There can be a thin line between success and failure when it comes to the subjective nature of entertainment. Film and television, and the size of the audience that consumes them, has a great deal of variance in the age of streaming. Yet still we poke and prod every product in an attempt to form an organizing principle out of all the chaos. When it comes to Apple TV+, the range of outcomes thus far is endless. No one is quite sure if the service is succeeding or failing, which is exactly why Steven Spielberg’s upcoming Amazing Stories reboot needs to drop the question mark from the equation.
On Monday, Apple TV+ released the very first trailer for Amazing Stories, which revives Spielberg’s critically acclaimed sci-fi horror anthology series that ran for two seasons on NBC in the 1980s. The original earned five Emmys in its short run and now Spielberg is back to serve as executive producer with a solid budget to work with. The series, which premieres March 6, arrives at a time when Apple TV+ could use a definitive victory.
On one hand, a report from a third-party metrics measurement cited in the Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple TV+ has racked up more than 33 million U.S. subscribers as of January, which is more than Disney+. According to data provided to Observer by research firm Parrot Analytics, Apple TV+ original series also accounted for six of the top 10 digital original debuts with American audiences in the fourth quarter of 2019. On the other hand, Apple CEO Tim Cook refused to provide any specific data points to support the fledgling streamer’s supposed early success. Instead, he merely touted that the platform is “off to a rousing start” in Apple’s recent quarterly earnings, a vague and unconvincing platitude.
There’s also the question of content. Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon’s $300 million news drama The Morning Show was positioned as the streamer’s flagship series, yet was met with lukewarm reviews from critics while failing to score any Golden Globe awards. In the era of prestige peak TV, it did not capture the zeitgeist as intended. In fact, none of Apple TV+’s growing library of originals has managed to break out as a broad appeal hit despite Apple’s unmatched market penetration. Whatever the numbers may be, the cultural conversations surrounding the streamer’s content has been comparatively quiet (everyone should be watching the fantastic Little America).
Amazing Stories has the potential to change that thanks to its impressive pedigree and collection of talent. Ideally, the fantastical anthology series will become Apple TV+’s version of Black Mirror or The Twilight Zone. Importantly, it does not need to reach those same heights to be considered a success. But it’s not as if Apple TV+ is rolling out new widely embraced blockbuster series every week. It’s time for the streamer to notch a win that doesn’t come with caveats or asterisks.
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that The Morning Show did not earn any Emmy nominations when, in fact, it was not eligible for 2019’s Primetime Emmy Awards.