Hulu's 'Castle Rock': A Unique Fling with Stephen King
By Ed Bark, TVWorthWatching.com
's 'Uncle Barky's Bytes' - Jul. 25, 2018
Screen adaptations of Stephen King’s work long ago entered the realm of countless.
Ah, but Hulu’s Castle Rock
turns out to be a frightmare apart from the likes of Carrie, The Shining, It, Cujo, Under the Dome, Pet Sematary, Christine, Bag of Bones, The Dead Zone, The Shawshank Redemption, and Salem’s Lot -- to name just a few.
As the opening credits note, Castle Rock is “based on characters and settings” created by Stephen King. Which means that its story revisits some of his old haunts without otherwise borrowing from one of his previous novels or short stories. It’s, instead, taking pages from FX’s Fargo series, which was inspired by the classic Joel and Ethan Coen film but told all-new stories populated by original characters. The brothers gave executive producer Noah Hawley their blessing and otherwise pretty much stayed away. King similarly is taking a hands-off approach with Castle Rock after giving the go-ahead.
A production team headed by J. J. Abrams (Lost, Alias, and several Star Wars and Star Trek feature films) also hopes to replicate the Fargo motif of new tales and casts each season. Hulu’s first go-around with Castle Rock will have ten episodes, with the initial three being made available for streaming on Wednesday, July 25
. TV critics were allowed to pre-screen a fourth episode as well. Based on what I’ve seen, this seems to be another pretty terrific handoff, with Abrams and the writers leaving a number of King-related “Easter eggs” hiding in plain sight while also ratcheting up the atmospheric tension.
Castle Rock looks to be one of the best King things in years, even though the man himself serves primarily as a roadmap and blueprint. It’s nothing against him -- because without him there’d be no foundation. But damned if FX didn’t turn Fargo into a series that rose to the level of the movie and arguably surpassed it. And now here comes Hulu with a fighting chance to do the same over several seasons to come. Please, though, don’t send in the clowns. At least not this first time.