The first episode of Lisey’s Story on Apple TV+ answers some key questions about the new miniseries as an adaptation of Stephen King’s book. With the author himself penning the teleplays, there was an assumption that it would hone close to the material with which Constant Readers are familiar, but the premiere sets an interesting baseline in regards to changes made to the characters and plots, scenes cut down and changed, and new additions made to enhance what already exists. The vast majority of it is taken straight from the page, but there are more than a few instances of details being altered that deserve examination. In this way, it only serves to make the rest of the series all the more anticipated – and the rest of the eight-part journey starts with Episode 2, titled “Blood Bool.”
Lisey’s Story hasn’t wasted time trying to get audiences hooked into the horror miniseries, launching with its first two episodes, and just like its predecessor the second chapter also makes some notable deviations from Stephen King’s novel. There are six in total that stood out while watching and reflecting on the source material, and I’ll start with the ghastly surprise left by Jim Dooley in Lisey’s mailbox…
Jim Dooley Puts A Microwaved Crow In The Mailbox Instead Of A Cat
Some of the most horrifying moments devised by Stephen King involve animals. From the dead dogs in Salem’s Lot and Cujo, to the dead cat in Pet Sematary, to even the stomped mouse in The Green Mile, the author knows that people have a tendency to view pets as innocents, and he has on occasion used that fact to engage with readers and audiences emotionally. Lisey’s Story is another book that is part of that legacy, as Jim Dooley exercises some cruelty to a friendly creature when he is sending a message to Lisey about giving up Scott’s unpublished works – but there is a slight and interesting alteration that is made translating the source material for television.
In the Apple TV+ miniseries, Lisey is horrified to discover that the crow she hangs out with by her pool has been killed, microwaved, and stuffed inside her mailbox – but it’s a different animal altogether in the Stephen King book. Instead of a bird, Dooley mistakes a neighbor’s cat for being Lisey’s, and he kills that instead. While it’s a more unconventional animal choice, the alteration adds an extra layer to the antagonist’s intimidation, as he goes from someone who can be mindlessly brutal when he needs to be, to being a threat that knows the titular heroine so closely that he can identify the feathered friend she hangs out with while she swims laps.
Scott Cuts His Arm On A Laundromat Window Instead Of A Greenhouse
While the night that Scott Landon sells his first book should be a night of celebration for the author and his girlfriend, the evening instead turns out to be one of disappointment and scary revelation. The former comes when Lisey is stood up for dinner at home, as Scott loses track of time drinking with friends, but the latter unfolds as he tries to make up for his transgression with what he refers to as a “Blood Bool” (hence the name of the episode).
This is an event that plays out in the book similarly to the adaptation, but there are details changed in the Lisey’s Story miniseries that stand out as changed. In the novel, Stephen King has Scott use the glass from a greenhouse to make himself bleed (a detail that’s memorable because it’s so odd), but as it is played out by Clive Owen it is the front of a laundromat that provides what the character needs to show his repentance. Either way, it makes for a deeply disturbing sequence.
“The Bad Gunky” Becomes Simply “The Bad”
While Lisey’s Story as a novel is filled with all kinds of unique verbiage that demonstrates how personal words and vocabulary can be, that hasn’t been a big part of the adaptation thus far. I mentioned in the book-to-show comparison for the first episode that the psychotic Gerd Allen Cole doesn’t say the same pre-assassination like (“I gotta end all this ding dong for the freesias”), but Lisey has also yet to use the substitute expletive “smucking” instead of “fucking” (a habit from her relationship with Scott). In “Blood Bool” we have another example of this, as the way that Scott’s father, Andrew Landon, describes what could be called the family curse goes by a different name.
There is an obsession among the Landon clan that there is something evil in the family blood line that needs to be literally let out before it can poison one’s brain. But while Andrew – and therefore Scott – calls this the “bad gunky” in the book, it’s simply referred to as “the bad” in the Apple TV+ series. Why the change? It’s hard to say. Perhaps it sounded a bit goofy being read aloud. Maybe Stephen King came to dislike it after having it spend multiple years rolling around in his head. There’s no clear explanation that that show presents.
Scott’s Special Home Healing Method Isn’t Shown
If the Landon family knows how to do something, it’s how to bleed and recover. Because Paul and Scott’s dad would occasionally cut them to let out the bad gunky/bad, they would need to heal quickly so that they could survive. We eventually learn that the water in The Pool plays a major factor in the process thanks to its restorative abilities, but the two Landon boys don’t wholly depend on it in the book. Instead, Paul comes up with his own quick healing method, and it involves soaking a cut in weak tea.
In “Blood Bool,” Scott returns from slicing his arm on the laundromat window and is quick to run his wounds under the faucet, but there is no mention of the extra step Paul used to take to slow the bleeding and start the healing. All things considered, it’s a logical cut for Stephen King to make, as while the practice does demonstrate Scott’s experience with pain and provide Lisey with a more realistic/logical reasoning for why the Blood Bool cuts are practically gone in the morning, it’s ultimately unnecessary when you factor in the powers of The Pool.
Jim Dooley Visits Scott And Lisey’s Old Apartment
Jim Dooley is a Scott Landon obsessive to the extent that he not only knows everything about the author’s work, but also seemingly everything about his personal life. This was well-illustrated in “Blood Hunt” with the new scene where Jim visits the local library and highlights Scott’s favorite book (Charlie the Choo-Choo by Beryl Evans) with a violent, stoic display – and he’s back at it once again in the second episode. While he is in and around the famous writer’s hometown, the psychotic fan continues to visit old haunts, and this includes an apartment where the Landons used to live.
Having Jim Dooley make these trips is wonderful for two reasons. One, it allows him extra opportunities to be creepy and threatening beyond just the material in the book (that whole bit about the current occupant having TV eyes is exceptionally unsettling). Secondly, and more importantly, it allows the character to mirror Lisey from a certain angle. While Lisey is going on a journey through her own memory and reflecting on her marriage, Jim is taking his own tour through Scott’s history.
Jim Dooley Is Made Out To Clearly Be A Misogynist
What’s also important to recognize from that apartment visit (so important that it requires its own section), is the fact that Jim Dooley is revealed to be a hardcore misogynist. There is a hint at this disposition earlier in the second episode of Lisey’s Story when Jim meets Professor Roger Dashmiell and the former asks the latter if he has a wife, but everything really becomes clear with what comes across as a personal mantra: “No wife; stay single.”
It’s scary enough that Jim is a Scott Landon fanatic who is willing to do anything to acquire the unpublished manuscripts, but adding a deep hatred of women on top of that has a key impact and makes the situation all the more scary for Lisey. He’s a person who, going in, doesn’t require any extra incentive to cause her harm and pain, and that’s a disturbing thing when you take into account his extreme commitment (and also her’s).
While we won’t be getting a double-dose again next, the countdown clock has now started awaiting the arrival of the third episode of Lisey’s Story, titled “Under The Yum-Yum Tree” (a title that will surely excite those who are already familiar with the novel). Look for it on Apple TV+ starting on Friday, June 11 at midnight PST/3am EST, and after you watch be sure to head back here to CinemaBlend for another examination of how the miniseries compares to Stephen King's book.