Mark Duplass Signs On To MERCY posted that Mark Duplass, who recently appeared in ZERO DARK THIRTY, has signed on for the film adaptation of Stephen King's short story, GRAMMA, renamed MERCY for the big screen.

Quigley talks GUNS

I enjoyed Kevin Quigley's review of GUNS at Fearnet.   Quigley is the administrator of charnelhousesk.

Quigley notes, "Guns” is a smart, important essay that works hard at using common sense as a tool for discussion. He doesn’t vilify gun owners – somewhat surprisingly, he is one – and he doesn’t believe in quick, token solutions."

If you like the review, hit "Like" on the FEARnet page!

Quigley's review is at

Blood Among The Stars: The Making Of Carrie

A new book by Ryan Clark and Lee Gambin are at work on a book that will detail making of the Brian De Palma version of Carrie.

The book, titled "Blood Among The Stars: The Making Of Carrie" promises to be provide a behind the scenes account of the making of Carrie.

The books facebook page says:
We intend to conduct interviews with the cast and crew to form an oral history that will give a clearer picture of the pre-production, production, and post-production of this film. We will also explore the other incarnations of the story, including Stephen King's novel, the musical, the sequel, and the remakes, as well as imitations, parodies, and pop culture references. 
Check out the facebook page HERE.

Smythe: Rereading Stephen King CHRISTINE

I usually enjoy James Smythe's posts at theguardian, "rereading Stpehen King."  Segment 15 is a review of the novel Christine.

I also read this book recently, and loved it!  (My CHRISTINE JOURNAL is HERE)  Smythe is not so enthusiastic about Christine, writing, "I suspect it was the first time his fans felt cheated."  He rightly latches on to the books overarching problem, the structure.  Smythe calls it a "mess."  And it is!  The book  jumps from first person to third person to first person.  To me it's an acceptable mess, but Smythe says it is "jarring" and "clumsy."

King said he wrote himself into a corner with Dennis the narrator getting injured.  It would seem then that either 1. Dennis should not get injured! or, 2. That King should start over and rewrite the whole thing in third person.  I don't understand why he didn't just rewrite the book.  He loves to rewrite!

Smythe also points out, "Come the end of the novel, it's still not clear who the third-person narrator is, or how Dennis knows what it reported."  He finds both narrations "hollow."  I think that's crazy talk!  Christine is a pretty passionate novel.  When that car is in kill mode, and chasing people down -- wow!  I loved that stuff.  And there was tension with Arnie and his parents -- first love -- rock and roll.  It was certainly not hollow.

Smythe doesn't like the characters in Christine, finding them flat and underdeveloped.  I noted this in my final journal entry:
The characters in Christine work; but they aren't King's best. Lea's scenes are almost painful. She's very wooden; cardboard. Some of the best scenes are with Arnie and his parents. Fights spiral out of control as the family comes unglued. King gives us a picture of a healthy family environment through the eyes of Dennis, who's parents both love and trust him. 
Of course, my favorite character is Christine. She has a life of her own, and some pretty awesome abilities. We're talking super-hero stuff. In particular, her ability to regenerate makes her a formidable foe.
the full article is at

I have the final death count at. . . HERE

The Box At The Bottom Of The Closet

shhhh. . . quiet. . . my wife can't hear us talking about this.  See, we were discussing how full our bedroom closet is.  I might have said that none of the junk in the closet was mine, because I don't have a need to keep everything.   (EVERYTHING!)

So, when I came home from work yesterday,  there was a large  box sitting on the bed.  My beloved informed me it was MY  box.  Strange, I don't seem to remember owning a box.

"So what do you think was inside your box?" My wife asked.
I dunno.  Books?
"Well, you do have a box f duplicate Stephen King books.   But this box is full of Stephen King books on tape."
"TAPES.  So you want me to throw them away,  or ebay them?"

I  didn't think much of it until I started going through the box.  Strange how things can cause of to  be sentimental, right?  I LOVE these tapes!  I've listened to them over and over and over!

So, here is what was in the box:

  • 2 books on CD.  (HA!)  
  • The Drawing of the Three, read by Stephen King.  My favorite of the Dark Tower covers is this one.  I almost bought this set on ebay recently, but didn't because I reasoned it would just end up at the bottom of a box somewhere.  
  • Secret Window, Secret Garden, from Four Past Midnight.  I bought this in High School, then found myself incredibly "sick" the next day -- requiring I miss school and listen to my book while I played video games.   It was a tough life.  I didn't like the ending at all.  I was intrigued by the idea of two writers writing exactly the same book. But it seemed to easy for him to just be having a mental breakup.  Besides, wasn't that the Dark Half?  Also,  I couldn't figure out where the Window and Garden were?!  So there was no secret garden, no real duplicate book -- just a crazy writer.  But, it was a good day off school.
  • The three volume edition of Needful Things on tape.  I got this for my 18th birthday.  (I think 18.)  Each time someone would give me birthday money, I'd go  to the store and buy the next volume. I absolutely fell in love with that book!  Loved King's reading, loved the story and even loved the boxes they came in.  I lined the boxes up neatly on my bookshelf, thinking how cool they looked.
  • Dolores Claiborne.  Once again, this is a great book!  And, once  I've read many times. In particular, I remember listening to it on a rainy day at my Grandma's house when I was in college.  I was alone in the house, and there was serious storming going on.  I took the tape recorder from room to room with me to keep me company.  (That house was scary in thunder storms.  So, naturally -- the thing to do was listen to a Stephen King book.  So wise.)
  • The Shining.  I listened to this a few years ago, right before tapes went bye-bye.  
  • Some books I never finished.  From A Buick 8, which I still can't get through.  And Dreamcatcher, which my wife and I listened to together for a long time -- until it jumped characters and became about a Men In Black military general who's insane.  
So what will I do with the box of tapes?  I actually don't know.  Probably haul them down to the shed.  But then my wife will find them and tell me I can't say ALL the stuff down there is hers.  But it is.  Because the Christmas stuff counts at hers.

The Regulators Heat Homeless Shelter

There are two ways you can heat  a home with a Stephen King book.  You can burn it (not recommended), or you can auction it and give the money to the Emmaus Homeless Shelter.

I posted previously that a special slip case limited edition of the Regulators was being auctioned to help Emmaus Homeless Shelter in Ellsworth with their "fuel fund." The fund helps those who cannot afford to heat their homes during those cold Maine winter.

So what was the winning bid?  According to, an attorney in Boston gave $2,850.

IT's a T-Shirt

So do you have your Stephen King gear?

How close do you really want to get  to Pennywise?  Really?  Or is that  Ronald. . .

Get your own at


From King's website,
Stephen has written an essay discussing his thoughts on the gun control/gun rights issue facing the U.S., available now as a Kindle Single through
“I think the issue of an America awash in guns is one every citizen has to think about,” said King. “If this helps provoke constructive debate, I’ve done my job. Once I finished writing ‘Guns’ I wanted it published quickly, and Kindle Singles provided an excellent fit.”
From Amazon: In a pulls-no-punches essay intended to provoke rational discussion, Stephen King sets down his thoughts about gun violence in America. Anger and grief in the wake of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School are palpable in this urgent piece of writing, but no less remarkable are King’s keen thoughtfulness and composure as he explores the contours of the gun-control issue and constructs his argument for what can and should be done.
King is donating all profits to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

King begins the essay by taking is down a the well known path of what happens when there is a mass shooting.  King moves quickly from crime to the need for gun control to the NRA's opposition -- and concluding with a repeat of the cycle of violence.

