One Step Beyond (1959 – 1961) – By Philip Smolen

If you’ve ever wondered where the plethora of TV shows about paranormal experiences truly began, its lineage can be traced back to one program and one program only, the black and white masterpiece, One Step Beyond. Created by producer Merwin Gerard, the half hour drama ran on ABC TV from 1959 to 1961. It was hosted by (and mostly directed by) smooth talking actor John Newland, who much like Rod Serling, introduced each episode and briefly spoke at the close of each story.

Much has been made about the similarities of One Step Beyond to Serling’s “The Twilight Zone” (1959 – 1964), but One Step Beyond was a beast of a different style altogether. While “The Twilight Zone” frequently branched into the areas of science fiction and fantasy, One Step Beyond firmly grounded itself in the realm of the paranormal. Each episode was supposedly based on a true bizarre incident and no logical explanation for each story was ever offered. When the episode ended the viewer was left hanging on their own, trying to put a rational explanation on what they just witnessed.

I should explain here that while I was too young to watch One Step Beyond during its initial TV run, it became one of my absolute favorite shows to catch in re-runs during the 1960s. Each episode I watched left me with a creepy, eerie feeling that I couldn’t shake for at least a day. While “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits” (1963 – 1965) would leave me trembling under the covers, the weirdness of One Step Beyond seemed much more real to me. For that reason, each episode seemed entirely possible to me. I began to notice that after watching an episode I would always walk past a darkened room a little bit quicker!

One Step Beyond produced some fabulous episodes including “The Devil’s Laughter” where a convicted murderer (played by Alfred Brenner) is unable to be executed. Each time the government brings him to the gallows, some part of the apparatus fails to work properly. Another great episode is “Encounter” where a pilot disappears after he has a supposed close encounter.

Since the program was produced in the early 1960s, there are some wonderful actors ion display in these episodes including Charles Bronson, William Shatner, Robert Loggia, British vet Patrick MacNee and scream queen fave Yvette Vickers. I was thrilled to be able to watch some of my all time favorite actors in these episodes.

Film Chest has put together a six-DVD package of 70 of the 97 episodes of One Step Beyond and for an aging baby boomer like me, it’s great to have so many of the episodes in one collection. If you have fond memories of One Step Beyond, or if you want to check out an early example of TV paranormal activity, you really need to explore this classic show.

For information on ordering One Step Beyond, please go: