TV Review: Nightmares & Dreamscapes – Battleground

Posted: August 2, 2011 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s be perfectly honest, this is not the best anthology series in the history of ever. I’m not going to do the run down of Stephen King’s career, or chronicle the ups and downs of his work here. Lately, I’ve found that no two people can really agree when exactly it was that they stopped loving the man’s work or when exactly things just plain stopped working for them. My particular view is that King has always been sort of lopsided and uneven. There are moments of brilliance and moments that don’t work and it’s up to each person to pick and choose what does and doesn’t work for them. However, for the most part, Nightmares & Dreamscapes didn’t much work for me. One problem was that it was greatly shot in Australia, but it’s trying to look like America (Or in one case, London) and it just doesn’t. That’s less of a problem here, as part of the show was shot in San Francisco (or someplace trying to look like it mixed with stock footage and matte shots) and the other part was just on a soundstage. None of that is very important though, the only really important question is “Does it work?” or possibly “Is it entertaining?” since I’ve admitted things that are complete train wrecks can be entertaining.

Well, the answer is “Yes.” A further answer might be, “It’s not the best Stephen King adaptation that’s ever been made, but it’s certainly the most fun.”

And that’s when he said goodbye to dignity and just wet himself.

Let’s get talk about the gimmick out of the way right now so it won’t distract us. I’m only mentioning it here at the beginning because if you’ve seen or heard of this episode, you already know about the gimmick. If you haven’t, then the word “gimmick” might put you off and that would be a shame because as gimmicks go, it’s actually more cool than annoying. There is no dialogue in this, not a single real word is spoken. That’s not really a problem though, as we’ll see when I describe the plot to you. It’s not a distraction, it’s not a problem. In fact you only realize that no one has talked about halfway through. After that, it becomes a special little secret you share with the production.

After a hard day’s fighting, they get right back up again.

The story isn’t from Nightmares & Dreamscapes, it’s actually from an earlier collection called Nightshift, and thus comes from an earlier part of King’s career. The story isn’t changed much at all in this production, beyond a few points so minor they scarcely require discussion. The basic set up is that a hit man kills a toy maker, and to get back at him, the toy maker’s mother sends a G.I. Joe footlocker full of soldiers to get him. That really is the whole tale, more or less. We see a little more of the whole in this production, spending the first fifteen minutes on the killing and returning home. While in the airport and on his way back to the place where he lives, he keeps seeing the toys from the toy maker’s office, looking as if they’re watching him. It’s sort of mildly paranoid, and probably would have built the story up more if I didn’t know what was coming.

What the hell did I do last night?

The big fun starts when the footlocker is delivered and the army men packed in the container start to exact vengeance on the hitman. At that point, the story just becomes a battle between the hitman and the soldiers, but one with entertainment value. It’s not just a fight after all, it’s a war between well armed Lilliputians and a Gulliver who is a professional assassin. It’s not an easy battle for either of them, and the end comes after you’d think it would, given the special surprise extra items included in the box. If you’ve read the story, then you know the special item, and it gives some extra fun to what was already a fun episode. I don’t want to ruin it, but it is pretty neat.

Yeah, my toys used to look the same when I was done with them.

This is, without a doubt, the best thing in the series that it comes from. The bad news is that this was the first episode on the first disc, so it’s all down hill from here. The good news is, this episode alone is worth the low price of the DVD set. The other episodes are at least watchable, at least once. In fact, some of them are actually quite good, even if some of them are seriously disappointing when you consider how good the story they were based on is. Yeah, let’s get it out of the way, don’t watch “Umney’s Last Case” if you liked the short story, this will just infuriate you. Some of the others are okay though, really. If nothing else, watch this one episode, you’ll dig it.

Official Score:
59 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.


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