March 11, 2019  (Web Review)

Castle Rock: The Complete First Season

Warner, 500 min., not rated, DVD: 3 discs, $24.99; Blu-ray: 2 discs, $29.99

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Although not based on any specific Stephen King story, this Hulu original series draws upon the King universe to tell new tales set in Castle Rock, ME. The show opens with a shock—the decapitation suicide of the warden of Shawshank State Prison—which leads to the discovery of an undocumented inmate (Bill Skarsgård) who is being held in isolation in a shuttered section of the penitentiary. André Holland is Henry Deaver, a defense attorney who returns to his hometown to represent the young man, and Melanie Lynskey is his childhood friend Molly Strand, a tormented real estate agent who hears the thoughts from everyone around her. Their lives are intertwined in the unfolding drama, which reaches back to a tragedy in Henry’s childhood and possibly into an alternate reality. Sissy Spacek costars as Henry’s adoptive mother, whose often tenuous connection with reality is a result of spontaneous (and uncontrollable) time travel, while Jane Levy is a local woman fascinated by the bizarre history and unexplained mysteries of Castle Rock. This is a well-produced series, smartly written by creators/showrunners Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason, that is full of mystery and logic drawn from King’s moral and metaphysical universe, and it comes together in a satisfying conclusion (like the American Horror Story series on FX, the next season will feature an entirely new, self-contained story). Presenting all 10 episodes from the 2018 debut season, extras include behind-the-scenes featurettes and short “Inside the Episode” interviews with the creators. Recommended. (S. Axmaker)