For some inexplicable reason, TV continues to be enthralled with horror writer Stephen King, even though the guy almost single-handedly killed the miniseries format in the 1990s.
A&E is the latest channel to bankroll a King-size adaptation. The result, Stephen King's Bag of Bones, is two nights of tedium that starts slowly and loses momentum.
At least the project went for star power, enticing Pierce Brosnan (a four-time James Bond) to play Mike Noonan, the dashing author of best-selling novels. The stores can't keep him in stock. Literally. Customers snatch up Noonan's works by the armful.
In the original 1998 book, Noonan's beloved wife and muse dies of a brain aneurysm. Here, his spouse, Jo (Brotherhood's Annabeth Gish), meets a far more shocking end.
The devastated writer decides to leave his sunny Manhattan duplex to restore his spirits at - where else? - a gloomy cabin his grandfather left him in the remote woods of Maine.
Mike travels to Dark Score Lake (in the book it has the oddly clinical name of TR-90) for a variety of reasons, including pressure from his literary agent (Jason Priestley of Beverly Hills 90210) for another blockbuster.
You'd think it would be lonely: just a man, a cabin, a laptop, and a bad case of writer's block. It gets so bad, he bellows at the blank screen, "Just give me something." Even that doesn't help, which is strange because I've always found yelling at the computer to be very effective.
Surprisingly, given his isolation, Mike doesn't lack for female companionship. He's visited by a series of ladies (or ghosts, or dream figures, or premonitions - you make the call) including a black jazz singer (Anika Noni Rose) who vanished without a trace in 1939.
Frustratingly, everytime Mike starts working up a lather with one of these lovelies, they transform into hideous, decomposed harpies. If you like it, then you should have put a ring on it, Mikey.
It's not until the second night (Monday) that our haunted hero learns of (spooky-voice-echo effect here) the Curse of Dark Score Lake.
Let's just say the menfolk in this here neck of the woods pursue a unique baptismal ritual with their daughters.
What does all this have to with the nasty old rich guy who has everybody in town in his pocket? He's played by William Schallert. Yes, that William Schallert, the one who was playing a sitcom dad back in the early '60s on The Patty Duke Show.
You may know him from a more recent role, as the mayor of Bon Temps on True Blood. The point is, the guy has been to a few wrap parties.
A couple of things happen in Part Two: Brosnan, an Irish native, drops his American accent for long stretches, and the story's unacquainted plot elements get mushed together in a big lumpy knot.
The climax is almost laughably chintzy, but that's a consistent problem with Bag of Bones. Shows like American Horror Story have raised the stakes on TV horror to such previously unimagined levels that King's old parlor tricks seem quaint.
You find yourself screaming at the screen, "Just give me something!"