Freeform (née ABC Family) has invested a fair amount of time and money into Beyond, which premiered on TV last night and whose whole first season is already available online. So should you go run out and binge it? Not really. But if you’ve exhausted all the other shows you want to watch and you need something as background noise, sure, watch Beyond.
The basic premise of Beyond is that Holden Matthews (Burkely Duffield) went into a 12-year coma and woke up at age 25, along with some special powers. And those powers make him the target of a girl (Dilan Gwyn) who says she knew him while he was in a coma, as well as a group who is hunting him for his powers.
Beyond simultaneously moves too fast and too slow. A lot happens in the first season, but it happens in fits and starts. There are moments of frenetic plot-building and character development, but it all gets repeated. Everyone has long speeches to give which stops the show dead in its tracks while we wait for the talking to be over. No one’s motives are slowly revealed, there’s no slow burn tension between Holden and any of his love interests. (He has three in 10 episodes. See what I mean about packing a lot in?) Everything is said instead of shown, which is incredibly frustrating because each episode has so much extra time that could be used to let the story develop naturally.
There is nothing new in Beyond. The way that everyone talks about “The Realm,” “Them,” “the machine,” etc. is as generic as the show is. The Man in the Yellow Jacket (Peter Kelamis) is this show’s attempt to recreate HRG from Heroes, but, like everything else in this show, our interest doesn’t grow naturally from the circumstances. He’s forced on us.
It does not help that Burkely Duffield gives Holden nothing. No pathos, no charm, nothing. He’s a blank slate. I think, at least at the beginning, he’s trying to play Holden as a child trapped in an adult’s body. But mostly he plays Holden like an alien trying, and failing, to blend in with the hyoo-mahns.
That said, there are a few bright spots. I like that Holden’s mother (Romy Rosemont) and father (Michael McGrady) have different reactions to having a son in a coma and have realistic problems in their marriage as a result. I really liked Eden Brolin as Charlie, a girl who also came out of a coma with powers. She appeared halfway through the season like a breath of fresh air, a fully realized character in a sea of two-dimensional ones. She stood out as the best part of the entire show.
Actually, when the show is focused on the effects of one child’s coma on a family and on what Holden missed, it’s not bad. The supernatural science bits—the realm, Holden being the chosen one, the semi-secret religious order with hitmen—all of those parts are poorly executed.
It’s not that Beyond is bad, it’s that there is so much more on TV these days that is more worth your time. If you’ve exhausted all of that, and run out of things on your Netflix queue, and are looking for something you don’t really need to pay attention to while you do other things, this show works.