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TV Review: Stephen King’s Nightmares and Dreamscapes – “Crouch End”

You may have heard of Stephen King and might have seen a blurb about a TV movie or series with his name on it. You may have felt the need to watch it, but have been uneasy to do so for fear of being disappointed in view of all the hype. Generally, in the case of the celebrated horror writer, most adaptations of his work are pretty poor with a few outstanding moments of glory in between.

Whether you feel love, hate, or indifference toward him, Stephen King’s name has been a trusted brand tied to the horror world for a while now. If, however, you come across “Crouch End,” which is the second story of the eight episode TNT mini-series Nightmares and Dreamscapes (the title is based on the King anthology of the same name), the hate or indifference you feel toward him may feel justified.

The story would seem to be typical of this genre – a lawyer and his wife (Eion Bailey and Claire Forlani) attempt to meet a man about business in the community of Crouch End (which is in London). When they arrive at the town, they are greeted with weird occurrences, which happen because they are on Druid land – the whole area is Druid land.

They run around for a bit and find the land acts as a gateway into another dimension. Then for some strange reason, the husband gets sucked into a bridge underpass, which also tries to draw the wife in. She runs around for a bit, and finds an exit back into the real world – or so she thinks. As she attempts to give a police report about her husband's disappearance, a strange-looking cat she saw in the other dimension jumps up on the table, looks at her, and apparently answers to her husband's name!

I would have liked a bit more clarification as to what was behind the events of the story beyond the Druid explanation. I don't expect a long and boring speech from a character, but just a hint that ties in to the wacky events in the story. This lack of clarity makes the average viewer feel as if he's just taken a nonsensical ride into The Twilight Zone.

Even when you are taken on a journey that never makes sense, the very last thing you need are bad characters. The couple who were victims of this adventure didn't make me care for their plight or hope for their survival. I think the fault lies with Bailey and Forlani for turning in such bland performances, particularly in the case of Forlani, who managed to turn two possibly good movies (Meet Joe Black and The World Is Not Enough) into mildly enjoyable movies.

If there are any King fans out there, feel free to comment on what I might have missed.

If you’re a fan of King, regardless of critical opinion and/or are just looking for something to watch on Wednesday, check out Nightmares and Dreamscapes on TNT at 8 PM Eastern Time/9 PM Central Time.

About Matthew Milam

  • http://www.lisatolliver.com Lisa Tolliver

    Hi Matthew:

    I’m a fan of Stephen King’s books and short stories, and agree that “most adaptations of his work are pretty poor with a few outstanding moments of glory in between.” It’s a good thing the man writes prolifically and brilliantly (usually); if that’s his day job, he shouldn’t quit it. (Not that he’s hurting for cash.)

    I loathe to put down most of King’s books, even after I’ve finished them. In contrast, I tried watching the first two “Nightmares and Dreamscapes” episodes on TNT but had no qualms about turning away when I found them unsatisfying. Consequently, although I was right there with you for most of your review, you lost me when you encouraged King fans and other readers to check out the remaining episodes on TNT. Good luck to you. I’ll be doing something – almost anything – else.

  • http://theinsideofmybrain.com Matthew Milam

    I look at it this way. One mans crap is another mans jello.

  • Dean

    i just finished watching and would agree it isnt his greatest moment and also if you are a fellow crouch end liver like me you realise it does even look as if its actually filmed in england let alone crouch end

  • Beavis

    That was rubbish, just seen the program and it wasn’t even filmed in the UK! Just props like red telephone boxes and policemen and it’s the UK!

  • http://www.friendsofbillyoz.com John

    The series was filmed in Melbourne Australia.

    Some Australian actors, including Australian children like Rarmian Newton, portrayed Americans with fairly convincing accents; though no doubt someone will want to dispute that observation.

  • me

    The into’s Meandering with too many adverbs and adjectives & dangling participles & dangling suppositions without ever getting to the point; and then launches into the body without properly finishing the intro, and immediately resembles and 13yr old 8th grader’s rushed english essay trying to bs their way through having not read the assignment so just summarizing what the teacher said in class, but very poorly & without aim, drive or purpose; that’s when I stopped reading.

    • John 15

      Speaking of meandering, you just wrote a non-stop sentence that lasted 7 lines. You spelled “and” instead of “a” before 13yr. You placed a semicolon before the word “and” when it should have been a comma. The last five words should have been a new sentence, not just set off with another semicolon. Who needs the grammar class?