston and Weird ‘Al’ Yankovic. Featuring a wide variety of subject matter, the American networks screened the episodes accordingly at various times of the day: Family Dog early on a Sunday morning, Such Interesting Neighbours in the early evening, and Mirror Mirror in a late-night slot. Idiots.
What’s in a name? Everything, as far as the revival of THE TWILIGHT ZONE is concerned. In 1985, following the release of the theatrical film, The Twilight Zone returned to television. It had been two decades since the original had left the air, and a decade since the passing of it driving creative force, Rod Serling. The new version ran in an hour-long format with two or three stories of varying length in each episode. It still had the same mix of science fiction, fantasy, horror and whimsy, but it was definitely a different show. It was now in colour, the special effects were more elaborate and, although some of the original scripts were remade – The After Hours, Dead Man’s Shoes, Night Of The Meek, Shadow Play – most of the stories were new, supplied by Greg Bear, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Stephen King and Robert McKimmon.
It became the top-rated show in its time-slot for the first five weeks, but never achieved the heights of critical acclaim reached by Serling’s original but, while it lacks his cohesive presence, it’s not all that bad either. Some stories are excellent, and most are a sight more entertaining than today’s prime-time television. Many of the industry’s top names brought their talents to bear. Actors include Ralph Bellamy, Elliot Gould, Danny Kaye, Martin Landau, Richard Mulligan, Tom Skerritt and Bruce Willis, while Joe Dante, William Friedkin and John Milius were among the directors. Producers were convinced that they were making all the right decisions, but ratings began to slide as the novelty of the show wore off. Producer Alan Brennert said “You have not known humiliation until you have been beaten by Webster and Mr. Belvedere.” There was a minor furor when science fiction author Harlan Ellison, who had been serving as creative consultant, left the series in a dispute with the network over the content of a Christmas episode. When it went into syndication in 1987 as a half-hour series, thirty first-run episodes were added to the ones that had already aired, and Robin Ward replaced Charles Aidman as the narrator of the syndicated episodes.
WORLDS BEYOND, a British paranormal anthology series, was broadcast from 1986 to 1988 and only lasted thirteen episodes. Scripted by the prolific Brian Clemens, the stories were based on real-life experiences described in archival documents from the Society For Psychical Research. An accompanying book by Ian Wilson (Weidenfield & Nicholson 1986) detailed the factual background of the cases. Directors for the series included Sue Butterworth, John Cooper, Adrian Cooper, Robert Fuest, John Jacobs, Bob McIntosh and Chris Menaul, and starred Terence Alexander, Connie Booth, Judy Bowker, Warren Clarke, Denholm Elliott, James Hazeldine, John Nettleton and others.
LA HORA MARCADA was a 1986 Mexican anthology famous for its horror and science fiction themes. Although virtually unknown outside the country, it achieved a popular and critical success in Mexico due to its rotation of regular writers and directors including Alfonso Cuardon, Guillermo Del Toro and Emmanuel Lubezki.
FREDDY’S NIGHTMARES, subtitled A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET THE SERIES, aired from 1988 to 1990. Each story was introduced by Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, whose origins are revealed in the pilot episode directed by Tobe Hooper. The mythical town of Springwood was the setting for this unusual anthology. Each episode featured people, both naughty and nice, who were suffering nightmares in which they die horrible deaths. Unfortunately for them, all too often their nightmares came true. One thing that set Freddy’s Nightmares apart from similar anthologies was that most of the episodes were structured as two-part stories, in which one of the survivors of the first part becomes a victim in the second part. During the first season the featured performers were primarily young and unknown, but some familiar faces showed up in the following year, like Mary Crosby, Tony Dow, David L. Lander and Sheree North.
MONSTERS ran from 1988 to 1991, an all-horror follow-up to TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE. While the latter dabbled in science fiction and fantasy, Monsters was strictly horror. As the title implies, each episode featured a different monster, whether it be weapon-wielding mutated lab rats, or an animatronic puppet with a life of its own. Like Tales From The Darkside, however, Monsters often contained an ironic twist in which a character’s conceit or greed would do them in, often with gruesome results. In both series there was a sense of humour intended to deceptively lighten the mood, and adds to the overall eeriness of the production. Although the performers were not generally well-known, a few familiar actors were seen, including Adrienne Barbeau, Linda Blair, Tempestt Bledsoe, Alex Cord, Robert Lansing, Meat Loaf, David McCallum and Laraine Newman.
