Sunday, December 11, 2011

Observations on Stephen King's Bag of Bones, the Mini-Series, Part One


I knew by the commercials for this miniseries that it was not going to pack the punch of the book. I knew that there was entirely too much sex, racism, and rape for a prime-time cable channel. Yes, as one of my Twitter friends pointed out, this is the Walking Dead time slot, but the Walking Dead shies away from sex and most racial issues in a very cowardly way while having no problem whatsoever in splaying various degrees of rotting, ambulatory corpses across our screens. But that's the American Way, you see. We suck up the random violence and gore like mother's milk, but when it cames to *GASP* S-E-X and dark issues like racism and rape and sexual violence both random and domestic, we can't handle it. And the fact that we can't handle it is painfully evident from the sad, impotent version of Bag of Bones playing out these two nights on our televisions.

The errors thus far: Mrs. Noonan did not die in some sort of car accident. Mrs. Noonan died from a brain aneurysm while running to assist the victims of a car accident. Mr. Devore was FAR, far more terrifying and appalling in the books. Sara Tidwell's child was a boy. I'm assuming they changed the sex of the murdered child to female to somehow complement Mattie Devore's daughter and fit in with the curse on the town and all the children having similar names. I do applaud the supremely creepy scenes with the refrigerator magnets and the ringing of Bunter's bell. But. I am seeing two large problems with this mini-series.

Problem #1: Four hours is nowhere near enough time to do justice to the book. It should have been a short series, and preferably on HBO, where there is no need to sanitize the darkest elements of the story, like they did in the old Reader's Digest condensed books.

Problem #2: It's just much too clean. The book revealed, as Stephen King always reveals, the ugly, rotten, evil side of humanity. That is not coming out here yet and I fail to see how they could possibly pack it all into the second episode of the series. The book Bag of Bones is like The Color Purple amped up and with supernatural overtones. It hits you right in the face and drags you through the dirt with the characters. The book Bag of Bones did that. The mini-series is NOT doing that for me. We'll see what happens tomorrow.

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