In the second section, King discusses his book, RAGE, which I read recently. He documents case by case instances when his book was directly cited as part  of a violent crime.  Scary stuff.  After a 1997 shooting, King writes, "That was enough for me, even though at the time, the Loukaitis and Carneal shootings were the only Rage-related ones of which I was aware. I asked my publishers to pull the novel from publication." King points out the difficulty in this, since it required pulling the story from the Bachman collection of books.

It had been reported that  King apologized for writing Rage.  No Sir, King insists.  He  writes,

I never did and never would. It took more than one slim novel to cause Cox, Pierce, Loukaitis, and Carneal to do what they did. These were unhappy boys with deep psychological problems, boys who were bullied at school and bruised at home by parental neglect or outright abuse.
King notes he pulled the novel with regret.  Not because it was great literature, but because " it contained a nasty glowing center of truth that was more accessible to me as an adolescent. Adults do not forget the horrors and shamings of their childhood, but those feelings tend to lose their immediacy"  I find that  incredibly insightful.

There's a lot more in the essay -- and it's REALLY good!

The Essay is laid out as follows:
1. The Shake
2. Rage
3. Drunks in a Barroom
4. Culture of Violence
5. From my cold dead hands.  (No, Moses did not say that!)
6. No Solutions, Reasonable Measures

Purchase the essay HERE.

The Shining's Deleted Ending Script

image credit: has posted the screenplay for the deleted original ending of The Shining. When the Shining was originally released, there was a hospital scene between the first shot of Jack frozen and the closing shot of the framed photo, bearing the  date July 4, 1921.

The website notes,
Kubrick decided to remove the scene very shortly after the U.S. opening, dispatching assistants to excise the scene from the dozens of prints showing in Los Angeles and New York City. All known copies of the scene were reportedly destroyed, although it is rumored that one surviving copy may exist.
The website also cites Kubrick’s co-screenwriter, Diane Johnson, saying that Kubrick felt it was important the audience know that Wendy and Danny were okay.  "He had a soft spot for Wendy and Danny and thought that, at the end of a horror film, the audience should be reassured that everything was back to normal."

Normal indeed.  Unfortunately, Stephen King also has a soft spot for Danny -- and it doesn't just end in a hospital!

Carrie Underwood Takes CHRISTINE for a spin


Carrie Underwood gets revenge in her new music video titled, "Two Black Cadillacs."  The video was greatly influenced by Stephen King's CHRISTINE.  The story follows a wife getting revenge on a cheating husband.  The preacher says he was a "good man" and the brother said he was a "good friend" -- but two women with veils aren't crying. His lover was unaware he was married, and it appears the two women worked together to do him in.  They meet for the first time at the cemetery, each having arrived in a black Cadillac.

Who did the killing?  The wife?  The girlfriend?  The car?  Does the car have a mind of its own?

Taste of Country notes,
Underwood said in a preview on ‘Entertainment Tonight’ that she would not move forward with that concept without King’s blessing. He “signed off” on the idea, and Underwood was good to go.
One scene looks like it's right out of Christine, as the car chases the unfaithful husband down a narrow dead-end alley.

Watch to the end. . . that car healed itself.  Familiar?

So in a year that looks like the craze will be CARRIE, a singer named Carrie makes a video themed around Christine.  All the while, King himself prepares to give us the sequel to his classic novel The Shining.  Vintage King rules!

STRANGENESS, The Backbone of a Good Collection

Where do you start collecting Stephen King?  I think the best advice has always been to start with first editions.  The earlier the better.  My earliest is a copy of The Shining.

A couple years ago, I stopped collecting first editions.  I only have so much shelf space, and it seemed that newer books had such a huge first run that the first editions would never be worth much.  I chose instead to buy special editions of these books.  For instance, Cemetery dance released a beautiful copy of Full Dark No Stars.  I chose to invest in that instead of a first edition.  Besides, someone usually gives me a copy of the latest Stephen King book!  (Hint, hint family – still no 11/22/63)

So what makes a good collection of Stephen King books?  Depends on what you like.  If you want to line all the books up in chronological order, Carrie to 11/22/63, then first editions are the way to go.  Of course, that system leaves nerd questions, like, “What do I do with the Dark Tower books?  Put them on their own shelf (yes!) or mix them in (no!)?”

I think the backbone of a good collection is strange stuff.  Yep, a little bit of everything makes the collection a lot of fun.  If everyone has the same set of first editions – that’s not really so cool, ya know?

Here are some strange things I’ve enjoyed hunting:

1. Magazines.  These are cheap, and a thrill to read through.  Magazines with Stephen King interviews, magazines that contain his original stories, or magazines about King are all easy to find.

2. Cemetery Dance editions.  I like books published by CD.  In particular, Blockade Billy, Full Dark No tars and the recent 20th anniversary of IT were all pretty cool.

3. Red leather editions.  I’m not crazy about these, because they come out looking pretty uniform – but a few a fun.

4. Trinkets.  The world is full of strange things from the world of Stephen King.  A matchbox Christine (mine is blue?),

5. Booklets.  Sometimes longer short stories were published as separate booklets.  I have The Raft as a booklet originally published in Gallery and a small Penguin paperback of Umney’s Last Case.  Sometimes the booklets are giveaway’s – just a few chapters of larger novels.  I have a copy of a Wizard and Glass booklet – just the first few pages.

6. British editions can also be cool.  I have the unabridged version of The Stand.  Strangely, the British edition looks a lot thinner!  Also a British edition of Skeleton Crew.  Actually, this is something I don’t do a lot of hunting for.  After all, the only thing really different is the cover, and again – I need the space.

7. Some cassettes are worth looking for.  I hunted The Stand and The Mist on cassette.  (Once upon a time The Stand was only available in the original abridged format and even that was out of print.)  Copies of King reading The Dark Tower are also pretty cool, in my opinion.

If you can get your hands on the original recording of The Mist read by Frank Muller, I think it's worth  it. I'm not sure what the copyright deal is on this book is, but it seems to be out of print.

By the way, there is an abridgment of Thinner that King really didn't like!  It was so bad, he decided not to allow future books be be abridged.  But then, Desperation was later abridged!

8. Newspapers and periodicals.  In particular, the Castle Rock was a neat publication.  I only own one.  It was very well done and a great way of keeping news out there in an age pre-interent.  There were several other unauthorized publications that are fun to dig up.

Phantasmayoria was a unofficial magazine published four times a year.  I think this was the work of George Beahm. I have a Summer 1997 edition.

The Red Letter by Greg Hotchkiss was another King news booklet about 10 pages per issue.

Also SKIN: Stephen King Information Network was the work of editior Lori Zucearo.  This publication is about 10 full sized sheets of paper – always green.  It seems the 90's were really the era for these publications. (See blog post, The History Of Skin)

9. The Dark Tower in its first publication in Fantasy and Science Fiction magazine.  I had a lot of fun hunting those down, it became a quest.

