Stephen’s still the adaptations King

Andy Fry
By Andy Fry
September 4, 2015

Hit & Miss
Stephen King is a prolific author
Stephen King is a prolific author

Stephen King surely ranks as the most screen-adapted author of all time. With more than 50 movies and 20 TV productions based on King’s books, even Charles Dickens must be trailing in his wake.

One of the reasons King stories are adapted so often is that they invariably do a great job. Even when they aren’t mega hits, they tend to appear at the good end of the spectrum. A case in point is Under the Dome, which has just been cancelled by CBS after three seasons (the final episode airing on September 10).

Launched in June 2013, it picked up 17.8 million Live+7 viewers for its first episode. But although it has since faded, Under the Dome is generally viewed as a success for CBS, which also accrued streaming and international revenues.

CBS Entertainment chair Nina Tassler said: “Two years ago, Under the Dome broke new ground in the summer and became an instant hit on CBS, as well as with viewers around the world. Dome’s event storytelling and multi-platform business model paved the way for more original summer programming with the rollouts of Extant and Zoo.”

Under the Dome has been cancelled by CBS
Under the Dome has been cancelled by CBS

As for ‘the King,’ he probably isn’t losing too much sleep about Dome’s decline. Although another of his stories, Haven, has just been cancelled by Syfy after five seasons, there are new TV versions of his work coming through. Sonar Entertainment, for example, is working on an adaptation of Mr Mercedes, while Hulu is planning an adaptation of King’s 2011 time-travel novel 11/22/63 (a title they might have to change if it hits the international market).

And that’s not all. There are also reports of a highly ambitious plan to convert King’s classic novel The Stand into both a miniseries and a movie. The idea is that Showtime will air an eight-part miniseries based on the novel, which will then be followed by a film. Again, this highlights the way King’s work also seems especially good at driving schedule experiments.

Meanwhile, coming up in the next magazine issue of DQ will be a feature about Italian drama’s assault on the international stage – led initially by Gomorrah. So it’s interesting to note this week that another great Italian opus, 1992, has been picked up by Netflix for the US. Produced by Wildside (recently acquired by FremantleMedia), 1992 is a highly acclaimed series that looks at corruption in the Italian establishment in the 1990s. With Gomorrah and 1992 both spawning sequels, it looks like the Italian scripted community will now be vying for attention with the Scandinavians, French, Germans, Turks, Israelis and Spanish.

Netflix original Narcos
Netflix original Narcos

Netflix has also announced the renewal of Narcos, a series exploring the life and times of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and his infamous Medellin Cartel. Created by Chris Brancato, Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro and directed by Jose Padilha, the series has attracted a very impressive 9.2 rating on IMDb, which puts it at the elite end of the rankings alongside shows like Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, The Wire, Sherlock and The Sopranos.

Elsewhere, another show to be cancelled this week was USA Networks’ Complications. But there was better news for Starz’ acclaimed comedy series Survivor’s Remorse, which follows the life of Cam Calloway (played by Jessie T Usher), a hard-working young basketball star who is thrust into the limelight after signing a huge contract with a pro basketball team in Atlanta.

“We are thrilled to renew Survivor’s Remorse for a third season,” said Starz MD Carmi Zlotnik,. “Since it began, the critics instantly embraced the show, and now we’ve seen its fans grow season after season. The creative team tackles the most topical of issues with heart and humour as the Calloway family deals with ‘pro-money and pro-problems’ off the basketball court.” An interesting note regarding Survivor’s Remorse is that its showrunner is the multi-talented Mike O’Malley, who also starred in Glee.

Ray Winstone in The Trials of Jimmy Rose
Ray Winstone in The Trials of Jimmy Rose

In the UK, a new three-part drama called The Trials of Jimmy Rose (see DQ’s feature on the show here) debuted on ITV this week to 4.1 million viewers (Sunday 21.00). This is probably seen as a bit of disappointment given that it is below the slot average – despite starring industry icon Ray Winstone.

Winstone plays a convicted criminal who comes out of jail after 12 years to find his family life in a state of disintegration. Episode one was praised by the critics, with The Telegraph saying: “Winstone’s portrayal of a once proud man being broken down was skillfully done, particularly when showing us the emotional distance time had put between Jimmy and wife Jackie. Alan Whiting’s spare script and Adrian Shergold’s tight direction eked emotion from small details. A casual putdown from a bus driver, a zero-hours job in a DIY store, Jimmy’s inability to command respect from young bloods, all reeked of humiliation.”

The show’s prospects were possibly dented by the fact it was up against the final episode of BBC1’s Agatha Christie adaptation Partners in Crime. Although Partners in Crime has tailed off quite badly, it still secured 3.3 million viewers, some of whom might have tried out the Winstone drama had it not been Partners’ finale. ITV will be hoping that this lost audience will have recorded their drama, in which case we may see a bounce back for episode two.

Is ABC set to cancel Mistresses?
Is ABC set to cancel Mistresses?

Back in the US, Hallmark Channel claimed its original series Cedar Cove (starring Andie MacDowell) has made the network “the most watched and highest rated in the Saturday 20.00 time period over the course of its third season.”

The network added: “Since the launch of Cedar Cove’s third season, the series is averaging a 2.1 HH rating on a Live+3 basis and more than two million total viewers, making Hallmark Channel number one in the Saturday 20.00 time period.”

Finally, one show awaiting decision over renewal is ABC’s Mistresses. Based on a British drama, Mistresses came to the end of its third season on September 3. Historically its ratings have been quite low but it has been picking up in the last few weeks. The odds probably favour cancellation but, as always, the time-shifted numbers need to be crunched before we can be sure Mistresses is going the same way as Under the Dome.

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