The Path of The Beam – Adapting The Dark Tower for the Screen [Obsessive Friends: Tiny]

OBSESSIVE NOTE: Tiny and I are huge fans of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. When I came up with the idea for a Stephen King Week on the blog, I remembered all of the conversations he and I have had over the years about how The Dark Tower should be adapted. Seriously, several full days of our lives have been spent discussing King’s magnum opus.

So I asked him to write his ideas down for the blog. What I got was a massive and intricately detailed manifesto about his vision for the series we love so much. So, in honor of Dark Tower Day today, here is how Tiny would adapt the series. You can read mine here: Ka is a Wheel – How I Would Adapt The Dark Tower

Matt (@ObsessiveViewer)

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Much like Roland of Gilead, The Tower has affected my mind. I should say, Roland was plagued, consumed, held prisoner by The Tower.  There was no aspect of his existence that The Tower did not corrupt. All I did was read his story. Now I think about him every day.  His journey, his torment, his world, his friends, his enemies, his love, his suffering. From Roland’s first days in Mid-World to the final chapter of his journey he is put through a gauntlet of hardships. The emotional distress alone would crush most people, but Roland perseveres. There is, arguably, no other character in all of literature more tragic.

Stephen King’s magnum opus that is The Dark Tower series is an epic journey through the challenges of one man saving all of existence. The Tower is the epicenter from which existence emanates. A tangible manifestation of the string from which the universe vibrates.  Of course, when a power source as significant as The Tower exists there is always a foe to try to destroy it. An inescapable evil known as The Crimson King, and his devious minion The Man in Black, work to crumble The Tower and, thus, end existence.  Roland is the last living descendant of a long line of guardians known as Gunslingers. During his adolescence he is connected to a prophecy that drives his life towards this Tower.  Roland knows with every fiber of his being that he is the key to saving The Tower.  As the last hope for The Universe, Roland must make his way to The Dark Tower to save it from certain destruction.

This series stretched on for seven books (8 now, but this adaptation will not include The Wind Through the Keyhole), and almost 4,000 pages. King paints a vivid picture of every facet of this journey. It is impossible to read without powerful visualization. That’s why I’ve always wanted to see the series adapted for the screen. Because of the series’ vast detail and scope I think it merits the best vehicle for long form storytelling; television. I think it would be possible to tell the story with a trilogy of films, but the characters could never be given their full diligence in such a short amount of time. That’s why a television series is the best way to adapt this tale.

I also feel that the show would have to be on a premium cable channel. Let’s face it, network TV is not what it used to be.  The West Wing and Lost were the death knell of network drama.  An exception might sneak through every once in a while, but it’s a dying concept.  All of the best dramas on television today have found homes on cable.  Furthermore, The Dark Tower is dark, violent and scary.  Those aspects help make the series what it is.  Imagine the effect of making The Shining or The Mist suitable for a PG-13 audience.  The violence and graphic nature of the series would have to be retained for it to be a true adaptation, and network TV can’t depict that kind of content.  HBO would be my number one choice.  That network is the pinnacle of dramatic programming.  I used to have Showtime as my safety network, but Netflix has really impressed me with House of Cards.  Either way, The Dark Tower couldn’t reach its full potential without the resources of premium television.

So, without further adieu, here is my plan for the television adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series.

BEWARE, MASSIVE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE DARK TOWER SERIES ARE INCLUDED BELOW…

Season 1 (The Gunslinger)

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The Gunslinger NEEDS to have an entire season to itself even though it is the shortest book of the series. Stephen King has all but admitted that the book is some of his finest work, and its brilliance clearly comes across as you read it.  Every line of the 300 pages is a work of art.  Roland Deschain is introduced as a man driven by a single task.  Everything is secondary to The Tower.  However, all of that changes when Jake and Roland begin their partnership.  Roland discovers how important companionship will be in his ultimate quest for The Tower.  He realizes that he can’t do it alone.  That character arc is critical to the rest of the series, and will need the full breadth of a season to evolve.

