For those who have ever wondered what the spawn of “The X-Files” and “Touched By an Angel” would look like, this is your answer. “Beyond Chance” is an amalgam of every latest TV programming craze, capitalizing on paranormal phenomenon, angel addiction and rubbernecking reality TV.
This weekly series promotes itself with all of the usual catch phrases, documenting true stories of precognition, God’s will, divine intervention and unusual twists of fate. And because the show airs on Lifetime, nearly all of the stories have a female angle.
Grammy-winning singer Melissa Etheridge hosts the show from a New Age looking living room set, complete with a cozy fire, candles and soft music in the background — or “Unsolved Mysteries Lite.”
To producer and director Richard Schmidt’s credit, Etheridge does introduce us to several remarkable stories, at least in the premiere episode, including one of a holocaust survivor who, years later, goes on a blind date with the woman who used to give him food through the fence of a concentration camp. Another segment documents the story of a girl given up for adoption who discovered her best friend and co-worker was her sister.
These segments, given schlocky titles like “An Apple a Day” and “Angel on My Shoulder” rely heavily on personal interviews, photographs and the requisite black and white dramatic re-creations. If that weren’t enough, the stories are all heavily laced with mood-enhancing music and pointed camera angles designed to produce tears.
One could effectively argue the value of feel-good programming in today’s violent society; however, it’s only a matter of time before the stories degenerate from truly fantastical and interesting into merely sentimental exploitation. At the very least, the show is a boost to the candle and aroma-therapy industry, and provides endless fodder for future TV movies. In fact, the story of the heart-and-lung transplant survivor who is spiritually in touch with her donor has already been optioned by Sally Field.
An inexplicable choice of host, rock musician Etheridge does bring a straightforward approach to these stories but offers little more insight than “psychologists will say it’s whatever you believe.”
Technical credits are pro, including a catchy theme song by Reg Powell and an effective soundtrack from music supervisor Jim Faraci.