“Bobby Terry? You SCROOOOOOD IT UP! “
JFC is fueling this series. Heavy. As a longtime fan, I look for things that I know are coming. I want to see what will be different and what will keep the showrunners away from the source material. That attracts me. What a shame, as I can say, most of the cast give it their all, especially James Marsden, Amber Heard and Alexander Skarsgård, all of whom try to add nuance to their thinly sketched characters and edgy dialogue.
It doesn’t help that the writing on this show is absolutely terrible. I don’t mean the whole story by that. King is great and I love the way he connects a viral apocalypse with the end of days. I talk about how the plot progresses, how characters interact with each other, and how characters are presented. Let me skip to episode 6 “The Vigil” right away. This is the first time we’ve met fan favorite Trashcan Man, aka Donald Merwin Elbert. While King’s book and ’90s miniseries paint Elbert as a personable character who breaks our hearts for, Ezra Miller’s Trashy is an insult to the name. I wouldn’t be surprised if mental health advocates deciphered this episode. In fact, I hope they do. It is an insult to the disabled and paints a terrible, disgusting picture of mental disorders. Everyone involved in this cartoon should be ashamed.
Miller screams, drools and enjoys lighting. He gossips, screeches and talks to babies like he’s a bad leeloo on crack. There is no semblance of humanity, nothing more than a series of tics and convulsions. In the ’90s, Matt Frewer brought the character to life by showing that the impulse to burn was not under his control. He was a slave to it and balanced the burst of fire with guilt and remorse. Here? Woohoo – let’s go crazy, literally everyone. Methodists need strong directors to make sure they don’t get off the rails. But director Chris Fisher isn’t that strong, and Miller absolutely sucks. He only chooses it in two brief moments; In the elevator to Flagg he says to Lloyd, “You’re going to die. I’m sorry.” And during his conversation with Flagg, there’s a glimpse of so much more in that head with a simple “… burn. Always burning. And they don’t know, but I know. “But it’s gone in a flash. Sigh.
Okay, back to my general thoughts on the second third of this series. It’s a mess. There are too many directors – four in the fourth episode, the patchwork “The House of the Dead” – too many writers and not enough solid visions. I can understand how many creators come together for a big series like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead, but with nine episodes? Confusing tone changes constantly affect the feel of the story, and characters never seem to settle in and let us get to know them. So with a strangely incoherent story and no characters we showed empathy for? The booth is lit with sound and light, with just a vague hint of fun here and there.
Skarsgård should absolutely blow my mind at this point. His flag begins to crumble when he realizes that his powerful abilities are not as powerful as he imagines them to be. His plans are falling apart, people are sneaking out of New Vegas and all Skarsgård has to work with is a handful of villain lines and facial expressions doing their best to convey what the script doesn’t. It burns me as I think he’s a great casting choice for Flagg. he enforced evil so well Real blood. But Mother Abigail is no better, so it’s not that the Creators are leaning on one side.
Mother Abigail is portrayed as an argumentative, wise prophetess. An obvious change from the kind, caring woman in the books and previous series. I understand why she has so many followers. After the horror of Captain Trips, so many people needed a touchstone. But why do they adore her when they have actually spoken to her when she basically blew everyone away? It doesn’t help that Whoopi Goldberg is absolutely calling it like she’d rather be anywhere other than here. Nat Wolffs Lloyd is the exact opposite and goes straight to overkill. In the OG series, Lloyd is shown as conflicted from the jump, and that conflict – along with Miguel Ferrer’s restrained performance – makes for a compelling character. Here Lloyd is a sticky class A douche, dumb as a tree stump and reveling in his strength. Wolff digs himself into ham and cheese with gusto and takes that character to a ridiculous level. It was supposed to be a fun watch, but this Lloyd is hollow and that’s a waste.
In fact, most of the characters are sketched rather than fully drawn, probably due to all of the time jumps earlier in the series. While those jumps seemed to have stopped in episode 5, “Fear and Loathing for New Vegas,” these characters haven’t been looked at for long, making them feel like pieces of wood on Harold’s chessboard. I don’t really care about you. What if I take away the love for these characters I’ve had for decades thanks to the book and previous series? They are empty vessels. Viewers who get into this story and don’t know anything are likely bored and waiting for something to happen. I wouldn’t blame them. These characters are not interesting enough to pique anyone’s interest.
I’ll keep watching because I love this story and want to see where it leads. Like my love to A Christmas songI will review everything related to King’s story. But beyond the production values and the few artists who give their best? This series doesn’t keep the promise of history. We hope the last three eps – and the promised new ending to King – will amaze me. Or at least not that I feel so damn disappointed.