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Halloween Day by Day: "Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond" (1959 - 1961)


As technology advances, allowing newer ways to tell stories, and pass information on, certain forms of entertainment fade away into the mists of the past and nostalgia.  I remember being a kid, and staying up later under my blankets with my radio, tuning into "The Inner Sanctum", or finding old "Twilight Zone" episodes on VHS tape.

Fortunately, while such shows may go out of style, and get relegated to the bargain bin of your local Wal-Mart, the advance of technology also provides new ways to preserve them in the hopes of introducing new audiences to them...

One such example is the DVD box-set I found featuring episodes of the show, "One Step Beyond."  It was a show that focused on presenting re-enactments of recorded paranormal events.  The episodes varied from recounting premonitions had prior to Lincoln's assassination, to pyrokinesis, to World War One soldiers deserting after seeing a heavenly vision, to a clown stalking a woman's killer.  One episode even featured the host (John Newland) taking magic mushrooms, and having the results filmed.

The accounts re-enacted are fascinating in their variety, and the production value was pretty good for the time period.  The default black and white film helped to enhance the spooky atmosphere of the series.  The film quality, sadly isn't great- at times looking like it was filmed directly from the TV screen, rather than the film strip.  I would love to see it remastered, and cleaned up to a crisper resolution.

I also really liked the style it was done.  Many anthology shows tend to be rather formal, and distant in its relationship with the audience.  "One Step Beyond" had a nice, informal tone to it.  I never felt like I was simply being presented with a story, and left to my own devices.  In fact, it almost felt like I was being offered a seat by a flickering fireplace as Newland told me the story as the shadows danced across his features in the approaching night.  I loved it.

The acting was pretty damn good, and featured a lot of guest stars, ranging from Warren Beatty, to Cloris Leachman, Christopher Lee, Elizabeth Montgomery, Donald Pleasance, and William Shatner.  All of them brings their TV A-game to their episodes.

This is an older show that I have absolutely no problems re-watching multiple times.  If you ever get the chance to watch an episode, or buy a box-set of episodes- do so.  It's a wonderful look at TV storytelling from the early days of the TV medium, and an enjoyable experience in itself.  It's one step beyond "Good".


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