One Step Beyond
or Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond
was a paranormal anthology series that lasted for 3 seasons from 1959-1961. The show had 96 episodes, all directed by John Newland, who also served as the host, introducing and closing out each story. It presented tales of ESP, premonitions, unexplained phenomena and ghosts as docudramas based on true events.
After watching several episodes, I can say that I'd never seen the show before, though I had heard of it. I didn't realize that it was so early, a contemporary of The Twilight Zone
and Alfred Hitchcock Presents
. As a host, Newland doesn't have the charm of Alfred Hitchcock or Rod Serling but he does bring a seriousness to the subject matter while still having a slightly playful air. Given that these stories are supposed to true, I think he does his job well.
For the most part, the episodes are entertaining, some more so than others. I don't think it stands with The Twilight Zone
or Alfred Hitchcock Presents
but it's still a very interesting show, occasionally very well done, that's kind of the ground floor for shows like In Search Of...
and Project UFO
, maybe even The X-Files
(of the ones I watched, anyway)
(Season 1 Episode 13, 1959) A ship is sent off course by a stowaway causing havoc onboard. Before the course can be righted, screams from survivors of a shipwreck can be heard and the men are saved. The captain and first mate then believe that the stowaway, who has since disappeared, was the ghost of the navigator of the sunken ship.
"The Haunted U-Boat
(Season 1 Episode 17, 1959) a Nazi official is onboard a German submarine at the end of WWII and weird banging on the outside of the ship brings the men to the point of breaking. Werner Klemperer stars.
"Night Of The Kill"
(Season 2, Episode 5, 1959) a boy befriends a Bigfoot.
(Season 2, Episode 28, 1960) a drunk who kills his young wife seems to be stalked by the clown that befriended her.
(Season 2, Episode 34, 1960) a wife is visited by the younger version of her husband who explains his feelings when they lost their baby. Warren Beatty and Joan Fontaine stars.
(Season 3, Episode 9, 1960) in 1902, a reporter covers a story dealing with the burning of a barn and a talking raccoon.
"The Sacred Mushroom"
(Season 3, Episode 18, 1961) in a straightforward documentary episode, host John Newland travels to Mexico to study the mind-altering effects of certain mushrooms and tries them himself!
(Season 3, Episode 26, 1961) During WWII, three British sailors receive premonitions about their ship, the HMS Hood. Based on the real-life sinking of the Hood, the episode purports to feature a sailor who was transferred from the boat right before its fateful journey.
Of these episodes, the best performances were in "The Navigator", "The Haunted U-Boat" and "The Visitor". "The Navigator" told a great story with a predictable but effective twist, and great performances all around. Werner Klemperer did what he does best in "The Haunted U-Boat": make Nazi officers look bad. His paranoid performance was quite different from Colonel Klink but really well done. Warren Beatty and Joan Fontaine in "The Visitor" were stellar in a very chilling story.
"Night Of The Kill" played like a low budget monster movie with terrible acting but is probably the first filmed version of a Bigfoot story. Everything is there: the giant footprints, the plaster cast, and the musty smell.
"The Sacred Mushroom" was just strange as Newland takes an ESP test and does poorly and then eats some psychedelic mushrooms and does slightly better. Definitely interesting for people who like off-the-wall stuff.
I found "The Clown" and "The Voice", highly rated episodes, to be a bit of a letdown. While the Clown was very creepy looking and the girl's madness in the ending of "The Voice" was very well done, I didn't find either episode to be above average.
"Signal Received" is a very good episode notable for having a survivor from the story appear with Newland at the end.
I started off slowly with this series, not very impressed at first, but found I enjoyed it more the further I dug in. A must-see for fans of the paranormal.
One Step Beyond Intro
John Newland was in the Army Air Corps in WWII and played Victor Frankenstein in an episode of the 1951-53 sci-fi anthology series Tales Of Tomorrow
. He also directed episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Thriller, Star Trek, Wonder Woman
and Night Gallery
Other notable actors who appeared on One Step Beyond
were Charles Bronson, Christopher Lee, William Shatner, Elizabeth Montgomery and Donald Pleasance.
The show was revived in 1978 as The Next Step Beyond
. John Newland again hosted the show and directed most episodes. It lasted one season of 25 episodes.
You can watch most episodes of One Step Beyond
One Step Beyond
Some are better quality than others.