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The third volume of collected episodes from Steven Spielberg's mid-1980s television series Amazing Stories includes three memorable stories. First up is "The Amazing Falsworth," a cat-and-mouse thriller starring Gregory Hines as the title character, a nightclub psychic whose act includes reading the minds of audience members by merely touching them. During a performance Falsworth comes into physical contact with a serial killer; he sees the monster's most recent victims in his mind and grows terrified for his own safety. Enter a skeptical police detective (Richard Masur) whose real identity is so obvious that director Peter Hyams doesn't bother to mask it well. One complaint: the episode begins with some truly grisly and gratuitous violence that, in retrospect, had no place in a fantasy series squarely aimed at families and boasting Spielberg's involvement. Kids should not see "The Amazing Falsworth"--or anything else on Book 3, for that matter.
The second episode is certainly one of the most thoughtful in the series: "Life on Death Row," starring Patrick Swayze in an interesting performance as a convicted murderer. Scheduled to die imminently in the electric chair, Swayze's character, Eric Peterson, joins an escape effort and is hit by lightning during a storm. The freak accident bestows on him the power to heal the sick and wounded--a cruelly ironic development, given Peterson's foreshortened destiny.
The final story, "No Day at the Beach," begins the day before the D-Day invasion of Normandy by allied forces, and concentrates on a handful of soldiers as they ready themselves psychologically for this turning point in the battle. Charlie Sheen is the best-known name among the cast in this black-and-white, Twilight Zone-like drama directed by Lesli Linka Glatter. Sheen's character stands out as the one guy in his company refusing to taunt a simple-minded GI who later becomes a hero at Normandy--or is it someone else besides that poor sap boldly taking out Germans left and right? --Tom Keogh
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