In the US: Wednesdays, 10pm ET, Paramount In the UK: Not yet acquired
The army has become a Hallowed Thing in the US in the past 30 years or so. Maybe it’s a backlash agains the attitudes to Vietnam and those serving in it that spawned numerous scathing dramas and comedies in cinemas and on TV. Whatever the cause, whenever a new TV US show turns up about the army, it’s rarely ‘all knives out’ these days.
Certainly, it’s hard to imagine M*A*S*H lasting 11 seasons and getting 125 million viewers for its final episode now. Soldiers having relationships with one another? Soldiers trying to get discharged for wearing women’s clothing? Inconceivable.
And you can tell that not pure conjecture on my part by looking at the reaction to 68 Whiskey, an adaptation Yes (Israel)’s Charlie Golf One that it is pretty much a M*A*S*H for our times. Or at least something that tries to be.
In the US: Sundays, 9pm, HBO In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, Sky Atlantic
We seem to be enjoying something of a Stephen King resurgence of late. Time was, back in the 70s and the 80s, you couldn’t move for classic Stephen King movies, such as Carrie, The Shining, The Dead Zone and Christine. Then came the 90s and some not especially classic Stephen King TV series such as The Tommyknockers and The Langoliers.
After that, despite King’s continuing literary output, adaptations died off for about a decade. There was the occasional new effort, such as a TV version of The Dead Zone, but those were reasonably rare in comparison. It wasn’t really until 2010 and Haven followed by Under the Dome in 2013 that TV and film rediscovered King. Since then, we’ve had a new It, Doctor Sleep, 11.22.63, another The Mist, Mr Mercedes and Castle Rock, to name but a few – and with more to come this year, including a new version of The Stand.
King, of course, isn’t simply a horror writer and his tone varies from book to book. Let us not forget that The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are both adaptations of King stories.
So I can’t say I’m too surprised to discover that the latest adaptation of King’s work, The Outsider, is as much The Wire as it is a piece of horror.
Inside The Outsider
In fact, you’d be forgiven – for about the first episode, at least – for thinking The Outsider isn’t even a piece of horror, just a regular old police procedural about the murder of a school child and how that affects a small town community. Adapted by Richard Price (The Deuce, Clockers, Child 44, The Night Of), it sees local detective Ben Mendelsohn (Captain Marvel, Animal Kingdom, Bloodline) in hot pursuit of the school coach (Jason Bateman).
All the evidence seems to suggest that it’s Bateman wot dunnit. All the witnesses clearly identify him, his blood and genetic evidence is all over the body and the van used to abduct the boy, and there’s video footage of him in blood-stained clothing. So cast-iron is the evidence that Mendelsohn has him arrested in front of the entire school without asking him even a question.
Unfortunately for Mendelsohn, Bateman has an equally cast-iron alibi – he was out of town at a teaching convention and not only is there physical evidence that he was there and multiple witnesses, public access TV recorded him at the exact time the murder took place.
Has there been a mix-up or can Bateman genuinely be in two places at once?