‘Kingdom Hospital’ is a 2004 thirteen part TV series developed and co-written by Stephen King. Based on the mid 90s Danish TV series ‘The Kingdom’ (or ‘Riget’ in Danish) which, was created by the legendary Lars Von Trier.
King first came across a copy of ‘The Kingdom’ in his local video rental store (remember them) after being attracted by the cover. Having watched it nonstop throughout the night; King spent the next few months trying to acquire the distribution rights for America. After failing to do so he settled on being given permission to create his own version of the show.
It’s hard to place ‘Kingdom Hospital’ into a genre. The show effortlessly mixes aspects of horror, drama, comedy and fantasy. The closes comparison I can make is the British TV series ‘The League of Gentlemen’ but, even this comparison is tenuous.
It’s hard to think of many shows whose main protagonist is in a coma and manages to incorporate a giant aardvark, ghosts, ancient Egyptian mythology, characters named after bands and songs, medicine, earthquakes, fraternal organisations, the second coming, baseball (Kings favourite sport), and the name of Hitlers favourite dog.
Each week a new individual storyline helps to build upon a running plot. With each episode the story builds, reveals are made and the whole thing just becomes more bizarre.
The story is complex but, is played very tongue in cheek; with even the odd breaking of the forth wall with a look to camera. Don’t worry none of the comedy elements ever distract from the horror or drama. Occasionally, as you sit waiting for the accident or medical emergency to happen to a new character, you’re reminded of the awful British medical drama ‘Casualty’.
The show also contains some great cameos (they save the best for the last episode) and many references to Stephen King throughout.
Little known in the UK, this one off series is definitely worth seeking out. Each 45 minute episode is so entertaining it flies by and, in the age of caning box sets, is individual enough they can easily be watched one after the other.
Please seek out ‘Kingdom Hospital’. I only wish I found it sooner.