In the introduction to The Gunslinger, Stephen King says “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” is probably the best sentence he has ever written.  Out of context it seems so simple.  Simple to a fault, even. But when you finish the series and read that sentence again, in its full context, you comprehend its weight.  I feel that this sentence needs ample screen time.

The opening scene of the series would be a static shot of a fade into a desert floor; barren, hopeless and dry.  The camera would sit there for a moment, still static.  Then the sound of hurried footsteps would fade in until a black cowboy boot stomps into the frame and then leaves in an instant; suggesting a tone of reckless, aimless flight.  This would be the Man in Black fleeing across the desert; depicted as nothing more than a single boot.  The camera wouldn’t move.  It would sit on this same piece of desert.  There would be a cut to the same frame only later.  The shadows would be longer and the sun would be more angled to show the passage of time.  The sound of calculated footsteps would fade in until a plain, brown boot steps into the frame and leaves just as quickly, conveying a tone of expertly paced determination.  This, of course, would be Roland Deschain depicted as nothing more than a brown boot.  Each character introduced as equals.  Thus, Stephen King’s finest sentence is brought to life.

This scene has played through my head a thousand times since I first read that sentence.  I can’t imagine the series beginning any other way.  This would be followed by general scenes of pursuit between Roland and The Man in Black.  I think minimal or no dialogue throughout would give the scenes the proper tone.  However, the opening static shot of the desert and the boots (depicted in Marvel’s comic books and the pictures below) is the pivotal shot of the series.

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 The major plot points for season 1

-       The opening scenes depicting the scale and tone of Roland’s pursuit of The Man in Black

-       Roland staying for the night with the farmer and his crow, where Roland tells of his time in Tull, which would be depicted in a flashback (the story of Tull could easily take an entire episode)

-       Roland meeting Jake for the first time at The Way Station and finding the jawbone

-       Roland telling the story of defeating Cort as a child in the form of a flashback

-       Roland sacrificing Jake to the slow mutants to pursue the Man in Black

-       The finale would be the conversation between Roland and The Man in Black on the beach (the episode would have to employ cutaways and “flash sideways” to show everything involved in the conversation)

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Part of me wishes that an entire season, or at least entire episodes, could be dedicated to telling the stories of Roland and Mid-World that were created in Marvel’s comic book/graphic novel series.  If you haven’t read those then you are really missing out.  I just think that The Dark Tower series laid out by Stephen King over almost thirty years is enough to occupy an entire 60 – 100 episode cable series.  It would, however, be amazing if after The Dark Tower TV show ended there were a new series about Roland’s years as a child/teenager/young man that would all use the comics as a source.  Much like Caprica has been a prequel to Battlestar Galactica.

I think this first season would be ideally done in either eight or ten episodes.  Six would be too few, but a full twelve or thirteen might drag things out too much.  The Gunslinger is only three hundred pages, after all.  I know that sounds normal, but considering all of the other books are five hundred to over one thousand pages, it seems small.  Having said that, I think all three hundred of those pages need to be depicted on the show.  Every sentence of this book feels significant.  The later books are the opposite; they’ll need some editing, but The Gunslinger is packed with essence.

Season 2 (The Drawing of the Three and parts of The Waste Lands)

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The last few chapters of The Gunslinger are rife with emotional loss.  These events sculpt Roland Deschain into his role as leader of a Ka-Tet, which he will need to fulfill in order to reach The Tower, but as any hero experiences, Roland must suffer the emotional and physical consequences of his actions.

The season would start the same way that The Drawing of the Three starts.  Roland would be reeling from the loss of Jake and his encounter with The Man in Black.  He would awake on the beach and be attacked by the “lobstrocity” creature and start his journey to assemble his fellowship.  However, I think it will be important throughout the season to allude to Roland’s feelings towards his mistake in letting Jake perish in The Gunslinger.  This is character development that MUST be included in this series.  These feelings are the foundations of the father-son bond between Roland and Jake that play a role through to the end, and these feelings are the reason why Jake has to be found and brought to Mid-World as part of the Ka-Tet.