10. Original copies of the Richard Bachman books.  The only one really hard to find it Rage.  The copy I have is pretty tattered.  Actually, all my Bachman paperbacks are well worn!

11. Comic books.  I don’t purposefully collect these, but have somehow ended up with quite a few.  Anyway, comic books can easily make a collection unique.  There are some that are more fun to hunt down than others.  I  think the Batman #400 is pretty awesome.  King reveals if he is a Batman or a Superman.

12. Some books about King are invaluable.  For instance  The Shape Under The Sheets is out of print, and a very unique book!  Lilja’s Library is also a lot of fun to just sit and thumb through.  (When it comes to books about King, I like books you don’t have to read beginning to end, but can hope around in.)

13. Movies.  One Summer I tried to collect all the SK movies.  I’m not sure it’s possible!  And some I just refuse to invest in, making it impossible to collect them all.  Sorry, Sleepwalkers and Langoliers!  I don’t really think movies do much in terms of collecting.  I don’t even keep the cases, but put them all in one folder of SK movies.

14. Desk Calendar.  I have just recently become a big fan of the Stephen King desk Calendar.

15. Books with introductions by Stephen King.  King’s introduction to any book is a lot of fun.  I don’t collect these, but would gladly sit and read every introduction if given the stack of books.

What is it?
Some stuff I have I’m actually unsure. . . why I have it!  I keep it in this big plastic tub, and my wife probably thinks it’s full of old books or something.  I just toss srange things in there that I’m unsure what to do with.  A lot of it are things that came in grab bags or – stuff I don’t know I got it!


  • A big red sticker that says: “Buy Desperation and The Regulators and get a gift from STEPHEN KING... an excerpt from The Dark Tower IV.  
  • A TV Guide from May, 1997 with the Shining miniseries on the front.  I’m not sure why I bought this (for something like $2).  But now that I bought it, I can’t part with it!
  • A VHS box for The Lawn Mower Man, unrrated directors cut.  This is only the fox, still flat, never had a VHS tape in it.  I’m not sure why I have this – or why I keep it.  Hopeful it may for some reason be valuable.
  • Stickers with this instruction from New Line Cinema: June 30, 1993, “Dear new Line Home Video Customer: Enclosed are corrected credit block stickers for the new Line Home Video title The Lawnmower Man.  Pursuant to a court order, please place this approved sticker on all available copies of The Lawnmower Man in your inventory.  The Lawnmower Man is available for sell-through at $19.95 suggested retail price.  Thank you for making The lawnmower Man a huge success.”  RIGHT!
  • Papers.  Yep, papers from a court proceeding regarding Lawnmower Man.  Nothing interesting – just court docs.  
  • Charlie Fried’s original draft’s of his articles for SKIN.  Including: Stephen King on Audio, Stephen King’s World of Horror, The Lawnmower Man meets the Rock Bottom Remainders Stephen King Plaintiff or Defendant, and more.

The really fun stuff are things that you think no one else has.  My favorite is Charlie Fried’s notebook.  It’s nothing that incredible – just a scrapbook by a fan.  But I like it a lot.

There's so much stuff you could collect!  Movie posters, event tickets, signed items, signed baseballs, bobbleheads, action figures, toys, bookcovers. . .

So, tell me – what odd things make your collection fun and unique?

Also see my 2011 article, Building A Unique Collection

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 7

This is the SEVENTH PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  As Bryant pointed out in the first post, we should not confuse the television series with the 3 hour hashed movie.

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,

Episode 7 (airdate 08/22/1991)

The final episode of the series arrives, under the direction of Michael Gornick.

The teleplay is once again by Josef Anderson, from a story by King, but it's worth pointing out that there are two different versions of the episode: one which ends on a cliffhanger (complete with a "To Be Continued..." title card) and one which offers a resolution. The ending with the resolution was apparently aired in foreign markets, once it became apparent that the series would not be renewed by CBS.

I would speculate that the studio mandated that King and Anderson write and film an alternate ending that could be used to provide closure, and therefore make the project seem like a more attractive option for home video and for reairings on cable. We're not concerned with that alternate version much here; that'll be the subject of a later post that examines the differences between the original episodes and the home video version.

The episode begins with Terry and Crewes stealing a car, and then cuts to Moreland, who is still back at the airbase. He's in the cockpit, pretending to be a fighter pilot. This man -- this character -- is a grade-A buffoon; one of the worst characters in King's canon, without a doubt. In another scene, two more of the worst King characters ever meet: Toddhunter and Billy the janitor. Toddhunter is bereft of assistants, so he enlists Bill's annoying help. Both of these actors are still working, and have worked steadily in the last two decades; I suspect neither is particularly proud of the performances they gave on this series. Bad acting notwithstanding, Toddhunter's experiment is a success: he makes a clock run backward, and then disappear. Hooray...?

Francie knows a place where they can all hide; it's a house of hippies. One of the hippies goes by the moniker "Captain Trips," so any King fan worth his salt knows this fellow is probably no damn good. Sure enough, he turns out to be an informant, and he sells our heroes out. Before long, The Shop has set up shop on the street where the hippies live. Moreland, who was discovered at the airbase, has been brought along for the ride, and he's melting down big-time. He's quite concerned that the appropriate paperwork hasn't been done. Think of a slightly less obnoxious Craig Toomey (from The Langoliers) and you're on the right track.

Gina's been clutching her heart and looking pale a lot lately, so you figure something bad is going to happen there. Harlan seems to sense it, too, so he dances with his wife for a while, and when they wake up the next morning they have a final roll in the hay. Keith Szarabajka and Frances Sternhagen are good in these scenes; they have a dry sort of chemistry, and while it doesn't work as well as you sense everyone wants it to work, it works better than it probably has any right to have worked.

Moreland finally snaps, and runs outside to start shouting about how this whole operation is most irregular and can't be tolerated. Andrews shoots him dead, and before long the assault on the hippie-house is on. Gina has a heart attack, or something, and Harlan won't leave her; Terry -- who seems upset to an out-of-character degree -- and Crewes reluctantly abandon the "old" man, and make their escape (offscreen) through a big storm drain that the house somehow connects to. Harlan walks outside carrying Gina's body, and is tranked by Burton; he passes out cold, but not before he tries to bite Jude's ear off.

Terry and Crewes regroup, and for no real reason that seems all that plausible to me, decide to return to Falco Plains and try to rescue Harlan. Toddhunter, meanwhile, has visited his father's grave again, so that he can monologue a bit and dig up one of the watches he'd previously buried. As the episode ends, Harlan is in bed at Falco Plains, his eyes glowing green while he is under sedation.

To Be Continued...

This episode, like much of the series, is just not particularly good. There are occasional moments in which the plot almost begins to work, and some of the acting is good. However, all of the scenes involving Moreland are awful, and "Captain Trips" is a fairly lousy character as well.

One major issue I have has to do with the character of Francie. She was introduced in the previous episode, seemingly as someone who would be of major importance. She's in this episode, too, but disappears after a couple of scenes; she's headed for Wisconsin, where she knows someone who can get them all fake IDs and new lives. There is a scene in which Terry and Crewes are -- prior to the assault on the house -- trying to figure out their next move, and they mention going to meet up with Francie in Wisconsin, so it seems likely that if the series had continued, they'd have met up with Francie again eventually. However, given how adamant she was in the previous episode about going with her parents, I'm not sure it makes a bit of sense for her to take off for Wisconsin at the first available opportunity. This smells to me; specifically, it smells like someone was unable to figure out how to keep Francie alive during the assault on the house, but knew she would need to be alive for something later on in the story.

