Freeform debuted the first hour of their new series Beyond Friday at New York Comic Con, followed by a panel with star Burkely Duffield and creators Adam Nussdorf, David Eike, and Tim Kring.
Beyond tells the story of Holden, who was in a coma for twelve years only to wake up with mysterious powers and a number of people after him. He doesn’t remember where his consciousness was for the twelve years he was in the coma, but apparently he went off… somewhere.
The Beginnings of Beyond
“I always wanted to do something that reflected the movies I grew up on, those early Spielberg type movies like E.T. and Close Encounters,” series writer Nussdorf said. “It took you on adventures and pushed the boundaries of science fiction. It’s grounded in something very relatable but still out there.”
Beyond almost didn’t get made. After Nussdorf wrote the pilot, he tried to use it to get hired on a Tim Kring show. Kring turned him down. Later, Kring picked the script back up and gave his friend Eike a call.
“Tim and I have known each other a long time, we were on the Universal lot when I was doing Heroes and he was doing Battlestar (Galactica). I had just wrapped a Spielberg show, Falling Skies, when Tim said they had this pilot they were gonna pick up. I read this script and realized I had passed on this writer myself,” Eike said. “The truth is I loved the script, I thought it was so ambitious that he didn’t understand the limitations of the medium. When I saw the produced pilot, I was ashamed.”
The first half of the produced pilot, which premiered at NYCC, shows Holden the night of his accident that led to the coma, and his first days after waking up. He meets a beautiful girl (Dilan Gwyn) who warns him that he’s in danger (she’s right), and his best friend takes him to a bar to warn him, too. He then discovers his latent powers while trying to save his friend and… you’ll have to watch to find out what happens next.
Finding the right actor to play Holden would be a challenge. The creators had to find someone who could portray the innocence of a 13-year-old trapped in a 25-year-old body. Thankfully, they found Burkely.
“(Burkely) is like Tom Hanks, he’s just so likable and you root for him. He could be drowning a cat and you’d be like “Oh that cat must be heavy.” There’s just so much emotion played with very little dialogue and its played in his eyes,” Nussdorf said. “It’s so hard to find an actor who can convey so much depth, just emoting.”
“There’s an innocence there, that comes through on camera,” Kring said.
“I had read the script and this script was really amazing to read. I was just very attracted to the project,” Burkely said. “The character’s journey is amazing and being able to do these scenes that Adam wrote was fun to do.”
“He has to deal with (adolescence), just as a 25-year-old,” Nussdorf said with a laugh.
“The things we all had to deal with at an appropriate age, he has to deal with at this age,” Kring said. “That’s where a lot of the humor comes from and a lot of the pathos.”
A Metaphor for Adolescence
“(Holden’s powers) sort of function as allegories for what we all experience in adolescence. Your first boner, your first joint, whatever, are expressed in these larger than life experiences,” Eike said. “Really we found we were able to explore and apply it not to outer space and robots but to environments and worlds that can express a character’s point of view. It has to pass the bullsh*t test for people who can recognize CG and we took years to find the great matte painters, the great comp guys. We hope the visual effects that represent his points of view are in a way that people find provocative and compelling.”
Kring was quick to point out that the series isn’t one that leaves viewers hanging. Instead, he promises that the show’s many questions are answered in a timely manner, and that the series leaves viewers satisfied.
“It’s not the kind of show that draws things out and stretches things out and doesn’t deliver. When you get on board you’re going to get a ride that is very satisfying along the way,” he said.
For those who just can’t wait between episodes to find out what happens next, Freeform is offering the entire season on its app for bingewatch enthusiasts. The two-hour premiere debuts January 2, and after that, the rest is available on the Freeform app.