In a nod to the way its target audience consumes TV these days, all 10 episodes of Freeform’s sci-fi-flavored drama “Beyond” will be available on the Disney cabler’s app and on Hulu on the day of the show’s premiere. If only the show itself were a binge-worthy addiction. As it is, “Beyond’s” characters are so bland and their dilemmas so unremarkable that it may be difficult to make it through the show’s two-hour pilot.
In “Beyond,” Burkely Duffield plays Holden, a young man who wakes up from a coma with unusual abilities. Despite multiple demonstrations of those powers, it takes Holden a long time to acknowledge their existence and their destructive tendencies. That might be acceptable if Holden — or any members of his family — had any memorable qualities, but they are unremarkable in every way.
Most aspects of “Beyond” — from a slo-mo showdown in the rain to an all-American family struggling with an unusual burden — carry echoes of more well-known movies and TV shows, from “The X-Files” to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to “Kyle XY,” a show that debuted on this network a decade ago, back when it was called ABC Family. But as “Stranger Things” demonstrated, being derivative isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as there is a good deal of substance backing up a show’s homages.
Unlike that Netflix hit, “Beyond” fails to create the kind of suspenseful atmosphere or complex relationships that would cause a viewer to be patient with its lesser qualities, and “Beyond” is weighed down by dull dialogue and a pace that leaves much to be desired. The exploration of the family’s reaction to Holden’s return or the “man out of time” element of his life could have been examined with poignance or humor, but neither aspect of the show is fleshed out with flair or memorable detail.
Most tedious of all is the unspooling of some kind of vague conspiracy arrayed against Holden, who regularly sees visions and flashes of a past life. That element of the show is frustrating in the extreme, given that a juicy set of villains could have given the story a needed boost of energy. As it is, those out to get him aren’t given any more depth or urgency than any other element of the drama, and ultimately, it’s hard to care about Holden or the people who are after him.
TV Review: 'Beyond' on Freeform
Drama: 10 episodes (2 reviewed); Freeform; Mon., Jan. 2, 9 p.m. 60 mins.
Executive producers, Adam Nussdorf, Tim Kring, David Eick, Steven Adelson, Zak Kadison, Justin Levy, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones
Burkely Duffield, Romy Rosemont, Michael McGrady, Jonathan Whitesell, Dilan Gwyn, Jeff Pierre