Plot: Kingdom Hospital is located in Lewiston, Maine and while the facility looks normal, that is just not the case. The hospital was constructed on a site with a tragic past, as back in the Civil War era, a terrible event transpired there. A group of helpess children was burned alive on the very site, an event which some claim damned that parcel of land. As it happens, a lot of folks have stories to tell about visits to Kingdom Hospital, stories that involve unexplainable events, eerie sensations, and all other manner of supernatural tales. The newest patient at the hospital is Peter Rickman (Jack Coleman), a well known artist who just suffered an accident. While jogging, he was struck by a van and knocked out. He remains in a coma, but he is not dead or even close, as his mind continues to work. Inside of his mind, he ventures through Kingdom Hospital, but not in its present state, but in the old form before the horrific accident. But Rickman is just one resident at Kingdom Hospital, so the other patients, doctors, and visitors have experiences of their own. Is Kingdom Hospital haunted and is so, can anything be done to restore peace to the site?
Entertainment Value: Inspired by Lars Von Trier’s eerie Kingdom, Stephen King wanted to adapt it for American television and the result is this thirteen episode run. King would help produce Kingdom Hospital and even wrote some of the material, so the show had some real potential out of the gate. In the end however, it would be a pale shadow of the original Danish series and while it has some moments that shine, Kingdom Hospital never finds a suitable rhythm. While the series has sparks of excellence, the project on the whole is disjointed and ineffective. Kingdom Hospital isn’t bad, but it fails to cash in on the potential here and if Von Trier’s work were followed more, perhaps the result would have been more impressive. As I said, sometimes the series does work and the pieces click into place, but not often enough. The large assortment of characters are often underdeveloped and the various storylines aren’t brought to a sufficient climax. Even so, there is some great atmosphere, eerie chills, and genuine scares, just not in ample portions. I had a decent time with Kingdom Hospital, but it drags at times and loses focus too often.
Although the writing is uneven and runs off track often, I think the cast has some hand in why Kingdom Hospital is mediocre as well. This was a television production, but little was done to populate it with star power or skilled thespians, settling on decent, not that memorable cast choices. Andrew McCarthy isn’t bad here, but doesn’t carry the material like he should. He navigates the material in a bare bones way, but has little charisma and just feels flat in a crucial role. Diane Ladd and Bruce Davison fare a little better, but neither brings much energy to the table here and we are left with again, passable but forgettable efforts. This seems to hold true throughout the cast, where performances aren’t bad, but not good or memorable, either. The cast also includes Jack Coleman, Ed Begley, Jr., Jamie Harrold, Lena Georges, and several others. I wanted to like Kingdom Hospital, as I loved Kingdom and with King’s involvement, I thought this would have a real shot to be great. The end result is watchable, but has little of the spark of the original and feels rather flat overall.
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