There is a lot of television out there these days. Between network, cable, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, it is never hard to find something to watch. And as it normally the case when there is an abundance of choices, quality rises to the top. Unfortunately, Beyond does nothing to differentiate itself or make it destination television. Freeform is trying to follow the Netflix model by making all 10 episodes available all at once. But the release strategy is not what makes shows like Stranger Things successful. They are just well written and well acted.
Beyond is the story about a boy who wakes up from a 12-year coma who discovers he now has special powers and is somehow wrapped up in a conspiracy that involves a mysterious organization. Of course his family and the world around him has changed considerably. The result is a weird combination of Kyle XY, Flight of the Navigator, and Stranger Things. Unfortunately, it does not compare well to much of the programming out there, while being ahead of other Freeform programming such as Shadowhunters or Stitchers.
The acting is fine, and while the cast is your typical Freeform “pretty,” the series does not focus on that which allows you to focus on the performances. Burkely Duffield has the unenviable task of performing as 14-year-old in a 26-year-old body. He weighs the character’s immaturity with the strength that comes with having to face the trials that come with a supernatural 12-year coma.
The storytelling relies on a mystery being enough to keep you interested. Unfortunately, most of the characterization is flat. The character relationships are never given a chance to develop. While the mystery follows tropes that seem a bit too familiar to those that have seen Heroes and Lost.
Those that watch the first two episodes will be disappointed. The series does pick up around episode 4, which may be why Freeform decided to release all the episodes at once. Perhaps they had the insight to know that this series needed more time to hit its stride. Unfortunately for Freeform, releasing all the episodes at once, doesn’t mean the audience will still sit through more than one.