Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction (1997–2002)
User ReviewsReview this title
I also enjoy guessing whether the stories are fact or fiction. The show invites the viewer to participate and give their belief system a workout.
Johnathan Frakes is unbelievably as the host. At the beginning of every episode, he'll show some kind of drawing or model which is not actually as it appears. After every story, he will come up with a pun which pertains to the story. For instance after a story in which a guy hitched a ride with a dead person, he said "Is this story true or are our writers just taking you for a ride?".
So, if you are fascinated by unbelievable real-life stories like me, I would definitely recommend it. It is one of the few good shows that really keeps my interest.
I will admit the acting was pretty bad, in a sort of "Mostly True Urban Legends" way. But if you're looking for Shakespeare you shouldn't watch the Sci-fi channel in the first place. User Rating 7/10
The host Jonathan Frakes, which of course I new as Commander Riker from Star Trek: The Next Generation, lost a lot of his credibility to me here. Basically directly after I saw his introduction for the first time. If I remember correctly, he just stated that he believed in the supernatural.
The stories shown were never interesting to me. Actually as soon they started to be interesting they were over. I was surprised that some people here said it is scary. OK, to be fair I might just have taken this show the wrong way. I thought it as entertainment, a little similar (really only a little) to "Outer Limits", which I loved. However, this shows takes itself serious! Something I could never do. Many stories which can be easily taken as coincidences or just as exaggerated are presented as "real mysteries".
For people which have a tendency to take certain things serious which they shouldn't it maybe a cult series, but I found it dull, boring and stupid.
FOX treats their shows like crap, and change Beyond Belief's time slots way too often for any fan to keep up. And Sci-Fi needs to stop randomly airing episodes and have some consistency with their scheduling.
A DVD release would definitely make my day. But I doubt we'll see that happen anytime soon.
Each segment illustrates a self-contained, usually very well-shot and - cast (with great, occasionally recognizable, but usually not "name" actors) tale of a potentially supernatural/paranormal, shocking, freakish, bizarre, incredibly coincidental, ironic, or outlandish event. The"game" or "test" is for you to ponder and evaluate the plausibility or likelihood of these stories; which were created by the show's writers, and which did they base upon phenomena that, according to interviews and research, supposedly have taken place in the past for real people?
The hosts (James Brolin in the half-length first season and the overwhelmingly fan-favored Jonathan Frakes during the remaining three) proffer some possible explanations, theories, and interpretations, then leave it up to you to make your guesses and check them at the end. The viewer does end up wishing that this were a 1.5-hour program so that the "true stories" behind the "facts" could be explored with more than a simple yes or no, or a couple scant details regarding the general location and time period. However, it is what it is, and what it is, is brilliant. It's my opinion that both hosts are wonderful, and create the proper spooky atmosphere—using illusions, props, creative set pieces, and cheeky jokes to introduce each segment and reveal the answers in the end. However, Frakes definitely does have the edge over Brolin, as he simply owned the show and fully made it his own. He's the one with whom you primarily associate it; his enthusiasm, mischievous grins, sly, witty remarks, amusing puns, more-elaborate set, and overall perfect attitude suited the series ideally, to a T. They struck gold in getting him for it, bringing that special touch.
Every one of the 255 individual stories contained within this one 45- episode series has something great to offer—its own characters (many to love, and many to love to hate!), unique setting, compelling themes again, they are so memorable and so varied that it's tricky to sum them up. You WILL have favorites, and ones that haunt you, sticking with you even if you've seen them but once and can eventually only recall certain key details. There's just so much excellence to be had—frights, laughs, thrills, even tears. Few things can really compare with BB:FoF (those that can to some degree include Are You Afraid of the Dark?, the Goosebumps books and certain episodes, Tales From the Darkside, Tales From the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, Urban Legends, Night Visions, The Outer Limits, Unsolved Mysteries, and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark trilogy—which has a number of directly corresponding stories.)
This is an outstanding, very special show that has generated many terrific times and memories for me personally. Memories of waiting with eager anticipation to play along with each new episode on Fox every Friday night, watching alongside my mom and little brother in the living room of reliving the absorbed memories again and again, helping friends and others to remember and re-watch stories they couldn't fully recall, after I discovered that they too had been fans playing episodes in my friend's car on a trip via portable DVD player keeping records as I played along, summing up every story as I went so that I'd have the entire show straight in my head typing up my segment-finding key for the 12 discs once I'd purchased it discovering that there'd been an entire fourth season I had not gotten to see on TV, finally owning it in English, and experiencing that magnificent, irretrievable sense of first-viewing joy and surprise.