Sadly -- or not so sadly, depending on your perspective -- we never got the rest of that story. As I mentioned earlier, there is an alternate ending that offers at least some resolution, but it is clearly a rush-job, and does not seem like something King would have written naturally. Instead, it seems like an exercise; "alright," some studio executive says to King, "if you had a gun to your head and had to end the series definitively in two minutes, how would you do it?"

It doesn't work, either. The cliffhanger is unsatisfying, but it at least seems like a natural progression.

Everyone's mileage will vary on this subject, but for my tastes, I'd rather be left with an unfinished work than with an unfinished work that has a hastily-composed ending stapled onto it.

Alas, since the original episodes remain unavailable commercially, the stapled version is all that most King fans have. It may be that that is King's preferred version; he's had very little to say about Golden Years in the years since, so far as I can tell, and it would be foolish of me to assume that he isn't basically okay with the hoe-video cut of the film. Maybe he isn't; but then again, there's no proof to back it up.

My final take on this series is that it is mostly a mediocrity. The production values are slight, the acting occasionally bad, the structure of certain scenes ill-considered. However, the concept -- a man has a science-powered accident and begins aging in reverse, then has to go on the run with his elderly wife to keep them both from being killed -- is a solid one, and King managed to create a few good characters. It'll never happen, most likely, but I'd love for him to sit down and write the whole thing as a novel one of these days.

In a way, the other work within King's canon that Golden Years reminds me of the most is The Plant, that famously unfinished novel that King published online in several installments. The extant material is known as Book 1, "Zenith Rising," but there do not seem to be any particular plans to complete the story, and what we have is good, but does end in anything even vaguely resembling a satisfying, conclusive manner. Golden Years, in some ways, is a similar case: both stories represent Kingus Interruptus, and while it stands to reason that his career has seen a large number of works that withered and died on the vine, these are perhaps the only two cases in which they did so publicly.

As such, they both represent an intriguing insight into what a failed King story looks like. There are remarkably few of those; for the hardcore King fan, that, perversely, makes them rather compelling, in their own strange ways.

Or perhaps that's just the lack of sleep talking... 

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 6

This is the SIXTH PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  As Bryant pointed out in the first post, we should not confuse the television series with the 3 hour hashed movie.

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,

Episode 6 (airdate 08/15/1991)

The penultimate episode of the series is the first to not have been scripted by King himself; instead, the teleplay comes courtesy of supervising producer Josef Anderson, who based it on a story provided by King. I've never been able to find any info on note on the production of this series, so anything I would have to say on the subject of why Anderson, and not King, scripted the sixth and seventh episodes would be sheer speculation.

So: let's indulge in some sheer speculation, shall we?

First off, I don't think anything nefarious ought to be read into it. Most television series have a stable of writers, all of whom collaborate on each others' work via the "writing room" process. In some cases, a head writer (or two or more head writers) may dictate -- sometimes with collaboration from their junior writers, sometimes without -- the overall direction of the story. Often, the head writer will write a story outline -- which can range from being a couple of paragraphs of general-idea-type stuff to being a full-blown, beat-for-beat telling of the story complete with stage directions and dialogue. Every show is different, as is every head writer. Once the junior writer has completed the teleplay, it typically will go back to the head writer for review and revision, and it is very common for the head writer to make massive changes. The head writer's name will not always appear on the credits for the revised version of the teleplay, either; if anything, it is more common for their names to not appear.

I've got absolutely zero proof that something like this happened on the final two episodes of Golden Years, but it seems like the logical conclusion to me, especially given the "based on a story by" credit King receives. There is also very little discernible difference in the way episode six feels, as compared to episode five.

In short: this feels like it was written by the same person who wrote the first five episodes.

Directing duties this time around were handled by Allen Coulter, who had much better work ahead of him.

Howsabout a plot summary? Here goes.

The episode opens with Crewes and Moreland outside an airplane hanger, having a conversation about how Moreland's wife wants to do it more than once a week, whereas he absolutely cannot stand the thought. They are talking, of course, about square-dancing; this scene is painfully unfunny, and I'm going to choose to believe that Josef Anderson is to blame, and not King.

Terry and Gina are getting close to Chicago, but unbeknownst to them, the guy behind the counter at a diner recognizes them and calls the appropriate authorities. Jude has come up with a plan to find Harlan; he and Burton visit Billy the simpleton janitor, and there is an excruciating scene in which Andrews silently suffers through Billy's inability to focus. Eventually, though, he finds out that Harlan and Gina have a daughter named Francesca in Chicago. (Billy also tells him about a couple of sons, but Andrews intuits that because Francesca is blind, that's where her parents are headed. Okay, then...)

Maybe this is the 2013 in me talking, but ... was it really that difficult to find out info about somebody in 1991? Does it seem as if a shadow agency like The Shop ought to have been able to figure out who the Williamses' closest family members were much, much more easily than is being depicted here? I'll grant you, in this age of computerization, such things are taken for granted, so maybe I'm just not doing a good job of projecting myself mentally back a couple of decades. If so, by all means, somebody point me toward the error of my ways. (By the way, yes, I realize that Moreland hacked the computer and erased the info. But shouldn't Andrews have thought of the possibility of Williams running long ago, and already had the info in his back pocket?)

Terry and Gina reach Chicago, and Terry sees a guy in a suit and sunglasses standing outside the bus depot. She correctly guesses that he must be from The Shop, and so she coerces a group of conveniently-placed -- and incredibly poorly-costumed -- football players to go and rough the guy up. This provides enough of a distraction for Terry and Gina to get away.

Back at Falco Plains, Toddhunter has assembled a team of new assistants, all of whom are working like bees. One of them informs him that power is at 80%, and that they can't proceed any further without approval from Jude Andrews. Toddhunter pitches a fit, and storms out.

Meanwhile, Harlan goes to a diner and is flirted with shamelessly by Margo Martindale, who is understandably put off by the fact that he goes into a fugue state and his eyes start glowing green. Guess those hot-cross buns'll have to wait for another time.

Terry and Gina break into Francie's apartment while she's away, and when she comes back she is immediately distrustful of this pig who's with her mother, and of the story the two are telling her. Harlan shows up, and his face feels different enough that Francie starts believing them, and quick. She and Terry even manage to bond a bit over talking about what Harlan was like as a father. Apparently, h was the type of dad who was always donating to charities and supporting the little guy, and when his daughter started taking part in radical protests, he was proud of her. Terry correctly assumes that Francie's frustration lies in the fact that her father gave her nothing to rebel against.

Crewes, with the doltish Moreland along for the ride, lands in Chicago and there is a terrible scene in which the two of them interrupt a pilot -- who brought in the plane Andrews was on -- and a stewardess in mid-flirt. They take the two hostage and lock them in a room, where their randiness seemingly offers enough of a distraction that Crewes feels no particular need to worry about them. (There is an occasional tendency in Golden Years for characters -- ranging from minor ones like the pilot and the stewardess to major ones, like Moreland and Toddhunter -- to behave in ways that seems wholly divorced from what we might reasonably call "normal human behavior." King's character writing is a genuine strength in his prose; in his screenplays, he sometimes seems to be another writer altogether, and one who has never even met an actual person. The disconnect is sometimes startling, as in this scene with the randy pilot and his equally randy stewardess.)

