Nightmares & Dreamscapes: Battleground -- An early look
I'm a fan of Stephen King's writing, though more specifically, I enjoy his short stories. I've read a few of King's larger works, but sometimes I just need a quick beginning-to-end read in one night, and books like 'Skeleton Crew,' 'Night Shift' and 'Nightmares & Dreamscapes' fit the bill nicely.
TNT has a new series debuting next week that pays homage to several of King's short works, titled Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. Though the title matches that of one of King's compilations of short stories, there are episodes covering stories from other books of King's as well.
Case in point, the premiere episode, 'Battleground,' comes from King's 1978 book, 'Night Shift.' Does the episode do the 10-page story justice? Read on for my thoughts.
'Battleground' stars William Hurt as John Renshaw, a professional hit man who's exceedingly good at what he does. Rehshaw returns to his apartment after completing a hit on the owner of a big toy store company, where he soon receives an unexpected package from said toy company. Upon opening the package, he finds he's fighting for his life against foes he'd never faced before.
The episode follows the printed story quite well, though of course when you have an hour-long show, you've got to stretch the original 10-pages somehow. For example, in the book, the hit on the toy store owner isn't mentioned in detail. In fact, Renshaw kills the toy maker's mother in the book. The mayhem within Renshaw's apartment is extended somewhat, though done in a way that doesn't shame the story.
The one key difference between the two tellings of the story is the ending which, in the print version, has a very TV-show or Movie-like feel to it already. While I wasn't disappointed in the changed ending, I did wonder why it was done.
One thing I noticed once the episode was over was that there were no speaking parts at all, including Hurt's Renshaw (with the exception of some loud screams and yells). Even a television broadcast shown is silent in an airport, with Renshaw reading the subtitles. Cleverly done.
I'll admit I was a bit afraid that this episode would just not do the story justice, especially with the visual effects, but I was pleasantly surprised. It's fun and the effects are very well done. Even though you can easily find plot details for this story online, I'd rather not spoil what happens here. I think at least this episode is well worth watching, Stephen King fan or not. If you're into The Twilight Zone or Amazing Stories, Nightmares & Dreamscapes is for you.
'Battleground' airs next Wedneday, July 12 at 9 PM ET/PT on TNT.