I realize there will always be people who complain about a book’s adaptation being different from the book itself, but I still can’t stand hearing that non-argument, as if it’s supposed to actually have any merit. Certainly the individual changes can be critiqued and loved or loathed, but the fact that changes exist just has to be accepted at some point. (Though I guess I understand cases like World War Z, where only the title remained the same.)
When you’re talking about a Stephen King book, though – especially the 1,074-page Under the Dome - it’s nearly impossible for any network television adaptation to strictly adhere to the original text, especially given the amount of characters whose lives the novel weaves in and out of. But people still complained, because people will always complain. (Not CBS though, which has no reason to feign negativity after the premiere earned such huge ratings. )
Handling the feeble backlash in the best way he knows how, King wrote up a letter and posted it on his website for the world to read. He starts off with a story about novelist James M. Cain putting a whiny student reporter in his place by forcing him to realize that no movie or TV adaptation does anything that could possibly change the source material. You want to get the book’s story? Read the book.
He defends the series changes by calling them a natural part of the process, and points out that the majority of the novel’s details are still there to be found. King says that some of the larger changes made were because head writer Brian K. Vaughan and Co. have “completely re-imagined the source of the Dome.” And he amusingly cops to having written an ending that many people weren’t fans of in the first place. Things like these have to be different, he said, because it would spoil the fun if you were just watching a show that wasn’t capable of surprising you.
“By the same token,” he writes, “it would spoil things if you knew the arcs of the characters in advance. Some who die in the book – Angie for instance -- live in the TV version of Chester’s Mill…at least for a while. And some who live in the book may not be as lucky during the run of the show. Just sayin’.” It takes a confident guy to just dangle character deaths out there for all his fans to ponder.
Just “think of that novel and what you’re seeing week-to-week on CBS as a case of fraternal twins,” King advises. Did I want to see the woodchuck get cut in half at the beginning of the episode? Sure, because it was such a memorable beginning. Was I happy with the extremely fake-looking halved cow? Nope. But I’m not going to call out blasphemy because it happened."
If there is a silver lining to be found here, it’s taking comfort in people’s continued love of reading. There’s nothing quite like it. Check out the promo for next week’s episode below.