Wednesday, February 22, 2017

We Who Will (probably) Watch: Castle Rock

Anyone reading this blog, not directed here personally by one of the authors, is undoubtedly aware that Stephen King and J.J. Abrams recently announced a new project together. In typically cryptic Abrams fashion, the news was teased with an odd image tweeted out from Bad Robot, Abrams' production company.

The tweet led to a youtube video that turned out to be a teaser for a new program on hulu entitled Castle Rock, a name that should be familiar to even the most casual Stephen King readers. Castle Rock is a town in the King's fictional version of Maine, the setting for many of his stories, and referenced in much of the rest of his works. It is, also, the name of a production company started by Rob Reiner after the success of Stand By Me, an adaptation of Stephen King's novella The Body.

Stephen King himself was a bit more direct in his announcement of the news, posting the video to facebook with the simple statement "JJ Abrams and I want to invite you to take a trip to Castle Rock. Soon. Be afraid."

As you can see from the video, details are fairly scarce. This being an Abrams production, we now have more questions than answers. What we see primarily amounts to a bunch of character and place names from Stephen King works (and also Richard Bachman, his occasional pseudonym), overlaid with snippets of dialogue culled from those same stories. This doesn't give us a whole lot to go on. Is Castle Rock a series about Stephen King and his works? If so, the dialogue would presumably come from the previously released films, but everything said in the trailer is a new recording. So is it an anthology series pulling from Stephen King's entire career? Possibly, but the interlocking strands we follow, eventually forming a roadmap of Maine, seem to imply that everything is connected. So will this series be a shared-universe style adaptation of the works of Stephen King, a travelogue of his fictional Maine? That seems like a promising concept, but I'm not sure I'd put money on that right now. And what about the prominent inclusion of references to The Shining, which takes in Colorado (where, incidentally, a real-life Castle Rock can be found)?

The involvement of J.J. Abrams, noted Stephen King fan, is at least a promising sign. Their previous collaboration, 11.22.63 was a superlative adaptation of one of King's best works, an adaptation that knew what to keep, what to change, what to excise, and what to add in order to fit the serialized format. I'm fairly certain this show will lean more to that side of the spectrum than, say, Under The Dome (which boasted its own Lost alums in creative roles) or SyFy's Haven, which I've written about before and was possibly even more tenuously related to Stephen King than The Lawnmower Man.

As of this moment, Castle Rock does have an imdb page, but it is conspicuously free of any information. According to Stephen King, our questions will be answered soon. But that just brings up one more question: how soon?

UPDATE: Between the original writing of this short announcement and my actually getting around to posting it, Bad Robot put out a press release that may answer some of the questions I brought up. You can read it on several other sites, if you so desire, but I'll highlight some pertinent information.

The press release makes reference to the Stephen King multiverse, and says that "Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King's best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland" and "an original suspense/thriller - a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon." I'm still unsure how The Shining will factor into this, but perhaps that was used primarily for name recognition in the teaser.

We also get the names of the showrunners, who will be guiding the show while King and Abrams produce. Sam Shaw, who has written for Masters of Sex, and serves as writer/producer/creator of Manhattan. He'll be joined by Dustin Thomason, another producer/writer on Manhattan and Lie to Me.

The press release actually makes it sound like the show might not have been filmed yet, but whenever it appears (remember, King said 'soon') it looks like we'll have at least 10 episodes of Stephen King goodness to enjoy.

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