“I never know where the next story will take me. The trip, exactly one half exhilaration, exactly one half terror.” THE RAY BRADBURY THEATRE ran for six seasons from 1985 to 1992. In a medium devoted to hooking the mass audience, series of this nature have generally been considered too downbeat to pull enough votes in the ratings campaigns. All sixty-five episodes were scripted by author Ray Bradbury based on his own stories, including Banshee, The Fruit At The Bottom Of The Bowl, Here There Be Tygers, The Jar, The Long Rain, Marionettes Inc, Mars Is Heaven, The Pedestrian, The Playground, The Small Assassin, A Sound Of Thunder, Sun And Shadow, The Toynbee Convector, Usher II and The Veldt. Actors included Drew Barrymore, James Coco, Cyril Cusak, Denholm Elliott, Jeff Goldblum, Roy Kinnear, Ronald Lacey, Leslie Nielsen, Dan O’Herlihy, Peter O’Toole, Donald Pleasance, William Shatner and Charles Martin Smith.
“When people told themselves their past with stories, explained their present with stories, foretold the future with stories, the best place by the fire was kept for THE STORYTELLER.” The Storyteller was a British-American co-production created by Jim Henson which aired in 1988 retelling various European folk tales, particularly ones considered obscure in modern Western culture, created with a combination of actors and puppets. The framing device had an old storyteller played by John Hurt sitting by a fire telling each tale to both the viewers and to his talking dog – a realistic-looking puppet performed and voiced by Brian Henson – who acted as the voice of the viewers, and was written in a language and traditional style in keeping with old folk tales. Nine stories were shown in this series, which was followed a few years later by Jim Henson’s THE STORYTELLER: GREEK MYTHS. The series featured some of Britain’s finest actors of the time and some who would propel themselves into the international limelight within the next few years: Gabrielle Anwar, Sean Bean, Brenda Blethyn, Alison Doody, Dawn French, Jane Horrocks, Bob Peck, Jonathan Pryce, Joely Richardson, Miranda Richardson and Jennifer Saunders all appeared during the show’s short run.
TALES FROM THE CRYPT ran from 1989 to 1996, inspired by the EC Comics of the same name, and most of the episodes were based on stories found in that comic or one of its sister publications. Because it was aired on HBO, it was one of the few anthology series to be free from censorship by network standards and practices.
As a result, the series could contain graphic violence, profanity, gore, nudity and sexual situations, therefore attracting big-name well-established stars, either as actors or directors or both. Directors included Howard Deutch, Richard Donner, Michael J. Fox, Freddie Francis, John Frankenheimer, William Friedkin, Walter Hill, Tom Hanks, Tom Holland, Tobe Hooper, Mary Lambert, Kyle MacLachlan, Peter Medak, Russell Mulcahy, Elliott Silverstein, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Robert Zemeckis. Acting talent included Dan Aykroyd, Hank Azaria, Humphrey Bogart, Steve Buschemi, Daniel Craig, Tim Curry, Timothy Dalton, Roger Daltrey, Benecio Del Toro, Kirk Douglas, Brad Dourif, Whoopi Goldberg, Teri Hatcher, Mariel Hemingway, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Izard, Margot Kidder, John Lithgow, Malcolm McDowell, Ewan McGregor, Meat Loaf, Demi Moore, Donald O’Connor, Bill Paxton, Joe Pesci, Brad Pitt, Iggy Pop, Christopher Reeve, Don Rickles, Tim Roth, Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Slash, Ben Stein, Sam Waterston, Adam West, Treat Williams and many more.
ARE YOU AFRAID OF THE DARK? was a joint USA-Canadian co-production filmed in British Columbia and Montreal in Quebec. The pilot episode, Tale Of The Twisted Claw, was first aired on Canadian television in 1990, and more than a year later on USA television. The wrap-around of this anthology was a group of teenagers called ‘The Midnight Society’ and every week, at a secret location, one member would tell a scary story to the group. Each storyteller would begin their story by saying “Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story the tale of the…” and, at the end, someone would douse the fire stating, “I now declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed,” and the group would leave the campsite. The themes of the stories usually revolves around a variety of paranormal phenomena, ghosts, goblins, magic, dragons, hauntings, curses, aliens, witches and vampires coming into contact with average youths. The episodes were either filmed in forests, spooky houses or public places like schools or libraries.
DANGER THEATRE was a half-hour comedy anthology series which aired in 1993. Most episodes comprised of two segments, each a parody of a familiar television format. Robert Vaughn introduced each segment with mock earnestness. Segments included The Searcher (a send-up of the loner-on-the-road series starring Diedrich Bader), Tropical Punch (a send-up of Hawaii Five-O starring Adam West), and 357 Marina Del Rey (a send-up of Miami Vice starring Todd Field). Only seven episodes were made before cancellation, but the show was syndicated successfully in the UK and Australia.
