Stephen King Talks It, Mr. Mercedes, Shining, Stand & More TV Adapts

When CBS All Access' limited series adaptation of Stephen King's novel The Stand premieres this week, it will be the second time that the battle for the future of humanity between Mother Abagail (Whoopi Goldberg) and Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) has been brought to the small screen. But it's definitely not one of the first times one of King's works has been adapted for television- far, far from it. But while many have had opportunities to offer their thoughts on the quality of the execution, The New York Times gave King a chance to weigh in with his thoughts on the ones that worked (and those that didn't). We've pulled out some of the highlights that caught our eye- but to find out what King also thought about The Tommyknockers, The Langoliers, Storm of the Century, Rose Red, and more, you can check out the full article here).

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Stephen King offers his thoughts on past television adaptations (Image: screencap)

ABC's "It" (1990): King credits Tim Curry's Pennywise as being a major reason for the miniseries' success ("I liked that series a lot, and I thought Tim Curry made a great Pennywise. It scared the [expletive] out of a lot of kids at that time"), and believes it helped fuel the success of the 2017/2019 two-part film adaptation. "One of the reasons the movie was a big hit was because kids remembered seeing it on TV."

ABC's "The Stand" (1994): Adapted by the author himself and directed by Mick Garris, King credits the cohesiveness of their vision and staying true to the novel as major contributors to the miniseries' success. "Mick directed everything, and I wrote everything, so there was never any sense of unevenness in the way they worked — it had one single style all the way through it," King explained. "Mick loved the book and was dedicated to the idea that we would just do the book, which is what we did. ABC spent a lot of money on it."

ABC's "The Shining" (1997): We're not sure if you heard but King is really, really not a fan of Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation. "Let's put it this way," King said. "I dislike the film. I always have. I admire the film, and I admire Kubrick as a director, which sometimes gets lost in the mix when people who absolutely love that film take me to task. I love Kubrick as a filmmaker, but I just felt that he didn't have the chops for this particular thing." Oh, and Jack Nicholson wasn't anything to write home about for King, either. "I don't like the arc that Jack Nicholson runs as Jack Torrance. Because it isn't really an arc — it's a flat line. He's crazy from the jump." For King, Steven Weber's portrayal of the tragic lead was a better take. "He knew what he was supposed to be doing: He was supposed to express love for his family, and that the hotel just gradually overwhelms his moral sense and his love for his family," King explained. He also credits Rebecca De Mornay's Wendy Torrance as being "the way she's written in the book" and "the real reason I love that mini-series."

CBS' "Under the Dome" (2013): Time hasn't eased his thoughts on the Dean Norris-starring take on the 2009 novel. "The first few episodes were great. But the thing was, what CBS wanted was basically meatloaf — nothing too challenging, something to just fill some hours," King explained. Once the network and creative team looked to extend storylines outside of the dome while not answering basic, logical questions about the dome itself, that's when the series "went off the rails" and "descended into complete mediocrity." Though from the sounds of things, it was a "slow-death" experience that King had no interest in witnessing. "It was a sad thing, but it didn't bother me," King said. "I stopped watching after a while because I just didn't give a [expletive]."

Audience Network's "Mr. Mercedes" (2017): We take some pride in being in agreement with King when it comes to the Brendan Gleeson-starring series: another tragic case of a big fish slowly dying in the small pond that was Audience Network (can you name three other shows on it?). "It was like we brought a stadium show to a coffee shop," King bluntly explained. 'I liked it a lot, but nobody saw it." Hopefully, that will change now that the first three seasons are streaming on Peacock ("And thank God for that. People are actually seeing it now') and some rumblings about a possible fourth season.

