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LDS producer creates show for all things 'geek'

From the time Joe Gillis was a young boy, he had a fascination with all things "geek." But he never found an entertainment outlet that explored everything this world had to offer.

“I was sitting there thinking, ‘Man, I wish there was a show that would delve into all these different things,’ ” the California-based producer said. “There are shows out there that delve into one thing or the other, but not so much hitting a bunch of different things. It was something that I would watch, something that I would like, so that’s when I decided to go ahead and make this show.”

The result is "Beyond Geek," a new television series "that explores people that are pushing the limits of science, technology and everything geek," according to the show's website. Gillis wanted to bring attention to the fact that there are a lot of different "geeks" in the world and that the word doesn’t have to be an insult.

One of the more recent episodes follows a group of grown men in Southern California who dress up as superheroes to "fight crime and do good in their communities."

As the host (who was also dressed up) and the heroes patrolled the streets of San Diego, they came upon a man who was lying on the sidewalk, vomiting.

“These guys were getting made fun of as we were walking the streets,” Gillis said. “It's crazy that it’s a bunch of guys dressed as superheroes that were the ones who stopped to help out and take care of the situation. They were the ones that were making sure that this guy was OK. It’s crazy to me that we have reached the point where we will just walk by a guy who’s just lying on the street.”

Other episodes of the show feature a couple that creates games for an outdated gaming console, groups of people who participate in live-action role-playing, and people who are trying to make it to space in balloons.

Gillis’ goal is to show audiences across the country that what seems crazy at first can actually prove to be real genius.

Gillis and some of the members of his crew belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and know what it's like to be misunderstood.

“People don’t often know what we believe," he said. "They might think we are weird or totally different. They don’t understand that we are just normal. For some reason I think that we are viewed as crazy people. If people can just get to see that we are normal, that is a positive thing across the board.”

Gillis' lifestyle raises a lot of questions, giving him the opportunity to share his personal beliefs with those he works with.

As a member of the LDS Church, Gillis wants to uphold his standards by making a show that is successful, fun and appropriate for families of any faith to watch.

“You really have to know what your line is, and you can’t let it budge,” he said.

Gillis said that it takes some serious work to create a show that is completely appropriate in a world that is becoming increasingly inappropriate, especially in television. Sometimes he is pitched a story that he has to turn down because it goes against the standards established for his show.

“That’s where I think it is important to have people that go out there and find stuff that is OK for the whole family to watch,” Gillis said. “It’s important to get out there and show people that you can do this stuff and be successful.”

"Beyond Geek" is airing on public television and PBS stations. For a state-by-state list of where the show airs, visit beyondgeek.com/watch/.