Can a 50-year-old TV show about the supernatural still send chills up and down your spine? Can it cause your significant other to stay up half of the night due to nightmares? More importantly, can any show top The Twilight Zone? The answers are “Yes,” “Yes,” and “Hellz, yeah!”
Ten months before Rod Serling’s now iconic television series hit the airwaves, host/director John Newland brought forth One Step Beyond to audiences nationwide. Unlike the later Twilight Zone — which was entirely fictitious — One Step Beyond spun its episodes based on reported fact, and the results are often far more creepy than Rod Serling’s series ever was (although that one episode with the dead grandma calling the kid on the imaginary phone was pretty fucking eerie).
Each week, host John Newland introduces us to another unbelievable story. Ghosts. Possessions. Cases of clairvoyance. Disappearances. Stories dating back as far as the 19th century and as recent as (then) modern times but were nevertheless explained by anyone. Among the many guest stars are Patrick Macnee, Cloris Leachman, Julie Adams, Reginald Owen, Philip Ahn, Pernell Roberts, Alfred Ryder, Touch Connors, Yvette Vickers, Luana Anders, Sandra Knight, Werner Klemperer, Robert Webber, Ross Martin, Warren Stevens, and William Schallert. Fans of classic B-movies will most certainly recognize Beverly Washburn from Spider Baby and Virginia Leith from the cult favorite, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die.
Growing up, many of the local television stations in my area (this was before cable became mainstream, folks — when satellite dishes were the size of a trailer) would broadcast a lot of “retro” TV shows (face it: there was nothing good on then, either). The Twilight Zone was one of them. The Outer Limits and Tales From The Darkside were two others. Strangely enough, One Step Beyond never found its way to my house. It’s a pity, too, since this is a damn good show that has stood the test of time.