Horror and fantasy author Stephen King has seen many of his books turned into movies and mini-series over the years, but only one regular TV series (The Dead Zone). John Smith is alone no longer -- Syfy has ordered 13 episodes of Haven, a series based on King's The Colorado Kid, about newspaper reporters discussing an unsolved mystery in Maine. We'd be excited, except... The Colorado Kid? Not only is it a minor work with no real plot to speak of, it also seems to have little in common with Haven, which involves an FBI agent assigned to a town populated by people who are cursed. Basically, it's been turned into an average Syfy series -- call it Eureka Sanctuary Warehouse Town. While we'll still watch it, we couldn't help but think of more prominent King works (as well as a few more hook-y short stories) that might make for more interesting TV. Here are ten we'd love to see.
Under the Dome
King's latest book may get turned into an cable series courtesy of Steven Spielberg, and we say "Lock that up, HBO!" We'd love to see this story of a small Maine town, cut off from the outside world and fighting over the limited resources they have left, play out on a week-by-week basis.
Now that The Vampire Diaries is bringing that Twilight vampire heat to the small screen, what better time to bring back this story of a town falling under the spell of vampires, this time as a weekly drama? In addition to following the ongoing storyline of the town being slowly drained dry, we'd love to see a cool flashback episode about the town's cursed history based on the short story "Jerusalem's Lot," and a flashforward episode based on "One for the Road."
Castle Rock, Maine, has been made famous in a good number of King's books, as well as a feature film version of this very novel. But the story of an antique store run by the devil, spreading its influence through the town by causing characters to turn evil and act in unexpected ways, could make for great weekly TV.
The Running Man
While we love the over-the-top Arnold Schwarzenegger movie it inspired, the original story was more like The Fugitive in its description of a dystopic, state-sponsored game show, where the contestants have to elude capture by the show's agents. The action scenes would keep the audience on the edge of their seat, while the subplot of Ben Richards trying to take down the sadistic Games Federation would keep them coming back. For double the emotional investment, the show can follow the lead Hunter, as well, as he discovers that his prey isn't the villain he's made out to be.
Umney's Last Case
Already adapted into a single episode for the Nightmares & Dreamscapes mini-series based on King's short stories, we've seen the story of how a modern-day writer inserts himself into the role of a hard-boiled fictional detective. But what happens after that? A modern man investigating crimes in the 1940s, trying to master the lingo and learning a lot about detective work could be pretty hysterical -- like Quantum Leap and Bored to Death rolled into one.
The Dark Half
It may smack slightly of My Own Worst Enemy, but this Jekyll-and-Hyde tale of a writer who finds out that his alter ego is a brutal sadist could be gruesomely awesome. It's like if Dexter didn't know what he did at night! Throw in the glamorous Hollywood life of Entourage and Nip/Tuck, with the married writer visiting the set of a movie based on his book by day and banging starlets and murdering unfaithful screenwriters by night, and you've really got something good.
Mrs. Todd's Shortcut
At the end of King's short story, Maine resident Homer drives off with the titular Mrs. Todd, a woman who has discovered "shortcuts" that dramatically cut short the travel time to places by taking them through a primordial forest in an alternate dimension. What happens next we'd have to extrapolate, but maybe they fight crime? By always knowing how to beat a bank robber to his hideout, or a kidnapper to his victim, Homer and Mrs. Todd have a distinct advantage, and if they get to explore that creepy alternate dimension every now and again, so much the better.
The Talisman has been in development for a while, but TNT backed out of making it a mini-series due to budgetary issues. With good reason -- the story jumps back and forth between our world and a parallel Earth, where a boy and his werewolf companion have to retrieve a talisman to save his mother's life. But maybe they could focus more on Jack's grown-up life -- as a retired cop in the novel Black House -- and only flash back to his reality-hopping adventures occasionally?
In this sci-fi story, teleportation between worlds is possible, but only if you aren't awake during the trip, or else you go mad. With a slight modification to the premise, what if being awake during teleporting only makes you go... wrong? Slightly off individuals who have undergone the teleportation seem to be united in some sinister purpose, and this show could take us inside a group of resistance fighters who want to stop teleported people from selling out humanity to whatever force has infected them.
The Dark Tower
The jewel in the King's crown, The Dark Tower is a sprawling epic, incorporating elements of many King novels and spilling over into others. But at its heart is a dying, magical frontier world where a gunslinger attempts to reach the tower that is said to be a nexus of realities, including our own. Along the way, he faces many enemies, travels with many companions, and faces the frightening fruit of many genres, including a giant lobster, a cyborg bear and an evil monorail. Even with some budget-minded editing, a TV adaptation would still have plenty of material to work with in the seven (soon to be eight) books, not to mention the prequel comic book series, short stories like "The Little Sisters of Eluria," and tangentially connected books like Insomnia and Rose Madder. Plus, if they reach the seventh book, Stephen King can play himself!
Which Stephen King adaptation is your favorite? Anyone who says The Langoliers can leave now.
For more from Television Without Pity: