What’s that eerie Stephen King-like sound effect? That’s the whistling hole in our collective viewing soul now that “The Outsider” has concluded 10 taut episodes. The supernatural mystery where good and evil duke it out using humans as game pieces is classic King. With “The Outsider,” HBO has a new King adaptation for the ages, which will compete for Best Drama Series at the Emmys.
An all-star team of talent propels the story. A popular local little league coach (Jason Bateman) accused of a bad, bad little boy thing. A skeptical dogged detective (character actor Ben Mendelsohn, swinging hard as the lead) can’t make the clues of a series of child killings fit the forensic facts. Enter a woman of magical thinking (Cynthia Erivo, kicking ass and taking names) who connects the dots, discovers a demon, battles deniers and cracks a small Oklahoma town open to the gates of hell.
And behind the scenes, the real muscle is the writing team. The source material is master storyteller King’s No. 1 New York Times bestseller from 2018. Opening it up for TV is mystery-thriller master Richard Price (“The Night Of”). With respect and admiration for the original author, he’s molded the narrative arc into 10 chilling cliffhanger episodes. In a strong assist is “Shutter Island” and “Mystic River” scribe Dennis Lehane, who pinch hits writing two episodes.
This 10-part series ends by crying for another 10. In the meantime, how to fill that whistling hole demanding King thrills? We want my small-town apocalypse. We want our battles between good and evil. We want fast-talking devils that steal all the best lines. To fill that gap, we have chased down the best of the best King televised treatments that have ever scared the hell out of home-viewing audiences. Check out these 10 greatest Stephen King TV adaptations, ranked from worst to best.