Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dear Charlie:

So I recently relented and got a Blockbuster membership. Up until now, I've really only had memberships to two rental stores -- Action Video & Tanning and Hastings. Hastings made me feel a little like a movie whore, but I was willing to live with it by consoling myself that I still had a good ol' non-franchise, hometown kind of membership with AVT.

But I've seen just about every non-new movie at AVT (they're kinda cycling the older stuff out to make way for more tanning beds) and I pretty much only go to Hastings to buy used stuff now, so I needed a new store to raid. Preferably a new store with a voluble horror movie section. See where I'm going with this?

Now, rather than switching over to Netflix -- because I need another monthly payment like I need a cranial lobotomy...although that might actually help -- I decided to at least visit ol' Blockbuster to check out their horror and sci fi sections. Not overly huge, but at least with lots of old movies I haven't seen before. So, I signed up and rented out.

Yes, I am a movie whore. And this is my story. Heheh.

So anyway, imagine my delight when I found the TV series, Kingdom Hospital, right there in the horror shelf last weekend. I'd watched the first few episodes when they were actually on TV -- I'll take anything by Stephen King, including his laundry list (which jealous critics have been accusing him of publishing for years) -- and caught the last two by sheer force of will because, I think most of you remember, I'm not very good at watching TV. But I'd never found all of that stuff in the middle, and I always wondered what happened in those middle episodes.

Admittedly, I didn't know about the glories of YouTube back then, but hey. I just got cable internet a year or two ago. Because I'm cheap. Let's not belabor the point.

So I snatched it off the shelf with a few other fun-looking horror stories. The 'Salem's Lot TV miniseries (also based on a Stephen King novel), The Haunting, Valerie on the Stairs (a Clive Barker flick), etc. Went home. Watched everything but Kingdom Hospital first, because I wanted to really just sit down and watch it.

So there I was last Sunday evening, laptop buzzing and the first disc of KH in the DVD player. Needless to say, I didn't get much writing done. Or any, for that matter. I was too busy watching.

It's just a good story. In one of the making-ofs, one of the actors calls KH "ER on crack", and that's as good a definition as any, but I think LSD is probably more accurate. I dunno that crack is an hallucinogen.

It's a very Stephen King story, though he got the idea from a Danish series called The Kingdom that he stumbled across while filming the The Shining TV series.

Ironically, my first thought upon seeing the action start was, "Omigosh! That's Mr. Bennet!" Yeah, I watch Heroes, though I usually watch it on-line because, as I think I've told you, I'm not very good at watching TV. Yeah, the artist's character is played by the same guy who plays everyone's favorite company man and Claire-bear's adoptive father, Noah Bennet. Awesome.

Anyway, you don't need a plot synopsis. The point is that I watched it all the way through between Sunday and Tuesday, then watched it all the way through again by last night.

The kid that plays the bad ghost, Paul, and the human version of the mutant/mystical anteater, Antubis, is frickin great. Kett Turton, if I remember right (because I'm too lazy to go look). Creepy as hell one moment, frustratingly neutral the next, strangely empathetic the next. And his voice work for the anteater is excellent, too. Gives the beast some real emotion that it can't exhibit on its own.

The anteater itself is spectacular. Its CGI is as good as any I've seen for movies, and this is from, what, 5 years ago? And for TV? They usually don't spend a TV budget on such excellent effects.

But the look of the series didn't suffer for an expenditure there. In fact, the rest of the series looks just as good. Sets are intricate and as correct as you can get for a TV hospital. The actors are, for the most part, superb. The lighting is either beautiful or creepy, whatever the script demands.

And the script itself is compelling. Both King and Dooling do a masterful job of moving from tension to laughter, from pity to action. I haven't seen the original show, but I don't really have to. The Americanized version is undoubtedly different, probably even different in tone, and it works for me.

The episode with the lawyer suffering a heart attack, for instance. The scene where Dr. Hook starts barking orders for cameras recording every moment of the treatment and a notary to stamp the medical record and for the lawyer to sign a waiver that he won't sue is priceless. His orders are so pulled from some expert doctor's deposition, so packed with legal jargon that it ceases making sense. I used to be a paralegal. Trust me, I know. Heh.

But later in the episode, Antubis pulls some shenanigans that are decidedly creepy. While his name is a misunderstanding of the god Anubis, he basically stands in the story as Fate. As the little girl, Mary, says, he cures and kills. He's horrible and beautiful. He eats disease and likes to be scratched behind the ears.

And he grants wishes, but only the right wishes. He embodies the axiom, "Be careful what you wish for." Because you definitely might get it, as the lawyer finds out.

And his opposite number, Paul, just begs for backstory. I mean, we get the generics, but I'm itching to write why he is how he is. How he came to be the psychotic doctor's patient in life and assistant in death. Who he was before he died. Why his afterlife teeters on the edge of madness. I love it.

But, unfortunately, I only rented the series, so I had to take it back today. I actually should've taken it back yesterday, but I still had those last two episodes to watch, so....

However, all is not lost. When I get my income tax refund back, I'mma hit and see if I can't find it decently priced. If not, I can always get it used. It's all good. Paul's backstory will just have to wait.

And now, back to what I was trying to write when I stumbled upon that excellent series.

Oh, and one more thing: I am so giving the Keepers' secret greeting to everyone I see at work Monday. No one will have the slightest clue what I'm up to, which is par for the course, but I'll be having an awesome time. Heh.


At 6:14 PM, Blogger writtenwyrdd said...

I'm afraid to start trying to watch tv on the internet, lest I become sucked into a brand new writing avoidance habit.

And Ijust heard about hulu as well, which apparently gathers all the tv together for your viewing pleasure.

And have you seen the commercial for hulu with Alec Baldwin as a brain-eating alien? Hi-larious.

By the way, my word verification was Varculga. I think I have to use that for a story title, lol.

At 1:18 AM, Blogger Bulma16 said...

Hahah, I loved that you wrote "Claire-bear" even though there are no word filters here.

At 7:22 AM, Blogger GutterBall said...

Heh, it's a fixed deal, now. There may be no physical word filters here, Claire-bear, but there's a big ol' honkin one in my brain.



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