The TV adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel Under The Dome on CBS got off to a cow-slicingly good start last week, and the author himself spoke out on his website in defense of the many changes the TV series will take from the book. He provided a variety of reasons why changes were needed for Brian K. Vaughan‘s adaptation of his 2009 novel, some of which were consistent with King’s approach to the many, many film and TV versions of his work, and some which were more intriguing for the TV show’s future.
King explained that some of the changes in Under The Dome were necessary due to the format, as the TV version stretches out the length of time that Chester’s Mill, Maine is enclosed in a mysterious dome from days in the book to several months or more. The TV show also makes a lot of changes to characters and plot points, but King argues that the core of his story is still recognizable in it. He said, “There’s only one element of my novel that absolutely had to be the same in the novel and the show, and that’s the Dome itself.” He also says that “the writers have completely re-imagined the source of the Dome,” so I guess he’s just saying that there needed to be a dome in Under The Dome.
King is historically open to adaptations of his work, with some exceptions. He famously disliked Stanley Kubrick‘s take on The Shining to the point of writing the miniseries version, which didn’t change as much, and sued to get his name removed from The Lawnmower Man, which had nothing in common with the King story it was ‘adapted’ from. But otherwise, he’s fairly tolerant of adaptations based on the logic he expressed in this letter. “If you loved the book when you first read it, it’s still there for your perusal,” he told fans of Under The Dome. Ironically enough, that’s not true for one of King’s books — King heavily revised The Gunslinger, the first book in the Dark Tower series, in 2003, and the original version is out of print.
Overall, he seemed extremely positive about the show, insisting that the changes “[don’t] mean the TV series is bad, because it’s not. In fact, it’s very good.” He also pointed out one more reason why he approves of the changes Vaughan and his writers have made: The ending won’t be ruined for those who already read the book. “If the solution to the mystery were the same on TV as in the book, everyone would know it in short order, which would spoil a lot of the fun.”
“Besides,” he added, “plenty of readers didn’t like my solution, anyway.”
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