In the annals of history, there’s one thing that can always seem to scare people. No, it’s not the year 2020. It’s perception. What you perceive as real or fake is always the most terrifying. Whether it’s that shadow across the room on a dark night or it’s the effect that a filmmaker uses in a movie. That line between perception and reality is often blurred… beyond belief.
And that’s what I would write, if I were a screenwriter for an updated version of the show Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. Following yesterday’s THS Fright-A-Thon retrospective on the show Goosebumps, we’re taking back the 90’s with a look at the anthology show, Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction.
The way I originally found this show is quite peculiar. I wasn’t old enough or conscious enough to watch it when it originally ran from 1997 to 2002. Here’s the long and short of Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction.
A Quick Idea Of What Goes Into Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction For The Uninitiated
The basic premise of each episode of Beyond Belief is that there are five stories, some real, some fake. As the viewer, you have to figure out if the story is based on something that really happened, or if it was a creation of the writers. Your host is either James Brolin (for the first season) or the much better, Jonathan Frakes (second, third, and fourth season). Brolin and Frakes set up the stories and then also conclude them. At the end of each episode, you’re given if the story was real or fake.
The show was the brainchild of Dick Clark and it ran on the FOX network. It was given sporadic support and even thought to have been cancelled in between it’s third and fourth seasons. It’s gained a newfound cult following thanks to the memes and re-runs on networks like Sy-Fy and on Amazon Prime.
That’s it. It’s a pretty simple, yet captivating, mechanism for a show. Now, if you’re wondering how I found out about a semi-obscure show from the late 90’s/early 2000’s, where else but Twitter.
The Memes Are Plentiful With This Show
The show has a couple memes that went around the internet. The first one I saw was this.
This one pops up from time to time when someone is just so brutally wrong about something or if someone messes up big time. It’s just a compilation from the show of Jonathan Frakes saying that the audience is wrong. This is what originally got me into the show. I saw this, and wondered “what in god’s name is this show?”. After some quick digging, I realized, it’s Beyond Belief. It turns out that the show was available on Amazon Prime for a short while, so in that time, I watched the show incessantly. I went almost three times through the entire show. It was fascinating.
If you like shows like The Twilight Zone, Goosebumps, or any anthology series, this is the one for you. The stories and acting on the show are at points, laughable. But it’s such a great concept, that you shouldn’t care. Some of the episodes actually creep into the scary category instead of just everyday tales of the supernatural. The pilot episode has one of the most frightening stories of them all. They really started off with a bang.
The Memes Continue For Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction
At a certain point, even the best shows get formulaic. With Beyond Belief, the shows go a little something like this.
Jonathan Frakes walks on set.
You’re given either an illusion of perspective, something from nature that doesn’t quite add up, or something historical that is strange. In between the stories, Frakes sets them up with the historical context.
You’re given the opening story or if you’re in the middle of an episode, you’re given one of the four remaining stories. He ends each of the stories with some of the best turn of phrases, quips, puns, or double entendres that I can imagine.
At the end, Jonathan Frakes tells you if the story was real or false. If it’s real, depending on the season, they give you the most basic of truth and where it happened. If it’s false, Jonathan Frakes wryly smiles at you, and tells you that you were wrong.
It’s that simple, and every episode goes like that. And it doesn’t matter how many times I watch it, it’s just as good.
But What Exactly Makes The Show Watchable Or Good?
See, there’s the million dollar question. Putting my finger on what makes this show good, is simultaneously easy and difficult. You can point to the concept, which is just a fantastic one. You can also point to the host, which Jonathan Frakes knocks out of the park. It’s also hard to watch the show with someone who might get turned off by the terrible acting at points. It’s like the directors all told the casting personnel to get people who cannot show emotion with their voice-overs (Point to the episode about a magical lock and some dude’s Aunt that is oblivious to her nephew being a dummy). Through all of that though, is a show that is instantly rewatchable. If you give it any time of day, you’re sure to be hooked.
Tales of the supernatural are always going to have a certain audience. To me, the show fits that same niche as Unsolved Mysteries, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Urban Legends, and The Twilight Zone. It was the confluence of Jonathan Frakes giving his all as the host, the amazing voice-over work by Don LaFontaine, and a killer concept that really gives this show it’s legs.
Show Your Friends, Show Anyone, Get A Revival (With Jonathan Frakes) On The Damn Air
If you love mysteries, frights, tales of the supernatural, and the unexplained, Beyond Belief: Fact Or Fiction is for you. It has that addictive quality that not many shows have had over the years. When the episodes of a show blend together and you can’t tell when they begin or end, that’s usually a bad thing. In this case, it just means you want to keep watching until there’s no more to watch.
Over the years, Jonathan Frakes has done a couple television spots that poke fun at the original concept of Beyond Belief but there aren’t any plans for a revival of the show. In this age, where horror television is dominated by anthology series, it’s the perfect time. So if Shudder, Netflix, Amazon, or FOX are listening, we’re willing to watch. Make it happen, and do it the same way. I’m sure in between 2002 and now, there have been plenty of supernatural or unexplained events that you can base new episodes on.
The perception of events is only based on a couple things. You have your knowledge, your wits, and your experience. When looking through the glass of reality, things can be twisted and bent. Your mind works overtime to perceive what’s real and what’s fake. It’s always your choice to decide if we’re real or if we’re dealing with a world that is…
I’m Hunter Bolding.
For more on THS Fright-A-Thon, Horror, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, or any other general pop culture, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.