Andrews and Burton are being escorted by a couple of other Shop agents to Francie's apartment. They are pulled over by local policemen, who are incredibly belligerent, especially once they find all the automatic weapons. This delay will prove to be crucial. It allows Crewes enough time to get to Francie's apartment and tell everyone they need to get moving pronto.

They do, but not quite fast enough. There's a shootout in a parking garage. Francie's seeing-eye dog, Whitney, gets killed while attacking Andrews; Terry gets winged, and Andrews' cheek is grazed by a bullet. A nameless Shop goon also goes down for the count. Despite the bloodshed, our heroes escape, but Andrews knows he's basically got them; all he's got to do is tighten the noose.

A great deal of this episode is utterly ham-handed, both in terms of conception and execution. The touches of humor are almost totally misguided. There are still a few good, grounded performances (R.D. Call as Andrews, Erik King as Burton, Harriet Sansom Harris as Francie) to help, thankfully. The long characterization scene between Terry and Francie is good, and Francie herself feels very much like a King character.

The episode overall, though, is more than a bit on the weak side.

FANGORIA Covered In Carrie

Next months Fangoria promises to be packed full of Stephen King goodies.  Featuring Carrie drenched in blood on its cover, the magazine says  the coming issue will include an in-depth look at Brian De Palma, including an exclusive interview.

Also there will be "chats" with CARRIE co-stars P.J. Soles and William Katt. And, there  is also an interview with director Kimberly Pierce (Carrie, 2013).

Find more at

The Stephen King Bobblehead

image credit:

It's a Stephen King bobblehead.  The one in the picture was a give away -- now sells for $134.95.

I think he needs friends. . . Carrie bobblehead.  Flagg bobblehead.  Roland bobblehead.  Pennywise  bobblehead.  Cujo bobblehead.

He's pitching. . . but he's a writer.  Right?  Shouldn't he be writing?  I guess it doesn't look as cool to be hunched over a typewriter when you're a bobblehead.

Here's another one, (ebay for $64.99)

Mrs. Todds Shortcut on tape

The Skeleton Crew stories  are  some of my favorites -- and some of the hardest for find on audio.  Here's one for $4.99 at ebay.

notice the typo on the inside write-up below (Steven King)

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 5

This is the FIFTH PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  As Bryant pointed out in the first post, we should not confuse the television series with the 3 hour hashed movie.

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,\

Episode 5 (airdate 08/08/1991)

This was the final episode that King scripted personally, for those of you who may be interested in such things; you may also be interested to know that another Stephen (Stephen Tolkin) directed it. Then again, you may not.

As the episode opens, Ohio State Troopers have found the stolen police cruiser, and are coordinating their plan of attack with Jude Andrews (who is still at Falco Plains). This scene goes on for what feels like ten minutes, and if you as a viewer do not figure out that the car is empty about nine minutes and forty-five second before the State Troopers do, then you, sir (or madam, as the case may be), are an idiot. Jude Andrews is not an idiot, so I'm not sure what his excuse is for not immediately realizing that Terry and her lambs would hardly be sitting in a stolen police cruiser in the middle of a field, waiting to be found. Let's not blame Jude; let's -- again -- blame Stephen King, whose writing has not been tip-top in these episodes.

Finally, though, somebody has at least half a good idea: Gina and Terry get on a bus (which conveniently stops in the middle of nowhere) to head for Chicago, and Harlan splits apart from them to hitch-hike his way there. Going to Chicago isn't a good idea, of course; it's bound to be only a matter of time before Andrews figures out that Harland Gina's lone daughter might need to be observed, but since it took King five episodes to figure that out, it took all of the characters the same length of time.

But boy, they all seem to have figured out at once that looking into the Williamses personal life is in order. Crewes has Moreland bring him Harlan's file; he shreds it, then browbeats Moreland into hacking into the government's Central Records computer to delete the digital version. Andrews has been thinking after the cockup with the State Troopers, and is trying real hard to figure out his next move; he eventually comes up with "Moreland!" and then we're off to the races. He calls one of his goons, Burton (played by the same actor who played Doakes on Dexter decades later), and tells him to get into Central Records and get Williams's file. Unfortunately, Moreland is a few steps ahead of him.

Now, let's pause for a moment and give King some credit where it is due. Doing so requires going on a tangent, so here goes: there is a scene in the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger that involves two opposing characters trying to simultaneously gain access to files on a computer. I remember that when the movie came out, this scene in particular was hailed for being a new type of on-screen suspense, and I also remember thinking, "Hey, Golden Years did that three years ago!" Granted, the novel Clear and Present Danger came out in 1989, so maybe King was cribbing from Clancy; given how voracious a reader he is, it seems likely that he would have read the Clancy novel.

Either way, considering how relatively obscure computers were in pop culture circa 1991, you've got to admire King for placing a scene like this in this series. It seems laughably dated now, but it didn't seem that way at the time, and regardless of whether Clancy beat him to the punch, King deserves credit for being as forward-thinking as he was here.

Speaking of being forward-thinking, Terry apparently isn't; she's only now, in episode five, gotten around to explaining to Gina that what's happening to Harlan is the result of a scientific experiment into regeneration. Really? This has been going on for days and days, and Gina is just now finding out that it's all about regeneration? That strains credulity a bit.

So does the scene in which Toddhunter is preparing to conduct a new experiment of some sort, only to realize that he needs some patch cable to finish hooking his system up. We get not one, but TWO scenes in which Toddhunter tries to get his cables in order. What the fuck?!? Is he settig up a surround-sound system, or working on a government experiment? Both of these scenes are played for laughs, but elicit none; no intentional ones, at least.

The episode ends with a scene in which Harlan, having successfully gotten a ride from a long-haul trucker, falls asleep in the truck's cab while the trucker natters on. Harlan's eyes begin glowing green; the trucker doesn't notice, because he's busy freaking out over how the truck's electrical systems are going haywire, Close Encounters-style. He pulls the truck over, and then, suddenly, the sun rises; time has apparently gone haywire, too, almost certainly as a result of something harlan is unconsciously doing. Everyone else on the road pulls over and gets out of their cars, understandably freaked out. The truck driver finally notices Harlan; "This guy is full of green light!", he hollers at everyone around him.

Sure enough, he is.

The green light, by the way, cannot help but make me think of The Tommyknockers. It's probably coincidental; but then again, The Shop did show up at the end of that novel...

This is a decent episode, certainly better than the previous one. There are some bad scenes, and the plot by King is really rather poor. However, the final scene ends things on an intriguing note; it's a big right-hand turn, and an effective one. Most of the acting continues to be good, too. I was especially impressed here by R.D. Call, who does a good job of making Andrews a compelling figure even when King is saddling him with out-of-character moments of stupidity. I'd say much the same for Felicity Huffman, too.

