Dr Hook -
Dr Stegman -
Mrs Druze -
Peter Rickman -
Mary Jensen -
Dr James -
Ed Begley Jr
Dr Draper -
Dr Traff -
Natalie Rickman -
Dr Massingale -
OTHER STEPHEN KING SHOWS
Salem's Lot '79
Salem's Lot '04
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
OTHER HORROR SHOWS
KINGDOM HOSPITAL is a horror series based on a Danish mini-series and expanded out by Stephen King. It is centred around the tale of a young female ghost who is haunting a modern hospital that is wracked by inexplicable earthquakes. Saving her will require the services of the good doctor and his girlfriend, a hypochrondiac medium, a sleep research programme, a giant anteater and an artist locked in a coma.
Wrapped around this central core is a number of other strands including a body with a dismembered head wandering about, the second coming, one man's descent into hell and a tortured baseball player to name but a few.
The central core of th story is the interesting one and when that is being focussed on KINGDOM HOSPITAL is a fairly creepy, bizarre and entertaining horror show. Unfortunately, the show wanders off down any number of side alleys that are far less interesting and which seem to be more about filling out the running time and upping the wierdness factor than creating the atmosphere and furthering the story.
The cast do a fine job of managing to walk the tightrope between the serious and the ridiculous, mainly by playing it utterly straight no matter how insane the events around them become. It is down to them that the show, whilst hard going at times, is a generally successful walk on the wierd side.Top
Thy Kingdom Come
A famous (and rich) artist is jogging along his local country roads when he is mown down by a truck whose driver was distracted. Left paralysed by the side of the road, he shares mental conversations with a crow and then a giant anteater before finally being picked up by ambulance and taken to Kingdom Hospital. The hospital has problems of its own. Having been built on the site of an old mill that burned down and killed a number of children workers, it is plagued by earth tremors, power failures and ghostly manifestations. Fortunately, a medium has just returned to the hospital for examination.
KINGDOM HOSPITAL is based on the Danish mini-series RIGET. It has been freely adapted by Stephen King and it is safe to assume that those two particular influences will make for very interesting bedfellows. The feature length opening episode starts with a bang, that being the bang of the artist being hit by a truck. Why exactly his delusions from this point should feature an anteater (impressively created in CGI) is not explained, but as Stephen King is writing this from experience, having been hit by a truck himself, who are we to argue with him? It's just one of a number of bizarre images that seem to exist only to be bizarre. The same could be said of the show itself. This is the first episode and so there is a lot of establishing to be done, but apart from meeting all of the characters there is no cohesive sense of plot or purpose. The central story of the artist forms the core and the investigating medium will clearly be a central figure, but nothing much else is explained or happens.
It is interesting that the opening monologue establishes the entire history of the hospital and its site right from the outset. The discovery of the dark history would normally have formed the centre of the story in this kind of genre, so it will be interesting to see where the show goes from here.
The direction is going all out for wierd with lots of strange canted close ups, skewed angles and forced perspectives, not to mention the anteater and a man stuck inside his own head with some dusty loudspeakers.
Andrew McCarthy is the nominal star of the show as Dr Hook, but this episode focusses on Jack Coleman's artist. The rest of the cast fail to make any initial impression.
The opening episode here is disjointed and too forced in its oddness, but there is potential there if the plot develops and the visual ticks settle down.Top
The van driver responsible for the artist's injuries falls of his roof and is placed in the same room in the hospital as his victim. Mrs Druze, the medium, holds a seance, but is interrupted when the head of neurosurgery, Dr Stegman insists she be discharged as healthy. Taking her down in the lift, Dr Hook hears the sound of a child crying in the lift shaft and climbs up onto the lift roof where he comes face to face with the supernatural heart of the hospital.
The directorial style has settled down somewhat from the initial episode, which helps the show enormously. As we get to know the characters and the story starts to concentrate on only a few of them at a time it becomes easier to identify and sympathise with them. Whilst there are still lots of wierd things going on, there is a sense that there might be some sort of order behind it rather than the disjointed chaos of the first episode.
The story of the van driver starts off promisingly, but then just sort of stops. The seance doesn't do anything, but at least moves on then into the lift shaft sequence. The concentration on Dr Hook's open fly is an amusing aside, but the various people messing with Dr Stegman's car is just a distraction.Top
Dr Hook arranges for Mrs Druze to remain in the hospital despite Dr Stegman's orders following events in the lift shaft. She investigates and makes contact with someone, or something else, who is not the little girl and is decidedly less friendly. The artist comes face to face with this stranger when he takes the little girl hostage. A notorious killer, meanwhile, takes poison in a suicide pact, but fails to die and ends up in a bizarre musical number before being housed next to the artist.
The supernatural side of the story is moving along quite nicely as Mrs Druze and the artist discover that the little girl Mary is not the problem haunting the hospital. It's all a little creepy, though a long way away from scary.
The scene in which the grieving mother of a child with brain damage potentially caused by Stegman confronts the doctor is very powerful indeed, but is undermined by the quite frankly misjudged nonsense of the singsong around the poisoned prisoner. I mean what was that all about?"Top
West Side of Midnight
Mrs Druze loses a friend, but asks for his help from the other side. She learns that Peter Rickman knows the little girl's name and asks Hook for his help to allow her to talk to him. Dr Stegman searches for the people who defaced his car and an ex-nurse is admitted to the hospital with traumatic results for two of the staff.
