This Forgotten and Unavailable Stephen King Series Is Lost to Time … Or Is It?

Stephen King
Stephen King, 1989. ph: Abigayle Tarsches / ©Paramount Pictures / Courtesy Everett Collection

In 1994, Lars von Trier wowed the world with The Kingdom (Riget). The absurdist horror series, inspired by the likes of Twin Peaks, was a strange, often incredulous depiction of a hospital staff and their many encounters with weird phenomena, often supernatural. Incredibly funny and unsettling at the same time, The Kingdom is a classic staple of horror television. In 2022, the famed filmmaker even returned for a follow-up with Prime Video titled Exodus.

The first two seasons of The Kingdom are difficult to track down, though it might be even harder to find Stephen King’s 2004 Kingdom Hospital, a remake of the series that aired for one season on ABC. Check out a trailer and synopsis below:

Per IMDB: The quirky staff and patients of an ultramodern (albeit increasingly dilapidated) Maine hospital gradually become familiar with the supernatural occurrences that take place there, uncovering a dark secret in the process.

Originally conceived as a miniseries, executives later changed course, opting instead for a conventional primetime season of the remake Stephen King helped develop. Unfortunately, it failed to make much of an impact at the time. After just one season, ABC canceled Kingdom Hospital. Contemporaneous critics compared it unfavorably to the original, spotlighting the humor while criticizing the lack of scares.

Even worse, especially for media preservationists, is the disappointing fact that Kingdom Hopsital, for years, has been unavailable to stream legally. While various imported DVDs of the series are available online, the series is only getting increasingly difficult to track down. It might be available to stream on Dailymotion (for now), but you didn’t hear it from us.  

Like the dark past of the titular hospital, it’s best to keep that little tidbit a secret. Despite its age, Kingdom Hospital remains a must-see for Stephen King completionists. A swift cancellation wasn’t enough to tarnish its memory, and now it’s one of the master’s most sought after works. Check out some choice tweets below:

It’s reassuring to at least hear the show was real. I have vivid memories of watching it, but it’s so often absent from conversations about Stephen King’s work, I feared I’d imagined the whole thing. Turns out, I didn’t Kingdom Hospital was a real thing. Huzzah.

What do you think? Did you catch Kingdom Hospital when it aired? How does it compare to Stephen King’s other work in the early aughts? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins.

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