IGN is busting out a wonderfully cool rumor that JJ Abrams, of “Lost”, “Alias”, and “Mission: Impossible 3” fame has agree to a deal to produce Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series. It is unclear whether this will be a feature film or set of films, a mini-series, or (my personal choice) a TV series. An announcement is expected sometime in the next few days.

The linked story at Ain’t It Cool News can be found by clicking here.

I personally hope for a TV series for a couple of reasons. First off, JJ Abrams knows how to do TV. “Lost” and “Alias” under his watch were among the most riveting television I can remember. Second, King’s material (ESPECIALLY this series) needs to be developed. King is such an effective storyteller and crafter of the language that it can’t be condensed and rushed into a 2 1/2 hour film (or even 3, however if you were going to do a film for each book….maybe). Good, well-done, riveting fantasy sci-fi television can be done well (just check out the new Battlestar Galactica series). In fact, the Sci-Fi Network could be the perfect home for this series.

“The Dark Tower” has a huge following, but a cult following mostly. It’s not well known among main-stream King readers or the public at large. For that reason, I don’t think feature films are the way to go. First off, you’d have to convince movie studios to back a multi-film project for material that not everyone is familiar with and might seem strange at first glance (a fantasy western/sci-fi horror). I mean, this isn’t Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings we’re talking about, franchises with billions of ready-made fans. This is source material you’ll need to cultivate an audience with.

A mini-series is a bad idea too. There’s simply too much story to be condensed into a 10 hour storyline. Besides, the Dark Tower series is about more than just a gunslinger and his friends searching for it. There is a philosophy and metaphoric material. In the books, King weaves the central tale around vignettes from each of the main characters’ pasts while mixing in some truly deep thoughts about existence and our world. In my opinion, 10 hours or so is simply not enough time to devote to that dichotomy. I couldn’t develop a need to care about what happens to them.

The TV series is the way to go, especially if done on a cable network (although Heroes proves good fantasy can be done well) like Sci-Fi. There you can take the time to do it right. Budgets have been increased for these fringe networks. Battlestar Galactica again is a perfect example of the cohesion of good writing, good production, good acting, but especially taking the time to cultivate a good story and an affinity for the characters. Ten years ago, cable networks were where shows went when they couldn’t make it on the big 4 (NBC, CBS, ABC, Fox). With the success of shows like “The Sopranos”, “Six Feet Under”, “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, and the like. Plus, you know longer have to worry about your show competing in their time slot. TiVos, Video iPods and other recordable media have made that a thing of the past. Also, by putting it on Sci-Fi, you’ve got an instant, built-in audience willing to talk your show up to others non-stop.

JJ, buddy, listen to me on this one…

Advertisements