Apr 2, 2019
Those Game of Thrones novels are so loooooong, can’t we just adapt a Stephen King short story or something?
Why bother doing all that work adapting an entire novel into a TV series when a short story will do? CBS has snagged “The Things They Left Behind” by Stephen King for a new drama.
The original story focuses on a 9/11 survivor who finds the personal effects of his fallen co-workers magically popping up all over his apartment. The TV show is described as a “supernatural procedural” about an “unlikely pair of investigators carrying out the unfinished business of the dead.”
That’s not a horrible concept for a TV show, especially if they stay away from 9/11 for anything but the pilot, but why bother picking up the rights to the short story if the series itself is tangentially related at best? Say, you don’t think it’s just so they can slap the name “Stephen King” on it, do you?
The show is actually going to be brainchild of Seth Grahame-Smith, who is writing and exec producing, and exec producer David Katzenberg. The same duo is bringing It to the big screen.
I wanted to use this bit of news as a springboard into a list of best and/or worst TV shows based on short stories, but as best I can tell, there’s only been one. There’s been lots of miniseries or individual episodes of shows, but only one full-blown series. Can you name it?
A lot of the success of Justified, and it’s translation to the screen, is due in large part to showrunner Graham Yost. The series is based on a short story “Fire in the Hole” and Yost attributes the success of the pilot to the literal adaptation of the short story.
But it was the two leads, Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens and Walton Goggins as Boyd Crowder, that sent the series into the stratosphere. They bring to life the complexities of Leonard’s characters more perfectly than almost anyone has to date.
So if you loved Justified, go ahead and put it at #1 on your list of TV shows based on a short stories, and if you hate Justified, go ahead and put it at #1 on your list of TV shows you’re wrong about.
There is at least one other new series from a short story currently being developed. WGN’s Radiant Doors is based on the Michael Swanwick tale of refugees from a dystopian future escaping back in time to our modern world. (Yes, kind of like that episode of South Park.)
Other than that, ABC tried really hard this year to transform the short story “The New York Times at Special Bargain Rates” into a summer series called Grand Central. The original story about a phone call from a dead guy to wife was supposed to become a tangentially related “supernatural procedural.”
I bet you can guess who wrote the short story.