Monday, September 9, 2013

Now You're Just Some TV Show I Used To Know...


It's a word we often hear but seldom see it done well. What's the last good adaptation you've seen? Was it faithful to the book? Did it stray from the source material? How about the Characters? Was each one represented well?

I think the last good adaption I saw was The Shawshank Redemption by Frank Darabont. I read the novella years after seeing the movie and, y'know what? It's pretty much on the mark.

So what is it that has me so frazzled, so steaming that I absolutely 100 percent had to blog about it?

That would be...



So, okay, let's get into it.

In the past I have seen phrases like this on a movie poster:

Based on true events, Based on a True Story, Based on the Book, Inspired by The Article (Live Free or Did Hard)

I think we should add a new category: Loosely Based on the Book.

At least with that subtitle, you know full well what you are in for. 

Since then, I've heard nothing but constant buzz about the movie and how it finally evolved into a show. So when I saw that it popped up on Amazon Prime a month ago, I flipped it on and started watching. For the first three episodes the show was solid. But with each episode after, I started getting aincy. The characters were not being themselves.

Granted, I was up for some changes. But each episode is changing too much.

Changes I don't mind:
- In the original opening of the novel, a woodchuck is severed by the dome. We even get a peek inside his thoughts. In the show, it's a cow instead. I see why they did this. A woodchuck would be silly and a cow being severed in more visually shocking.
- The people within the dome can see through the structure but can't be heard on the outside. Likewise, the people outside it can't hear them either. That's going to be tough to get around, I thought, seeing as how in the book, people held entire conversations with each other through the dome.
- Phil Bushy is a good guy. I don't mind that. He was a good character and I thought, well, it'd probably be more compelling for him to turn bad if people see he was a likable guy before.

Now here's where things start going south:
- There are not enough shots of the dome.
- People seem to carry on as normal at times.
- Barbie, instead of being the drifter not looking for trouble, is now a hitman. (Seriously?)
- Julie Shumway used to be a no nonsense reporter but is now shoved into the vulnerable widow category.
- Junior is psychotic but he doesn't kill Angie. Only holds her captive. In the novel he was way more menacing and a definite threat.
- Big Jim Rennie is now someone who wants the town to like him. (Quick note: None of these criticisms are slights on any of the actor's performances. Given what they had, I think that they act well when they had good dialogue in the beginning. But the more the show strayed, the more the script, in my opinion, took a hit.)
-It can rain in the dome. (Wait. What?)
- Now a new character shows up, Maxine, and tells Jim Rennie and Barbie, "Oh, guess what? I've been watching everything going on inside the whole time. So now, since I'm bored. I'm going to blackmail all of you. Soooo yeah. That's happening. So everyone get used to it because now I have the power. Mah hahaha!" (Okay, she didn't quite say it like that but I was rolling my eyes. This started feeling like a whole other dome on a whole other town. Where were all the characters and situations I had once connected with?)

After the 10th episode, I gave up. It just felt formulaic. But I'm not the only one. Many people have been burned by this show, filling the message boards with nothing but hate. Enough to a point that Stephen King himself wrote a public message on his site, praising the show and its courage to strike out on whole new story avenues. 

Can't fault him for that, right? He's a good writer and if he wanted to sell his work, good for him. He knew there were going to be changes to it. But something about it bothered me.

Then I finally figured it out.

It's not that I hated the show. It's just that it exhibited traits that I had seen before. Gimmicks that I was burned by once before...

That's right. Lost. 

One of the writers on Under The Dome is responsible for Lost.

I see all these traits:

- People asking questions and getting no definitive answer.
- Characters attributing every mystery to the Dome, like the island.
- Villainous characters turning good and good guys turning bad. Then they swap back.

It all just pisses me off.

So I left that show.

Then I started getting interested in reading the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (Storm Front and Fool Moon.)

I liked it a lot and will read more of the series but I wanted to check out the show which had one season on SyFy and just so happened to be in my Netflix Queue.

Why is it that a television show will never give me the story I want from the book? 

All of a sudden, I've got nothing but questions: Who is this girl in bed with Dresden? Isn't he supposed to be chivalrous and not a chick magnet? Jeep? What happened to the VW Bug? Bob's out of his skull? Why does he look like a white-haired Tim Curry? Where's the classic Harry wit? I dunno, I guess once tv execs get their hands on it, the source material goes out the window.

So, in the end, I'll just read the books. I like them better. A show or a movie cannot capture what a novel does to you. Maybe that's just the way it is.

1 comment:

Indigo said...

I read Under the Dome as well. The series got under my skin by the third episode and I stopped watching. I know it's near impossible to get all the details in a book, within certain time slots in a series or movie. But holy wow, I've never seen anything even remotely close. As it stands it's alway an either/or choice. Either read the book or watch the movie. I'll choose book, each and every time.

There is one movie that did come close and that was the original Shining with Jack Nicholson. (Hugs)Indigo