Development Deal: Beyond Belief
If there’s one thing that a quick look at the current state of television and movies will tell you, it’s that there’s not much need for original ideas when there’s so much out there ready and waiting to be adapted, updated or just outright ripped off. That’s why we’ve decided to help in that process with a series which offers up some of the things we’d like to see being brought to big screen or small. This week’s suggestion? Beyond Belief.
What Is It?
Part of the spectacular Thrilling Adventure Hour, a stage show and podcast “in the style of an old-time radio show,” as the show’s creators, Ben Acker and Ben Blacker (No, really; they also write for the CW’s Supernatural) put it, Beyond Belief is pretty much the answer to the question “What if The Thin Man had ghosts in it, and its leading couple were even more obviously terrible alcoholics?” The intro to each Beyond Belief puts it best:
Meet Frank and Sadie Doyle: the toast of the upper crust, headliners on the society pages… and, oh yes, they see ghosts!
In case that doesn’t set the tone enough, that’s immediately followed by Frank detourning the catchphrase of the Phantom by asking “Who cares what evil lurks in the hearts of men?” only for Sadie to chime in, “Unless evil’s carrying the martini tray, darling!” Plots have involved the inner politics of vampire society, the difficulty of drinking at seances – everyone has to be holding hands, you see, which doesn’t leave a spare one to lift your drink with – and the sad truth that even African gods can be defeated by two American drunks on safari who have no idea what they’re dealing with.
Beyond Belief isn’t the only segment of the Thrilling Adventure Hour – there’s also Sparks Nevada, Marshal on Mars, Jefferson Reid, Ace American and The Adventures of Captain Laserbeam, to name a few – but it is the most reliably funny, and the one that would translate best outside of the quasi-radio format, if only because of the truly great characters of Frank and Sadie Doyle, drunks and supernatural experts at large. The world needs to know more about them.
What Could It Be?
While Beyond Belief has shown that it has both the story potential and characters to make it as a television series – Hell, you could probably just take the audio from the existing stage version radio show/podcast and animate it and it’d work pretty well – I find myself wishing for a big budget movie version that would have the money to create truly amazing spectacles for Frank and Sadie to ignore in favor of keeping up appearances and making sure their glasses are topped up at every available opportunity. Perhaps more importantly, a series of movies would keep the joke from wearing too thin on a weekly basis, and also ensure that both Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster would be available to reprise their roles from the original; as great as Acker and Blacker’s scripts are – and they’re really spectacular – what makes Beyond Belief so enjoyable are Tompkins and Brewster’s performances, especially the latter’s, with a particular and peculiar accent that has to be heard to be believed. The idea of a Beyond Belief without them? I don’t even want to consider it.
Beyond Belief has everything audiences could want in a movie: Good (and memorable) characters, something unexpected and unusual (Both in terms of the supernatural element and the leads’ blasé attitude towards the whole thing) and enough of the familiar (It’s The Thin Man meets Ghostbusters!) to make the whole thing seem inviting through the implied nostalgia it brings. Studios of America, this is your 2013 surprise summer smash right here. All you have to do it make it happen.