I’ve long been a fan of Stephen King and James Patterson. I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve ever read by SK, and most of the ones I’ve read by JP. So it was no surprise that, three years ago, when CBS announced it was making King’s book, Under the Dome, into a TV series, I was incredibly excited to watch it. The same applied when I heard Patterson’s book, Zoo, was being made into one this summer.
Both led to major disappointment for me,though. Under the Dome seemed to follow the book somewhat well for the first season, but by season two, we were wandering far off from that map. Stephen King was quoted to enjoy the direction they were moving with it, though, so I figured I’d give it a chance. This season, though? Ugh! This season was a big disappointment to me. They went completely away from the book, no longer bearing any real resemblance to the book beyond the title and the names of most of the characters.
Oh, and Zoo? Zoo was a bitter disappointment from the start. Pretty much from the very first word in the very first scene in the very first episode, we were away from the book. I would go so far as to say that the only things that Zoo the TV show had in common with Zoo the book was the title and the names of two – no, three – characters. The rest? Not even close. The premise behind the animal changes was completely changed, the solutions were different, the characters themselves were almost all completely different. There were characters introduced that were not in the book and were, in my opinion, utterly unnecessary. I stuck it out for the whole season, hoping with every episode that somehow, someway, it would change, be like the book, be better. It never happened. It was a relief to me to watch the season finale last week. And I hoped, not so secretly, that it will not be renewed.
I’ve said before that I often find that I like the book better than the movie, when there’s a movie made from a book. Something is lost in the movie-making process, usually due to the time constraints – which is understandable. Disappointing, but understandable. I had higher hopes for a TV series.
A TV series doesn’t have quite the same time constraints. Over the course of a season, they have at least 10-13 hours to tell the story, and potentially they have multiple seasons. It seems, at first thought, that a TV series should be able to tell the same story as the book, and tell it quite well. The problem is when they don’t tell the same story as the book. At all.
Truthfully, I felt a bit ripped off by both Under the Dome and Zoo. Both came with the promise “Based on the book by…” and yet, neither lived up to that. Ultimately, Under the Dome decided to do its own thing that was completely unrelated to the book in any way. Zoo never even tried.
I watch another TV series based on a book – another Stephen King book, in fact. I watch Haven on SyFy, which is
based on King’s The Colorado Kid. I actually quite enjoy Haven, and am very disappointed that when it returns next month, it will be for the final episodes, as it’s been canceled. In fairness, I’ve yet to read The Colorado Kid (mainly because I’ve had trouble finding a copy), so perhaps if I’d read the book, I would feel differently. I’ve been led to believe by a few people, and please correct me if they were wrong, that it has tended to follow the book pretty well.
Based on my experiences this summer, I’ve come to a conclusion: watching a TV series based on a book that I’ve enjoyed (even if I only enjoyed the book a little) is probably a bad idea. It won’t live up to my expectations and will only leave me with a bad taste in my mouth, and more than a little disappointed that an author I like would allow their name to be put on it.