TV Review: ‘Beyond’ on Freeform

TV Review: 'Beyond' on Freeform
Courtesy Freeform

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.

Crew

Executive producers, Adam Nussdorf, Tim Kring, David Eick, Steven Adelson, Zak Kadison, Justin Levy, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones

Cast

Burkely Duffield, Romy Rosemont, Michael McGrady, Jonathan Whitesell, Dilan Gwyn, Jeff Pierre

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  1. NadaMil says:

    After watching several episodes, the obvious pandering to the millennial demographic and the commercials that you can’t fast forward thru make the intent of this program obvious – try to grab as much $ from millennial wallets as you can. The plot plods and grows thinner with each episode, getting to the point of outright annoyance. You can predict everything that’s coming three episodes in advance – formulaic in the max. Another missed opportunity. Waiting for something original to come out of this house will cause one to grow old in the process…

  2. I tried to get into this show but sadly it just doesn’t do it foad r me. From the poor writing to the slow direction and general blah nature of it.

  3. Kiera says:

    The producers must have searched far & wide for s atrocious “actress” Dilan Gwyn! She couldn’t act her way out of a paper bag!!

  4. Chris Martin says:

    I have to agree… the arbitrary vagueness of the villains and who they are and what happened to Holden during the coma…. very frustrating… I watched the pilot and halfway through the 2nd show and said, “nope”! There is a bit of the occult nuance in it that bothered me as well… there is a difference between that and fantasy. I can handle fantasy, but occult references whether direct or indirect make for a fast “delete” for me. My belief system is such that I know they are real, not fantasy. Regardless… alas, if only they could have been more direct, and added more drama… it would have been good… anyway, I had recorded three of them on the DVR…. deleted them all, deleted the scheduled recordings, done. Back to watching good TV… i.e. Blacklist, BlindSpot… etc…

  5. Mic Benz says:

    As usual, immature troglodyte work at Variety. This review is full of jaded bias and death by comparison. It’s juvenile and emotionally slanted. Out of all the Freeform Flops, “Beyond” show a beginning attempt to expand audience base, follow true fictional adventure with minimal PC intervention. More of this may just save this doomed cable network.

  6. Den Ledwidge says:

    So started episode five then I flat lined. The poor, join the dots, acting went off the scale, plot lines which were weak at best suddenly tore great holes in themselves and I kept finding myself distracted by the size of Holden’s head which seemed incrementally bigger in each new scene. I love SciFi and escapisim but now just want to escape this utter rubbish.

  7. Den says:

    Episode 4 and I just do not care. There are no likeable characters. The actor playing Holden has the vacuous look of a plastic doll along with its acting ability. Emotion is demonstrated through raising or lowering his voice but his face cannot accommodate the change. The plot, what there is, is grindingly slow. The baddie is laughable and reminds of Dustin Hoffman. I want to say something positive but then again I do not want to lie.

  8. songtag48 says:

    Loved all 10 episodes,never you mind that critic’s crap.To me,any tv show that doesn’t propagate any psychological bull is most welcome.Shows like this one don’t require much analyzing,and are therefore considered entertaining !

  9. Bonfire says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The writing was weak, the characters were flat and underdeveloped, and the acting was really bad. (One exception: The pharmacist in the episode where Holden was shot was excellent. One bright spot in a sea of bad writing) I think one season of this show is more than enough.

    • Bonfire says:

      Other things that bothered me:
      1) The drug use of Holden’s brother and gf
      and
      2) The promiscuity of the characters.

      This show is directed at YA. Freeform should have stayed ABC Family. (OMG, when did I get so old!?!)

  10. May says:

    I agree. The pace is terribly slow, the characters un-interesting. Holden goes through almost all of the first two episodes with a bland, vacuous look on his face. Try as one may one just doesn’t care about the characters. Add in the unexplained, not even a little bit, places/things he’s experiencing and the show can be summed up in one word: boring

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