By Brendon McCullin, Hollywood Staff
Television could use some more Stephen King. The best-selling author's work is already the basis for Under the Dome, which is back in production on its second season. Presently, Universal is shopping a pilot from his short-story Ayana, about a blind girl that can seemingly perform miracles. While King's material has been used as film fodder for nearly 40 years (starting with the original Carrie all the way back in 1976), his work has largely been underutilized on TV, mostly popping up now and then in miniseries form. Given the output from the prolific writer over the years, however, there's plenty more of King's stories that would work as an actual series. Here are five that are just screaming for a spot on someone's schedule.
The Dark Tower
For years, people have been trying to develop movies based on King's bleak Dark Tower series, which follows a mysterious gunslinger named Roland on a quest through an odd world that's part Old West and part sci-fi. Instead of trying to give the story the same treatment as J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of The Rings books, the guide should be George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, which has thrived on cable. At one point, Warner Bros. considered doing both a movie and TV show (for sister company HBO) from the books, but ultimately passed. With a complex story that has its own mythology and language spread over eight books and multiple side stories, The Dark Tower could run on HBO or Showtime for a long time.
The novel, about an Ohio town terrorized by gun-toting thugs that are taking direction from a possessed autistic boy, built an impressive group of subsidiary characters not unlike Under the Dome. The Regulators was a companion piece to King's Desperation, which was already made into a TV movie. Following the strange happenings in a Midwestern town, which already has a built-in parallel universe thanks to the books, the story could provide plenty of material for a number of seasons.
The Running Man
Yes, it already got the big screen treatment starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, but there's a whole lot about the novel's set-up that could be mined for a series. The story, set in a not-too-distant dystopian America, is about a gameshow where contestants are given a head start to go anywhere in the world before they are hunted down and killed on television. Run for 30 days without being killed and you win. Taking elements from reality shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race that audiences have become accustomed to, and elevating them to a strange extreme, would make for some exciting (and darkly funny) serialized viewing.
The Ten O'Clock People
In King's short story, a smoker trying to quit can suddenly see through the disguises of any number of people, including the Vice President, and discovers that they're really monsters. The smoking angle wouldn't work any more, but it's an easy fix to come up with another explanation of why certain people can see through the disguises. Having a resistance group trying to convince people that there are monsters among us would make for a nice mythology story in the same vein of Lost or Fringe.
The story of a teenager manipulated into killing by his neighbor, who turns out to be a Nazi war criminal, was already the basis of a movie with Ian McKellen and Brad Renfro. Change the older character from a Nazi to a terrorist living a hidden life in a California suburb, however, and you could have a show that is a combination of Breaking Bad and The Americans. Who wouldn't want to see Walter White as a terrorist?