The Complete First Season
review by Bobby Blakey
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the 4K UHD I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”
For years the works of famed author Stephen King has been being developed for TV and feature films. More recently they have been bringing some new and old properties back to life with the successful remake of IT, the upcoming second part of IT and Pet Sematary as well as the Hulu miniseries 11.22.63. Hulu once again decided to bring another new project to light, but this time an all-new series called Castle Rock that takes place in the world of Stephen King’s writings. The series features a great cast including Andre’ Holland, Bill Skarsgård, Sissy Spacek, Scott Glenn, Melanie Lynskey, Jane Levy, and Terry O’Quinn, but does it do King’s work justice or should it never get pulished?
Castle Rock follows Henry Deaver, a Death Row attorney who returns to Castle Rock, Maine, his hometown, after he receives an anonymous phone call from the infamous Shawshank State Penitentiary. The call is about a nameless young man who is found locked in an underground cage that’s located in a long-abandoned cell block beneath the prison. Upon his discovery, the mysterious young man, with a sinister and unnerving presence, whispers Henry’s name. Curious about how and why someone left this boy imprisoned, Henry is drawn into the case and attempts to help him. But there are reasons why “The Kid” was imprisoned. And reasons why he should never be set free. Permeated with a sense of foreboding and dread, the haunting small town of Castle Rock is not willing to let Henry leave. Aside from now having to deal with the strange young man found in the prison, Henry is faced with the fact that his adoptive mother, who lives in Castle Rock with retired Sheriff Alan Pangborn, is struggling with the onset of dementia. Reluctantly, Henry stays to figure out just who “The Kid” is and how he wound up imprisoned under such appalling circumstances.
I admit that I have no read a lot of King’s novels, but have kept up with most of the TV and film adaptations both good and bad. Going in I tried to expectations low because people were raving about this and more often than not ends up
being a let-down. Thankfully this series works more than it doesn’t and offers up a great new universe for fans to enjoy. While I am sure that I didn’t catch them all, but this first season is littered with King references outside of Castle Rock itself including things from Cujo, The Shinning, IT, The Stand and so many more including the Shawshank prison that is a major location in the show. Even the most novice of his works will notice most of these references and they are pretty cleverly placed throughout that brilliantly creates this world like it always existed. This alone is worth checking out the show, but thankfully there is so much more here.
The performances are insanely good across the board showcasing yet another great entry into the world of TV and why the medium is so elevated these days. The story is engaging right out of the gate, but offers so much initially that some might find it a bit convoluted and struggle to get into it. After the first few episodes it will suck you in as it finds it’s footing an cements the bizarre mystery of it all that offers up more questions than answers. This is a great aspect to the show to keep you engaged, but with so many character in and out both relevant and others not so, it falls off the rails from time to time and seemingly drags out a bit too slowly for my taste.
As the show progresses it weaves a tale that is just like anything King would have wrote making it one that hardcore fans will no doubt love. I found myself fully engaged about halfway through and while the ending was interesting I have to admit I felt a bit under whelmed. There was so much here during the previous 9 episodes that when we finally get to wrap it up it failed to live up to the previous brilliance that came before it. That doesn’t mean it hindered the rest of the series and it is building more for the next season I am sure, but guess it being such a good buildup I was hoping for a bigger payoff.
In addition to all 10 episodes of the first season this release includes bonus content including featurettes on bringing this new universe to life and inside looks at each episode. Step into the world that King built with Castle Rock: The Complete First Season available now on Digital and then on 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD on January 8th from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.