Lisey’s Story Series Premiere Review: A Woman Adrift

When your partner is a celebrity, you share him or her with the world.

That’s the hard lesson that Lisey Landon learned on Lisey’s Story Season 1 Episode 1 and Lisey’s Story Season 1 Episode 2.

Lisey has her memories of her dead husband, Scott, a famed novelist. But also, her family members and his fans have their own versions of Scott in their heads.

This eight-part Apple TV+  limited series is based on the 2006 Stephen King novel. 

Suggested by some to be an ode to King’s wife and fellow author Tabitha King, the horror master has called this blend of romance and psychology horror his favorite among his works.

“Lisey’s Story” had its beginnings in June 1999, when King was seriously injured after being hit by a van while out walking near his summer home in Maine.

While he was hospitalized, Tabitha neatened up his studio. When King saw all his documents boxed up upon returning home, it inspired the early scene of Lisey surrounded by Scott’s collected papers in his study.

King, who has expressed a preference for long-form television adaptations over two-hour movies, not surprisingly, wrote the scripts for the series.

That’s the surest way to end up with a finished product with which you’re satisfied. If you want a thing done right, do it yourself.

And that’s what King has done with this production that rides on emotion, with the monsters mostly offscreen … thus far.

The production spins two fascinating tales: Lisey’s present life and her past life with Scott.

Julianne Moore is engrossing as the titular Lisey, a woman adrift since Scott died two years ago.

Lisey found herself trapped in the mausoleum that was her home with Scott, surrounded by his awards and papers and the memories which they conjure up.

Lisey was surrounded by vultures, both academic and cultural, seeking to pick through the remains of Scott’s creativity, hoping to squeeze a buck out of an unpublished Scott Landon work.

Chief among these was Professor Dashmiel, wanting to house Scott’s papers at Shipman Library in Tennessee.

Lisey has a particular dislike for Dashmiel. It was at the dedication for that library where a crazed fan shot Scott. Dashmiel ran for cover that day while Lisey took down the shooter with the dedication shovel.

It wasn’t surprising that Dashmiel driving to Maine did little to change Lisey’s mind, especially since he blocked her from getting to the current crisis in her life.

That would be Lisey’s mentally ill older sister Amanda, who she and younger sister Darla had been attempting to care for.

After finding out her former suitor Charlie had gotten married, Amanda began cutting herself again before slipping into a state of semi-catatonia.

Amanda had always felt close to Scott, who had somehow pulled Amanda out of that state the last time it had happened.

Amanda’s flashback showed Scott vomited pool water from his fantasy world of Booya Moon into Amanda’s mouth to cure her. But who could trust the fragile Amanda’s recollection?

But here’s the thing: Lisey was discovering that while Scott is dead, he’s still managing to live on in her life.

One of the last coherent things Amanda did was pass on a message from Scott that Lisey was to go on a Bool hunt.

It would have been simple enough for Lisey to dismiss Amanda’s pronouncement as the ravings of a madwoman if she hadn’t earlier found the first Bool hunt clue taped to the aforementioned shovel.

Also, following a hunch after a vivid dream, Lisey discovered the second clue in Amanda’s address book, pointing her toward a doctor Scott had already lined up to treat Amanda.

Through the Bool hunt and her memories, Lisey discovered that there was a whole lot more to Scott than she knew … or chose to remember. Maybe she was just lying to herself all those years.

One thing for sure was that Scott survived a dark (if currently nonspecific) childhood. More details are sure to come.

Also, Amanda nailed it when she earlier told Lisey that she would have to keep Scott connected to this world.

That’s because Scott proved that he could escape to Booya Moon as needed. Again, although its waters helped Scott heal from his wounds, it still looks like a scary place. Especially if the Long Boy, glimpsed at episode’s end, lives there.

In addition to being a greedy bastard, Dashmiel also deserves scorn for turning Jim Dooley loose on Lisey.

How could anyone who spent time with Dooley believe that he would persuade Lisey with his oratorical skills? “I told him no violence.” Really?

Jim is an example of what Stephen King does best: creating self-assured but absolutely insane nutjobs.

As he proved with his recorded rants in his cave, Jim is convinced he’s doing what’s right for Scott, his idol, even if he has to steamroll Scott’s widow to do so.

Lisey is almost as crazy if she thinks she’s going to stop Jim with a shovel.

Worse yet, she can’t tell any members of her dysfunctional family what she’s going through because they have no sympathy for her.

Let’s see how Scott is going to protect her in future episodes.

To catch up on King’s edgy production, watch Lisey’s Story online.

Might Amanda be the sane one among them?

Should Lisey enlist Darla’s help?

How can Lisey get the better of Jim?

Comment below.

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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