TV adaptations stray from source material
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Staff Writer
Some of the most popular TV shows today are adaptations of well-known books: Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Pretty Little Liars, and even Orange is the New Black. While many people read the books—especially after a show becomes popular—the adaptations are generally what people are more familiar with. But adapting a book series for TV has many issues to deal with, such as working with the author, staying true to the source material, and dealing with later seasons before the book series is finished. Some shows handle it tactfully, like Game of Thrones, while others make up their own stories and characters, such as Under the Dome.
Story changes are necessary when adapting, if for no reason other than the show writers have to write episodes before the book series ends. Game of Thrones is generally very faithful to the books, but in another two or three seasons the series will have caught up with the most current novel. The show is very popular and won’t be cancelled any time soon, which means it will likely have to start inventing its own plot lines and could jeopardize the ending if they kill off a character on the show only to find out the character wins the throne in the final book.
In many cases, writers solve this continuity problem by disregarding many parts of the source material, such as getting rid of a novel’s ending to allow for more seasons in the TV adaptation. This is the case with the adaptations of Stephen King’s novels, The Dead Zone and Under The Dome. Characters who died in the novels were kept alive in the series to keep the TV show going, characters were invented to advance plots, and brand new stories were developed once the original source material ran out.
But how do the authors feel about these changes to their stories? Game of Thrones author, George R.R Martin, has a previous track record of taking six years to publish a book in the series, so while the show’s team tries to work with the author to maintain continuity, there is no way for them to know what Martin will ultimately write. In King’s case, a TV adaptation was a chance to write a whole new version of his story, which he did when he wrote the season two premiere episode of Under the Dome. Characters he had killed in the book were still alive in the series and new stories were being explored, which allowed him to play around with how these characters would behave had they survived in the book and endured these scenarios.
Despite the continuity discrepancies and new characters or killed-off favourites, these TV shows adapted from book series keep a loyal viewer base, suggesting that some audiences may be satisfied with loose adaptations, and readers are willing to explore different versions of the worlds they’ve come to love in the novels.