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The First thing you have to know is that "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital"
on ABC is a remake of the Danish mini-series "Riget" and "Riget II" by
Von Trier. So it's essentially a process of "translating" something for
mainstream. My main problem with this was that they didn't focused on all
the important things; it lost all the humor factor and it's special weirdo
characters, and that was what made the original show so unique. And now we
don't have any of that, we lost all the interesting characters and the
humor, what we get is the gore and the ghost story only. It really gives
idea about how little King and the Americans understood from the original.
Yes, Ernst-Hugo Järegård is irreplaceable, but for God's sake, even the
of these characters are all too normal, they look too nice, healthy, like
models. Even when they supposed to be weird, it's somehow cliched, typical
commercially "alternative". It's the paradox goal of this show, you can't
turn the alternative to mainstream while remain alternative, because they
are the antitheses of each other.
Another negative thing is that it's budget was probably like 10 times higher than the original, that's not negative on it's own, but they used that money on things that would have been much better without them, first of all it looks like a Hollywood movie, even though they tried to create some alternative look with the lighting but it's still too nice, too hyper realistic, that subtracts from the creepy mood a lot. And then we have some CGI characters, a talking sloth-bear, that has the teeth of the Worms from Dreamcatcher... As a conclusion you get what you have expected, a dumbed down, mainstream version of something original, and the worst is that it's badly executed.
My Rating: 3 / 10
When Kingdom Hospital originally aired I watched it every week, then the air-date changed and I missed an episode and couldn't bring myself to continue watching with an hour's worth gap. I got my DVD set last week (a few days early) and I absolutely love this show. In a commentary on the DVD Kingdom Hospital is described as a video book and it really feels that way, it's got a perfect pace and you can really ID with the characters who are very rich and well defined. I feel that the story is more effective when you watch the episodes close together, waiting 7 days for subsequent episodes is like torture. It's sad that the ratings were low because I'd really like to see more of Kingdom Hospital and the characters involved. Ed Begley Jr., Andrew McCarthy and Bruce Davison especially give excellent performances, I give the special effects a big 19. Buy the set and you'll be addicted.
"Riget" is one of the most unique films you could ever hope to see. Flawed though it is, it never loses your attention, and you never cease wanting to see more of it, even after hours. "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital" has the opposite effect. Having sat through three episodes now, I'm on the verge of wondering just why I'm wasting my time. The premiere episode was okay - the second somewhat less than that, and the third out and out awful. I finally figured it out. Whenever they stick to remaking "Riget," the thing works. Whenever they veer from that path, it completely fails. I always thought "Riget" was basically a comedy, with some moments of true horror, and lots of suspense. "SKKH" has none of this. Nothing's funny. Nothing's scary. Nothing's even suspenseful, because they don't give you enough plot for you to even follow. What's annoying is that all they had to do is REMAKE the original for the whole thing to work - but nooooo... they had to go and "improve" it with talking anteaters, singing nurses, and oh-so-cute references (I'm told) to various other Stephen King novels, as if maybe THAT will keep us interested. The sad thing is that "Riget" was never finished - the first series leaves you with an incredible cliffhanger, and the end of "Riget II" tops THAT - cutting off just as everything finally seems to be coming to a climax. If SKKH had followed the original, we could at last have looked forward to seeing the thing resolved (even if it is in English, with a completely different set of actors). Now... who cares? It's already so far from the original that it can't possibly even be following the same storyline as the original. What a missed opportunity - what a shame. Sigh. Well, at least we have the originals (and I urge all of you who might like the U.S. version to try and hunt up the original and see how it MIGHT have been).
Riget is indeed an excellent body of work. But the humor is based on Danish culture and might be lost on other viewers. If you are a Stephen King fan, then you'll probably enjoy his interpretation of that story. If you don't like Stephen King, then why watch his movies? Consider "Psycho" starring Ann Heche - a remake down to the very last word and camera angle of Hitchcock's "Psycho." What's the point? Or consider James Whale's original Frankenstein - an absolute horror masterpiece. Does that mean I shouldn't enjoy "Young Frankenstein" because it mocks the original? Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It brings this story to people who wouldn't otherwise watch it. Some people don't like dubbed movies - they ruin the atmosphere and subtitled movies invariably cause me to miss visual cues. I agree, Riget "Rules", absolutely. But this version has some interesting qualities and I enjoyed watching it. It's better on DVD without all the cuts on cable/dish.
