When I watch a movie, there are two of me in the same seat. There’s that regular movie-going guy who likes blood and boobs and things that explode, rarely stopping to deeply consider what he’s seeing. We call the kind of movies that guy likes POPCORN MOVIES. But there’s another fellow who accompanies him. This guy likes some of the same things as his friend, but he is a seeker and connoisseur of SERIOUS CINEMA. This guy doesn’t just want to see a movie, he wants it to change his life . . . A television comes to life in the middle of the night. Light splashes the room, throwing chiaroscurist paintings on every wall. The figure in the chair raises a paintbrush remote and starts flipping from picture to picture, hoping to find nothing more than the equivalent of dogs playing poker. Time-Life Presents. The lonely weather radar. A preacher selling salvation at all hours. Then the screen goes black and white, like a transmission from the far end of time. An older gentleman steps toward the screen, peering back at the man in the chair. Though the image crackles and fills the TV without color, the hosts face still seems very much alive. Television: What you are about to see is a matter of human record. Explain it, we cannot. Disprove it, we cannot. We simply invite you to explore with us the amazing world of the unknown, to take that one step beyond. A condemned man is looking out of the prison window to where his gallows is being built. He is jittery, his body jumping with every hammer blow, each nail driven home a moment closer to his death. When the executioner arrives to tell him that he has exactly 21 minutes, the prisoner starts to wail, “I don’t want to die!” The man in the chair looks to his friend, snoring heavily on the nearby couch. POPCORN: Dude. Hey, dude . . . you awake? You awake, dude?? CINEMA: Unga-umma-unnnng. POPCORN: Dude, if you’re awake, you gotta check this out. It’s that show. CINEMA: Sunga-uh-vich-wusho? POPCORN: The one with the dude that’s like the other one, but just a little older. CINEMA: Un-thtep-be-yung? POPCORN: No, man. I think it’s ONE STEP BEYOND. On the television, the condemned man is led up the steps to a waiting noose. A canvas bag is placed over his head and the noose is slipped around his neck. He is nearly sobbing. The lever is pulled . . . and the rope breaks. When he is revived a short while later, we learn that the condemned man has seen something when he was nearly hung. “You can’t kill me,” he says now, and begins to laugh hysterically. POPCORN: Buh-HAHAHA! You can’t kill me! . . . Dude, I seen this one. Now they try to hang him again . . . Ha! Told ya! The trap-door won’t open now . . . yup, then they eventually have to let him go. You think they really do that? The episode, and the condemned man, eventually reach their end. Another episode begins. The host reappears, emerging from the shadows into the light-spattered living room once again. Television: Have you ever been certain the telephone would ring within the next ten seconds? Or have you ever walked down a strange street before and had the feeling you knew what laid beyond the unturned corner? Then you’ve had a brief encounter with the world of the unknown . . . a small step beyond. Now take a giant one. POPCORN: Dude, we have ourselves a marathon! CINEMA: Damma-tall-gesle-jess-geddup-sin . . . (yawns) a marathon of sleep is apparently out of the question. Two newlyweds are en route to their honeymoon. Although the woman has never left the South, she starts giving her new husband directions to an alternate northern location. They arrive at a seaside cliff. Her Louisiana accent has suddenly vanished and she no longer recognizes her husband. She says that her name is not Sally, but Karen. They say that she committed suicide, but it’s not true. This woman who claims to be Karen says that she was murdered. CINEMA: This is the first episode. The actress here, this is Virginia Leith. She was the talking head in THE BRAIN THAT WOULDN’T DIE. POPCORN: Dude, you ever think about getting cable? Maybe internet? CINEMA: You ever think about paying me to watch my TV, eat my food, and take up space in my chair? Until then, it’s the rabbit ears. Pass me the pizza box. POPCORN: Always hear people talk about THE TWILIGHT ZONE, OUTER LIMITS, even NIGHT GALLERY. Never hear nothin’ about this one. Here, man, not much pizza left. CINEMA: Yeah, this one was actually on the air before all of them. Started up . . . January, 1959. THE TWILIGHT ZONE didn’t premier until near the end of the year. Differs from the other shows in that it’s based on supposed real-life events, like Lincoln having premonitions of his own death . . . or the episode where the newlywed woman is having terrible nightmares, night after night, about drowning – POPCORN: – and her new husband comes home with tickets for the Titanic! CINEMA: That’d be the one. Speaking of being held underwater, you ate the entire pizza? POPCORN: Sorry, dude. Forgot. CINEMA: The show was actually called ALCOA PRESENTS . . . it was made during TV’s sponsor identification years, when the sponsor’s logos were as much a part of the show as its host. The name got changed when it went into syndication. POPCORN: Really? That’s interesting . . . okay, not. Hey, is that Captain Kirk? CINEMA: William Shatner, yes. This is actually one of his more restrained performances. You might even say that he was demonstrating some subtle nuance in his