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DVD Review: One Step Beyond: The Official First Season & 50th Anniversary Special Edition

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One Step Beyond was a television series that was created by writer/producer Merwin Gerard and ran for three season on ABC between 1959 and 1961. It was narrated by John Newland, who presented the tales which explored paranormal events and situations that defied explanation. Each show was presented as a 30-minute docudrama with a story was based on true events. The show premiered January 20, 1959, 10 months prior to the more famous Twilight Zone.

The reason that this release is termed the official release is because the copyright lapsed on a number of episodes and several distribution companies released packages using 16mm syndication prints rather than the 35mm originals, which resulted in poor and uneven quality of both audio and video. Also confusing is the fact that when released not all of the episodes were included so I have included an episode listing at the bottom of what constituted the first season.

One Step BeyondFirst off, I own one of the earlier sets and comparing the quality is truly amazing. To describe this new release, the only word that I can use to refer to my copy of the prior version is butchered. In the official releases the picture is clear, sharp, and definitely looks like it is in 35mm. Also the Harry Lubin background music is there and it sounds great. It is refreshing to see an old show like this where no music has been changed.

The base premise of One Step Beyond is to explore stories that go beyond the realm of explanation. Among its varied tales there were several basic themes. Some dealt with the premonition of death ("Premonition"), of disaster ("Night of April 14th"), astral projection ("The Dream"), the existence of ghosts ("The Image of Death"), and improbable coincidence ("The Aerialist").

One Step Beyond contains three disks with a total running time of nine hours and 21 minutes. Along with the 22 episodes from the first season, there are four bonus features. They consist of "Series Promo," "Alcoa Opening," and "Main Title Sequence." There is also an audio interview with writer Don Mankiewicz on disk two.

What I really like about One Step Beyond is that because it is based, if somewhat loosely, on real stories, it has a creepier edge to it than its more fiction-based contemporary. I can imagine that if you were watching this in 1959, especially as a kid, you could have had nightmares. Several guest stars appeared in the show including Cloris Leachman, Mike Connors, Edward Platt, Barry Atwater, Ross Martin, Pernell Roberts, and Patrick Macnee, which makes watching shows like this even more entertaining.

One Step Beyond Yes, some of the stories are a bit dated and will not thrill you as they would have in 1959, but to go back in time and see the excellence of writing, depth of story, as well as the quality of acting, really makes this an entertaining package to own. Add to this, after all these years, the fact that the quality of the audio and video are finally there, to me it is a must-own.

Disc 1:

  • The Bride Possessed, with John Newland monologue
  • Night of April 14th
  • Emergency Only
  • The Dark Room
  • Twelve Hours To Live
  • Epilogue
  • The Dream

Special features:

  • Series Promo
  • Alcoa Opening
  • Main Title Sequence (1990s version)

Disc 2:

  • Premonition
  • The Dead Part of the House
  • The Vision
  • The Devil's Laughter
  • The Return of Mitchell Campion
  • The Navigator
  • The Secret

Disc 3:

  • The Aerialist
  • The Burning Girl
  • The Haunted U-Boat
  • The Image of Death
  • The Captain's Guests
  • Echo
  • The Front Runner
  • The Riddle

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About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.