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 4

This is the FOURTH PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,

Episode 4 (airdate 08/01/1991)

The fourth episode begins with Dr. Ackerman calling Crewes in a panic, insisting that he needs protection from Andrews, who -- obviously -- will be coming to kill him. Crewes tells Ackerman to get a grip, and the doctor realizes that he's going to have to protect himself, so he decides to steal a bunch of paperwork and make copies of it, presumably so that he can have some leverage against Andrews. In so doing, he turns into a bumbling idiot; he runs into doors, trips over his own feet, stutters, and generally seems like a nincompoop.

All for naught, too; he gets in his car to leave Falco Plains, and the car promptly explodes. Jude, watching from the shadows, has struck again.

His real quarry, meanwhile, has decided to pull into the barn on an apparently deserted farm and give their stolen hearse a paint job. It's now a Christine-esque shade of red that would undoubtedly catch every eye on the road. Remind me to never allow Terry Spann to be in charge of taking me on the lam. She's made more than a few moronic decisions here, but let's not blame her; let's blame Stephen King, who is clearly not cut out to be a rogue government agent.

There is yet another tender scene between Harlan and Gina in which she expresses dismay at the entire situation, not without merit: this time, she's upset because she feels old for the first time. See, because she and Harlan were aging together, she never actually felt the weight of their years, whereas seeing him growing younger by the day is only making her feel more and more decrepit. King is better-suited to the mechanics of an emotional scene like this than he is to the mechanics of evading capture by state-sanctioned killers. That's not to say the scene is perfect; the dialogue is clunky and repetitive, and if not for decent acting, it wouldn't work terribly well at all. Still, there is a core of emotional truth to it that definitely feels like King's skills as a novelist came briefly to the fore.

That is certainly not evident in a horrible scene involving Toddhunter. One of his new assistants approaches the mad doctor to tell him that preparations of some sort -- they are not explained -- are ready. Toddhunter tells him, "Do it now!" The man is about to respond, but Toddhunter cuts him off to tell him how time is tip-tip-tapping away. He starts hollering "Tip-tippy-tap!" and "Do it now!" and so forth, and the actor goes so far over the top that he threatens to enter Bronson-Pinchot-in-The-Langoliers territory. He doesn't quite get there, but it's close. It's an embarrassing scene, and you can bet your life that director Allen Coulter doesn't have it on any of his demo reels.

Later, Toddhunter has a better scene, in which he visits his father's grave. His watch has stopped working, and while he is speaking to his father, he digs up a metal box, which houses a bunch of other dead watches; he puts this new one with the others. This dude is clearly nuts, and thankfully, this scene shows us a bit of that in a useful, non-annoying fashion.

Jude visits Crewes and informs him that, as per the DSA, he is now in charge of the investigation and manhunt surrounding the Williams case. Crewes is not too pleased about this; he's even less pleased when he discovers that he is barred from leaving the base. Andrews packs up his shit and abandons his temporary office at the local police station, which for some reason pisses off the sherriff or the constable or whoever the guy is. In an additional bit of WTF, Andrews is wearing a black t-shirt during this scene that reads "Let Go and Let God." Huh?!?

While they're chilling out at the conveniently abandoned barn, Terry and Harlan have a talk, in which he wonders what their chances are. Terry tells him that when she was at The Shop, everyone told her that John Rainbird was the best; but she thinks Andrews is better, so if he's after them, they don't have much of a chance at all. Yay, a Firestarter connection!

A few scenes later, Terry concocts a plan: if Harlan and Gina can get themselves arrested for shoplifting, and get put in the care of the local law enforcement, they could then use their one phone call to get a lawyer and thereby get some protection of the legal variety. It's not a bad plan, but later, they all come to the realization that if Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't safe in the hands of local police custody, then a small-timer like Harlan Williams definitely wouldn't be safe.

It's interesting to consider how different the implications of this scene are from the novel King published twenty years later, 11/22/63. Here, clearly, King is playing into the paranoia of the times. Golden Years as a whole feeds off of that paranoia; Andrews counsels Ackerman at one point that perfect paranoia is perfect awareness, and this show is so paranoid that it wants us to believe that not even the government can trust the government. Golden Years came only four years after the publication of The Tommyknockers, in which one character constantly thinks of untrustworthy governmental powers under the umbrella "the Dallas Police" (clearly, a Ruby / Oswald reference). Two decades later, in 11/22/63, King had swung all the way around to be convinced that Oswald had acted alone, and, by implication, that Ruby had, too. I'm conflicted, personally; both sides have their persuasions. I'm not taking a stance, and it doesn't bother me the way it apparently bothers some that King's mind on such topics has changed over the years; but it is interesting.

The episode ends with a scene in which our heroes pass a wreck on the side of the road. At Gina's insistence, they stop to see if they can help, and of course, the first cop who stops by recognizes the trio and tries to apprehend them. Terry, always the genius, steals the policeman's cruiser.

I guess we'll find out how that plan works out next week.

This is not a particularly good episode, what with Terry's constant stupidity and Toddhunter's over-the-top insanity.

Owen King: Double Feature

Owen King will be stepping out with his debut novel about the son of a B-movie actor making his own film. This sounds great to me!  It might  be because I love B-movies. offers this summery:
An epic debut novel about a young man coming to terms with his life in the process and aftermath of making his first film—from critically acclaimed short story writer Owen King—for readers of Joshua Ferris, Sam Lipsyte, and Chad Harbach. 
Filmmaker Sam Dolan has a difficult relationship with his father, B-movie actor Booth Dolan—a boisterous, opinionated, lying lothario whose screen legacy falls somewhere between cult hero and pathetic. Allie, Sam’s dearly departed mother, was a woman whose only fault, in Sam’s eyes, was her eternal affection for his father. Also included in the cast of indelible characters: a precocious, frequently violent half-sister; a conspiracy-theorist second wife; an Internet-famous roommate; a family friend and contractor who can’t stop expanding his house; a happy-go-lucky college girlfriend and her husband, a retired Yankees catcher; the morose producer of a true crime show; and a slouching indie film legend. Not to mention a tragic sex monster. 
Unraveling the tumultuous, decades-spanning story of the Dolan family’s friends, lovers, and adversaries, Double Feature is about letting go of everything—regret, resentment, ambition, dignity, moving pictures, the dead—and taking it again from the top. Combining propulsive storytelling and mordant wit against the backdrop of indie filmmaking, Double Feature brims with a deep understanding of the trials of ambition and art, of relationships and life, and of our attempts to survive it all.
 Lauren Groff, author of The Monsters of Templeton and Arcadia, called it "a love-letter to cinema" and "a moving exploration of what it means to be an artist."  (amazon)

Check out Owen King's website HERE.

Colin Ford is DOMED

Colin Ford has been cast to play Joe in the upcoming CBS adaptation of Under the Dome.  Joe is a teenager who is trapped inside the dome while his parents are on the other  side.

