Shows Based on Notable Books

Larry McMurtry: Movies adapted from his books won 13 Oscars. You could try “Terms of Endearment” or “The Last Picture Show,” but his best book is the great Western novel “Lonesome Dove.” It was made into a TV miniseries in 1989 that is faithful to the book and was certainly the most unromantic western ever made. 

What makes it great? Mainly its two unforgettable main characters: Gus McCrae and Captain Woodrow Call, two aging former Texas Rangers. They are played to perfection on TV by Robert Duvall (Gus) and Tommy Lee Jones (Call). 

In Episode One, they gather a herd of stolen cattle and horses and drive them from Texas north toward Montana. 

Along for the perilous ride are their scout Deets (Danny Glover) and Lorie (Diane Lane), a lovely and good-hearted prostitute. 

There are many adventures and subplots along the way, including chilling encounters with the half-breed Blue Duck. (Some of the casual violence here can be disturbing.)   

This show won numerous Emmy awards and, along with Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven,” is one of the two best westerns ever made. Rent or buy, on Amazon Prime.

Stephen King has not been served as well by movie and TV adaptations, but their sheer number has yielded some gems, in TV by the miniseries “The Outsider,” based on his 2018 novel (although I actually prefer King’s recent supernatural detective stories to much of his horror and science fiction). 

This one was adapted for TV by one of our best crime writers, Richard Price, who also wrote for “The Wire.” 

The story centers on the horrific murder of a young boy. An investigation by detective Ralph Anderson (Ben Mendelsohn) leads to the arrest of a popular Little League coach Terry Maitland (Jason Bateman). 

The evidence against him is overwhelming, but there is equally strong evidence that he could not have done it. 

It all seems quite impossible until Ralph asks for the aid of Holly Gibney (Cynthia Erivo), a private investigator who figured in King’s earlier book, “Mr. Mercedes.” The plot then moves in a darker and supernatural direction. All the actors perform admirably, especially Erivo, who sort of steals this entertaining show. King once said: “I love Holly and wish she were a real person.” On HBOMax.

Michael Connelly’s notable work is not one book, but many that feature LAPD detective Harry Bosch, a Special Forces veteran who works for Hollywood Homicide. These were developed into a popular series called simply “Bosch,” which has run for six seasons and was recently renewed for a seventh and final season. 

It stars my Cornwall neighbor Titus Welliver.  

Madison Lintz plays his teen daughter, Maddie. Their relationship, which grows more complicated and interesting, is one of the best things about the show. 

Although “Bosch” feels a bit like an old-fashioned police procedural, it is distinguished by superior acting, writing, and its believable and gritty atmosphere. The plotting is mostly suspenseful and well paced, but occasionally it gets overcomplicated, and you may find yourself scratching your head. This is a first-rate series. On Amazon Prime.

 

Ed Ferman is the former editor and publisher of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and has been an editor at the Cornwall Chronicle for many years. He has lived in Cornwall since 1969. If you’d like to contact him, he is at eferman2@gmail.com.

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