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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 Hourthere’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.


  • Douglas Nelson

    Sure why not?
    By the way–when you “we” you just mean you right?

  • Sandinista

    Sounds absolutely terrible and a not so subtle rip off of the Mystery Society…or is the Mystery Society a rip off of this? Either way, the very fact that there’s another property out there with almost the same premise shows that this isn’t that groundbreaking or original.
    Here are some AMAZING properties that would work as films:
    1. The Light Brigade: American GIs during WWII are cut off behind enemy lines during the Battle of the Bulge and have to help an angel and a 1,000 year old monastery stop a gang of fallen angels and angel-human hybrids from storming their way back into Heaven. 

    2. Girls: a small town in the American Heartland is cut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome and its inhabitants have to fight for survival against hundreds of murdering alien clones…which look like gorgeous, naked women. 

    3. The Sword: a young paralyzed girl inherits a supernatural sword which gives her superpowers which she must use to defend herself against four ancient gods who have been kept at bay by her family for generations. 

    4. Bayou: a young black girl in 1930s Southern U.S.A. must venture out into a parallel fantasy world called Dixie in order to save her father from being lynched. Think Pan’s Labyrinth meets Mississippi Burning. 

    5. High Moon: werewolves in the Old West. Enough said.

    These would work as mini-series:
    1. Y: The Last Man
    2. The Preacher
    3. Scalped
    4. DMZ

    You’re welcome for making your article better.

  • ATK

    Greame I don’t know why your pitching this to us but as long as we’re talking dreams and what if’s, I want a Star Trek Anthology Series. I want the Marvel comic Exiles adapted into a TV series for HBO, because it will need to be brutal. I want more Stargate I dont care how as long as it has Teal’C. Its about time we had Firefly: the Next Generation and I want the upcoming Enders Game movie to not suck.

  • ATK

    Love your recomendations for Luna Brothers to be adapted, would love either Sword or Girls as film or TV. No Ultra though, we can leave that be.

  • Brian Tatosky

    The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a great show; I highly recommend people catching it if they’re in LA.  The podcasts are great, but it really crackles when you see if performed live.  All the little looks and nuances on the stage really take it over the top.

    And while I’m not sure about the premise of this article that there’s not much need for originality in film and TV because there’s so much to adapt, I certainly would love any adaptation of TAH in any other medium

  • Demoncat4

    a good idea but sadly no studio now a days will wind up wanting to take the risk with something uniique and new like beyond belief espically it being like an old radio show.

  • Kris

    BTW that’s the catchphrase of The Shadow, not The Phantom. ;) 

  • Anonymous

    Sparks Nevada and Beyond Belief would both make fantastic Adult Swim 11min shows.

  • Guest

    : Take a listen before you throw stones.

  • Scott T

    I am glad that this article was posted because I never would have heard of Beyond Belief otherwise.  I have listened to 3-4 of them and I love it.
    I have read Mystery Society as well and the radio show is nothing at all like it.  It really is super alcoholic Thin Man type thing without out any real detecting happening.  Very funny stuff.
    BTW, Mystery Society is almost exactly like a DC series (two minis I think) from the early 2000s.  It was a cool husband and wife team doing the same job as the M.Society pair.  I cannot remember the name of it though.  I liked M.S. but the DC comic was even better.

  • Eric

    I would kill all of your mothers to have a Beyond Belief tv show with Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster.

    And also, why is everyone shitting all over the premise of this column? It’s a fun “what if” thing, we’ve all done it.