14 December 2010

Beyond and Back

Sunday Night I watched a show on the Biography Channel called I Survived... Beyond and Back. The official website describes it as follows:

I Survived... Beyond and Back reveals one of life's greatest mysteries by profiling the extraordinary stories of people who have literally passed on to the other side. The series combines the compelling and emotionally gripping stories of I Survived... with the unexplainable experiences some people... "

I read about it from comments on Michael Prescott's Blog. After two hours I have a really mixed reaction. The parts that I like I really like, and the parts that I dislike I really dislike.

To start off, the show opens with a juvenile, ghoulish, really cheesy neon green slime covering the original I Survived... opening screen, and from this slime drips the words "Beyond and Back" like ooh, it's spooky or something. Already I'm wondering if I'm supposed to take this program seriously or not with an opening straight out of a second grade class' Halloween special.

The program features three different people telling stories of the day they died, what killed them, what they saw on the other side, how they came back, and how their life has changed afterward. This is wonderful. The world needs at least nine more programs like this where people tell of their death experiences. It is uplifting and magnificent and the people are treated with great respect and no one tries to debunk anything. Their first hand accounts are presented of their experiences along with the experiences of the people who helped revive them, and that's it. There is no armchair commentator, just people telling their own stories. This is raw data, and I love data, completely unsullied by intellectualism of any kind.

The bad part is that all three stories are told simultaneously. Each person will tell a little bit of their story, then the program cuts to the next person and the next, then there's a commercial. After the commercial the people resume their stories in the same order. When the stories resume there's a brief recap of what was said, something that would be completely unnecessary if each person could tell their story in its entirety without being cut off. There are four commercial breaks per hour show, so there's a whole lot of repetition, just like in Buddhist stories, only not to drill the point home but to remind the viewer what just happened because the format sucks. The show is made very confusing and roughly half an hour of material is padded into a full hour show It is difficult to really get into any one story when in ADD fashion they're presented in little bites.

When each person dies theire's a neon green EKG thing that beeps a couple of times then goes flat. Periodically throughout each person's story there's a little thing that reads:

♥Heart Stopped

It ticks for three or four seconds, making a very annoying and strange tolling sound every second. This sound is probably the worst part of the show. They couldn't have used any of the many more obvious sounds to mark the passage of each second, a tick, a beep, no, they use the most bizarre and annoying sound possible. All the while the story does not progress until the timer disappears.

The people tell their stories of what they saw on the other side, some accounts are very short (the shortest I recall was just over 3 minutes) and some are almost an hour (57 minutes was the longest). Meanwhile the people who are with their physical body tells the story of how they try to revive them.

When the people are revived the EKG thing reappears, their heart beating again. They then tell how their life has changed, and boy howdy has it ever. They are more loving, jovial, compassionate people who appreciate life more. They also have to readapt to life on earth. This part too is wonderful.

What Beyond and Back is is not a typical NDE program, it is a NDE program with Hollywood flair added and cheap special effects to capture an audience with a three second attention span. However, it is not a debunking program but is instead sympathetic to these people's experiences and for that I am greatful. Overall I will continue to watch Beyond and Back, at least for awhile. I recommend the program to you, my valued couple of readers and invite you to make up your own minds.