FREAKY STORIES was a Canada-France co-production, an animated anthology hosted by two animatronic puppets – cockroach Larry De Bug and his sidekick Maurice Maggot – in a greasy roadside diner. The show focused on urban myths, campfire legends and bedtime stories, each episode featuring the phrase, “This is a true story. It happened to friend of a friend of mine.” Animation styles and music varied within each half-hour episode, incorporating twenty different looks in the first season alone. The short stories and changing styles were specifically designed to keep viewers’ attention. The pilot of Freaky Stories premiered Halloween 1995, and the series itself started in 1997.
GOOSEBUMPS took place in a strange reality, where nothing is as it seems. Normal kids find themselves trapped within and exposed to the paranormality that this world has to offer and, in each situation, they must find a way to get themselves out. From evil Halloween masks to werewolves, from scarecrows to dummies, from haunted amusement parks and toy towns that come to life. Broadcast from 1995 to 1998, Goosebumps was based on the award-winning book series written by R.L. Stine. The opening sequence starts with a man dressed in black carrying his briefcase up a hill. A strong wind blows, Stine’s case opens, and his papers fly out, one of which turns into a shadow resembling the ‘G’ of the Goosebumps logo and glides through a town. The ‘G’ passes by a billboard making it drab and depressing, and passes by a dog making its eyes glow. The ‘G’ then creeps into a house and begins a quick montage of clips from several episodes with an announcer growling, “Viewer beware, you’re in for a scare!”
THE OUTER LIMITS was successfully revived in 1995 and lasted until 2002 before cancellation. The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, from stories by Eando Binder, Harlan Ellison, James Patrick Kelly, Stephen King, George R.R. Martin, Richard Matheson, Larry Niven, A.E. Van Vogt and others. Most episodes featured actors with name recognition from their previous work, such as Tom Arnold, Beau Bridges, Jon Cryer, Nicole De Boer, Michael Dorn, Kirsten Dunst, Michelle Forbes, Melissa Gilbert, Heather Graham. Mark Hamill, Neil Patrick Harris, Laurie Holden, Jack Klugman, Howie Mandel, James Marsden, Alyssa Milano, Pat Morita, Leonard Nimoy, Catherine O’Hara, Robert Patrick, David Hyde Pierce, Amanda Plummer, Ryan Reynolds, Molly Ringwald, Kelly Rowan, William Sadler, Ally Sheedy, Brent Spiner, Mario Van Peebles, and others. Leslie Stevens was a program consultant for the first season while Joseph Stefano was an executive consultant. Stefano also remade his episode Feasibility Study for the third season, and the remake of The Zanti Misfits ranked in TV Guide’s Hundred Greatest Episodes Of All-Time.
TWISTED TALES was a 1996 anthology screened by the Australian Nine Network, produced and hosted by actor Bryan Brown, who also produced the 2006 follow-up series TWO TWISTED. Only lasting twelve episodes, it starred Steve Bastoni, Aaron Blabey, Shane Briant, Bryan Brown, Matilda Brown, Brittany Byrnes, Josephine Byrnes, Richard Carter, Justine Clarke, Barry Crocker, Kimberley Davies, Gary Day, Nadine Garner, Pippa Grandison, Jonathan Hardy, Noni Hazelhurst, Claudia Karvan, Treffyn Koreshoff, Mark Lee, Robert Mammone, Judy Morris, Jessica Napier, Marshall Napier, Richard Roxburgh, Geoffrey Rush, Dee Smart, Bruce Spence, Rachel Ward, David Webb, David Wenham and Simon Westaway.
BEYOND BELIEF: FACT OR FICTION went from 1997 to 2002, each episode featuring five stories, all of which appear to defy logic, some allegedly based on true events. The viewer was offered the challenge of determining which are true and which are false. At the end of the show, it was revealed to the viewer whether the tales were true or works of fiction. The majority of stories on all shows were adapted from published, and previously unpublished, original material that had been written and researched by author Robert Tralins. The series was hosted by James Brolin in the first season, and by Jonathan Frakes for the remainder of the series.
