[Same intro as last time]

Once upon a time I was a Stephen King apologist. If he
ran over someone’s cat, I’d drive to their house and say “I’m sorry Stephen
King flattened your furry little Obnoxio”. Nowadays, people are running Mr.
King down like it’s going out of style [once] and his last few books have left
me colder than the Overlook in February. I have the audiobook for Cell and every time I try to give it a
chance it leaves me reaching for the latest Lee Child despite reader Campbell
Scott’s best efforts. That’s without
taking his horrendous EW column into consideration. It’s an affront to all that
kept me warm in my youth, be it blankets, the furnace, or Uncle Pat’s dick.

But, I’m at an impasse here you see. I love Nightmares & Dreamscapes, his third
[after Night Shift & Skeleton Crew] collection of bunches of
short stories lumped together. I want the television versions of those stories
to be as good as they were in my head when I read them. Now that TNT is airing
eight adaptations of those stories it’s time to see if they are. As an aside, a
couple of these are from the later collection Everything’s Eventual, but who’s counting? Bottom line: even more
so than the recent Salem’s Lot and Desperation attempts, these suckers are
built for speed and therefore built for episodic television.

I was lucky enough to get my hands on all of
these episodes, so what will follow will be my advance and
somewhat satisfied take on a pretty promising bit of material from an old
master who’s let me down of late. I’m not going to release these by airdate
because my goal isn’t to create some kind of preview for the upcoming night’s
installment but rather keep it free-form and fun. Whether it is fun is up to
you, but by golly I’m in charge of the free-form part…

Installment: The End of the Whole Mess

Damn. I should have watched this installment first.

Howie Fornoy (Ron Livingston, I presume) is a documentary filmmaker as we discover through his narration. He speaks of how he and his little brother (Henry Thomas) grew up close but with different career paths. He speaks of his own rise in Hollywood and of his brother’s eventual obsession with ending violence. He speaks of bees. He speaks of the end of mankind.

The End of the Whole Mess isn’t a horror tale. It’s a drama with a cautionary tale as the framework. It’s personal and engrossing and surprisingly affecting and proof that the softer side of Stephen King has become the more interesting one. In recent memory I remember being pretty floored by the emotional stuff in Bag of Bones and Hearts in Atlantis and The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile speak for themselves.

The primary reason this one is so solid is Livingston. Something happened with this guy somewhere around Band of Brothers because he went from being a fun guy to have in a movie to an actual presence. Office Space is fun but not because Livingston is a powerhouse. His delivery adds a lot of the vitality in a story that is 100% exposition and very much like a glorified Twilight Zone episode.

In a series loaded with disappointing genre stuff, this is a warm and rather substantial little curiosity that’s worth a look.

Next: Autopsy Room Four

Until then, please accept my rating for this installment in the series:

Previously: They Got a Hell of a Band.