1 October 2005 | theowinthrop
A Thought Provoking Show on Parapsychology, etc.
I was born five years before Alcoa produced this wonderful series - and it is wonderful, even though I remain thoroughly skeptical about the "truth" of the stories that were presented. Hosted by John Newland, in a quiet, thoughtful, and urbane manner, it presented different types of occult phenomenon each week, in well produced half-hour shows. I did not see it until the 1960s, when it was in syndication as reruns. But it was certainly entertaining and creepy. I won't dare to rate it against THE TWILIGHT ZONE or THE OUTER LIMITS (in particular as they were outwardly fictional and frequently entered science fiction), but it was one of the top horror shows in television history.
Newland would come out with his weekly introduction - just like Rod Sterling or Alfred Hitchcock on their shows. Sometimes he would bring a small prop or item related to the story. On one show he brings out an old watch, which he will look at several times in the half hour, telling the time on it. He says to the audience, when he first looks at it, "J.W.B. Those are the initials of the owner of this watch. They are the initials of a murderer." The episode that follows deals with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (the watch being John Wilkes Booth's). It is not a simple retelling of the story of Lincoln's death. The episode describes the odd premonitions and signs that reportedly happened in Washington, D.C. on that date, and around the country. For example, Lincoln's relating several eerie dreams he had (one of which was of him in the East Room, being told that the visitors there were in mourning for the President - who had been assassinated).
There were many odd stories. In one Donald Pleasance was a successful barrister, about to become a high court justice in Great Britain, when he is confronted by evidence that only he can understand that shows how he allowed an innocent man to be hanged years earlier at the start of his career (he was the prosecutor). Supposedly the truth was told to him by the so-called murdered woman (apparently not so murdered as she was supposed), but he never reported it to the authorities. Twenty years later and evidence that he destroyed reappears, forcing him to confess - and driving him insane in the end (he becomes a madman addressing the crowds in Hyde Park daily relating his evil act).
An episode with Patrick Macnee about premonitions regarding the sinking of the Titanic ends with a reference which I can vouch for is true - that in 1898 Mr. Morgan Robinson wrote a novella, FUTILITY: THE WRECK OF THE TITAN, about the world's greatest ocean liner being sunk by an iceberg on it's maiden voyage with great loss of life. Another episode with Werner Klemperer dealt with an unrepentant Nazi, pursued by some malevolent spirit on a U-boat, who causes so much noise that the U-boat is forced to surrender to an allied naval craft or be blown out of the water. There was one curious episode about an evil aristocrat's diamond choker that picked up the vibes from her personality, and choked her to death (and later killed her maid who stole the choker as well). Elizabeth Montgomery played a young flirt on an old west cavalry post, who thoughtlessly forces a young officer to do a dangerous assignment that kills him, and yet, weeks later when the post has a regimental ball, is confronted before everyone by his ghost who dances with her until she dies.
So it went on these episodes. Even if, like myself, you did not believe in the phenomenon that Newland's stories presented (and he never forced anyone to believe them) you got into the mood and watched some interesting stories, and some first rate acting (William Shatner, Charles Bronson, and Edward Binns were three other actors who appeared on the show). For a really spooky, but enjoyable experience, ONE STEP BEYOND was very hard to beat.