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The Drawing of the Three and The Waste Lands are my favorite books of the series.  The group of seriously flawed characters who journey to The Tower are bound together in these two books.  These books depict the “meat” of the character development, and the overall journey to The Tower.  Much like King, I tend to enjoy the journey of a story more than the conclusion.  King has always said that endings are overrated. On this I agree with him. However, the creation of the Ka-Tet is broken up between the two books.

Eddie and Odetta/Detta/Susannah are found in The Drawing of the Three, but Jake doesn’t make it into Mid-World until The Waste Lands.  I think it would be a mistake to separate the assembly of the Ka-Tet into two seasons. Eddie and Roland conflict with one another, but they become fiercely loyal to one another through the drawing of Odetta/Detta and the creation of Susannah.  During the drawing of Jake is when Eddie and Susannah fall in love.  The group is finally all brought together when they must battle the demon of the speaking ring to bring Jake into Mid-World.  I think this all needs to be part of the same season for continuity reasons.

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During Jake’s kidnapping and subsequent return to the group in the city of Lud is when they all form an inseparable bond, but this story would be saved for season 3.

The major plot points for season 2

-       Drawing of the three members of the Ka-Tet through the doors on the beach (including the battle with Jack Mort) and getting Jake Chambers through the portal at the speaking ring

-       Establishing the relationships between Roland and Eddie & Eddie and Susannah

-       The character development involving Roland’s guilt over Jake’s death and wrestling with his role as leader of the Ka-Tet

-       Eddie kicking heroin, conflicting with Roland, and falling in love with Susannah

-       Odetta and Detta conflicting with everyone/each other and eventually fusing into Susannah

The season would end with the moments after Jake’s arrival to Mid-World through the portal and the Ka-Tet beginning their journey to The Tower.

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Disclaimer: I realize that Oy the billy bumbler is considered part of the Ka-Tet and plays some very important roles in the later parts of the story.  However, I think Oy would have a much less significant role in the television series.  Honestly, it’s a talking dog.  That would be difficult to manifest visually and it might come across wrong.  I have a feeling Oy could turn into a Jar Jar Binks kind of character if he is displayed the same way as in the books.  I’d prefer to have him join the group in the third season and be more of a mascot than anything else.

Season 3 (The rest of The Waste Lands and all of Wizard and Glass)

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The third season would open with the ka-tet coming across the town of River Crossing where Jake, Eddie, and Susannah are exposed to the traditional treatment of Gunslingers. I feel that this encounter is important for the ka-tet to see how vital their role is as Gunslingers; to see how they are praised and respected.  It is also important for the audience to see it.  They need to understand the traditions of Mid-World.  They need to feel the effects of Mid-World having “moved on” as Roland describes it.  This encounter would more than likely take a majority of the premiere episode.  It would end with the ka-tet finding the outskirts of Lud and hearing the drums.

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The story that takes place in Lud would be tricky.  I feel like it could turn into season 2 of The Walking Dead where they’re stuck on that damn farm for 6-8 episodes.  That got a bit cumbersome.  Although, I think all of the characters being involved, following Jake’s journey, and keeping it to about 4-5 episodes will make it tolerable.  The Tick-Tock Man and Gasher are some pretty sick characters that will keep the audience interested, in my opinion.  Also, the story involves some action instead of just all the characters standing around yelling at one another like in The Walking Dead.

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Disclaimer: Again, I know Oy plays a pivotal role in helping Roland find Jake after he’s taken by Gasher, but his role in this event could be downplayed or eliminated and it would work just as well.

