“Neil Gaiman’s Likely Stories”Posted: June 23, 2016
Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors, but I have yet to see an adaptation of his works that manages to capture their unsettling, slightly terrifying magical feel. Stardust is great fun, but it’s Hollywoodized, whereas Coraline was sanitized so much that it really isn’t the same story anymore. I’m sure that if The Graveyard Book ever gets made, the same thing will happen to it too.
Still, when I heard that four of his short stories were getting adapted into a Twilight Zone-esque mini series, my interest was piqued. These stories – “Foreign Parts”, “Feeders and Eaters”, “Closing Time”, and “Looking for the Girl” – may not be the most cinematic, but they could be amazing if adapted well, and the anthology format is perfect.
I’m not going to summarize the stories, because you really have to read them to enjoy them (and the adaptations). Out of the four episodes, “Feeders and Eaters” is my favorite, since it has an interesting change from the source (the narrator of the frame story is now a pregnant waitress instead of a man, which emphasizes the “feeders and eaters” motif) and the casting of Miss Covier is perfect (again, you have to read the story, explaining who Miss Covier is would pretty much ruin it.)
“Closing Time” is probably the creepiest, but in the original story, part of the creepiness comes from the fact that you’re never quite sure who is telling the story, but in the adaptation you can see the narrator right there on the screen, so it takes away some of that mystery.
However, I was overall disappointed. The series is more like stage readings of the stories than adaptations. You get a lot of the “narrator” characters sitting around and telling you these stories (often with passages lifted straight from the source), and there are only the occasional scenes to illustrate the narration, instead of the stories being dramatized into actual plots. I guess this is a deliberate choice, since most of these stories have to do with storytelling, but it isn’t very interesting to watch. “Looking for the Girl” is perhaps the most frustrating of all, because the story is so good, and here it’s just an old guy sitting down and telling it to you.
So this may be worth checking out if you’re a Neil Gaiman fan, but for me, it’s just another in a long line of disappointments. I’m holding out hope for American Gods (I trust Bryan Fuller, plus the casting looks great so far) and How to Talk to Girls at Parties (it’s directed by the same guy who made Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which is perfect for a story about punk rock and aliens.)