I hadn't even known there was actually more for me to see. I wrote letters telling the producers how desperately I wished to see another season, how thrilled I'd be at the chance to audition to be in a story, how willing I was to write some myself and, oh, how I DO wish there were more new episodes to get excited over! No reason not to pick this amazing show up for a renewed/revived Season 5 and/or 6! Just keep researching those unbelievable, fantastic stories—such things happen, and are reported quite frequently make up some more, write/cast/film the things, et voilà! Best thing ever. I'm sure Frakes would resume hosting, and a great many talented actors—including his Star Trek brethren—would willingly contribute their acting skills. The show was a Canadian production, so there would likely be more Canadians game to act, too. ;) I had intended to reenact a few segments as a university film class project, but alas, didn't have enough time in the semester for such an awesome undertaking.
Well, to return to the original point this entire series demands a high- quality English-language release, and it should certainly be available to steam. It's a shame that my (admittedly very well-put-together) DVD set had to be a bootlegger. The show must be remembered and celebrated as the television marvel it is. So find it whichever way you can, grab a blanket and some popcorn, kick back, and enjoy. Get into the mood. You won't regret it—unless you don't enjoy creepy, scary stuff, of course. In which case you might do yourself a favor to find a viewing buddy, or at least snug your best plush pal!)
It's somewhat of an anthology as we have a variety of tales some true some not, sort of like with the show "One Step Beyond" another forgotten gem. It's also sort of a game show, throughout our viewing we are constantly being challenged into guessing which stories are true or false. I honestly wasn't discouraged when I guessed wrong or saw that one story I enjoyed was fiction that was just part of the game and that's part of the point of the show, how sometimes the line between both fact and fiction can be a blur and how sometimes our perception we hold on the line between them isn't always what we think.
Just the way the stories we're told and enacted some of them are a stretch to believe and sometimes that feeling of scepticism is correct. But when we discover the stories are true, I'll admit it really blew me away and made the story even better because of that. Though even some of the fictional stories I enjoyed because even though they we're true they were fun all the same, and the way the story unfolds almost felt like they could have been.
I thought the reenactments or even just plain stories were well done and well-acted (ok, not every one of them but in reenactment segments it happens). Some of actors in them are ones you may have seen before, most notably sci-fi and horror alumni like Ashley Lawrence you know from the first two "Hellraiser" films, Grace Park from "Battlestar Galactica", and many more. In a way this sort of adds to the game show element as you constantly trying to spot the familiar faces much as anyone trying to find Waldo in the "Where's Waldo" books.
I even like the host, there were two of them and both I thought were good in their own way like James Brolin whom has a sort of calm subtlety to him. But to me it was Johnathan Frakes whom I thought was great he just has this energy and charisma. I even love it whenever there are these elaborate props involved in the host segments, much like with Hitchcock in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" before each tale that correlate with it.
There are a lot of stories I like I'll just says three since there is a lot. Whether their true or not I won't say you'll just have to see them and find out for yourself.
1. Damsel: This one may seem like a tired cliché hence the title, but whose to say this can't happen. Ashley Lawrence as I mentioned before is in this one and is just fraking hot as usual. Like her character whom is sympathetic as she's a person looking for love and hasn't much luck, yeah, we've all been there; however as an old saying goes her luck is about to change.
2. Graffiti: It's a story that takes place in a time long gone, on a teenage trouble maker that could have a psychic ability he uses for evil and his connection with a message constantly scrawled, once we find out the meaning of that message at the end of the story, I'll admit it gave me a cold chill.
3. Dead Beat Dad: This one is on a person (played by Laura Haring from "Mulholland Drive") that either could be a guardian angel or have the power of suggestion delivering justice toward a cheating lowlife gambler. I just though it was a cool E.C. comic like tale seeing scum of society getting poetic justice.
Overall, if you're into the unexplained phenomena genre this is a show worth checking out. But remember, truth can be stranger than fiction.
Rating: 4 stars
The episodes are well acted out, with stories that play with your detective mind and gets you trying to sort out if they are based on true events or not. The creepiness factor gives you an edge-of-your-seat experience. I also like how you could participate in the show and keep your own tally of guessing the "fact or fiction" factor of each story.
Again, an entertaining TV show - excellent and appealing.
Update: All four seasons are now available for streaming from Amazon Prime, though the last 3 seasons are still not on DVD!