acting. Postwar London. An older military man enters the young man’s shop and tells him that he’s needed one more time. Another bomb has been discovered and the authorities have been unable to disarm it. They speak briefly about the young man’s wife, Lois, that she has grown large with child. Reluctantly, the young man agrees to one more job. CINEMA: There was something about this show that brought out the best in the actors who appeared on it. And there were a lot of actors who got their start right here. A flashback to several years earlier reveals that Karl was a German bombardier before his capture. As an English POW, he chose to help defuse unexploded bombs that still threatened the city. He admits that he had probably dropped some of them himself, though he is obviously a man with a conscience. The next scene shows him helping to carry a child from the tumbling wreckage of a building. It is poised to blow. He finds a woman trapped beneath a fallen beam, refusing to leave her. While he examines the explosive, like a doctor preparing for the most delicate surgery, he talks about how lovely the bombs seem from the air. POPCORN: Whoa. Kirk actually sounds German. CINEMA: Yeah, he has a fairly convincing accent in the flashback scenes. I love this part, where he’s telling this woman – who just watches him, silently, with tears in her eyes – that now he sees these beautiful bombs as rabid dogs, and if only he could remove the teeth from every one of them – Television: – then maybe I wouldn’t have to burn in Hell. Fraulein, if you have a god and He loves you, tell Him now is the time to prove it. With the unstable mongrel defanged, the woman finally smiles at Karl. She tells him that her name is Lois. POPCORN: Who else was on here? CINEMA: Oh, jeez. Christopher Lee. Warren Beatty. Robert Blake. Charles Bronson. Veronica Cartwright. Louise Fletcher . . . Lois arrives at her husband’s shop, but finds a note saying that he’ll be back in half an hour. Her belly truly is huge with child. Far across town, Karl is deep beneath another building. Just one more and he will be done. His military friend says that Karl is a hero, but Karl jokes that the hero is sweating and afraid. CINEMA: Julie Adams. Jack Lord. Robert Loggia. Cloris Leachman. Pernell Roberts, he was in TRAPPER JOHN years later. . . but on this show he was a soldier in World War One, when a strange vision appeared above the battlefield. It caused all these soldiers on both sides to stop fighting, for just a moment . . . Karl has rushed his friend from the building. As they go back and forth on the shortwave radio, our hero looks very worried. With his hands inside the bomb, he talks about an old German tradition. When a child is born, rather than having the doctor spank it in the American way, the father breathes into its mouth. Giving the child its first breath of life. CINEMA: Patrick Macnee. Yvette Mimieux. Suzanne Pleshette – A massive explosion rocks London. In Karl’s shop, his pregnant wife jumps, then looks toward the empty space where her husband should be. A knowing look comes over her face. POPCORN: Dude. CINEMA: Mike Connors. Donald Pleasence. And even Elizabeth Montgomery . . . In the hospital, Lois still does not want to see her child. She does not want to hear about a heaven where someone is watching over her. She doesn’t want to hear anything. Then a nurse arrives, carrying the tiny baby. She says that it’s her first night, she wasn’t sure what she should do . . . CINEMA: Hold on, wait for it. . . . but there was a strange man holding the infant. She wasn’t sure, but it almost looked like he was kissing the child . . . CINEMA: And . . . . . . and he was speaking German. POPCORN CINEMA: Whoa!!! CINEMA: There were all kinds of crazy episodes of this show, all of them supposedly true. POPCORN: Like . . . CINEMA: Like . . . every night at 12:17, a pregnant woman is awakened by the sound of an airplane crashing through her roof. After the death of her mother, a little girl develops a special connection to three mysterious children in the dark part of her new house. A gravestone cutter carves the dates that people are going to die. A woman is protected by the ghost of her dead husband. A Confederate soldier is protected by the ghost of his dead dog. After murdering his wife, a man is haunted by visions of the clown she befriended – POPCORN: Dude, clowns suck. CINEMA: – as the clown reaches out in reflections to strangle him. POPCORN: Did that Trapper John thing really happen? CINEMA: Trapper . . . you mean the battlefield incident? POPCORN: Yeah, that. CINEMA: It was November 14, 1915. What was described as “an amazing light” appeared above the battlefield. There was such a feeling of . . . happiness . . . that four French soldiers simply put down their weapons and walked off the battlefield. POPCORN: They went all red-badge-of-courage? CINEMA: Basically, yeah. They were reportedly disgusted by their own violence against their fellow human beings. According to French rules of war of the time, they were set to be executed for cowardice. But then the same reports started coming in from the Germans, the Russians, the Italians, and even the British troops. Strangely, there’s not much information on it, despite the fact that nearly a thousand soldiers experienced the same thing. POPCORN: That’s a total Mulder, dude. CINEMA: Beyond a few official accounts, maybe a couple things online, this show is essentially