In 1985, Steven Spielberg launched the anthology TV series Amazing Stories, directing one of the early episodes, The Mission, a taut, emotional story set during a World War II combat...
In 1985, Steven Spielberg launched the anthology TV series Amazing Stories, directing one of the early episodes, The Mission, a taut, emotional story set during a World War II combat flight. Kevin Costner plays the pilot of an American bomber running raids into German airspace. During a dogfight with Nazis, a piece of enemy aircraft wedges itself into the hull of Costner's rig and jams the hatch of the ball turret gunner. The shootout cripples the landing mechanism, and the net effect is that the gunner (Casey Siemaszko) is stuck in his transparent shell, unable to get back up into the body of the plane and certain to die horribly during an imminent, emergency landing. Spielberg keeps tightening the screws, brilliantly directing a handful of good actors (Kiefer Sutherland is in the mix) in a tight space rapidly filling with dread and grief. While it has to be said that the resolution of The Mission may well be the most improbable turn of events in television history, everything up to that point is as exciting as TV can get. Also on Book 1 is The Wedding Ring, starring real-life spouses Danny DeVito and Rhea Perlman as a married couple who spice up their 10th year together after DeVito, playing a costumer in a wax museum, gives his mousy bride a ring that belonged to a black-widow killer. Perlman, cast as a beleaguered waitress exploited by a callous boss, gets a personality makeover whenever she dons the ring, becoming insatiable in bed and a convincing femme fatale everywhere else. The only problem is that she's soon chasing her terrified husband around with a large kitchen knife, imbued with more than the sexy spirit of the ring's previous owner. Directed by DeVito, this cute episode works best as a different kind of vehicle for Perlman, who really does make the screen sizzle. --Tom Keogh