Hulu's "Castle Rock" (2018): Created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, the Hulu series took a different approach to adapt King's works by looking to create a cohesive "King-verse" centered around the town of Castle Rock. "J.J. Abrams approached me and said he wanted to use the fictional town of Castle Rock as a staging area to take some of my characters and — it might sound grand to call it this — the mythos," King explained. "The people involved were big fans of those books, and I liked what they did quite a lot." The author also believes that the streaming service pulled the plug on the series way too soon. "In the second season, they really got their feet under them," King said. "I would have liked to have seen it go on and grow a little bit."

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The Stand premieres on CBS All Access in December (image: CBS All Access)

Here's a Look at Stephen King & CBS All Access' "The Stand"

The limited series's ensemble cast includes Alexander Skarsgard, Whoopi Goldberg, James Marsden, Amber Heard, Heather Graham, Greg Kinnear, Odessa Young, Henry Zaga, Jovan Adepo, Owen Teague, Brad William Henke, Daniel Sunjata, Nat Wolff, Eion Bailey, Katherine McNamara, Hamish Linklater, and Fiona Dourif, with Ezra Miller guest-starring as Trashcan Man. Set to premiere in the U.S. on Thursday, December 17, here's a look at the official trailer and our cast of characters:

Marsden's Stu Redman is an ordinary working-class factory man in an extraordinary situation with a damaged quality to him that belies his exterior. Heard's Nadine Cross is a deeply conflicted woman who feels the consequences of her actions but is still compelled by her allegiance to Randall Flagg, the Dark Man. Young's Frannie Goldsmith is a pregnant young woman navigating a strange new world, who also has the foresight to recognize that there is evil lurking beyond Flagg. Zaga's Nick Andros is a young deaf and mute man who finds himself in a position of authority when the unthinkable happens. He has a habit of risking his own well-being for the safety of others.

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Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Goldberg's Mother Abagail is a prophet who receives visions from God and guides survivors of the superflu. Adepo's Larry Underwood is a young musician with a taste for fame, as well as illegal substances. When the plague hits, he is forced to confront his demons as he makes his way to the new world. Teague's Harold Lauder goes in search of others with fellow survivor Frannie Goldsmith. While his intentions are good, jealousy and his infatuation with Frannie threaten to lead him down a dark path. Henke's Tom Cullen is Nick Andros' traveling companion who is developmentally disabled due to a terrible fall as a child. A sweet soul, he will be instrumental in their fight for survival. Sunjata's Cobb is a member of the military tasked with supervising Stu Redman as the government searches for a cure during the outbreak of the superglue.

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Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Skarsgard's Randall Flagg is the living, breathing personification of all things dark and evil. Wolff's Lloyd Henreid is a petty criminal who becomes fiercely loyal to Flagg. Bailey's Teddy Weizak is a superflu survivor and member of the body crew, alongside Harold, in Boulder, CO. McNamara's Julie Lawry is a small-town girl with a wild side who is one of Lloyd's conquests in Las Vegas. Linklater's Dr. Ellis is a military colonel and infectious-disease specialist who dreams of being the hero who stops the superglue. Graham's Rita Blakemoor is a wealthy woman who is ill-prepared for the end of the world and attempts to escape superflu-infested New York City. Kinnear's Glen Bateman is a widowed professor when the superflu hits – one accustomed to a solitary life. When he encounters other survivors, Glen's curiosity is piqued by Mother Abagail's visions. Dourif's "Rat Woman" is one of Randall Flagg's evil lackeys.

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"The End" — Ep#101 —Pictured: Coverage of the CBS All Access series THE STAND. Photo Cr: Robert Falconer/CBS ©2020 CBS Interactive, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Written by Josh Boone, Ben Cavell, and more, The Stand also includes a King-penned final episode coda that provides a new aspect and perspective to the ending not found in the book. Boone is directing the first and last episodes, and executive producing alongside showrunner Taylor Elmore, Will Weiske, Jimmy Miller, Roy Lee, and Richard P. Rubinstein, with CBS Televisions Studios serving as studio. Jake Braver, Jill Killington, Owen King, Knate Lee, and Stephen Welke also produce.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.

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