Stephen King never gives his characters a break. Even when they
are successful doctors, their hospital is haunted as a result of
being built atop a graveyard. This is the premise of ABC’s
“Kingdom Hospital,” which displays the fruits of this
odd land development.

Laura Wong
Hello, Clarice (Courtesy of ABC)

Written by King and based upon the Danish mini-series
“Riget,” the 15-part series tells the story of a
medical center built upon an neglected cemetery. Of course, the
spirits that reside there play a vital role in the program, as they
talk with the patients and make life at the hospital a little
bizarre.

In the first two episodes, viewers are given the chance to see
the many facets of the hospital at work. In the pilot, painter
Peter Rickman (Jack Coleman) is the victim of a hit-and-run. As he
lies near death on the side of the road, viewers can hear his
thoughts. When he is taken into the hospital, it is very doubtful
he will make a significant recovery, but neurosurgeon Dr. Hook
(Andrew McCarthy, “Weekend at Bernie’s”) will do
all he can to ensure a recovery.

This is where the spirits of the hospital come into play as
Rickman, while on the operating table, hears the voice of a girl
trapped within hospital walls. At this moment, he realizes that he
can communicate with the spirits in the building. Following his
encounter, Rickman makes a miraculous recovery. The voices he hears
are the same as those heard by Mrs. Druse (Diane Ladd,
“Christmas Vacation”), a patient with psychic
abilities. She convinces Dr. Hook to help her investigate them,
which establishes the premise for the series.

This would not be a work of Stephen King without eccentric
characters. The series focuses on Dr. Hook, a well-versed surgeon
who sings the theme from “The Beverly Hillbillies”
while saving lives. He is opposed by Dr. Jesse James (Ed Begley
Jr., TV’s “Six Feet Under”), the head of the
hospital, who is concerned only with its public image. There are
also the requisite abnormal secondary characters, such as a nearly
blind security guard and a nurse who faints at the sight of
blood.

While a little off the beaten path, “Kingdom
Hospital” is classic King fare, containing the elements of an
odd location, peculiar telepathic characters and the undead. This
series has potential, but it may be too early to tell if
“Kingdom” can remain a dark thriller in the same vein
of King’s classic “The Shining,” or if it will
lapse into “Dreamcatcher”-like absurdity.

 

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

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