Villain and protagonist side by side - the villain's the clean-cut one here, by the way.
So you have a hospital. Nice place, folks get healed there, their illnesses and sicknesses happily resolved, and they're sent on their way. It's, in fact, the best hospital in the state of Maine. All sorts of odd illnesses get fixed there, up to and including clinical death.
Good news: it's one of the leading research and medical centers in the state. Bad news? It's haunted.
Kingdom Hospital is a medical drama with a twist: the hospital is haunted, and its cast finds itself dealing with increasingly odd and creepy phenomena on a daily basis, punctuated by the occasional earthquake. The series opens with Peter Rickman, a helpless artist thrust into sudden dreams and paralysis by a drunk driver, being escorted to this hospital - followed by a host of oddities following in his wake, up to and including a ghostly child, an odd anteater-marsupial hybrid which seems to be something more than he appears, and an odd adversary who conspires to mark Peter for death.
And all the while, there's a hospital staff wandering around, unwilling or unable to see the drama unfolding beyond their sight, with the exception of the occasional creepy incident...such as a monitor's head turning towards a doctor and speaking, or a given artist healing unnaturally fast...
While billed as a medical drama with twists, Kingdom Hospital also happens to be a Ghost Story, written, directed, and produced by - of all people - Stephen King
, whose influence shows up without doubt as soon as the first episode.
This series contains Nightmare Fuel
and a rather sizeable number of creepy moments. Strangely, at no point does it actively employ the Rule of Scary
Not to be confused with Kingdom Hearts
. To be confused
whenever possible with Garth Marenghis Darkplace
This miniseries contains the following tropes:
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Antubis, the anteater, is really the Egyptian god Anubis (Somewhere, an Egyptologist is crying.) He looks like an anteater because his real form looked too much like series antagonist Paul, which terrified Mary.
- Aborted Arc: Stephen King already had the next season story-boarded and ready to roll. To be perfectly honest, there are so many loose plot threads left over that it's amazing this show is usually classified as a "mini-series" instead of "season one of a cancelled show."
- Almost Kiss
- American Adaptation: Of the earlier Riget, as directed by Lars von Trier. The Swedish neurosurgeon Stig Helmer becomes Dr. Stegman from Boston; Sigrid Drusse becomes Sally Druse, etc.
- Author Avatar: Peter Rickman—the details of his accident are precisely those of King's own brush with death.
- Back Story: Dealt with in the main story, inevitably.
- Bad Ass: Hook, who is his own CMOA.
- Blind Without 'Em: Otto, who occasionally loses them for comedic effect.
- Bloody Hilarious: Hellooooo, operating room!
- Butt Monkey: Stegman. Hilariously.
- C.A.T. Trap: Narrowly averted—narrowly—in "Butterfingers."
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Averted, fully - the folks who laugh Stegman down are the sort who you'd pass without a glance on the street.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Stegman. Stegman, Stegman, Stegman.
- Cranium Chase: A decapitated ghost whose body had its head severed in a morgue prank wanders around the netherworldly "Old Kingdom", fumbling blindly for its missing part. While Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head At?" plays on the soundtrack.
- Dark World: The Old Kingdom.
- Dean Bitterman: Stegman again. He's the head neurosurgeon at the hospital, after getting removed from a hospital in Boston... which he frequently reminds people he prefers.
- Flat Earth Atheist / Hollywood Atheist: Stegman fits both of these tropes nicely. At one point, when asked his opinion of a local religious group who believed their pastor would rise from the dead in three days, he said they should all be sterilized and sent to the gulags of Siberia as slave labor.
- Likes Older Women and Dogged Nice Guy: Elmer in regards to Lona. Unlike most Dogged Nice Guys, he makes it clear he wants a sexual relationship with her; however, it's clear he doesn't just want sex.
- Literal Genie: A lawyer asks for a new heart. Sure enough...he gets one.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The series loses focus as it goes on primarily due to its tendency to bring in at least one new character per episode without resolving anything with the previously established characters.
- Meaningful Name: The so-called Old Kingdom is the hospital built in the 1930s—it was called "Gottreich Hospital" after its founder, Dr. Gottreich.
- Mood Whiplash: There's a lot of humor. Most of it fairly macabre, some of it just bizarre.
- Mythology Gag: In the original miniseries, Stig Helmer's Catch Phrase is "Danish scum!" When Dr. Stegman's car is vandalized in the remake, he yells "Maine hick scum!"
- Throughout the series the vending machines in the hospital all sell Nozza-La* but in the final episode they are replaced by Pepsi machines. This means the hospital now exists on a more stable level of the Dark Tower.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Dr. Jesse James, the administrator. His "Operation Morning Air" makes him the target of many jokes.
- Rule of Drama: Eventually, it all boils down to being a ghost story. Written by Stephen King.
- Rule of Funny: In the second or third episode of the show, at the very end... the staff breaks out into a musical number, complete with dancing in the OR, corpses sliding out in the morgue and singing along, and general freakiness. Anyone who doesn't think this is a dark comedy doesn't have his head screwed on tight.
- Running Gag: The maintenance guy Johnny B. Goode is never around and always has a different substitute in for him. At the end of the series, he finally shows up to work and turns out to be Stephen King.
- Screwed by the Network: Feeling there wasn't enough promotion, Stephen King used several hundred thousand dollars of his own money to buy print ads; the network then changed the show's timeslot to compete with CSI, so the ads gave the wrong time and this show was obscured.
- Shout-Out: Nurse Carrie von Trier is named after Danish director Lars von Trier, who directed/created the original, Danish Kingdom series.
- Talking Animal: A crow and two dogs had brief speaking parts just to make it even weirder than it already was.
- Tsundere: Elmer sees Lona as this; in the beginning, she's just annoyed and confused with how exactly to make it clear to the significantly younger man, whose father she works for, that a romantic relationship is out of the question. She tried the direct way, that didn't work, and well, Lona's a fairly direct person. Later, when the supernatural screws with them, she tells him to kiss her, treats him the same as before once they get out of the morgue (long story), and then, uses his affection for her to get him to help her with some important tests she wants to do. At the end, she seems unsure what her relationship with him is, while he still wants a romantic relationship with her.
- Dr. Abelson (Stegman's erstwhile girlfriend) is a more literal version of this. After their breakup, she takes a large gun and pegs all of Stegman's lab rats, gleefully counting them one by one. Not a bunny-boiler, but close enough, surely.
- What Do You Mean, It's Not Symbolic?: Invoked and flogged like a dead horse in "On the Third Day." Worse yet, it was sometimes listed as "The Passion of Reverend Jimmy."