Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis weren't planning on jumping right into another TV show. After seven years of Once Upon a Time and six before that on Lostthere were ready for a break — then Steven Spielberg called.

He was looking for a new showrunner for the reboot of his 1980s series Amazing Stories, now moving to Apple TV+, following the departure of Bryan Fuller. As Kitsis describes it, "Adam and I immediately looked at each other and said, 'Yes,' because not only was Amazing Stories very influential in our lives, but both of us are in this business and writers because of Steven Spielberg. Both of us when we were young, looked up and watched Steven Spielberg and said, 'Whoa, you can make an entire career out of your imagination? I want to do that.'"

Before long they were working on cracking the series' first five-episode season and assembling a cast. Amazing Stories is an anthology series that each week uses elements of science fiction and fantasy to tell a truly, well, amazing story. The first episode, titled "The Cellar," which EW can share an exclusive clip from above, is a time-travel romance starring Dylan O'Brien (Teen Wolf) and Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Hill House).

In advance of the series premiere on Apple TV+ Friday, we called up Kitsis and Horowitz to get all the details on everything from their love of the original Amazing Stories to what makes a story truly amazing in their book to what to expect from season 1.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What are your memories or lasting impressions of the original series?

ADAM HOROWITZ: I was a kid when it aired and I remember being incredibly excited that there was going to be a Steven Spielberg movie on my TV screen every week ... Once we started to work on it, we looked back at some of those episodes, and it was this amazing feeling of what Steven does so well — it brought back that feeling of childhood wonder, that feeling of hopefulness, that feeling of anything's possible in the world that I had as a kid. It brought back that sense of inspiration that really fueled us as writers and producers to make the show.

EDWARD KITSIS: One of the things I've always loved so much about what Steven does is the extraordinary hits the ordinary. As you see in "The Cellar," it starts out with everyday life so that when the extraordinary or amazing comes into it, you really feel like it could happen in your life. I always say when I watched E.T., that was my bedroom — that literally looked like my childhood bedroom — so by the time he went and found an alien, you were in that world. It made you feel like there could still be magic and wonder in your own world.

Looking back at the original series, what were some things you wanted to keep and some things you wanted to leave in the past?

KITSIS: We were obviously inspired by the storytelling and the way it works, but instead of doing 30-minute episodes, we wanted to just tell one full one [in an hour].

HOROWITZ: What we wanted to do was use that idea of the ordinary meeting the extraordinary because that felt like the core of it. And then rather than thinking about that show from the '80s and redoing it or updating it or anything, we really just wanted to think about that idea and that feeling we had, and then think about what does that mean today? How do we create that feeling in a contemporary setting? Through the five episodes, what we like to do is tell stories with very different characters in very different settings and locations that all come under a similar umbrella of ordinary meeting the extraordinary in a modern, contemporary way.

Both of your previous shows dealt a lot with fantastical elements. Now, this, of course, does too. What is so compelling to you about science fiction and fantasy in storytelling?

KITSIS: At the end of the day, Adam and I are believers and we just want to believe. Life can be super hard and it can be super dark. We just want to write about the light at the end of the tunnel. Once Upon a Time was a show about hope, and the reason that I love Steven's movies so much is when I left the theater, I felt better about life. I felt like there was someone who understood me. That's what we want to do. There's a lot of darkness out there. We're just believers, and we still believe in magic and we want others to believe it too.

In contrast though, both Lost and Once Upon a Time dealt a lot with intricate mythologies and timelines – an anthology show by nature throws that out the window. Was that freeing for you? Scary? Both?

HOROWITZ: That was enticing.

KITSIS: We had just over 300 episodes — we spent six years on Lost and then we did seven years on Once Upon a Time, so the idea of getting to do a beginning, middle, and end and not have to stretch a mythology seven years was so exciting.

What makes a story amazing?

HOROWITZ: Starting with this idea of the ordinary meeting the extraordinary, but then the next part of it is surprise, finding an unexpected place where the story goes. That was the challenge we always put before ourselves in the storytelling, which is how do we surprise ourselves and the audience in an earned way.

KITSIS: The amazing was less about the sci-fi nature and more about what do you as a character have to go through? What is the amazing coming at you, challenging you to be a better version of yourself? And can you meet that challenge? The amazing is thematic and hopefully emotional toward what the characters are going through.

Can you give us a general sense of some of the themes that will be explored this season?

KITSIS: Some of the major themes this season are we're going to be dealing with people facing who they really are, people believing in themselves. The overall thing for us is really how does the amazing come into your life and then make you confront what you need to and become better on the other side?

HOROWITZ: There are a lot of stories that are about human connection and finding connection between people in different ways and different types of relationships and how we connect with one another.

KITSIS: They're about healing, getting over letting the past affect your future, and having the amazing come in so that your future can be brighter. It's about hope and it's about belief in the magic and the wonder of the world.

What episode this season are you most excited for fans to see?

HOROWITZ: This is going to sound like a cheat answer, and maybe it is, but it is the one that airs each week. Because truthfully,  in breaking these stories, the challenge was so monumental because unlike a continuing series, where you're bringing your characters to a new place, you're starting with a blank page and nothing with each episode. Then you're also starting with having to work with the greatest living director of all time, which is the most daunting task imaginable. The challenge was astronomical every time.

KITSIS: It was like doing five pilots. You're really getting a great variety of different genres and different stories without it being repetitive. And that's something we're really excited for. So it's really hard to say which one's our favorite because each one is in a different lane, even though they all thematically fit under Amazing Stories. Some of the things I'm really excited about is I can't wait for people to see "The Heat" — it is unlike any Amazing Stories that was ever done. Robert Forster's performance in episode 3 — it's one of his final performances, but it is spectacular and every time I watch it, I cry. It was great to re-team with Josh Holloway again — we even snuck in two Sawyer [from Lost] lines. Each one is really something we love.

Related content:

Comments have been disabled on this post