“Come with me to a place of wondrous contradictions. A place that is silent and unstirring yet restless and alive. A place of untold peace and boundless dread. Come with me into the very cradle of darkness, where those who dwell, dwell alone.” GHOST STORIES ran from 1997 to 1998, forty-four half-hour dramas introduced by the disembodied voice of Rip Torn, a reasonably entertaining low-budget series that was shot on tape and aired late at night. Apart from the dead-on narration from Rip Torn, the tales of spectres and precognition are presented by little-known thespians whose performances range from adequate to ridiculously bad. It’s certainly not The Twilight Zone or One Step Beyond – the stories are straight forward and usually contain some vague morality like the man whose conscious leaves his body to betray him to the police, or the writer who cheats on his wife with a ghost to get his passion back.
THE HUNGER was a British-Canadian co-production created by filmmaker Tony Scott. Although it shares its title with the feature film directed by Scott, the series has absolutely no connection. Instead it focused on themes of self-destruction, cannibalism, vampires, sex, poison, desire and obsession with a strong component of soft-core erotica. First broadcast in 1997, each episode was introduced by actor Terence Stamp during the first season, who was replaced in the second season by David Bowie.
PERVERSIONS OF SCIENCE was a TALES FROM THE CRYPT spin-off inspired by EC Comic Weird Science, produced by Gilbert Adler, Richard Donner, David Giler, Walter Hill and Joel Silver with music by Danny Elfman. The format was very similar to Tales From The Crypt, introduced by a sexy robot named Chrome. Most episodes featured alien invasions, space flight and time travel, and featured a mix of established and new talent. For instance, in the episode Panic, young Jason Lee and Jamie Kennedy were joined by veteran comedian Harvey Korman in the episode Panic!
WELCOME TO PARADOX was a science fiction series filmed in Canada, aired in 1998, and ran for precisely one season. The series was an experimental anthology hybrid. Although each episode was self-contained and separate with different actors playing different characters, each story takes place in the same fictional future city of Betaville. The majority of the stories were adapted from other short stories by famous science fiction authors. Themes included the impact of certain technologies on the human body and psyche, as well as the role of humanity in the face of being overwhelmed by hostile technologies.
DARK REALM was hosted by actor Eric Roberts, first aired in 2001, and lasted only thirteen episodes, all of them written by the show’s creator, Whitney Smith. There were a few familiar faces to be found – Lysette Anthony, Ami Dolenz, Joe Elliott (the lead singer from Def Leppard), Corey Feldman and Simon McCorkindale – but they could do little to raise the quality of the mediocre and rather predictable stories: cursed musical instruments, deals with the devil, haunted castles, lawyers who are vampires, etc.
“When the lights fade and the moon rises, anything can happen. The world becomes a carnival of shocks and chills. A whirling merry-go-round that never stops, spinning faster and faster, taking you on a frightening ride. I’m R. L. Stine – don’t fall asleep, or you might find yourself in THE NIGHTMARE ROOM!” Based on the book series of the same name created by GOOSEBUMPS author Stine, The Nightmare Room was broadcast from 2001 to 2002. The thirteen stories in this sadly short-lived series are still captivating and stars youmg actors such as Justin Berfield, Amanda Bynes, Shia LaBeouf, Frankie Muniz and Madeline Zima, along with experienced horror actors like Robert Englund, Ken Foree, Sam Jones III, James Karen and Angus Scrimm.
NIGHT VISIONS was a 2001 series, each hour-long episode featuring two stories dealing with themes of the supernatural and explored the dark side of human nature. Henry Rollins was the uncredited host of the show, and starred many big names including Stephen Baldwin, Thora Birch, Brian Dennehy, Cary Elwes, Sherilyn Fenn, Bridget Fonda, Pam Grier, Natasha Lyonne, Malcolm McDowell, Jack Palance, Lou Diamond Phillips, Luke Perry and Bill Pullman. Some of the actors tried their hand at directing, such as Brian Dennehy, Keith Gordon, Bill Pullman and JoBeth Williams. There were experienced directors behind the camera as well, such as Joe Dante, Tobe Hooper, Paul Shapiro, and Bryan Spicer. The show only lasted for one season. Four of the episodes – Patterns, The Maze, Harmony, and Voices – were edited together to make the television movie Shadow Realm, minus the Henry Rollins introductions.
Rod Serling’s THE TWILIGHT ZONE was back again for a third time in 2002, with actor Forest Whitaker assuming Serling’s role as host. Broadcast in an hour format with two half-hour stories, it was canceled after only one season. The opening theme music was provided by Jonathan Davis of the rock group Korn, and subjects addressed contemporary issues head-on: Terrorism, racism, gender roles, sexuality and stalking. Noteworthy episodes featured Jason Alexander as Death wishing to retire from harvesting souls, Lou Diamond Phillips as a swimming pool cleaner who is shot repeatedly in his dreams, Susanna Thompson as a woman who ‘upgrades’ her family, Usher as a policeman bothered by telephone calls from beyond the grave, and Katherine Heigl as a nanny to an infant named Adolf Hitler.