After Jake kills the Tick-Tock Man and the ka-tet is reunited they find their way to Blaine the Mono.  Blaine. The. Mono …. I don’t know.  This part of the journey was strange to me when I read the book.  I think part of it stems from my picturing Blaine’s voice as Will Ferrell in the SNL skit where he can’t control the volume of his voice.  Because, in the book, Blaine’s dialogue is written in all capital letters implying that it’s loud and obnoxious.  I just pictured it as ludicrous and annoying.  That vision ruined the storyline for me.  I couldn’t take it seriously.  However, if I make an effort to picture Blaine’s voice as HAL 9,000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey it gives the story much more character.

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I think pulling off the ka-tet’s interaction with Blaine The Mono will have to be delicately done.  It could very easily come off as hokey.  It is pivotal though.  Seeing the macabre expanse that is The Waste Lands is important for the audience to see.  In the book The Waste Lands are described as having suffered from something far worse than a nuclear war.  It’s never directly said, but it’s implied that this event was largely why Mid-World has moved on.  The interaction with Blaine is a good vehicle for that exposure.

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The ride with Blaine would take one episode leaving us at the halfway point of the season. The ka-tet would reach Topeka and find the remnants of Captain Trips (a story depicted in King’s previous novel The Stand).  Then the ka-tet camps for the night after they leave Topeka.  This is where the bulk of Wizard and Glass will be depicted.

I think it speaks volumes about Stephen King that he would dedicate almost an entire 1000 page book to telling one story from a character’s childhood. Roland’s story of the loss of his first love could easily take an entire season.  The die-hard Tower fans would eat it up too.  However, I think it would be a mistake to drag out this story.  I think it would stagnate the story arcs.  It would be best to have Roland’s story of his time in the Barony of Mejis told in four episodes as a flashback.  There’s enough conflict and action in the story to keep the audience interested for four episodes.

I stressed the importance of developing the characters in this series.  Character development is Stephen King’s specialty, and Roland is his greatest character. Roland’s back-story is important for understanding why he is the way he is.  That’s why this story should be told.

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Wizard and Glass doesn’t end after Roland’s story at the camp. The ka-tet awakes and continues on their journey to find an Emerald City much like the one in The Wizard of Oz.  Inside the city the “Wizard” is exposed as Marten Broadcloak (aka Randall Flagg for you fans of The Stand).  Broadcloak narrowly escapes the ka-tet, but leaves a mystical orb in his wake (referred to as Maerlyn’s Grapefruit).  The orb has the ability to show the viewer just about anything they want to see.  In Wizard and Glass the ka-tet is made to watch the story of how Roland accidentally kills his mother.  This is another crucial part of Roland’s back-story that cannot be overlooked.  Actually, it is arguably the most important part of his life.  It turned him into the distant, roaming man he became.  So, it will be necessary to show this story.  I think another flashback would be the best way.

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That will be the drawback of season 3.  It will be encumbered with flashbacks.  Again, they are necessary.  Hopefully the audience will understand.  Roland’s back-story regarding his mother is also important because it further reveals how dangerous it is to be involved with Roland.  This epiphany is potent foreshadowing for the fate of the ka-tet, and, thus, hugely critical.  The season would end with Roland offering his ka-tet the opportunity to disband and Eddie, Susannah and Jake flatly turn him down.  It would be a very touching moment that the audience will connect with.  If the audience isn’t 100% invested in the ka-tet after this season three closing scene, they never will be.

Season 4 (Wolves of the CallaSong of Susannah and the first few chapters of The Dark Tower)

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This is where some heaving editing and changing will begin to take place.  It seems to me like Wolves of the Calla is the last book in this series that King truly took his time with.  Song of Susannah and The Dark Tower were both obviously rushed.  King suffered a very serious accident in 1999. The accident made him realize that he can no longer bide his time with his masterpiece. King has said that he felt he had to finish this story before time ran out.  This event changed the man, and thus, changed The Tower.