the only true record of the incident – POPCORN: You ever see the shroom episode? CINEMA: Of The X-FILES? POPCORN: No, dude, ONE STEP BEYOND. Come on, now. CINEMA: No, I’ve read about it, but – POPCORN: Old boy gets the crew together and they fly down to Mexico. Dinky-ass airport. They got all these donkeys and stuff, and there’s this brouhaha dude – CINEMA: You mean brujo, a kind of Latin-American witchdoctor? POPCORN: Yeah, one of them. So he hooks everybody up with the fungus. There’s all these fancy folks up in there, some philosophy dude and doctors and a pharma-ca-something. It’s s’posed to <in Thurston Howell III voice> “enhance psychic abilities” . . . they’re all, like, you think we should? I think we should, do you think we should? And then old boy – CINEMA: The host, John Newland? POPCORN: – yeah, he figures he’d better get in on this. Go all the way to Wakahakahickey, or whatever, and not trip balls would just be kinda stupid, ya know? So they bring him some of these gnarly-lookin’ shrooms. They’re all on a platter, like, “Hey, dude, Trip du Jour?” And he starts poppin’ those bad boys in his mouth – CINEMA: Wait, wait. I read about this. First of all, he only decided to partake of the experiment when Alcoa said the show might not make it on air. It was pretty unusual to see people getting high on TV in 1961, even if they didn’t entirely know that’s what they were doing. They were scientists, after all, and – POPCORN: Well, the dude was experimenting his balls off. He’s all, like, “I feel a strong, uh, strong . . . a strong sense of well-being. I wanna ride a painted pony and let the spinnin’ wheel spin.” CINEMA: Did not. POPCORN: Did too. Well . . . the well-being part anyway. He was talkin’ about seeing so much color that he wanted to jump into the middle of it. Said he got why everybody called it a magic mushroom. CINEMA: Alright, I’ll let you have that. Just watch it. John Newland was a very classy and respectable man. Over the course of his career, he was an actor, director, writer, host, and producer. He was born in Cincinnati, and – POPCORN: The dude’s not English? CINEMA: Not unless England is in Ohio. He did vaudeville as a teenager, then moved to New York to study acting. After a stint with the Army Air Corps in WWII, he signed with Warner Bros., but got mostly nothing but bit parts. An uncredited appearance in GENTLEMAN’S AGREEMENT. Then he moved to television, where he really took off – POPCORN: Sorry, dude. Didn’t know he was your dad. CINEMA: He made appearances in all kinds of shows, from DR. KILDARE to INNER SANCTUM. His feature film debut, THAT NIGHT (from 1957), was nominated for two British Academy Film Awards. Then he was asked to host ONE STEP BEYOND, but he did more than just host the show. He directed all 96 episodes of its three-year run – POPCORN: In-a-gadda-da-vita, honey, don’t ya know that I love you . . . CINEMA: – and, after the show had ended, he went on to direct damn-near everything else. His directorial credits include episodes of THE MAN FROM UNCLE, Alfred Hitchcock PRESENTS, ROUTE 66, STAR TREK, HAWAII FIVE-O, NIGHT GALLERY – POPCORN: S’cuse me while I kiss the sky. . . CINEMA: – a 1972 show called THE SIXTH SENSE, POLICE WOMAN, three episodes of WONDER WOMAN, every episode of a series called THE MAN WHO NEVER WAS – POPCORN: I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together . . . CINEMA: – and an episode of the cult 80s show WHIZ KIDS. Somehow, amidst all of this, he managed to find time to direct the excellent, chilling TV movie DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK. He even attempted to bring this show back in a late-70s resurrection called THE NEXT STEP BEYOND. POPCORN: How’d that work out? CINEMA: Pretty much the same as the TWILIGHT ZONE remake. The best episodes of the new series had already been done, and done better, in the original show. POPCORN: Goo goo g’joob, dude. CINEMA: ONE STEP BEYOND was a victim of shoddy public domain video releases. Only the first season has gotten a proper, cleaned-up release, but almost all of the episodes are out there somewhere. Where did you see the mushroom episode anyway? POPCORN: YouTube. Come on, now. Dude, you really gotta get some internet in here. Well . . . I’m beat, man. Catch ya on the flipside. CINEMA: (sighs) Television: Have you ever had the feeling that you knew what someone was going to say just before they said it? Or have you ever walked into a strange room and had the sensation that you’ve been here before? Well, if you have, you’ve taken a small step beyond. Now watch a giant step. See larger image One Step Beyond 6 DVD Collector’s Set (70 Episodes) Created by Merwin Gerard, One Step Beyond presents storylines that defy understanding as well as an exploration of the unknown and supernatural. The original series ran for three seasons on ABC from January 1959 to July 1961.Produced a year before Twilight Zone, this series sparked the growing interest in paranormal suspense in the late 1950’s. The primary difference between the two shows was the effort One Step Beyond made to discover and present “real” stories of supernatural events and recreate them for each episode – all said to be based on true events. Ultimately, solutions to the mysteries were never found, leaving viewers bewildered as to the scope of their reality.Episode synopses included inside! New From: $11.97 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.