One Step Beyond
Paranormal Suspense in a Different Way
"What you are about to see is a matter of human record. Explain it: we
cannot. Disprove it:
we cannot. We simply invite you to explore with us
the amazing world of the
Unknown ... to take that One Step ... Beyond."
One Step Beyond - Produced at the same time as the more well-known Twilight Zone, this series fed the nation's growing interest in paranormal suspense in a different way. Rather than creating fictional stories with supernatural twists and turns, this program sought out 'real' stories of the supernatural, including ghosts, disappearances, monsters, etc., and re-creating them for each episode. No solutions to these mysteries were ever found, and viewers could only scratch their heads and wonder, "what if it's real?"
Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond is an American television series created by Merwin Gerard.
The original series ran for three seasons on ABC from 1959 to 1961 and remains syndicated to this day.
Because the copyright has lapsed on at least some of the episodes", several distribution companies have released episode packages using 16mm syndication prints rather than the 35mm originals, resulting in uneven audio and video.
John Kenneth Muir's book An Analytical Guide to Television's One Step Beyond, 1959–1961 presents the history of this TV series including a synopsis and analysis of the episodes.
Created by Merwin Gerard and produced by the prolific producer Collier Young, the program was hosted by John Newland, "your guide to the supernatural" (also credited as "Our guide into the world of the unknown"). Newland presented tales which explored paranormal events and various situations that defied logical explanation.
Unlike other anthology programmers, this ABC network series episodes were presented in the form of straightforward thirty-minute docudramas, all said to be based on true events. Initially, the program included the corporate name of the sponsor Alcoa as its full title.
Among its varied tales, One Step Beyond dealt with premonition of death ("The Lincoln Assassination") and disaster ("Tidal Wave", "Night of April 14th"); astral projection ("The Long Call"); the existence of ghosts ("The Last Time"); and wildly improbable coincidence ("The Glider", "Death on the Mountain", etc.).
In a January 1961 episode dealing with the discovery of mind-altering drugs, Newland traveled to Mexico, where he met with a local shaman who was an initiate in ritual use of magic mushrooms. The then-unknown mushrooms were purportedly able to increase the user's psychic powers.
On camera, Newland actually ingested several mushrooms and allowed his reactions to be filmed for broadcast.
This was the only episode of the entire series to have a relatively reality-based "documentary" tone, rather than the scripted docudramas that made up all other episodes; possibly because of the controversial subject matter, this episode was omitted from the syndication package and has been seen only rarely since its original broadcast.
However, according to Newland, it was the most popular episode of the series.
Following its first run cancellation in 1961, the series continued to be shown throughout the United States in syndication until the early 1980s.
It was then re-made by Gerard and Young, this time for first-run syndication in 1978, as The Next Step Beyond, once again hosted by Newland (who also directed most of the episodes).
It ran for one season.Then, for its re-release to television on the Sci-Fi Channel in the 1990s, the opening and end titles were brought up to date with new theme music and graphics designed for the time, as if the show had continued into the 1990s.
Despite the public domain status on most episodes, the series is now copyrighted by Worldvision Enterprises (the successor to the original distributor, ABC Films), the series' syndicated distributor that is known today as CBS Television Distribution.