I hate to trivialize his traumatic experience, but I think it had a negative effect on this series. King chose to insert himself into the series and even interact with the characters.  It was an extremely bold and risky choice that didn’t ruin the series, but it came close.  So, for obvious reasons, I would have every scene involving King taken out.  It would be easy to achieve without damaging the story overall.  King is first mentioned in the fifth book of the series, Wolves of the Calla.

Ninety percent of Wolves takes place in a Mid-World town called Calla Bryn Sturgis.  The town is seemingly normal (well, normal by Mid-World standards), but clearly something hangs over the townsfolk.  It is revealed that once in a generation the Wolves of Thunderclap attack the village and take one child from each set of twins.  These children are returned a few months later with severe mental degradation and a scary growth spurt only to die young.  The children are described as being “roont” (or ruined) by the townsfolk.  As is expected, Roland and the ka-tet of Gunslingers are requested to help the town thwart the wolves and save their children; and like honorable, duty-bound heroes, they oblige.

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The ka-tet learn of the impending attack about a month before it happens.  This gives them plenty of time to prepare, but it also drags the story out considerably.  King used this time wisely, though.  At this point in the series the readers were so invested in the characters that we were eager to see them and their relationships grow.  The most important aspect of this period would be Roland discovering Susannah’s secret.

Susannah is pregnant, but the child does not belong to Eddie.  Roland discovers this when Susannah falls under the spell of another personality named Mia who makes her go into the forest at night to consume everything in her path so the evil hybrid baby inside her can grow.  This is an important and scary part of the overall arc of the ka-tet.  I think it would make for a chilling scene in the television series.

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The story of the ka-tet attempting to interact with Stephen King would be completely removed.  They all still must travel back to the New York of Susannah, Eddie and Jake to protect the Rose from the Sombra Corporation and to save Susannah.  After the battle with the wolves in The Calla is when Susannah is overtaken by Mia and steals Black Thirteen to get through the doorway in the cave.  Unfortunately, this would pretty much wrap-up everything from Wolves of The Calla.  I really enjoyed this book and I wish it could have an entire season to itself, but 10 – 12 episodes stuck in a town would be too cumbersome for the overall story.  The only truly important parts are learning of the pregnancy and Mia, discovering their need for Black Thirteen and getting it, and Mia taking the Pregnant Susannah into New York.  The battle with the wolves is fun to read, but we don’t learn of its significance until the final season.  I was thinking that Mia escaping with Susannah would be a mid-season finale.

Song of Susannah is the second shortest book of the series.  As I read the book I thought it would’ve been a better idea for King to combine it with Wolves of The Calla and edit both stories into one 1,000 page book.  I think that would have made for a much tighter story.  Song of Susannah also happens to be my least favorite book of the series.  Not much happens really.  King interacting with Roland and Eddie in his Maine home really put me off.  I thought it was completely unnecessary.  I know King would disagree.

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The sixth book doesn’t come without good parts, though.  The second half of season four would start with Roland, Eddie, Jake, Father Callahan and Oy taking their chances with the passage in Doorway Cave by going to New York to accomplish their goals.  The group is separated into Eddie and Roland in Maine where they will try to get Calvin Tower to sign over the lot with the rose to the Tet Corporation, and Jake, Callahan and Oy trying to rescue Susannah and her baby at the Dixie Pig in New York. In the book Roland and Eddie find Stephen King and talk to him.  This wouldn’t happen in the show.  Their trip to Maine would only consist of their interaction with Calvin Tower.

During Roland and Eddie’s time in Maine Jake, Callahan and Oy would be finding their way into the Dixie Pig restaurant where Susannah is being held by the “Low-Men” of The Crimson King.  Also, Susannah would be slowly coming back to reality as she mentally battles Mia for control over her body.  This part of the season would be 2-3 episodes long; leaving us at episode nine or ten.  The finale of the season would be the battle between the ka-tet and the “Low-Men” at the Dixie Pig.

