Stephen King is undoubtedly the world's most famous living horror writer. When word came down the pipeline that he'd be writing and overseeing a remake of Lars Von Trier's Danish cult horror mini series, Riget (a. k. a. The Kingdom), I know I'm not the only one who had high hopes for the television mini series. While the end result was flawed it was still more hit than miss and now, following up the release of their very well put together boxed set of the complete series, Columbia/Tri-Star in their infinite wisdom is releasing Kingdom Hospital – Making The Rounds which presents only episodes three through eight.
Here's how they all play out…
Episode 3 – Goodbye Kiss: Dr. Hook decides to convince Stegman to let Druse stay after he's convinced that the elevator ghost is real. We also learn that Stegman let a patient die on the operating table while he was residing in Boston and that there are a few skeletons in his closet currently planning to sue him.
Episode 4 – The West Side Of Midnight: Dr. Traiff's ex-wife passes away from a heart attack while under his care in the hospital and when this happens, his son, Elmer, dreams of an anteater. Rickman starts figuring things out while Druse is trying to sort out just who Mary really is. While all this is going on Stegman blows his top when his car gets vandalized.
Episode 5 – Hook's Kingdom: Dr. Hook becomes involved with a mortal after the hospital staff ask Druse to find out why they're being harassed by the spirit of a recently deceased and very troubled young man.
Episode 6 – The Young And The Headless: Ruse and Hook, with Rickman's help, are finally able to contact Mary as well as her tormentor named Paul. They begin to piece together some of the mysteries from the hospital's history.
Episode 7 – Black Noise: Peter warns hook and Druse that something seriously wrong is going to happen at the hospital, and they learn of a deranged pyromaniac who beings to, while under the influence of some very evil spirits, destroy some of the patients as well as some of the staff members and even a few of the local ghosts. Stegman's past has caught up with him by this point, and he'll soon have to answer for his past grievances.
Episode 8 – Heartless: A lawyer with heart problems needs a transplant and is checked into the hospital, and Hook, doing some investigating, finds Mary's old toy doll. When he opens it he finds newspaper articles that detail a fire that happened almost one hundred and fifty years ago and killed a lot of kids – the fire happened on the land where the hospital was built and might just be the key to the hauntings that have plagued it for so long.
This leads me to my one and only question about this release and its sister release, Kingdom Hospital – The Beginning… why (and forgive me if I'm repeating what I said in that review, but Columbia/Tri-Star seem to be repeating themselves as well…)??? What's the reasoning behind these releases when the complete series is still in print as a fairly affordably priced boxed set with plenty of extra features to add to the fun? None of those features are found on this disc, just the first two episodes and that's it. There's no reason for anyone to be interested in this when superior and complete release is so easy to find. It might be different if the MSRP were low enough for this to serve as a demonstration, to find out if you'd be into the rest of the series or not but at a $19.95 suggested retail price, it's likely too expensive to appeal to those who were only curious about the series and not willing to shell out the $40 on the complete set that they may or may not enjoy or get their money's worth out of.
The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen image is clean and colorful but does show some slight compression artifacts in some of the darker scenes as well as some mild edge enhancement that could break up the picture a little bit on larger sets, though it is mild even in the worst of the instances I noticed. Flesh tones appear life like and natural and the picture is free of any print damage. The cool color scheme used in the film is reproduced on this transfer quite faithfully and never appears to be too warm or over saturated.
The English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track comes with optional subtitles in French as well as an English closed captioning option. This sound mix makes nice use of the rear speakers to build atmosphere with smaller, more discrete sound effects than those used in the front channels, making for a nice mix that suits the tone of this mini series very appropriately. Bass response from the subwoofer is lively without being overdone and channel separation is clean and distinct. Dialogue is always easy to follow and there are no traces of hiss or distortion.
This release is completely barebones and void of anything except for a menu screen and chapter selection options.
Kingdom Hospital – Making The Rounds is, just like Kingdom Hospital – The Beginning, a completely useless release and I can't imagine anyone wanting to shell out twenty bucks a piece for these two releases that make up roughly half the series when they can get the entire collection for about the same amount of money. It's not cheap enough in the MSRP department to serve as a taste test for the boxed set of the complete series, and it doesn't offer anything extra at all aside from the stated episodes. If you were into the show, get the complete set instead and skip this one – there's no point to it. I just don't get it and the marketing behind this one just plain makes my head hurt.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.