Once upon a time, there was a show that boasted a beautifully simple concept. The viewer would be witness to three unrelated logic-defying stories over the course of the episode, two of which would be completely fabricated by the show’s writers, and one of which would be based on true events. The audience’s job? To guess which one was the fake before the episode’s end.
Before Black Mirror, Electric Dreams, and The Twilight Zone reboot, there was the ‘90s anthology TV series Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction. Beyond Belief is famous for two things; one: it served as a platform for an interactive viewer experience far before the days of Bandersnatch, and two: it was hosted by Star Trek’s Jonathan Frakes.
Although the thriller series was hosted by James Brolin in season one, Frakes stepped in as the suited and booted guide of the show for its remaining seasons. And my, what an impression he made. In a move that harkens back to the original Twilight Zone series, every episode was introduced to us by Frakes, who walked through foggy mysterious rooms that often contained relevant props to accompany the tales he was about to feed us.
Frakes would introduce each segment, which resulted in some nonsensical sound bites when taken out of context. Alongside his usual reveal at the end of each episode, typically consisting of some variation of, “Nope, we made it up,” Frakes’ performance was forever immortalized by several viral video compilations that showcased all his brilliant segues into each story.
But is it not unfair? For this digitized version of Frakes to be trapped in a pixelated Hell, always asking questions for which he will never get an answer? Well, The Digital Fix decided that enough was enough and sent one of our own, Jessica Cullen, to finally give Frakes exactly what he deserves: a response. What follows is a transcript of that conversation.
Jonathan Frakes: Have you ever walked out of a mall into a huge parking area, and realized you’d forgotten where you’d parked your car?
Jessica: Well, I never, ever forget where I put anything. And on the extreme off-chance that I do, I just blame whoever is closest to me and make the immediate atmosphere a living nightmare to exist in.
Ever gone mountain biking?
I can’t say that I have. I’m very anti-sport, for political reasons.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
What’s the right tip?
20%. I’d rather eat needles than confess to things not being to my liking, so the odds of me giving below the recommended tip even when the meal was awful are extremely low.
Have you called a plumber to your home lately?
No. I do not own a home. Thanks for reminding me.
How superstitious are you?
Probably to a level of concern. My life has been dictated by ladders, broken mirrors, and magpies for so long that I fear I’m no longer able to think for myself. The immense temptation I often feel to open an umbrella indoors out of sick curiosity scares me.
How much money would it take to make you spend a night in a cemetery?
$506.12, and I get to bring some bones home with me.
Would you display this (points to mounted antlers) in your home as a trophy?
Only if I had bested the beast in a fair fight.
Do you have a pet?
There’s an army of ants taking over our kitchen which I’m trying to train to do my bidding.
Do you have a sweet tooth?
At this point, my teeth would dissolve in the rain.
Do you believe in the power of a curse?
I believe that we’re all cursed with the inability to escape our own fears and anxieties, and will be forever despaired with the knowledge of our finite morality, understanding full well that there’s nothing we can do to stop the oncoming shadow of the ultimate end.
Have you had your hearing tested lately?
Yes. I had a mysterious recurring thumping sound in my ear last year. It might be because I spend 97% of the time walking around with my headphones turned up to maximum volume. (I refuse to be left alone with my thoughts for a single moment.)
Planning a trip soon?
Not really. It usually hurts and it’s embarrassing when others watch you fall, so I don’t see why I would plan it, Jonathan.
Can you remember the tallest man you’ve ever seen?
I make a point to stay away from tall men.
Do ya love to go a’wanderin’ beneath a clear blue sky?
This…this means so much to me, this question. I…I think I do. I do like to go a’wanderin’ beneath a clear blue sky. My God…I can see it now.
Have you noticed what big stars real estate agents have become?
Yes, and I’m frightened and confused.
Are you careful with your personal records?
No need. I don’t collect vinyl.
Does your computer ever seem to have a mind of its own?
Only when I’m trying to use it.
Have you ever visited a Chinatown section in a major city?
Have you ever visited a flea market?
Frequently, but I’m a terrible haggler. In fact, I pay them to keep the goods.
Have you ever visited a truck stop?
No, I’m scared of trucks, and even more so of the word ‘stop’.
Did you ever have a job as a waiter?
I worked as a waitress in both part and full time capacity from the years 2016-2019, and it provided some of the most harrowing days and out-of-body experiences I’ve ever had. 100% true story: One time, when I was closing, a man (with, seemingly, one of his eyes closed) came in and asked if he could swap some cash — a twenty for two tens. I complied, and then with the two tens in each hand, he held one out to me and said, “Do you want one?” Hesitantly, I responded, “…Okay.” He then whipped both the notes back, cackled, and declared, “Why would I give you money? I’ve only got one eye!” and then disappeared into the night.
Have you noticed how many successful restaurants are theme-based these days?
Not enough, in my opinion.
Have you ever had the desire to write your initials in wet cement?
I’ve genuinely never seen wet cement in real life, so I think this is something that was invented by the movies, like quicksand or happiness.
So, there you have it. But was this conversation real, or the invention of one of our writers? If you guessed that it was real…you’d be wrong. It was false. No way. Not this time. We created it. Nope. It’s totally made up. It’s fiction.
If you haven’t seen Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, go find yourself a route to watching it, stat. Otherwise, check out our ranking of the Black Mirror season 6 episodes, and the best Black Mirror episodes ever made. Or, take to our lists of the best horror movies and best ghost movies of all time. If it’s Frakes you seek, see if you agree with our list of every Star Trek series ranked.
Also, see why Anson Mount and Rebecca Romijn say Jonathan Frakes is basically the coolest guy ever. (Not that we needed convincing.)