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I particularly liked this scene.  It was scary to me.  The “Low-Men” are a menacing adversary.  I think it would be better if Roland and Eddie found their way back to New York to help Callahan and Jake with saving Susannah.  During this battle Father Callahan sacrifices himself to let the others live.  Susannah gives birth to Mordred and attempts to kill him.  She doesn’t succeed, but she does find her way back to her ka-tet.  Once again the season would end with the ka-tet reuniting after being separated.  The final scene of the season would be the ka-tet entering the door back to Mid-World.

Season 5 (The Dark Tower)

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The use of portals throughout this series makes it well suitable for a television adaptation.  How often do you see a season premiere that takes place moments after the previous finale, but everyone looks different?  There’s not much to be done about it, but shifting universes, worlds, and timelines through portals allows for these missteps to be covered up.  It is stated throughout the series that time moves differently between Mid-World and other universes.  This tactic is especially useful when using child actors.  The actor who plays Jake will age five years during the series.  It’s impossible for him not to grow and change.  In the books Jake is supposed to be 11 or 12 years old.  I think it would better serve the TV series to cast an actor who is 15-17 years old so that he doesn’t change so much that he’s unrecognizable by the end.  So, I think the premiere of the final season would serve as a good time to take advantage of this aspect.

The ka-tet would be shown returning to Mid-World through the portal from the depths of the Dixie Pig.  A majority of the final season would focus around the ka-tet freeing the breakers in Thunderclap.  It will also be nice to relay to the audience the significance of liberating the citizens of The Calla.  The stolen children were having their DNA taken to help the psychic “Breakers” destroy the mythical beams that support The Tower.  So, the detour in The Calla was worth it after all.

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The battle at Devar-Toi is the final act of the ka-tet.  As I was reading it, I knew it was the beginning of the end.  Unfortunately, Eddie Cantor Dean, the smart-mouthed sidekick that you hate to love, dies from wounds he receives in the battle.  This was one of the most emotionally powerful moments of the entire series for me.  The ka-tet is broken, and it will never be complete again.  Thankfully the group gets to say their goodbyes.  Ka grants them that small token.

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Throughout the final season it will be imperative to follow the character of Mordred.  The chapters in the book that follow Mordred are truly disturbing.  This is a being that is devoid of empathy and contentment.  Mordred never had a chance to thrive as a being. He was designed for a single, evil purpose.  To kill Roland Deschain.  Mordred’s encounter with The Man in Black is especially telling.  The Man in Black is an evil entity that has plagued Stephen King’s novels for decades.  He has never won, but he never goes away either.  He is perceived by readers as the quintessential villain, but Mordred kills him like a boot crushes an ant.  The potency of Mordred’s evil chills the reader to the bone.  I hope that detail can be transferred to the screen.

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In this point of the book, Roland and Jake travel back to “our” Maine to save Stephen King from being hit by a van.  During this mission Jake dies for a second time.  Again, this was emotional, but I have previously abandoned King’s appearance in this adaptation.  So, the story would continue with the remaining members of the ka-tet finding their way into End-World; where The Tower resides.  This place is essentially the edges of existence.  Almost like a new plane.  Roland and his friends are on the final stretch of their journey.

The group would make their way towards the Castle Discordia.  This castle lies on the outskirts of Fedic.  It served primarily as a defensive fort for La Casse Roi Russe (The Castle of The Crimson King) in its heyday.  Roland and his friends must travel through the labyrinth that is Castle Discordia to continue on their journey.  In the book, the castle is described as having 595 doors to other “where’s” and “when’s”.  During their trip through the castle the group inadvertently frees a creature from one of these doorways, which chases them.

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I like this point of the story because it illustrates how the evil side of this world lives and operates.  In my imagination these structures and castles are terrifying.  It makes me think of Minas Morgul from Lord of the Rings, or Harrenhal from Game of Thrones.  This side-journey should only last one episode.  We don’t want to get sidetracked during the homestretch.