Lesley Goldberg at The Hollywood Reporter gives this short bio for Ford:

Ford voices the title role in Disney Junior Annie Award-winning musical Jake and the Never Land Pirates, with the show's third season scheduled to premiere in February. Repped by UTA, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham, his feature credits include features We Bought a Zoo, Push and Eye of the Hurricane. His small-screen roles include playing a young Sam Winchester on the CW's Supernatural, voice roles on Fox's Family Guy and an episode of The Mob Doctor.
The Hollywood Reporter article is HERE

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 3

This is the THIRD PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,

Episode 3 (airdate 07/25/1991)

In this episode:

Terry is awoken in the middle of the night by an informant, who calls her to let her know that Dr. Akins has been murdered. She visits the scene of the crime, and puts two and two together: Jude Andrews is eliminating people who know about Harlan Williams' curious age problem. She calls Crewes and lets him know about her suspicions, and tells him her plan: she wants to grab Harlan and Gina and go on the run with them. Why? Because she likes Gina, and doesn't want her to end up in a ditch with her throat cut.

She pays the Williamses a call, and convinces them to trust her and go with her. She gets them out not long before Andrews arrives, but she's left him a message: "Just like old times," signed with the initial "T" inside a heart. Andrews recalls the "old times" she is referring to: her blackmailing him to keep him from killing someone. Jude brings in an associate, Fredericks, and the two of them begin liasing with local and state law enforcement, trying to locate the fugitives.

The fugitives, in the meantime, have set a course: they are, at Gina's urging, heading for Chiacgo. Their daughter, Francie, lives there; she, apparently, has been involved with nearly every unpopular anti-government movement imaginable since the late sixties, so she ought to be able to help. Terry agrees, and then decides they need to ditch their car (since it's presumably being looked for) for another. Her solution: she steals them a hearse.

Fredericks has gotten a list of all vehicles reported stolen anywhere near where Terry's car was found, though, and the episode ends on Andrews intuiting that she's is responsible for the hearse that was reported stolen at the same mall.

As a production, this isn't a bad episode; all of the acting is good (with the exception of a weird and pointless crime-scene photographer character), and things move at a good pace. There are a lot of logical problems in the screenplay, though. Like the first two, this episode was scripted by King himself, and he wants us to believe that Andrews would be coming to kill Gina and kidnap Harlan, but that killing a crime-scene photographer would take precedence over that. So Andrews kills Akins, then -- in the same night -- kills the crime-scene photographer, then goes back to his motel and chills out until the next morning. Then, he gets back to it and heads for the Williams house.

Why would Andrews not immediately go for Harlan and Gina? Wouldn't it make more sense to conduct that operation under cover of night, rather than wait to do it on a nice, clear morning?

Even more senseless: Terry's plan to steal a hearse. She rationalizes it by saying that nobody would think to look for them in something as gaudy and noticeable as a hearse. That's good logic, except for the fact that the hearse's owner is likely to report it missing, and it's going to be very easy to be on the lookout for a stolen hearse.

That's just sloppy writing on King's part. I say "sloppy"; really, though, it's downright awful writing, as is Andrews' erratic approach to cleaning up this problem for The Shop.

Otherwise, though, this is a fairly good episode. It was directed by Michael Gornick, who had previously directed Creepshow 2.

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 2

This is the SECOND PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  As Bryant pointed out in the first post, we should not confuse the television series with the 3 hour hashed movie.

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,

Episode 2 (airdate 07/18/1991)

The second episode was written by Stephen King and directed by Allen Coulter. [IMDb lists Michael Gornick as the director, but don't you believe it; it says "Allen Coulter" on the episode, and that's evidence enough for me.] [P.S. -- IMDb also lists titles for the seven episodes, but those appear to have been concocted by somebody who had no affiliation with the production. Rocky Wood has verified for me via email that the original screenplays, which he has read, have no episode titles.]

Coulter had only been directing about three years at that point, and had episodes of Monsters and Tales from the Darkside to his name; presumably, it was his association by producer Mitchell Galin -- who worked on both of those shows -- that got Coulter hired for this job. He would go on to direct two more episodes of Golden Years, and after that, things eventually heated up for him a bit: he did three episodes of Millennium, and one of The X-Files, and then got himself a job directing episodes for HBO. Eight episodes of Sex and the City, two of Rome, one of Six Feet Under, and, most importantly, a solid twelve of The Sopranos, which makes him one of the key contributors to one of the great television shows in history. Among his episodes: "College," which is generally considered to be one of the very best.

Lately, Coulter has directed six episodes of Boardwalk Empire, and for cinemas, he directed the excellent movie Hollywoodland, which starred Ben Affleck and dealt with the sad life of Superman actor George Reeves.

Here, Coulter's talents are obviously undeveloped, but nascent; it's cool that such an important director cut his teeth on King material.

The plot for this episode:

Dr. Ackerman meets with Dr. Akins, the eye doctor who performed the re-exam for Harlan; Akins tells him all about how he'd been ordered to fake a passing grade, but ended up not needing to, on account of how Williams passed with flying colors. Unbeknownst to the two doctors, the fellow at the next table over in the coffeeshop is recording their conversation; he later takes it to Jude Andrews. Andrews then pays Ackerman a visit, and tells him to spill the beans, whatever beans he's got; and make sure not to leave anything out. Ackerman does just that; Andrews promises that if he finds out Ackerman has held out on him, he'll be back to perform some radical dental work ... with a power drill. Andrews later pays Akins a visit, too, and shoots him through the forehead.

Meanwhile, Gina confronts Harlan about his advancing condition of incipient youthfulness. Harlan at first tries to bluff Gina into thinking it's not as serious as it seems, but it doesn't work, and he admits that a scar -- one he got when he was 67 -- has gone away completely. There is no denying it: physically, he is getting younger by the day. Gina tells him he has to go see a doctor, even if it's only Ackerman.

Harlan goes, and of course, Ackerman reports the details of their meeting back to Andrews. Ackerman tells Andrews that Williams is getting younger, not merely in empirical ways (such as the lightening color of his hair, and the disappearance of his scar), but in less easily-explainable ways; he likens it to the process by which, when he was younger, fewer people every year carded him when he bought alcohol ... except, in Williams' case, in reverse. Speaking of Harlan, he sees Ackerman meeting with Andrews, and -- correctly -- suspects the worst. He goes home, and tells Gina to pack a bag and be ready to go on the run when he gives the word.

Elsewhere in the episode, Andrews visits the place where Reddings' body is being kept. Reddings was one of Toddhunter's assistants; he died, obviously, but not before glowing green for a while and losing certain scars that he had had for years. Terry discovers the body -- which she planned to use against Toddhunter -- is missing, and is none too pleased. She's also none too pleased by a visit she receives from the annoying Major Moreland, who suspects -- both rightly and wrongly -- that chicanery and hanky-panky lie behind Williams' success at his eye exam do-over. Terry promises the Major that she'll inform General Crewes of his concerns.

Harlan visits a beauty parlor and asks them to dye his hair ... white. Back at home, he's feeling frisky, and he and Gina dance. He twirls her around, and seemingly causes a twinge in her back. "I can't keep up with you," she says, sadly.

And that's the episode.

It's a fairly good one. The performances continue to be solid, especially Szarabajka, Sternhagen, and Call. The scenes between Andrews and Ackerman stand out; King clearly relishes writing dialogue for Jude Andrews, who reminds me just a wee bit of Alexis Machine, the character "George Stark" wrote about in The Dark Half.

Bonus points to this second episode for airing on my birthday! I turned seventeen that day. Seems like forever ago. (And stirring up a little agita on the subject seems thoroughly appropriate given the subject matter of the show itself.) 

