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TV Review: Stephen King's Bag of Bones (Part 2)

12.13.2011by: Jake Dee

READ PART 1 HERE

PLOT: As Mike Noonan works feverishly toward his novel deadline, his interaction with the townspeople begins to unlock the sordid secrets of Dark Score Lake. Embroiled in the horrific history, Noonan must find the truth and use it to irreparably change the future for the better.

REVIEW: Because the second part of BAG OF BONES desperately tries to tie-up every and all loose ends left untended in the opening stanza, the show drowns in exposition, so much so that I had to keep the plotline above deliberately vague. That being said, I may have liked the second stint better than the first, if only marginally. Make no mistake, this is hardly quality programming, but at least I have a better understanding of what Stephen King's original story entailed and the message he was trying to communicate. Still, I'm sure the book is far superior...and would posit the material would be better suited in either a different format or in the hands of a more capable filmmaker.

When we last saw Mike, he was grappling with a twisted hallucination of a drowning little girl. I only spoil this to let you know a drowning motif would come to be an imperative plot-point, one I'm glad to say I did not see coming. I credit this of course to King, who I'm sure is responsible for pretty much every clever (or attempted clever) twist and turn along the way. You see, Noonan has gotten chummier with Mattie Devore and her little girl Kyra. With this closeness comes danger, as Mattie is entangled in an ugly custody case with her grandfather Max, a dastardly wheelchair bound business man who's shady past comes back to haunt him...and Mike. When Mike finally uncovers what Max was up to decades ago, his ability to thwart the "Dark Score Lake Curse" allows him to live an unfettered life. Hopefully.

Aside from the expository cram, I'll state flatly the second part of BAG OF BONES was augmented by the heightened presence of Melissa George and Anika Noni Rose. Aesthetically yes, but in terms of pathos and raw emotion, more was invested when these two gals hit the screen. There's one late, horrifying sequence with Noni Rose in particular that left me coldly disturbed. I did not like what I was seeing at all, which, in a strange way, is actually a compliment, as I at least felt SOMETHING where I had been largely apathetic watching part one. Granted, it's foul and tasteless scene, but at least it made me furrow a damn brow. I also came away with greater respect for Rose's acting ability, which I already held in high regard (NO 1 LADIES DETECTIVE AGENCY, yo!) But a single scene can't make up for an otherwise 234 minute snooze-fest. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, as there are a couple of other decent scenes, but you get the point.

Which brings me back to my largest gripe, an issue I took umbrage with in the first part of the show. I think the two-part, two-night movie event is simply the wrong way to go about telling this particular story. It's like Garris gets stuck in limbo, his approach is too ponderous and drawn out for a feature film, too shallow and an unplumbed for a miniseries. Perhaps it'd be far better suited if ample time was taken to either flesh out an airtight feature length script (even if 150 pages), or went all the way with a longer series. As it is, the first part is quite a bore setting things up...part two feels too rushed and cluttered to compliment the first as a truly workable whole. If it weren't for Brosnan anchoring the damn thing with a pretty solid performance, the show would undoubtedly suffer even greater.

So, even though there was more to chew on in the second part, I can't say it harmoniously jives with what came before it. And even if it did, what little emotional resonance the story leaves us with is never trumped by frightful generic convention. We feel for Noonan, sure, but as far as a horror show is concerned, we're never scared to the point of real empathy for the character. If the show were more terrifying, it would probably make us identify with Noonan that much more. Sadly, the horror aspects are rote and uninspired, not to mentioned watered down by the utter nature of network television. In that respect, BAG OF BONES fails to deliver, and we're really only left to deal with Noonan's emotional journey. Largely silly, with intentions of sincerity, BAG OF BONES might be better left underground.

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