The situation is becoming a little bit clearer with regards to the little girl Mary. The anteater is her pet and her protector. It is protecting her from the ghost boy whose intentions seem all the more dangerous. Apart from this, there are hints of other plot lines going on, but the main one isn't moving very quickly.Top
The recuperating killer is visited by the ghost boy in the form of his dead lover. The ghost tells him that Mrs Druze must not learn the little girl's name and that he must kill Peter Rickman if necessary to prevent her. Dr Hook, meanwhile, prepares the way for Mrs Druze with Rickman's widow and the other attending physician as well as showing the incompetency record he keeps of all the doctors in Kingdom Hospital, including himself. A homeless man from across the street starts picking up on what is happening in the hospital.
This is a meandering episode that has very little happen in it at all. The sequence with the homeless man waking up on the operating table under Mary's influence is the stuff of nightmares and there is a definite chill when the ghost boy attacks the anteater. Who will protect Mary from him now?Top
The Young and the Headless
A doctor enamoured of an older female doctor decides that what he needs to do is cut off the head of a corpse that looks like him and give it to her. Meanwhile, the artist is taken by Mary down into the depths of the hospital's old domain to help the anteater thing before the killer in the bed next to him can burn his body up.
And it all goes a bit pear-shaped. After a few episodes of spooky, but relatively comprehensible stuff, things go off the rails in a big way thanks to some muddled storytelling, mainly around the headless corpse. Is it really walking around looking for its head or is that a spirit version or what? It isn't clear. The main thrust of the plot continues to build, though.Top
The seismic scientist brought in to deal with the earthquakes is brought into the hospital suffering from some major DTs after falling off the wagon. The body and head down in the basement take a shower and the artist shows signs of waking up.
Apart from the headless body taking showers in the basement, things are back on an (almost) even keel as the investigation into Mary gets the name to Mrs Druze who now needs to get a surname so that she can look for medical records.Top
A philandering lawyer is brought into the hospital following a heart attack. The team refuse to treat him without taking some very severe security measures. The anteater promises him a new heart and the perfect donor gets flown in. Mrs Druze gets Mary's surname and Dr hook finds out a disturbing truth about Stegman's newest publication.
The investigation into Mary takes a leap forwards with the discovery of old newspapers talking about the old mill that burned down on All Souls Day. Interestingly enough, the first hospital also burned down on All Souls day. The drama comes from the killer deciding to get up and walk around even after being crispy coated and there's something new about sleep patterns going on, but I suppose that wil become clear later.Top
The baseball player who lost the world series baseball title for the local team back in 1987 ends up in Kingdom Hospital with a bullet in his head just as the team lose their latest attempt. He finds himself down in the old kingdom, trapped by his own fear with the ghost boy. Mary takes the artist to get him out and shows an amazing ability.
OK, let's just forget the ongoing story for an episode and tell a story about a baseball player that we're not really interested in and who isn't going to appear in the series again. This is padding at its worst. If the show was going to be a different story each week then fine, but up until now it's been based on several ongoing story arcs so it's not. And what about the lawyer from last week? He's been forgotten completely.Top
On The Third Day
The preacher from the mission across the road is found crucified and is brought to the hospital, but not before the body has shown an incredible ability to continue bleeding and to heal those that touch it. The worst earthquake yet to hit the hospital leaves several doctors trapped near to the body and people begin to gather outside as inexplicable incidents are taken to be miracles.
A mish-mash of stories taken from the gospels, stirred and shaken and then played out as if it was the second coming. It's actually not a bad idea and it does play out quite nicely with some very nice character touches in there as well. What there isn't is much movement in the main plot arcs, although the strands of the ghosts, earthquakes and dream programme are all coming together.Top
A cop looking after the crowd that's gathered around the hospital in the wake of events in On the Third Day gets hit by a bright light and a seizure. He's not alone either. The medical records room becomes the focus of attention as Stegman's girlfriend is out to get the all-important report to save his job and another Doctor is out to claim the report for Hook in order to expose him.
We're back with the main story now and things are becoming clearer. Mary is not just about the the fire at the mill, but about some kind of terrible experiments in brain surgery without the aid of anaesthetic or cleanliness or stuff like that. Matters are accelerating and there's a sense that the end is nigh.Top
Shoulda Stood in Bed
Stegman's day has gotten unbearable. The report that will end his career is out and about, his publication has been halted whilst the charges of plaigirism are investigated, his car has been taken apart and the ghost boy has guided him the last few steps to insanity. The seismologist says that the big earthquake is coming and Mrs Druze realises that there has to be a seance in order to prevent the upcoming apocalypse.
This is all about setting up the big finale. Stegman is going to go ballistc and the ground is going to go ballistic and the weak forces of light are gathered in the faint hope of saving all their lives, or being utterly destroyed. It is hard to actually hate Dr Stegman, as we are supposed to do. He's not a likeable man, but everything is so stacked against him from the start that he never stood a chance and his descent into madness seems a little harsh.Top
The group gather together for the seance that will answer all of the questions. Exactly what befell Mary will finally be revealed and Stegman will set out to stop it. It will take a journey into the very heart of the hospital's darkness to see matters resolved.
It's something of a failing in the structure of the show that nearly the whole of the first half of the final episode is devoted to telling the story of the fire and the experiments that followed. Whilst this is a horrible story, it robs the final episode of its driving force and tension. We are told the exact time of the crisis at the top of the show in a move to build this tension, but then the tactic is ignored until the second half.
That second half, though, in which the good guys descend into the underworld to face the evil at the heart of the place, are a creepy and satisfying ending, although the tool of the final salvation of them all is a little on the weak side.Top
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