Just Beyond

4 out of 5

Created by: Seth Grahame-Smith

covers season 1

I’m admittedly partial to anthology horror or sci-fi shows, and especially pleased when those genres are mapped to a youthier audience, several years shy of the CW club. While this might seem limiting, I think the oft-applied themes and fueling concepts of both genres (or when they’re combined) very much have roots in things we experienced or felt in childhood, and when a series can smartly boil that down and package it in a way that it’s not pandering, it can make for something with more options than an “adult” series that has to hit a requisite super-serious twist or body count. Plus, the kiddiness of it auto-applies a feeling of safety that’s then fun to toy around with.

“Just Beyond” gets even more leeway by infusing its horror / sci-fi anthology episodes with humor. This also isn’t a new concept – especially if you take a look at the goofiness of things like Tales From the Crypt or Creepshow – but it’s a bit more willfully silly in Just Beyond; not necessarily aiming for camp or trying to be too clever. The result is a highly enjoyable series that gets to be occasionally legitimately spooky, and almost always inventive – veering off some of the expected paths of alien invasions and haunted houses with some appreciative tweaks – and maintaining that freshness by not over-extending itself beyond a trim 8 episodes. If anything, you’d almost wish they’d used some of their notable guest stars (Tim Heidecker comes to mind) to go even weirder on occasion, playing off of the talented pool of recognizable Disney kid talents that pop up and juxtaposing the child-centric POV against the adults’ even more, but there’s also a certain charm to how relatively low-key some things are presented, until the episode’s horror or science-y element is introduced.