Sunday, September 23, 2012


Return of the Stephen King Miniseries Event, plus: La Loteria 11/22/63...By Tyson Blue

Welcome back, everybody! I was hoping to post this review just ahead of the airdates for the new A&E miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's "Bag of Bones", but the flu thought otherwise, so here it is, the next day instead.

The miniseries was directed by Mick Garris, a name long familiar to fans of King television, having helmed a number of King TV adaptations back in the heyday of the King miniseries, when such adaptations as "IT", "Rose Red", "The Stand", "The Shining" (the good one, not the Kubrick one) and so on and so forth, were an annual event, usually on ABC.

Hopefully, this will be a successful show for A^E, and we can once again look forward to a big-event King miniseries every year.

We're going to asume that everyone reading this has read King's novel and is familiar with it, to avoid endless recapping for those who haven't. Just try to keep up, or go read the novel and return to this later.

The miniseries stars former James Bond Pierce Brosnan as widowed writer Mike Noonan, whose wife, played by Annabeth Gish, is struck by a bus and killed while Noonan is doing a book signing in a nearby store. The bus accident replaces the cerebral hemorrhage that took her out in the novel, perhaps because it's more visual, and a little more startling and fun to do, which may be why bus accidents seem to crop up so often in movies and TV shows these days...

A number of changes have been made to bring the novel to the small screen, some for reasons of condensing the sprawling story down to under four hours, others sort of leaving viewers scratching their heads. For example, the character of Mattie Devore's attorney does not appear. This saves on hiring someone to play him, and moves the custody-batttle aspect of the story along a little faster.

The character of Kyra Devore, the four year-old around whom much of the novel's story revolves, is played by a slightly older child actress in the mini. Perhaps that's because older kids take direction better. It would also save the production the expense of hiring twins, due to legal restrictions on the amount of time very young kids can spend before the cameras.

The central gang-rape scene in 1939, which triggers the events in the present-day story, has been replaced by singer Sara Tidwell being raped by Max Devore while the others hold her down or simply look on. This is most likely a standards and practices decision to appease the networks.

Brosnan is excellent as Mike Noonan, perfectly portraying a writer struggling with the simultaneous death and newly-discovered possible infidelity of his beloved wife, while slowly beginning to consider risking falling in love with a younger woman. William Schallert, perhaps best remembered for his long-running role as Patty Duke's father on her old TV series, is surprisingly fiendish as Max Devore.

Annabeth Gish makes the most of a relatively small but pivotal role as Noonan's dead wife, appearing mostly in brief flashback scenes and as a ghost in the final climactic confrontation. Strong performances are also turned in by Jason Priestly and Matt Frewer as Noonan's agent and brother, respectively.

Anika Noni Rose is astounding as Sara Tidwell, the black singer whose mysterious disappearance in the summer of 1939 lies at the heart of the mystery of "Bag of Bones". She has to sing the various songs ascribed to Tidwell in the series, although these do not appear to include the songs whose lyrics King wrote for his novel. Those songs are available as an iTunes EP, "Sara Tidwell: The Lost Songs". This is in addition to the wide emotional range she is required to go through for the role.

Some of you may be aware of the foofaraw which surrounded the sale last month of the US limited edition of King's superlative new novel 11/22/63. Originally, the limited was supposed to
go onsale on Simon & Schuster's website on November 8, the book's onsale date.

 However, shortly after the sale began, the site crashed, and it was announced that the sale would be rescheduled, although books were shipped for the few who had successfully completed their purchases at that time. Before the resale date, it was then decided that those desiring to buy copies would submit their information to a lottery, from which the lucky winners would be selected and given the opportunity to purchase the sought-after book.

The limited edition is signed by King, but not numbered. It also features a different, more innovative gatefold dust-jacket which presents both alternate versions of the events of 11/22/63, as well as some interior illustrations. It also includes a DVD with the short film by King about the historical and fictional events, otherwise available only with the Hodder limited or e-book editions of the novel.

At any rate, I submitted my information. I also had my oldest son and my daughter submit as well. And wouldn't you know it -- I didn't get selected, but both of them did. So I ended up with two of them. One for me, and one to keep or sell on down the line someday.

Well, that's all for now; next time, we'll take a look at the new Dark Tower novel, and a few other short subjects and other things.


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