The Thrilling Adventure Hour posted the last episode they recorded of Beyond Belief from their original 10 year run. If you’re unfamiliar with The Thrilling Adventure Hour (TAH), it is a podcast done in the style of 50s and 60s radio — you know, like when The Lone Ranger would come on at 6PM and the family would gather around the radio. Only in this case, the shows (including Beyond Belief) are comedic homages to that style of shows.
With my love of all things horror, Beyond Belief became the standout in The Thrilling Adventure Hour’s roster. Beyond Belief’s episodes revolve around the spooky situations that “married mediums” Frank and Sadie Doyle get into. The show is rounded out by a constant stream of horror in-jokes, tongue-in-cheek references, and wonderful performances by Paget Brewster and Paul F. Tompkins.
Since TAH has now posted all of the episodes of Beyond Belief, I’ve been re-listening to them from the beginning. So here is my list of the episodes I recommend as a gateway drug to the downright creepy and hysterical world of Frank and Sadie Doyle. Feel free to note your favorite episodes in the comments. CLINK
1. Second Star to the Wrong
This is the episode that really cemented my love for the Doyles. Frank and Sadie are approached by Mr. George Darling, requesting their assistance in getting his wife back from a Pan (which Frank immediately clarifies is a “monstrous creature” and “not a cooking implement”). And in the creepiest twist on Peter Pan I’ve ever experienced, the Pan turns out to be a hand eating, soul sucking creature that can control the minds of people and animals. The jokes in this episode come quick but it’s the downright creepiness of the Pan (played by Tom Lenk) that really sells the episode.
2. Wishing Hell
A lot of the episodes of Beyond Belief are overt references to famous horror stories. The second episode, “Wishing Hell,” really kicked off this style by blending Stand by Me with IT into a hilarious backstory for Frank. Although the nudges towards the source are funny on their own, the best thing this episode sets up is Sadie’s love and humor for clowns and her reactions to Nightmares the Clown become a fantastic running joke throughout the series.
3. Teenagers of the Corn
Another episode with references to a Stephen King story with a dash of Village of the Damned, this episode follows the aftermath of Children of the Corn where the town is now run by the children who’ve grown up into teenagers. All the adults are terrified of them and they’re powers. Enter Frank and Sadie on a trip to visit the town’s corn whisky distillery. There, they attempt to figure out who is killing all the townsfolk with all fingers pointing to Evan (played by Jason Ritter).
4. Scream a Little Scream
I grew up on Roald Dahl’s books so this episode became one of my favorites as soon as I realized what they were referencing. This episode demonstrates just how talented Acker and Blacker can be when combining various source materials together — in this case, they combined Roald Dahl’s works with A Nightmare on Elm Street. These two opposing stories work in harmony by Acker and Blacker noting how horrifying some of Dahl’s works could be. There are also some great special guests in this episode with Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Night Vale fame and John Hodgman.
5. Dead & Breakfast
The ending, to some extent, to Beyond Belief, this episode plays with the idea of Frank and Sadie dying, once and for all. Dead & Breakfast is an homage to The Shining (there’s even creepy twins!) where the Doyles try to figure out which of the people they interact with is the ghost because obviously one of them is. With a revolving door of characters coming into the Doyle’s room, Frank and Sadie ask each one questions about what happened to figure out who is dead until the spirits turn the tables on the Doyles. The episode is a fitting conclusion for Frank and Sadie Doyle.