For a long time I have known about this Stephen King version of Lars von Trier’s wonderful series “Riget” (a.k.a. “Kingdom”). In doubt if a remake would add anything to the original series, for a long time the idea of watching “Kingdom Hospital” remained slumbering in the back of my head. A while ago I ran into the box so cheaply that I decided that it was time to watch it after all.
“Kingdom Hospital” can be best regarded a series with references to “Riget” instead of being a remake. From the first episode it is clear that Stephen King does not follow Von Trier’s story. He added elements and left things out. Some characters return, but usually the names have been changed. Sigrid Drusse became Sally Druse; Jørgen Krogshøj, Dr. Hook; Stig Helmer, Dr. Stegman; Mona Jensen, Mona Klingerman. This immediately says something about the story-lines that found their way into King’s story. The weirdest things have been left out though!
Again the hospital is built on a place where a catastrophe took place in swampy conditions. The dead of these days still haunt the hospital, in King’s version causing earthquakes. Druse finds the little girl Mary and tries to help her in her typical spiritualistic way and her annoying personality, forcing her son to help her. King turned the story more in a fight between good and evil which brings a larger role to some elements, but also introduces new characters. Most notably “Antubis”, a boy trying to run amok and an artist patient who is chosen to save the hospital. Other notable elements are left out, such as Lillebror (the baby) and Age Krüger (perhaps he has been exchanged for the boy). Other things have been changed, such as the secret society of doctors, the sleep research facility and . Other amusing elements have been added, such as King’s own part as Johnny B. Goode.
You may get the point, “Kingdom Hospital” should be approached with no expectations of what is to come. It is an entirely new story with elements and characters known to people who know “Riget”. I think the series are more amusing when you indeed know “Riget”, especially because a few things make more sense. There is no need to know “Riget” to enjoy “Kingdom Hospital” though. The series make a slightly weird horror soap (more horror than “Riget” I might add) which has been worked more into a coherent story than “Riget”. What is too bad is that the “finale” is pretty weak and the end pretty horrible… That may be a reference to “Riget”s sudden end?
All in all amusing series which are probably even more amusing when you know the series made by Lars von Trier who produced Stephen King’s version.
I found this series because Ian McShane is in it who is brilliant in “Deadwood“. The series seemed strange enough for me to like it. And I did!
Let me start with a down part. The season is only 8 episodes and it looks like half a story. The series is based on a book by Neil Gaiman, so my guess is that the whole story has been divided over two seasons. Had I known that beforehand I would have waited until the entire series are available before watching it.
To the series then. It is not clear to me why a man named Shadow Moon has such a big part in the story, but coming out of jail, he is picked up by a man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday, but people who know him call him Grimnir. I leave it to you to guess who he really is. With the identity of Mr. Wednesday in mind, the series make a whole lot of fun.
What Mr. Wednesday represents is one of the Old Gods (a bit out of place in America though) and he is looking for other old Gods to get the influence back that they used to have. There are many, many references to all kinds of mythologies and religions, sometimes obvious, sometimes vague. The story is not about the fight between prechristian religions and Christianity, Mr. Wednesdays opponents are of the like “Mr. World” (a god of globalization?) and “Media” (Gillian Anderson).
In this manner there is plenty dialogue about the demise of wonder and religion in modern man and critique to modern society. This is done in witty dialogues, with good humor and with both subtle references and blunt statements.
And so we have a fairly vague, at times pompous series with elements that make only little sense and elements that start to make sense as the series continue. My guess is that a few things will only start to make sense in season to and I wonder if the story is going to be milked out in an 8+ season series or if the creators will stick to the book.
Season one is very promising and made an interesting watch.
I would be lying if I said that I have been a ‘Peaky’ for 25 years, but it has been certainly more than two decades since I watched the series every couple of years and I have followed Peak-freak groups for many years. These groups, of course, only contained ‘die-hard fans’ when the series had faded from the public eye. Then a while ago there was a stir within the fan base, since, did Laura Palmer not say: “I will see you in 25 years” at the end of the original series? Would Lynch (and Frost) indeed revamp the series? For a while Lynch denied, but either or not persuaded by all the attention, at some point he confirmed that work was done on a new season. Not too much later the filming had actually started, again in Snoqualmie, and people who went there to see what was going on, could see what actors were involved. Actors were confirmed, rumors wandered around the rest and in the end the new season was put out with a massive amount of publicity. Mark Frost even published a book. Suddenly everybody was a Twin Peaks fan and had been one for 25 years. Continue reading
I have good memories of season 1, which I remember is quite like the film. Reading back my review of July 2015, this is not really the case though. Somehow I had the idea that I had seen season 2 already and when season 3 came I noticed I had not seen season 2 yet. Time to do something about that!
The story is season 1 is that of the film, but with more context. So what would the story be of season 2? Do small, snowy cities have more violent crimes? Apparently they do, since season 2 takes us back to 1979 in which a clash between two criminal groups runs completely out of control. Some civilians and local police officers get caught in the middle and a story as unlikely as that of the film and season 1 unfolds. The stunning naivety of some of the main characters gives plenty room for the black humor that accompanied previous Fargos and the cold-bloodedness of the criminals allows for violent outbursts and more black humor.
Now I do not know if you want to know this or not, but season 2 is not just similar story in a similar surrounding. Two characters that feature in season 2, return in season 1. Or put the other way around: season 2 is a “prequel”.