It took me awhile to get into this series. In fact, after watching the
two-hour premiere, I almost didn't come back to watch Ep. 2. But I did,
then I watched Ep. 3, and I think that's where I finally started getting
hooked. Unfortunately, ABC has now put out official word that they have
cancelled the series, though they will show all the remaining episodes
(while based on a miniseries, King had begun writing material for a second
season, which ABC has now axed). Thankfully, ABC has agreed to release the
series on DVD later this year.
I've most enjoyed the episodes where you see a lot of the ghosts. I think Jodelle Micah Ferland (Mary) is just adorable, she just breaks my heart. I'm really impressed by Kett Turton (Paul and the voice of Antubis). This is the first thing I've seen him in and I think he's great. And I just love Diane Ladd as Mrs. Druse. In my opinion, the episodes in which those three figure the most prominently are the best of the series.
Unlike many others who watch this series, I have not seen Riget so I have nothing to compare Kingdom Hospital with. I do plan to see Riget (my local Blockbuster actually carries it, under the title "The Kingdom"), but I think I'll wait until this series is over, since those who have seen Riget first seem the most disappointed with this new rendition.
Definitely bizarre, but it grows on you. Stephen King stated that viewers might not see the rewards of this show right away, but if they would just stick with it they would. It's too bad that more people didn't listen, or it might have survived.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Let's get a few things out of the way here: 1) "Kingdom Hospital,"
although based on the Danish series "Riget," is NOT "Riget." 2) "Riget"
is, indeed, a better production. 3) "Kingdom Hospital" is NOT horror.
It can probably best be described as a black comedy/Gothic mystery
featuring ghosts, but it is not horror.
Like the best of Stephen King's works, "Kingdom Hospital" draws its inspiration from a combination of another work and autobiographical details of his own life, in this case, Lars von Trier's "Riget," and King's own 1999 experience being struck by a drunk driver in a hit-and-run accident. King wrote 8 of the 13 episodes himself and shares writing credit with his wife Tabitha on a 9th. The remaining 4 were scripted by his co-producer, National Book Award finalist Richard Dooling.
"Kingdom Hospital" is not "Riget" and does not pretend to be. A straightforward remake of "Riget" would not have played well to mainstream American audiences, besides being redundant and unnecessary. If you want to see "Riget," you can rent "Riget," but don't look for it here. Instead, "Kingdom Hospital" uses "Riget" as the framework for a motherlode of subtext. From a modern re-telling of the Egyptian Anubis myth, to questions of Christian faith, from forays into the horrors of experimental medicine to frequent pot shots at American popular culture, from an exploration of obsessive attraction to biting commentary on the ways children have been treated historically--all of these things combine to tell a fascinating, multi-layered tale.
While the villain, Dr. Stegman, is rather one-dimensional in his obsessions and hubris, he serves as a mirror to the more fascinating Dr. Hook, a man so haunted by his own internal demons and guilt that he strives to be better. Stegman's lack of guilt serves as his downfall, while Hook's guilt and mistakes define him. Peter Rickman serves as the mirror to Stephen King, as he realizes he has defined himself by his craft (he is an artist), and just as King revealed in his memoir "On Writing" how writing ultimately healed him, so does Rickman's artwork (he's so defined by it that he uses drawings to communicate while comatose) set the stage for his own healing, and, ultimately, the "healing" of Kingdom Hospital. "It's what I do," he says at the story's climax. "It's solid."
"Kingdom Hospital" is much better suited to viewing on DVD without the endless commercial interruptions that slowed the narrative during its prime-time run. On television the story was slow to build and often seemed to take pointless, meandering side trips, but watched in a single sitting, it takes on a new life, and those side trips pay off marvelously in end. This is fascinating stuff, great character studies, and far better than the standard slop served up on American television. A definite must-see!
