The Outsider on HBO: Yet Another Stephen King Adaption

This is an adaption of the unofficial 4th book of the Bill Hodges trilogy. Its a murder mystery with a very unusual twist.

While the first couple of episodes are atmospheric and well made, the acting is so low key as to make the story much less powerful than the book. Its as if someone spiked the coffee with anti-depressants. Jason Bateman is awesome. Ben Mendelssohn is a sleepwalking bore playing a key role in the story. Bill Camp is outraged and passionate as Batemans lawyer.

Not going to spoil anything but this is a show worth a watch (cavaet I have only seen the first 2 epis because HBO just wont release entire series.) Im hoping it gets better.l

Is the unusual twist that there are four books in a trilogy?

I don’t know why it is that Stephen King gets every little scribble on his paper napkin made into a show or movie while thousands of other talented authors get bubkes, but it’s getting decent enough reviews so I guess I’ll give it a try.

I liked this book though really it just shares a character with the Bill Hodges trilogy (which I liked a great deal). I think they are staying pretty close to the story so far , if I remember correctly. Liked it so far and my non-reader partner is getting into it. I did think Ben Mendelsohn could stop mumbling sometimes but I do like him in other stuff so I will have faith.

One thing that annoys me is that they reset the story in Atlanta (from either OKC of Tulsa iirc) and they fundamentally changed Mendelsohns character from a fifty-plus fat redneckish cop to the nondescript character he is now. Im guessing, but later King is big into fighting racial stereotypes and the reader was supposed to see Ralph Anderson as your typical fat white racist cop. Its how Anderson responds to his personal crisis that allows us to see beyond this. Im getting no such sense of dramatic effect in the show. Maybe im being too hard on Ben Mendelsohn.

I have not read the novel on which this is based, but I have read summaries of it and I’m not a fan of (spoiler-boxed for those who don’t want to know how it turns out)

that the mystery of how Terry Maitland could be in two places at once is dependent on a supernatural creature that apparently looked like him. I guess I prefer plots that are grounded in reality. Although I enjoyed American Gods on Starz, I didn’t like Evil on CBS. Not sure where I’m drawing the line. And this is the show HBO is airing at 9pm on Sundays, which is their slot for their big prestige series of the moment. Weirdly, though, The New Pope is relegated to Monday nights.

I would wait till Holly Gibney appears. She is a highly polarizing character that people tend to love or hate. She might make the show for us, given a chance.

It’s not an entry in the trilogy; it uses a supporting character from the trilogy as a supporting character in the story.

I would argue that she was a main character in the trilogy.
So far, we like the show. We’ll definitely keep watching. It’s still at the stage of two sets of competing facts that both appear to be true, but cannot be.

I read the book, so I know how the story will go, but I’m enjoying it so far. But I do agree with this:

From the book:

Also nothing that struck me as rednecky about him.

Jason Bateman directed the first two episodes.

I loved Bateman’s direction of those two episodes. He does some stuff that could be called gimmicky, but for me it worked.

Unlike others, I’m liking Mendelssohn’s performance, though I do see the point about King’s cliché-fighting characterization being ignored in that casting. All the acting has been excellent so for, in my view.

My main issue is that, as mentioned already, there is a supernatural solution for the central mystery. I’ve often liked King’s work but am not the biggest fan of this type of device.

I’d also say that the central mystery of the ten (?) episode-story has been solved in episode 2. I haven’t read the book and know nothing about its plot, but my guess is:

[SPOILER]The reason that Bateman’s character had a double who committed the murder, framing him, is that Bateman happened to go visit his dementia-suffering father at the father’s nursing home and stumbled into the supernatural villain, who was offended and decided to get revenge. The supernatural villain was working in a home for violence-prone sufferers from dementia, because the villain feeds on emotional pain and misery, and there’s plenty of that in such a home. But Bateman’s character stumbled into the villain, so the villain took a blood sample and thus was able to duplicate the character’s appearance, fingerprints, and DNA. The villain then stole a van from an area the Bateman character had been staying in, to further the frame.

The villain is now hanging around the Bateman character’s hometown, soaking up the pain and causing more via influencing other people to do violence while they try to cope with the original murder. This influencing campaign includes the younger daughter of the Bateman character, who the villain intends to harm or influence to do harm to others.

So the autism-spectrum detective will be brought in and will figure out this is a supernatural villain, and won’t be believed, but will find an autism-spectrum way to defeat the villain, maybe. [/SPOILER]

This could be all wrong, but if it’s right, it’s a flaw in the production that nearly everything you’d want to know is spelled out so early in the miniseries.

My only concern was that

King stole the ending from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

We’re enjoying it. When we started watching it, I thought “Why does this sound so familiar?” I thought maybe I’d seen it before now, but that couldn’t be. I finally noted that it’s a King story and did a head smack. I like the Holly character; off-center and quirky like she’s supposed to be. And I like the slow, menacing burn.

Really like it , watched episodes 1 and 2 and half of 3 .

Yeah I think it would be nice if we got more adaptations of Stephen King’s non-supernatural work, rather than his supernatural related material which has been done to death at this point.

I’m also down for anthology adaptations of short stories, in the vein of Creepshow which - come on - everyone loves. Drawing out one King story into a full multi-episode season can really get ponderous.

I’m enjoying it. I liked the book, and I’m liking the adaptation.

The only thing I’m not liking about it is the cutesy camera techniques which are, by episode 3, becoming so intrusive as to be annoying. The vast majority of the shots are either:

  1. Worm’s eye view
  2. Shot from across the street
  3. Shot from a doorway so we can only see half of what’s going on
  4. Blurry

Maybe this is “somebody’s idea of artsy,” but to me it’s just annoying.

It’s also bugging me that they keep finding excuses to go back to the strip club so they can slip some stealth boobs in where they’re not needed. I’m beginning to think that’s what the “B” in “HBO” stands for.

My feeling is that HBO does this because it worked on the Sopranos (Bada Bing) and what worked 20 years ago still works now. :dubious:

This is still a good show, they are up to episode 6 of 10 now. They are getting into the explanation for the child murders.

I liked that in this episode, one thing that had been bothering me was explained:

[SPOILER] From all we’d seen and known before, the Entity was the one doing the awful things, and the person-who-got-duplicated didn’t seem to know they’d been duplicated and awful things were happening, until they got arrested. But now we know that someone NOT duplicated gets enlisted by the Entity to do its dirty work while the Entity is…transforming, or something. (This theory was offered by Holly in the episode.) The cousin of the guy duplicated-before-Jason-Bateman, had been the ‘assistant’ in the previous incarnation. And Jack is “it” now, so apparently Jack is NOT the next person being duplicated. He’s just the designated assistant to the Entity, and no doubt will suffer an end similar to that of the cousin.

We have yet to see who the next duplicated person is, and no doubt it will be a big deal.[/SPOILER]

However, this raises new questions:

[SPOILER] Was Jack the “assistant” for the Entity for the Jason-Bateman-character’s duplication event? Or is Jack the “assistant” for the NEXT duplicate-person-event? If the latter, who was the assistant for the JB-event? And what about the assistant for the other event we know about (the Harlem woman who Holly met with in prison)?

Also: the Entity has, as far as we know, moved geographically a fair distance for each new event. If the new duplicated -person is a character we already know, it has to be someone from the same town as the Jason Bateman character—or, if not, it has to be Holly, or her new security-service boyfriend, I guess. The story wouldn’t work if it’s some random person we’ve never before seen…would it?[/SPOILER]

(As mentioned earlier, I haven’t read the book.)

The series is still working really well, I think, despite my tendency to prefer non-supernatural stories.