The good thing about having a fantasy show on cable (or on CW) is that it's likely to last. That's where shows tend to persist; now ,,, after just three episodes, "Beyond" has been renewed for a second season. The show (9 p.m. Mondays on Freeform) is an interesting one; here's the story I sent to papers:
By Mike Hughes
PASADENA, Cal. --
For the “Beyond” stars, this was a Hollywood experience and
Their show has young
Holden (Burkely Duffield) emerge from a 12-years coma, overwhelmed by
the world. Its star makes that believable, producer Tim Kring said:
“Burkely is not a very jaded guy.”
“Holden and I are both overwhelmed .... It's an amazing sort of
time in my life.”
And then it got a
bit more amazing: Breaking into the Television Critics Association
conference, Tom Ascheim (the president of the Freeform channel) had
an announcement: Only three weeks into the show's existence, he's
renewing “Beyond” for next season.
Yes, that came as a
surprise. “My adrenaline is just pumping right now,” said
Jonathan Whitesell. “This is life-changing.”
Duffield are young Canadian actors, 25 and 24, early in their
careers. “I've (been an) extra,” Duffield said. “I've done
commercials. I've done background work. I've had guest (roles).”
And now he's
starring in a series that will be around for a while. “You can find
the cast at the nearest Mercedes dealership,” joked Adam Nussdorf,
the “Beyond” creator.
The show's quick
success is a sign Freeform may be finding its way, a year after its
This was one of the
first cable channels, the Christian Broadcasting Network. It became
the Family Channel, then the Fox Family Channel and then ABC Family.
After 15 years under that name, it changed last January to Freeform.
In its final ABC
Family years, the channel was known for dramas about teens in crisis
-- “Switched at Birth,” “The Fosters,” “Pretty Little
Liars” -- and a lone fantasy show, “Stitchers.” It added
another fantasy (“Shadowhunters”) on the day of the changeover,
with “Beyond” added a year later.
Yes, young people
like fantasy. “I go back to 'Kyle XY' in the ABC Family days,”
That show (from a
decade ago) had a handsome teen-ager with no memory and odd
abilities. It set a pattern – pretty teens meet high-tech fantasy –
that continues to work.
another handsome guy awakes blankly, slowly learning about:
-- Changes in this
world over those 12 yeares. His younger brother (Whitesell) finally
admits that their parents have separated.
-- And alternate
“realms.” A mysterious beauty (Dilan Gwyn) says his mind visted
them when his body was in that coma.
This is a grown-up
with a12-year-old's sense of awe. “We had to sort of see the
innocence in his eyes – a kind of openness that Burkeley had,”
said Tim Kring, one of the show's producers.
On the big networks,
Kring had one show that scored big (“Heroes”) and some that
wobbled. But cable may be the place where young viewers can expect to
find wild concepts.
The show's first two
episodes aired Jan. 2 (colliding with bowl games), each topping a
million viewers. The third (facing the college football championship
on Jan. 9) fell to 600,000. By then, Freeform had taken the offbeat
step of making the entire season available Online.
Gwyn, who's from
Sweden, has a much different interpretation: “Fourteen million
people had seen it in the first week, or something like that. Like,
that's more than the population of Sweden .... Now I'm doing a second
season of a big show for Freeform in the States. So it's just blowing
That's not literal,
of course. In real life, minds don't get blown ... unless, perhaps,
they enter the realms.
-- “Beyond,” 9
p.m. Mondays, Freeform, after the 8 p.m. “Shadowhunters”; the
fourth hour is Jan. 16
-- Also on Hulu and
on Freeform's website and app