I really looked forward to it when I heard that King was planning to do this show'(my favourite author), I watched the danish mini series when it aired in Danish television in 1994, back then I was thrilled with the show, it was simply brilliant. I wasn't disappointed with this version, it's basically the same story, but with changed characters, I don't think there's a lack of humour but it's just different. There is only one thing I can complain about and that is Bruce Davison/Dr. Stegman is doing a fine job but he gets nowhere near Ernst-Hugo Järegård/Helmer. In "Riget" the funniest thing was the Swedish Dr. Helmer, who hated danes, treating everyone like they had no brain, Dr. Stegman is quite unpleasant but not as enjoyably nasty as Helmer was. R.I.P.
I started watching the series on ABC and then they took it off suddenly. In any case, I never got to see the entire thing until a couple of weeks ago, when I had to buy it because people keep stealing it out of the local video store. Prior to buying it, I saw the Danish series, which my son owns. (He hadn't watched Stephen King's version because he thought he stole it from Lars Von Trier. Then I told him that Von Trier was an executive producer and got full credit for the original version. So now he'll watch the King version.) I thought King's version was a very interesting adaptation of the original, with all the quirks and "weirdities" so typical of his work. (I saw another comment on here from someone who thought the people in the American version were too normal...good heavens, where do you live?) My preference? Well, I have to say I like the King version better. It has all the dark humor, but with an edgy playfulness that I found much more fun.
This 'remake' of Lars Von Trier's series does not do the original any
justice. It annoys me that they have felt the need to film this poor
imitation, apparently purely because the original is in a foreign
language. They have lost all of the subtlety and almost all of what
made Von Trier's frightening, along with the beauty that Von Trier
captured. I don't know what Stephen King was thinking when he began
writing this but I wish he hadn't. And Baxley's treatment of the
script, particularly his choice of music, leaves a lot to be desired.
Do not bother seeing this if you have seen, or intend to see, the original, because you will only be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Well, that's the warning that should have come before the show-- as
well as expecting the viewers to actually know some of the works being
referenced (and I'm not just talking about Mr. King's references to his
own publications). I have read several complaints on various sites
about the "Emperor of Ice Cream" reference Lenny treats us to. Most of
the American public, sadly, seems as uninformed about Wallace Stevens
as they are about Emanuel Swedenborg.
The massive amount of obscure mythological references also fascinate me-- especially what I view to be the reason for Antibus' inclusion in this series. The white dog (Blondie)and the red ant-eater (Antibus, Anubis)-- are both symbols of the Egyptian God Seth (Setekh, Set, Sut)-- and Anubis is his son. Also, we have references to his dual nature, and he that 'eats disease'-- one of Setekh's names from the Book of the Dead in his role as a gatekeeper. Also-- we have the golden light and the sun referenced over and over again. Setekh is the defender of light; he stands on the prow of Ra's ship to battle the Apep monster (who attempts to devour light and order in the universe). Why was he included? Antibus is our psychopomp, our transitor, our gatekeeper as viewers. In such he takes on both the aspects of father and son-- he is Anubis who leads the souls of the dead to judgment, but he is also Setekh who keeps watch on the ways of the underworld -and the heavens above- and who devours and destroys any unclean thing.
But, even for this, Mr. King is not and has never been one of my favorite authors. Certainly there are some of his books I enjoy, but -on the whole- I am not easily scared and usually find his attempts at horror laughable. I think one of the best parts about Kingdom Hospital is that Stephen isn't attempting to scare us. Rather, I think he's trying to promote thought in the viewer and so I love the multiple plot lines and the slow build of the story.
Now, as to it being -or not being- Riget. Having seen both series I say, Riget is Riget. It's fantastic. I enjoy it. Kingdom Hospital is Kingdom Hospital. It's fantastic. I enjoy it. I'm not entirely sure why most people seem incapable of liking each for it's individual qualities as well as enjoying the slender threads of commonality that link the series.
Overall, I find Kingdom Hospital to be a wonderful series and truly wish they would have continued it. Pick it up on DVD, you just might like it.
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