Freeform, part of the Disney|ABC Television Group, is banking on the “binge-ability” of its new original one-hour drama series Beyond and is releasing the entire first season along with the linear premiere.
The network announced at New York Comic-Con on Friday that all ten episodes will be available to stream on the Freeform app, Freeform.com, Hulu and OnDemand starting with the show’s two-hour premiere event on January 2, 2017.
The decision is part of the network’s efforts to modernize after Disney rebranded the channel formerly known as ABC Family in January.
“One of the promises we made to our audience at the time was to create content they love and to make that content easily accessible,” said Tom Ascheim, president of Freeform. “In the same way we modernized our brand, we are modernizing how we bring our shows to our audience. Beyond is our first, and definitely not our last, ‘binge-from-the-start’ show,” Ascheim said.
The new “Spielbergian” series is part sci-fi mystery, part family drama. Holden Matthews falls into a coma as a teenager amid mysterious circumstances (think Close Encounters of the Third Kind) and wakes up 12 years later with a bionic body and a heartthrob face.
In the series premier, audiences follow Holden as he tries to make sense of some peculiar newly acquired talents, the decade that he missed (his little league field is now an Apple store) and the family that has been living life without him all these years (his kid brother is now in college).
At New York Comic-Con, the show’s creator and executive producer Adam Nussdorf revealed that his inspiration came from the movies he loved to watch as a kid.
“I always wanted to do something that reflected the movies that I grew up on—ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind—early Spielberg; something that had an emphasis on character and emotion but at the same time pushed the boundaries into science fiction.”
“The beauty of the show is that…you can watch it as a family drama as well as a supernatural thriller,” added executive producer Tim Kring. Producers cast 24-year-old Canadian actor Burkely Duffield as Holden in part due to his ability to portray a twenty-something going through adolescent milestones with a doe-eyed innocence that felt natural.
“He’s so likable no matter what he does, and you just root for him,” said Nussdorf of the show’s lead. “He could be like drowning a cat and…you’d kind of look at Burk and say, ‘oh, that cat must be heavy.’”
Duffield said he was attracted to the series because the script was strong and the main character’s evolution was so compelling.
“The character’s journey is really just amazing. It was a fun acting job to take on,” he shared with the audience at New York Comic-Con.
Producers are hoping viewers agree come January. “It’s a very ‘binge-able’ show…I hope that people get hooked and keep watching,” said Nussdorf.
Producer Tim Kring assured the audience that Beyond was conceived as a crowd-pleaser. “The show has a lot of story to tell and it doesn’t hold back. I think the frustration level when you watch it is really reduced because the show keeps delivering answers and clues. You’re going to have a ride that is very satisfying along the way.”
Beyond premiers on January 2 at 9 p.m. EST on Freeform.