Beyond Reality

Television review by Thomas M. Sipos




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Beyond Reality  (1991 - 1993, cast: Shari Belafonte, Carl Marotte, Nicole de Boer)






This anthology series is about two researchers who investigate paranormal events.

The main problem is that this show tries to be two things and fails at both.

First, it's marketed as a Horror show. But the horror is weak. I don't need gore, but these stories aren't even suspenseful, let alone scary.

Second, it's marketed as a True Paranormal show. Something for Jonathan Edwards fans. For people who watch "true ghost-hunting" shows with "dramatized recreations" of supposedly real events.

Each episode begins with the message: "The following story of paranormal activity is based upon reported incidents."

But note the phrasing -- "reported incidents." Plural. In other words, each episode is not a recreation of an actual incident, but a "story" based upon a mish-mash of many incidents.

I think the producers simply perused many articles about astral projection, reincarnation, hauntings, whatever -- then created an entirely fictitious story "based upon" whatever bits and pieces they liked from all their research.

These stories aren't recreations of actual paranormal events. Which would be okay if the horror weren't so weak. Unfortunately, the "horror" is laden with squishy New Age, feel good spirituality.

In "Intimate Shadows," a woman sees her husband's ghost. Not that the ghost is scary -- he's nice to the woman. Then our intrepid paranormal investigators discover that the "ghost" is not a ghost at all. It's an astral projection by the husband, who's still alive and living as a homeless man. In the end, the wife reaches out to her homeless hubby, and it's implied that she'll help him get back on his feet.

In "The Bridge," a boy sees his dad's ghost, and wants to die to join him. But the ghost tells the boy that he needs to go on living, because it's not his time to die, and his mother needs him.

In "The Cold," a woman sees an old lover's ghost in a frozen cave. Research reveals that the lover died recently, and was cryogenically frozen. But he's changed his mind, and wants to fully die. The woman, and our paranormal investigators, convince the dead man's wife that this is indeed her frozen husband's true wish. So she "frees his soul" by unfreezing his body.


Many episodes feature this sort of squishy, spiritual, New Agey, feel good stuff.

Some of the stories are just plain silly. In "Master of Darkness," college students engage in a Dungeons & Dragons type role-playing game. Through hallucinogenic incense, they transport themselves onto an astral plane where the game becomes real. What happens to them on this astral plane happens to their bodies back on Earth. Those who are imprisoned on the astral plane, disappear on Earth.

So the paranormal team enters this astral plane -- one of them, luckily, was a role-playing game enthusiast back in college -- and beat the Dungeon Master at the game. This frees all the trapped students. The Dungeon Master/college student apologizes for getting carried away, and everyone is friends again, having "learned their lesson." (The show's moral: live life and meet people, rather than get lost in fantasy role-playing games.)

Stephen King has said that the typical horror anthology show has about 1/3 great episodes, 1/3 so-so episodes, and 1/3 duds.

I'd say that Beyond Reality is more like 40% duds, 40% so-so, and 20% good stories.

I bought this on Amazon for $5.99. For 22 episodes, that's pretty cheap, so I don't mind the duds. I fast-forwarded through a couple of the really bad episodes, and you can do the same.

One bright spot: a half dozen or so of the supporting actors appeared in episodes of Friday the 13th: The Series, another made-in-Toronto TV series shot around the same time. (e.g., Kate Trotter played the wife in "Intimate Shadows.")

Horror fans may want to add this DVD to their collection, provided the price is low.


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