Just as season 1, season 2 is a fun watch, but by and far not as good as the Coen film. Since there are only 10 episodes, the music (especially in the earlier episodes), characters, story and atmosphere are well done, I would say that this second season is not a waste of time though.
Well then. Even more so than the previous season, 3 is mostly a soap opera. The focus is almost exclusively on the characters.
We jump back and forth over the globe. In one scene we are in Kattegat, then suddenly in Britain or with many of the characters (including women) in Paris. In Britain a Viking colony is started, but the conquering of Paris would be to Lothbrok’s fame.
Besides gathering fame, Lothbrok toys with the idea of Christianity throughout season 3, much to the demise of mostly Floki who develops a growing dislike for his king and his best friend Athelstan.
There are the usual talks of the relationship between men and women, of course the raids with an occasional fight and only a handful of scenes on the sea.
A little annoying is the way Norse mythology is used. A man comes to Kattegat, tells a story that in the Edda is an adventure of Thor, but the man is Odin in disguise (and the story only used partly).
“Vikings” remains a series that may be amusing, but nothing more than that.
As the title suggests, season 5 plays in a hotel. This hotel is inhabited by living people, undead people and (inspite of the previous point) dead people. The undead people feed on the guests, allowing the creators to make bloody scenes with a lot of black humor. As we are used to, there are a lot of familiar actors, most of them in very different roles from previous seasons. There is a “countess” that looks like a perfect part for Jessica Lange, but this season is the first one in which Lange is not featured. I have no idea how that came to be, but the role is played by the lauded Lady Gaga. Gaga is indeed perfect for the part and she plays it exquisitely, but I wonder why she got a grammy for her part and other actors did not.
In any case, “the countess” rules a hotel omnipresent but from the background. She is a weird (looking) creature, but a very sexy one, exactly Lady Gaga. Two people man the front desc. An elderly lady and a drag queen. A policeman trying to find the “Ten Commandments Killer” finds his way to the hotel to no longer leave. “Hotel” is mostly a soap with drama and character development, but there is (of course) quite a bit of horror, also of the annoying ‘look what extreme ways of killing we can come up with’ kind.
Overall “Hotel” is a very descent series. The end is unexpectedly tame which actually adds to the previous.
The fourth season of “American Horror Story” is of the same level as the first. Nice, but not really more than that. After the great season 2 and the good season 3, follows another ‘alright’ season. And there appear to be 9 seasons planned! I wonder if the makers keep going up and down. That would make quite an ordeal deciding if I want to see them all.
As the title suggests we follow a “freak show”, a circus of people with physical deformities. The story is mostly a drama (soap) with people making friends and arguing. Shorter and longer extra stories bring horror elements. It is indeed fun to see actors from other seasons in wholly different, or rather very comparative roles.
The main character is again played by Jessica Lange and her part is not unlike the previous series. Other actors have larger or smaller parts, but most actors return to “Freak Show” at some point. There are a few big parts played by actors that do not seem to return to the series though.
Perhaps, should you not have seen the series, it could be an idea to not just watch them in chronological order. The stories of each season has nothing to do with the other, so you could also just pick the good seasons. Not that the first and fourth season are bad or boring, but they are nothing compared the second. Season 4 does have great opening titles though.
And again we have a highly acclaimed series (8.6 on IMDb) of which the first season did not convince me enough to want to watch the second, but people keep saying it gets better. Why would the creator of a series make an unconvincing first season only to improve afterwards? Just as with “Breaking Bad“, “Vikings“, “Dexter” or “Lost” the first season of “Hannibal” may not be bad or boring, but not interesting enough to interest me to continue with season two. Of the earlier mentioned series I sometimes did watch another season later on, but still did not like the series. The only exception to the ‘rule’ is “American Horror Story“. The first season was only so-so, but the second and third are great. The next series to watch will be season four. Continue reading
Season 1 did not really convince me, but a year and a half after I saw it, I still got myself season 2.
Well, season 2 is not really much better than I remember number 1, but I would not rate it 1,5 stars. Season 2 is more historical and less based on myths and sagas. It mostly tells the story of Lothbrok raising in power, travelling to England and making friends and enemies. Story-wise season 2 is more of a soap opera with more focus on the relations between people.
I still cannot say that I really like the series. I still might some day watch the third series, but they did not come high up my list after watching the first two.
The second season of “American Horror Story” was great, so I was curious what the third season would be like. The story this time is about a home for young witches. Jessica Lange has a part comparable to the previous season. Fitting with the ‘concept’ of the series, there are other actors from previous seasons that return, such as Evan Peters, Sarah Poulson and Frances Conroy.
Cordelia Foxx runs a school for young witches because she fears that witches will die out on current times so she wants to bring them together and train them. Her school is not big, just a few young ladies. Cordelia’s mother (Fiona, played by Lange) is “the supreme” and pretty much a despot. The whole series circle around “the next supreme”. Who will it be?
Then there are a few story lines. There is a competitive group of witches, a voodoo-group around Marie Laveau.
Laveau took revenge on Madame Delphine LaLaurie, a brutal Renaissance landlady whose character brings the topic of racism violently into the story. LaLaurie makes a wonderfully weird element to the story that allowed the creators of the series some grim humor.
The series contain brilliant and weird episodes not unlike “Asylum”, but also teeny-witchy epioses. Especially the final episode is awful.
Overall I think that this third season is fairly good, but it has too many weak episodes to be as good as season 2. It is weirder than season 1, but that season is more ‘consistent in level’. Season 3 has more highs and lows and the highs make this season more ‘watch-worthy’ than the opening season in my opinion.