Hello friends and neighbors and welcome to my most self-indulgent feature yet! I’ve mentioned before that IT is my favorite book and you guys know that October is my favorite month. So I decided to make a big ol’ Reese’s Cup out of that shiet and mash em together! All month I’ll be reviewing IT in its various forms starting at the worst and ending with the best. And you might be surprised by the order!
But you won’t. The book is the best form. Come on guys.
And the worst is the 1990 miniseries. No review of the miniseries can be complete without the caveat that Tim Curry is a great Pennywise. He is for the most part but mostly because he’s being Tim Curry in clown makeup. But how does the rest of it hold up? Let’s find out!
Unlike the movie, the miniseries attempts to replicate Stephen King’s time jumping structure by introducing the adult cast through a series of phone calls that then transition to flashback’s showing their childhoods. It works pretty well though the performances are…uneven. Tim Reid is great as Mike because he’s Tim Reid and good in anything, I’ve mentioned before how much I like John Ritter as Ben, and Annette O’Toole does what she can with what’s she’s given; the rest do okay. They’re all accomplished actors but the combination of a weak script and ’90s tv direction keep them from living up to their potential.
The kids are another story. All the performances here are pretty solid though Jonathan Brandis as Bill is the obvious standout. Ironically the weakest performance probably comes from Seth Green but I think this has more to do with how the character is written than Green’s performance. Richie’s supposed to be annoying but damn did the show go overboard. The gang of bullies is also a weak point. Henry Bowers looks…goofy. I know they were going for the ’50s greaser look with him but he just kind of looks like Alfalfa in a leather jacket.
And then there’s Tim Curry. His performance is timeless, well loved, and frequently cited as the best and scariest part of the miniseries. It’s certainly the best part…I don’t know about the scariest. Not much of anything in this could really be called scary. And Pennywise in particular is more goofy than outright frightening. But damn is Tim Curry giving it his all. Bad as the miniseries is (and trust me it is bad), it’s worth watching at least once for Tim Curry alone.
I’m not really gonna go into the story too much cus I have to talk about it two more times this month but just in case you don’t know the basics: The Losers are a group of misfit kids who come together after their leader Bill’s little brother is killed. They find out an ancient evil haunts their town, taking the form of things that its victims fear most, and they fight it, winning against all odds. 25 years later they return to kill it once and for all. The miniseries despite being three hours long sticks mostly to the very surface level of the story. Spooky monsters show up, people scream, people die, Pennywise gets shot in the eye. Its entertaining if you can ignore the hammy performances and clunky writing. But there’s really only one reason I even wanted to talk about the miniseries at all. The show is guilty of a most egregious sin; something that has imprinted itself on our national consciousness. Whenever anyone who hasn’t read the book talks about IT, they almost always bring up this point and it has sullied Pennywise’s reputation.
The big twist at the end of the miniseries is that Pennywise…is a giant spider. And not just any spider, a spider that looks like this:
That looks like the shitty kaiju Ultraman would fight at the beginning of an episode before the real threat showed up. It looks like the Mother from Pink Floyd’s The Wall. Don’t believe me?
It’s not intimidating is what I’m trying to say. And that’s what a lot of people think the big secret behind Pennywise is now. To be fair the book does mention it looking like a spider but only because the Losers aren’t capable of fully comprehending what they’re seeing and their brains try to force it into a recognizable shape, which is only vaguely similar to a spider.
And that, my friends, is the miniseries’ most grievous sin. And why I only watch it like…once a year. Give it a watch if you have 3 hours to waste and don’t care about using your time wisely.
Next week I’ll be talking about the movie which was so much better and I’ll have so much more to say about! Bye for now!