The journey to The Tower continues as the group makes their way across freezing badlands known as The White Lands of Empathica.  During this section the group encounters a psychic vampire named Dandelo who has the ability to leech on people’s emotions instead of their blood.  The group is almost trapped into becoming this vampire’s food source, but they narrowly escape with the vampire’s captive named Patrick Danville.  The group quickly discovers that Danville has the ability to make his perfect drawings physically manifest themselves.

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This moment is when the ka-tet shrinks even more.  For a time, Susannah has had the notion that she can no longer aid the group in their journey to The Tower.  She has had visions of a doorway leading her into another “When” where she can be reunited with Eddie.  Susannah has Patrick draw this doorway, Susannah returns to her husband, and the ka-tet shrinks yet again.  In the book, Jake would have already died, so this would leave Roland basically alone (except for Oy).  However, in this television adaptation Jake would still be with Roland, which I think will make the separation of Susannah much more tolerable.

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The last act before Roland reaches The Tower is his encounter with Mordred.  This battle will finally leave Roland on his own.  Jake will again sacrifice himself during the battle to save Roland.  In the book, Oy dies during the fight, which would also happen in this adaptation.  I think this moment will be Roland’s breaking point.  Losing the boy he considers to be his true son (for the second time), and being left completely on his own …. that is enough to destroy even the most rugged of men.  However, The Tower lies in the distance …

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This leaves Roland on the final leg of his arduous journey.  Patrick Danville accompanies him to the outskirts of The Tower where Roland must confront the Crimson King.  Now, I always found it a travesty that the Crimson King is this horrendous, evil entity that seeks to destroy all of existence and rule over the remaining chaos, but he doesn’t make an appearance until the final 100 pages of the series.  In the book, it’s even worse.  Roland has Patrick draw the Crimson King and erase him so they don’t have to fight …. WHAT?  There isn’t even a showdown?!  That is criminal.  As I read it I was shocked, but I was riding the high of finishing the series, (after over a year of reading the seven books. Some people waited 25 years!) and seeing Roland complete his journey, that I chose to let it go.

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In the television adaptation Roland and the Crimson King would engage in an epic battle to end all battles.  It would be at least ten minutes of screen time.  It would consist of hand-to-hand, punching, kicking, biting, shooting, stabbing, limbs would be ripped away.  All in a gorgeous, blood-red sea of roses.  It would be hard for people to sit through.  This is the ultimate personification of good vs. evil culminating in one final brawl.  It would haunt the audience’s mind.  That’s how the battle should be.  I feel it should end with Roland putting both gun barrels to the King’s eyes and blowing his brains out the back of his head, execution style … try picturing that without getting goosebumps!

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Roland would limp his way to The Tower.  His deepest desire finally fulfilled.  Existence saved from certain doom.  Good triumphs.

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Before Roland completes his journey the audience would be shown what becomes of his ka-tet.  We would see Susannah entering an alternate New York City set some time in the 1980s.  Here, Susannah would have her legs back, Eddie, Jake and Oy would join her, and they would all be a family again.  Jake and Eddie exist in this “when” as brothers, sharing the surname Toren.  These four are no longer a ka-tet, but a family, having left their roles as Gunslingers in Mid-World.  They would have vague visions of their time with Roland.  They would know that they had been part of something bigger than themselves, but the details would be lost.  These people deserve their time with one another in a peaceful setting.

The book essentially has two endings to Roland’s journey.  King tells us that Roland is supposed to passionately exclaim the names of his friends, family, loved ones, and companions as he enters the door to The Tower, and then the door closes behind him … fade to black.  That’s it.  We’re not supposed to see what is in The Tower.  We know The Tower will forever be safe with the greatest guardian to ever exist at its helm.  I think this would be a satisfying, hell, more than satisfying ending to the series, but this is not the true ending to Roland’s tale.

