BEYOND Boss Talks Character Plans & Bombshell Reveals For Season One
Beyond is a one-hour drama about to hit screens this January.
The ambitious new series focuses on about Holden (Burkely Duffield), a young man who wakes up from a coma after 12 years and discovers new abilities that propel him into the middle of a dangerous conspiracy. Now Holden must try and figure out what happened to him during those 12 years; how to survive a world that changed while he was gone; and answer the question, why did this happen to him?
This summer, ScreenSpy sat down with Beyond writer and showrunner Adam Nussdorf to talk about where the show will take fans over the course of its first season, and what plans are in place for its core characters.
ScreenSpy: What is your role as a co-showrunner for Beyond?
Adam Nussdorf: I am in the writer’s room every day basically making sure the stories themselves get delivered on time and are as good as they possibly could be. David [Eick] is the other showrunner, and he’s been on several successful TV shows, so he knows the logistics of producing, and I like to concentrate on the writing.
ScreenSpy: How did you go about building your writers’ room considering the number of genres and dramatic nuances you have to write for with this show?
AN: We definitely wanted people who enjoy the sci-fi genre, but across the board the thing we looked for was: could they tell an emotional, grounded story? Can they tell the story if they remove all of the sci-fi elements? If you take away all of the superpowers, are you still able — or want — to tell a story about a guy who’s missed 12 years of his life and is now thrown back into a life that has left him behind? We definitely wanted to build this from the ground up, keeping it as grounded and emotional as possible rather than finding someone who could write a really great scene where two people are flying through the air having a fist fight. Which I love, by the way. [Laughs] Hopefully one day we have the budget to show people flying through the air having a fist fight.
ScreenSpy:You want people though who can write for the superhero source material though, right? Otherwise you might get stuck when you need to address it as the writers may not have those interests or skills.
AN: Our touchstones were Spielberg movies and I’m a big fan of Ryan Johnson, James Cameron — these types of directors, so we really just worked to find people who wanted to tell an emotional story.
ScreenSpy: Was there a particular scene or moment in the show that you felt audiences were going to be really compelled by? Keeping in mind you’ve essentially been able to see the story’s entire scope since the beginning?
AN: It’s funny — and I’m not just saying this — every episode is its own unique story and every episode takes the story in a new and exciting direction. It definitely builds over the course of the season and I think that the last couple of episodes are tremendously exciting.
We introduce a lot of new and exciting characters in the middle of the season and we have a couple bombshell reveals in the third episode. At every step of the way we try to make this as exciting as possible.
What we didn’t want was to save all of our cool reveals for the very end. We wanted to make every episode stand on its own and I think we’ve done that.
ScreenSpy: How early on do you have to figure out the rules of your universe when you’re writing? Do you have to sort of put everything on the table early on to make sure your story’s continuity holds?
AN: Yes. Early on, even before we started breaking the second episode, we talked about broad strokes: who is Holden, what can he do, where are we taking him over the course of the season, what types of stories do we want to tell, what types of stories do we not want to tell?
Even if there is a moment where he does something spectacular it’s because we planned it four episodes in advance. We’re very, very careful about leading up to those moments. We want to make it feel authentic and we want the audience to be on this ride with Holden, so the minute they’re not — the minute Holden does something that creates a separation between him and the audience — we’ve failed in some way. So we try to ease the audience along as Holden discovers these things for himself.
ScreenSpy: Are there any sci-fi or superheroes shows that had an influence on Beyond that might give audiences a sense of what to expect when watching?
AN: Stranger Things. It definitely plays in that love of early Amblin movies in space. I am a big fan of Sense8 just because of how unbelievably ambitious it is. It is 100 percent character-centric and yet there are these big action set pieces that you’re so invested in yet you care for the people at the story center. Just the scope of that show and the care that it takes in each and everyone of these emotional storylines is something that I’m in awe of and definitely tried to bring to Beyond.
That said, my first job was an as an assistant on Lost, so there’s definitely a lot of Lost in it. I was an assistant to Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz who created Once Upon A Time, and I learned a huge amount of just genre storytelling and character-centric storytelling from Eddie and Adam. Just watching them and seeing how they tell these fantastical stories with a concentration on character.
ScreenSpy: What makes Beyond a series worth watching — something cooler or more creative than they’ve seen elsewhere?
AN: I think much in a way that The Wizard of Oz kind of took audiences to something they had never seen before or expected to see, I think Beyond does that on television. I think you’ll see a lot of scope, you’ll see a lot of feature level effects and feature level set pieces done on television. And you’re definitely going to get a wild ride.
The two-hour series premiere of Beyond airs Monday, January 2, 2017 on Freeform.