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.