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There is a disclaimer from King himself warning the reader not to continue.  This ending is the epitome of tragedy.  Roland makes his way through the levels of The Tower.  He sees scenes from his past and symbols of his life lived.  At the top is a door marked “Roland”.  Our hero comes to the sudden conclusion that he has reached The Tower several times before.  He tries to turn around and flee, but Ka forces him forward, only to return to the desert to pursue the Man in Black all over again.  The worst part is that Roland has no memory of his journey.  He is forced to toil with the evils of existence once more, with whispers in his ear from Gan (essentially the God of his universe) that this journey could be his last before final rest.  Can you imagine?  Going through that journey only to reach The Tower and find the beginning at the end.  I cannot conceive of  a more tragic ending.

My series would end with Roland entering The Tower.  Roland’s tragic ending is almost too much to take.  When I read those final paragraphs, I was destroyed.  For at least a few days I was in a somber mood.  I felt connected to Roland.  I wish I could’ve stopped him from opening that door.  I felt like I had let my brother down.  It was a brilliant choice by Stephen King.  I can only imagine how it affected him.  I will forever respect him for making that choice, but I think his original ending for Roland’s journey will serve the series better.

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Let me end this by apologizing for the probable lack of proper terminology, facts and details throughout this article.  Understand the magnitude of this adaptation; if you ken.  Spend some time perusing The Dark Tower Wiki or Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance, and you will understand why this article might be lacking.  Ideally, I would take more than a year to complete this rough outline.  I would have read the series again, and made notes throughout; pecking away at this article.  I simply didn’t have the time or energy for that.  Also, it’s been four years since I finished the seventh book.  My memory of The Tower had faded substantially.  Ka is a wheel, afterall.  I hope you’ll forgive my shortcomings as a writer, and not let them dissuade you from considering what I had to say.  Thankee-sai, long days and pleasant nights.

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The last notes I’ll leave are my choices for the casting of the primary cast of this adaptation only.  This is supposed to be a television series, so I hope you understand the lack of true “movie stars”.  I think this is a realistic list for a TV series.  A film adaptation would warrant a different cast.

Roland Deschain – Josh Holloway

Young Roland from Wizard and Glass – Logan Lerman

Eddie Dean – Aaron Paul

Susannah Dean – Kerry Washington

Jake Chambers – Asa Butterfield

The Man in Black – Dominic West

Father Callahan – James Remar

Cortland Andrus (Cort) – Michael Chiklis

Susan Delgado – Jessy Schram

Crimson King – Vincent D’Onofrio

The Tick Tock Man – Alexander Skarsgard

Patrick Danville – Marshall Allman

Jack Mort – William Sadler

OBSESSIVE NOTE: You can find Tiny on twitter @ObsessiveTiny. Later this week, you’ll be able to hear him as he and I (@ObsessiveViewer) in the very first episode of The Obsessive Viewer Podcast! Until then, make sure you like the blog on Facebook!

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Want to buy The Dark Tower Series? Here are some Amazon links for you:

The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger

The Dark Tower II: The Drawing of the Three

The Dark Tower III: The Waste Lands

The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass

The Dark Tower V: Wolves of the Calla

The Dark Tower VI: Song of Susannah

The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower

The Dark Tower VIII: The Wind Through the Keyhole

Marvel’s The Dark Tower Omnibus

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Complete Concordance, Revised and Updated by Robin Furth

The Dark Tower Companion: A Guide to Stephen King’s Epic Fantasy by Bev Vincent

2 responses to “The Path of The Beam – Adapting The Dark Tower for the Screen [Obsessive Friends: Tiny]

  1. Pingback: What I Want from the Under the Dome TV Series | The Obsessive Viewer

  2. Pingback: The Obsessive Viewer Podcast – Ep 30 – A Nerdy Conversation with IndyPopCon’s Chase Kahlo | The Obsessive Viewer

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