I’ve said it before, and I’ll remind you again: The Twilight Zone has been a constant in my life. A favourite of both mine and my dad’s. Every holiday when there’s a marathon it’s on. It doesn’t matter how many times we’ve seen each episode. It’s a treasured part of the family culture.
So when I learned there was a 70s show nearly identical in style and format, I knew I had to give it a whirl. The Next Step Beyond was a revival of its 1950s counterpart, One Step Beyond, with many of the episodes remakes of the originals. The revival apparently wasn’t very successful and met its demise within the year.
Unlike The Twilight Zone, many of the stories in the “stepping beyond” cannon claim to be based on real events. “The Haunted Inn” doesn’t attempt to make that claim, but it could easily be a ghost story claimed by any historical inn’s free pamphlet.
Chris Stabler is an artist. On his journey to a town, he soon realises he’s lost. He stops when he sees a young in woman in white, and she directs him to a nearby inn to stay in. But she refuses his help when he offers her a life.
When Chris finds the inn, he discovers it’s charming and historical. The only other guest is Miss Argus, a writer who pens ghost stories. The only employee of the place, Peter Combs, warns Chris not to take anything Miss Argus says seriously because of her imagination.
But Peter soon discovers on his own that the inn is unusual. He hears the noise of people talking and a party, but never seems to be able to find the source of the sounds. then he meets Lucianne, the woman who gave him directions. Only Lucianne can’t remember him at all.
As Peter’s stay continues, the circumstances get stranger. His painting styles keep changing. He keeps hearing the sounds. Finally he decides to leave with Lucianne, who surprisingly agrees. Miss Argus, though, decides to stay behind, happy to have finally found the ghosts she’s sought for so many years.
The night before Peter’s exit, he wakes to find Lucianne in his bed. Only it turns out she isn’t quite what he thought she was.
“The Haunted Inn” is pretty cute with its simple premise. There’s nothing wrong with this episode. It’s pretty entertaining. But it does lack clarity and style, which makes it nothing to write home about. By playing to the rules of a typical haunting, there really aren’t many surprises here.
I’d certainly be willing to give the show another try and watch a few more episodes. Though hunting down quality videos seems to be an issue. Overshadowed by the original and The Twilight Zone, it appears as though The Next Step Beyond has been neglected by time.