Over the decades, we’ve seen countless adaptations of the works of Stephen King in both film and television, but not every adaptation can be a winner. While speaking with the Washington Post recently, Stephen King discussed what makes for a good adaptation of his work, particularly on television. “When I think back to some of the miniseries that I did for ABC in the ’70s and the ’80s, even the early ’90s, things have changed considerably,” King said. “There’s a lot more freedom and room to spread, thanks to streaming.” However, King added that the freedom which television offers can be a double-edged sword. “If you give people too much time, they can squander it,” King said. “It’s possible to do things that are dull and just take up too much time.” King then took aim at Under the Dome, a series that aired for three seasons on CBS and dealt with a small town that is cut off from the rest of the world when a massive, transparent, indestructible dome surrounds them.
Under the Dome [on CBS] was one I felt like went entirely off the rails, because the people are doing things that don’t seem realistic. One thing that killed me was you never hear the sound of a generator anywhere. The electric power is fine. Everything looks clean. Everything is great, except that they’re cut off from the world. And that isn’t what would happen … If you ask people to accept those ideas, there has to be a sense of realism that goes with it, that pulls you along.
Despite a promising beginning, both the ratings and critical reaction for Under the Dome slipped with each season. Although Stephen King may not be the biggest fan of the series, he did single out plenty of praise for Mr. Mercedes. “You can actually tell a novel now,” King said. “Mr. Mercedes [which follows detective Bill Hodges,] is a good example of that. The three seasons adapt all three books of the trilogy, which is an amazing thing… With a continuing story like Mr. Mercedes, you can have a beginning, middle and an end. You can carry through to some sort of climax. In some cases, you can continue on if you find another circumstance that will allow you to tell another story with those same characters.” There are plenty of other Stephen King adaptations just over the horizon, although the Castle Rock anthology series was recently canceled, but the next will be an adaptation of “The Stand” which is slated to debut on CBS All Access on December 17, 2020.