Since the 1970’s Stephen King has been, as his name suggests, the king of horror literature. Unlike Edgar Allen Poe or H.P Lovecraft before him, King has managed to bring his brand of horror, sci-fi and fantasy to mainstream audiences and his creations like Pennywise the clown have become horror legends transcendent of their source material. Not only have his books been successful but adaptations of them for the big screen have been some of the best films ever made such as The Shawshank Redemption, The Shining and the more underrated Misery. Cinema has changed since these adaptations with franchises now being the core of Hollywood. Shared universes between film and TV are taking off in unforeseen ways with the Marvel Cinematic Universe and soon the DC Cinematic Universe. Like the comic books those films are based on Stephen King’s books are all interconnected with the events of one being referenced in another and characters turning up in several novels. This begs for an entertainment property to take advantage of this and make a Stephen King shared universe either on the big or small screen.
First let’s take a look at a Stephen King television series which I would prefer over a cinematic universe. The series should be called ‘Castle Rock’ after the fictional town in King’s works and each season should be an adaptation of a novel or short story. Not all of King’s works take place in Castle Rock but in other fictional places such as the town of Derry. However for the show the events could take place in Castle Rock and all the characters from the books will live there. With each season primarily being an adaptation of one book they would be of various lengths and therefore the show may be better suited to a video-on-demand service such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Characters can make cameos in seasons before becoming the main character in the next season to enforce the continuity, events of previous seasons/books can be referenced in later ones and characters that never interacted in the books can interact in unexpected ways in the show.
There are certain books and stories that I feel shouldn’t be adapted for the show because there are already definitive versions of them such as The Shining and The Shawshank Redemption. However that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be Easter eggs and references to them. Wouldn’t it be cool to hear people mention The Overlook Hotel or the prison break at Shawshank in conversations throughout the series?
I got the idea for “Castle Rock” fairly recently after seeing an advert for the new BBC drama Dickensian which is airing over this Christmas period. Dickensian brings together all the characters from the novels of Charles Dickens into one story which begins with the death of Jacob Marley and the following investigation involves characters such as Ebenezer Scrooge, the Artful Dodger and Inspector Bucket. It’s a cool idea and one that makes a Stephen King show sound even better because unlike Dickens, King’s works are already interconnected and ready for adaptation in such a way to keep that interconnectivity. Fargo is also a bit of an inspiration in terms of it being about small town folk being thrust into unlikely situations with just the right amount of black comedy and blood plus the seasons are all connected despite it primarily being an anthology series.
Despite each season being focused on one story it would be cool if a series long narrative could also be integrated in the show. Maybe it could focus on why these supernatural events keep happening to the small town of Castle Rock and involve ‘The Shop’ which is a shadowy secret organisation that keeps popping up in the books. As for which King stories I would like to see in the show some would be Christine, Carrie, Cujo, The Tommyknockers, Dreamcatcher, From a Buick 8, Misery, Apt Pupil and the final season would be an adaptation of Needful Things which is one of my favourite books. Needful Things would be the perfect finale because it concerns a demon, or maybe the devil himself, manipulating the townspeople until there is all out war between them. The Mist could also be a great crossover season of the show in which all the people trapped in the supermarket could be characters from previous and future seasons of the show instead of those described in the novella.
The show could even link into the upcoming Dark Tower movie because, like in the books, everything can be followed back to The Dark Tower which is the nexus of all universes. That may be a bit too out there for mainstream audiences but it would certainly be interesting. The ‘Castle Rock’ TV series could in fact be a film series instead and can do for horror what the Marvel Cinematic Universe did for superheroes. I would prefer the television series but would take the film series over the planned Universal Monsters universe which is said to cross over the upcoming Mummy, Dracula and Frankenstein films into some weird team-up movie.
Do you think a Stephen King shared universe is a good idea and if so would you prefer to see it on television or the big screen? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook/Twitter @kylebrrtt. Like, Subscribe and why not have a look at all the awesome stuff on the site like the many podcasts and blogs.
With Christmas, and more importantly Star Wars, happening in the next week there will not be another dose of First Time Writing until the week after Christmas. So please join me then and have a great festive period.