THE COLLECTOR was the first Serbian science fiction television series. The first five episodes were produced and broadcast in 2005, the remaining episodes in 2006. Based on an award-winning story by Zoran Zivkovic, the episodes are separate self-contained stories that together form a story-arc linked by The Collector played by Petar Kralj. Each episode features a different character who changes their passion for collecting: Memories, hopes, autographs, etc.
In 2005, filmmaker Mick Garris created and produced an anthology television series of one hour movies, written and directed by an elite group of filmmakers collectively known as the MASTERS OF HORROR, including Dario Argento, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Tom Holland, Lloyd Kaufman, Mary Lambert, William Lustig, Peter Medak, Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth and many more. The series debuted to excellent reviews in 2005 with the premiere episode entitled Incident On-And-Off A Mountain Road, directed and co-written by Don Coscarelli.
NIGHTMARES AND DREAMSCAPES (subtitled FROM THE STORIES OF STEPHEN KING) was an eight-episode anthology based on stories by the prolific horror author. Filmed in Melbourne, Australia in 2006 and starring starring Tom Berenger, Kim Delaney, William Hurt, William H. Macy, Samantha Mathis and Ron Livingstone, stories included Umney’s Last Case, You Know They Got A Hell Of A Band, The End Of The Whole Mess, The Fifth Quarter, Crouch End, The Road Virus Heads North, Autopsy Room Four, and Battleground.
TWO TWISTED was a 2006 Australian anthology series produced and presented by Bryan Brown, a follow-up from his 1996 series TWISTED TALES. Each episode contained two half-hour stories with a link or connection between the two tales, whether it be a character or an artifact or a place. Instead of employing experienced writers, Bryan Brown asked for new writers to submit screenplays. More than two thousand entries were received and fourteen finalists were chosen. Directors were chosen in a similar fashion. A mix of experienced and emerging directors were chosen to shoot each episode. Each episode was shot over a period of four days with each director given another four days to edit. Directed by Tim Bullock, Graeme Burfoot, Tony D’Aquino, Brendam Donovan, Jody Dwyer, Glendyn Ivin, Jennifer Kent, Stuart McDonald, Paul Middleditch, Nick Parsons, Kate Riedl, Kelly Schilling, Nick Tomnay and Rachel Ward, Two Twisted starred Roy Billing, Steve Bisley, Vince Colosimo, Alex Dimitriades, Melissa George, Lisa Hensley, Wendy Hughes, Bill Hunter, Asher Keddie, Tom Long, Deborah Mailman, Lisa McCune, Garry McDonald, Jacqueline McKenzie, Sam Neill, Susie Porter, Greta Scacchi, Peta Wilson, Sandy Winton, Sam Worthington, Dan Wyllie and Aden Young.
MASTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION premiered in 2007, a six-part follow-up to the extremely popular MASTERS OF HORROR anthology series. The show followed a similar format, with each hour-long episode taking the form of a separate adaptation of a story by a respected science fiction author (Harlan Ellison, Howard Fast, Robert Heinlein, Walter Mosley and Robert Sheckley included) and hosted by physicist Stephen Hawking. Harold Becker, Jonathan Frakes, Darnell Martin, Michael Petroni, Mark Rydell and Michael Tolkin direct actors Sean Astin, Clifton Collins Junior, James Cromwell, Judy Davis, Brian Dennehy, James Denton, Kimberly Elise, Anne Heche, John Hurt, Malcolm McDowell, Terry O’Quinn, Elisabeth Rohm and Sam Waterston.
FEAR ITSELF was filmed in Alberta, Canada and premiered in 2008. It was put on hiatus during the Summer Olympics promising to return – and was never seen again. Fear Itself shares many of the same creative elements as the MASTERS OF HORROR series: Self-contained stories directed by major horror filmmakers, created by Mick Garris and produced by Ben Browning, Andrew Deane and Adam Goldworm. Directors included Brad Anderson, Stuart Gordon, John Landis and Rob Schmidt. Actors included Briana Evigan, Anna Kendrick, Corey Monteith, Elisabeth Moss, Eric Roberts and Brandon Routh. The theme song is Lie Lie Lie by Serj Tankian of the band System Of A Down.