BEYOND Showrunner Tim Kring On Crafting a “Spielbergian” Thriller
With Freeform’s latest sci-fi young adult drama days away, it’s hard not to be overly eager about what this mysterious thriller has to offer. Especially with a mind like Tim Kring behind it.
Known for his work on Heroes, Crossing Jordan and Touch, Kring has a way of mixing character driven dramas and high-concept genre into a creatively compelling story. And if you’ve seen the promos, it’s clear that Kring’s touch is everywhere in Beyond. Both a sci-fi and coming of age drama, Beyond follows a teen boy after he awakes from a 12 year coma. Not only must he learn how to do tasks many of us take for granted (such as learning to drive and dating), but manage a bevy of weird super powers he somehow picked up in his decade long slumber.
In typical Freeform style, the 10 episode series will play on everything that makes YA programming great (an attractive cast, relationship drama, universally relatable moments and a keen sense of humor). But what’s become clearer from the shows various promos is how it plans to use those elements to enhance the show’s distinctive science fiction and mystery storytelling.
ScreenSpy recently sat down with Kring to discuss Beyond. During our conversation we tackled the show’s inspiration and how Kring’s past experience helped inform the story and direction of the series.
ScreenSpy: Where did the inspiration for this series come from?
Tim Kring: I think [Adam] was very influenced by the kind of Spielbergien, Amblin tone that we all kind of loved from the 80s. But the attempt was to do a show that had multiple entry points. That worked as a family drama and worked a conspiracy thriller, and that has some sci-fi elements in it. I think partly that’s why the show is unique. It has multiple entries for audiences. There’s even a little bit of comedy and pathos in the idea of waking up in a body that doesn’t feel like your own. Suddenly he’s this handsome young man and he went into a coma when he was a teenager. Now he has to learn how to do all of these things that all of us take for granted that we know how to do — talking to girls, driving. That would have been enough to make a series out of, but then we layer on the supernatural and the idea that something was uncovered during that 12 years he was gone.
ScreenSpy: When you were sitting down and writing the series, knowing that part of it plays off of the drama of your lead being gone for years, were there certain types of comedic or emotional moments you wanted to play?
Kring: Oh yeah. It’s an origins story so we get to watch Holden literally wake up from the coma. But as the show goes on — it doesn’t take place in a large amount of time, 10 episodes for the first season — we get to see him for the first time go to a house party and for the first time and learn how to drive or shave. We’re going to explore all of these sort of firsts for him that I think the audience will find really relatable. Even though they don’t wish that to happen to them, they will find it super relatable.
ScreenSpy: Did your history with super power shows and characters make you hesitant to take this show on or did you feel this was sufficiently different territory that it would be a new challenge?
Kring: I felt it was sufficiently different, but at the same time there are similarities that I still find fascinating. The key part I find fascinating is characters who are dealing with really existential questions as opposed to plot questions. The existential questions to me are always more fascinating. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? How am I connected to the larger world? Those are much more interesting to me then the plot questions.
ScreenSpy: What draws you to telling stories about people with powers?
Kring: For me the powers are not particularly fascinating because they’re the layer on top of it. You know, I was a religious studios major in college and my fascination probably pre-dated that. But there has been a thread in my life with my writing and things that I have thought about a lot that seem to connect to those kind of primal, almost spiritual questions. I think that this show also basically — even the title — tells you that it’s about the most basic of questions that all of us has to deal with at some point in our life. And that is what lies beyond this life?
Beyond officially premieres on Freeform on January 2, 2017, at 9:00 p.m. PST, with a two-hour premiere.
Additionally, fans can binge the entire first season (all ten episodes) via digital platforms (the Freeform App, Freeform.com, On Demand and Hulu) from January 2.