Here’s the deal:
There aren’t enough good anthology shows. Since Rod Serling mastered the technique in the 1950s-60s with The Twilight Zone and proved what could be achieved in the format, there haven’t been many worthwhile successors. Shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Tales from the Darkside, Tales of the Unexpected and Serling’s own Night Gallery were often more bland or bad than they were good, and even a standout like Tales from the Crypt only had a few really great episodes, the rest always being hindered by the required tongue-in-cheek tone of the series.
Since I love the anthology format, I’m always on the lookout for good, new examples. So if you’re a genre fan and you love anthologies, check out Pet Shop of Horrors. Based on a manga series, Pet Shop of Horrors is an anime from 1999. It consists of only four episodes unfortunately, but each episode is beautifully crafted and animated, so just consider this the Fabergé egg of anthology shows.
Each episode features Count D, an eccentric and mysterious man who runs an exotic pet shop, meeting with a new customer. The customer is always searching for something strange and wonderful, and D always has just what they need. The animals D sells often have a semi-human form, creating an uneasiness for both the characters and the viewer, and each animal comes equipped with rules given in a contract.
These rules are subsequently broken in standard Gremlins fashion, as each creature is fed after midnight/sprayed with water/given a sex change, and problems mount.
I’ve only read the first two volumes of the manga but from what I saw I certainly prefer the show. The manga had a considerably lighter tone than the show, which is often bleak and gruesome. Still, if you’re a comics fan the source material might still be worth a look.
It’s too bad there weren’t more episodes produced, but the scarcity of them makes Pet Shop of Horrors a nice little gem for your collection. Give them a go for Halloween.
But seriously, feed me, Seymour!