Dread Central Offers More News On UNDER THE DOME

image credit:

Dread Central's The Woman In Black has posted a newsy article on the upcoming CBS series, Under The Dome. The series will premiere June 24th.  She discusses the promo video for the series, noting some important highlights.

Here's  what I liked:
The King/Vaughan presentation included a few clips and animatics illustrating how graphic the show might be. People and cows sliced in half by the dome landing, a plane crashing into the dome in mid-air, townspeople ransacking supermarkets and washing their bloody hammers from God knows what kinds of murder.
 King and Vauhan discussed some of the specific sci-fi nature ofthe Dome itself.  People sliced in half, planes blasting into the dome, and if you get too close to it, Vaughan  said "pacemakers will explode out of your body."

And there is this note about a major difference from the book:
The novel only covers a short period of time. The idea of the TV series is not to extend it for a week, but months... It’s going to bring out the best in some people and the worst in other people.”
The full article is HERE.

New Carrie Poster

MGM and Screen Gems (Sony) have released a brand new character poster for their upcoming CARRIE film to be released October 18, 2013.

This Guy Is Full of Green Light: A Review of "Golden Years" EPISODE 1

This is from my friend, Bryant Burnette's blog, "The Truth Inside The Lie."  I liked it a LOT.  Bryant takes the time to build an episode review for each of the Golden Years, something I have not seen. . . well, anywhere.  And I read a lot of Stephen King.

Thanks, Bryant, for letting me repost this.  Be sure to check out his blog -- I always enjoy the "Bryant has issues" posts!

This is the first post, covering episode 1.

Alright, Bryant, take it away. . .

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

You may or may not be familiar with Golden Years, the four-hour movie written by Stephen King that is available on DVD. I get the sense that it is not terribly widely-seen. I might not be right about that, though; my senses have been known to fail me.

Either way, even if you are familiar with the movie, the odds are pretty good that you have no idea it is an abridged version of the original version: a seven-part series that aired on CBS in the summer of 1991. The first episode was a two-hour broadcast, so all in all, eight hours of the series were aired.

The version available home video is shorter by about 135 minutes; in other words, the equivalent of three hours' worth of the broadcast episodes were cut out, including the original cliffhanger ending (which was replaced with an alternate ending intended to provide at least scant closure).

I had not intended to post this article yet. However, I'm working -- slowly; too slowly -- on another post that covers all of the Stephen King-based episodes of television that have been produced (ranging from The Twilight Zone to The Dead Zone to Haven), and as a part of that I wanted to include some brief plot summaries of what happened in each episode of Golden Years. Problem was, I couldn't remember, nor could I find episode summaries anywhere else. Granted, I didn't look all that hard; but still.

This led to me rewatching the episodes so that I could type up brief plot summaries. 
I apologize in advance for not covering the differences between the home-video cut of the "movie" and these episodes; that'll happen at some later date, down the line. But since that version is easily obtainable, any King fan ought to readily be able to watch that version. Therefore, detailing the changes seems less crucial than detailing a bit about what happens in the original episodes themselves.

Here goes!

Episode 1 (airdate 07/16/1991)

You might be wondering: how, dear douche sir, are you so privileged as to have access to the original episodes, whereas the rest of us do not?

Glad you asked. I've got a VHS tape that has all of the episodes on it from when I taped 'em way back in the summer of 1991, as I was getting ready to enter my senior year of high school. It's one of my prize possessions, and I had somebody burn the episodes onto a DVD a few years back. So, yeah, that's my less-than-humble story for the day. Hey, look, I'm single and overweight and likely to remain both as I approach forty; I gots ta take my little victories where I can get 'em at this point, y'all.

The first episode was scripted by King and directed by Kenneth Fink, and begins with Harlan Williams riding his bicycle to work. He is a janitor at Falco Plains, a military-run scientific research facility in New York State. Williams is approaching his 71st birthday, and his job is in jeopardy because he recently failed the eye exam portion of his annual base-administered physical. Major Moreland, an unctuous bureaucrat, wants to fire him, but Williams insists on his right to retake the exam, so he narrowly avoids the canning that has obviously been headed right for him.

He is less successful in avoiding the explosion that is heading right for him: he is injured in the blast emanating from the laboratory of Dr. Richard Toddhunter, who is attempting to find a way to regenerate human tissue for use in helping wounded soldiers return to the battlefield quickly. Toddhunter is responsible for the explosion, having ordered his two assistants to proceed with his experiment despite having a warning red light on one of the lab's sensors.

Harlan's husband, Gina, is visited by Terry Spann, Falco Plains' head of security. Spann brings Gina to the base's hospital, where Gina finds her husband laid up in a bed, but apparently none the worse for wear. Later, however, she will notice that his eyes are glowing green; this is apparently a side effect, but nothing to be concerned about. Gina seems less than convinced by this assertion; she's probably right, what with the series having been written by Stephen King and all.

Meanwhile, Spann and the base's leader, General Crewes, question Toddhunter about his involvement in the blast. They suspect he's not being terribly truthful with them, but they don't have much in the way of proof.

Before long, a new contingent of bureaucrats arrives on the scene with questions of their own. They are led by Jude Andrews, a high-level operative of The Shop (the same dangerous black-ops scientific research agency that served as the villains on Firestarter). Seems Spann used to work for The Shop, too, and was Andrews' partner. When asked how close they were, Terry says they were as close as it got: "We used to kill people together," she says grimly.

Doesn't take long for Andrews to up his body count once on the case. A Lieutenant who overheard the dying words of one of Toddhunter's assistants could implicate the mad doctor, and that, apparently, would run contrary to the agenda of The Shop. So Andrews kills the man and reports back that he has done so. Reports to whom? We do not know.

Harlan, meanwhile, retakes his eye exam, and passes with flying colors. And that's not the only weird thing: Gina notices that his hair is turning from white to brown again...

Nobody circa 2012 is likely to mistake Golden Years for top-flight television, and if they do, you should probably not trust them very much. The production is a bit on the low-rent side, no doubt about it, although the television landscape was a very different animal in 1991 than it is today.

The apt comparison is to judge Golden Years against other tv dramas from 1991, and on that score, I think it holds up reasonably well. The acting is mostly fine; Keith Szarabajka is good as Harlan (and is aided by old-age makeup that still looks great in 2012), as is Frances Sternhagen as Gina. Felicity Huffman is a good, solid, sexy, severe Terry Spann, and I've seen a few other people note that she seems almost to be a template for Dana Scully, who was still two years in the future on The X-Files. It's a skin-deep comparison, but I can see how the comparison gets made.

I also like Ed Lauter as General Crewes. R.D. Call makes for a menacing Jude Andrews, although his American accent seems to be a bit too slippery for him to keep hold of consistently ... which is really odd, considering that's he's American. Not sure why he sounds like a Brit trying to keep a rein on his American "r"s, but that's exactly what he sounds like. Despite that, he's really good.

Less good: Stephen Root, who plays the annoying Major Moreland, and Bill Raymond, who plays Dr. Toddhunter. Both are kinda campy and over the top, but since that seems to be on purpose on account of the roles having been written that way, let's cut them both some slack, shall we?

Bryant's Review of episode 2 will appear tomorrow.