In a day and age when binge watching the most intense serials has become common-place, it might be easy to think that the anthology show has died a death, but instead it has thrived and adapted to an age of cable television and streaming services where restrictions don’t apply and the biggest names can join a show for a season or episode at least.
Anthology shows have become an art in themselves, telling beautifully crafted fables about humanity through many genres. With Lore about to hit Amazon, Set the Tape looks at five shows that represent anthology television at its absolute best.
The Twilight Zone
The godfather of television anthology shows, Rod Serling’s series can lay claim to being one of the most famous television shows of all time. From its theme music and Serling’s on-camera introductions, to the stories such as Nightmare at 20,000 Feet and Time Enough at Last, the series is not only one of the most famous, but also the most influential. Not only did it pave the way for a wealth of great genre television, but it also opened the doors for thought-provoking and intelligently scripted television where genre could be used to tell stories that were actually about more than just the monsters or the narrative it was about.
Two revivals followed in 1985 and then again in 2002, not to mention a film adaptation in 1983, but it’s the original that still stands the test of time.
The Outer Limits
Commissioned by ABC when trying to find their own equivalent of The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits could be seen as a case of cashing in on Serling’s creation, but actually has a lot going for it beyond being a television network trying to ape another’s success. With more emphasis on science fiction and action, and less fable-like than Serling’s show, the series has become incredibly influential in its own right, with its own famous opening narration and graphics. Writers who contributed to the series included Psycho‘s Joseph Stefano, Chinatown‘s Robert Towne and famed science-fiction author Harlan Ellison, whose episode ‘Solider’ Ellision claimed was copied by James Cameron for The Terminator.
A revival followed in 1995, produced by Showtime which upped the sex and nudity considerably, whilst a movie version become stuck in development hell.