‘CASTLE ROCK’ ROLLS THROUGH FAMILIAR TERRITORY
Just as characters in Westerns and thrillers tend to be a tad suspicious when a stranger comes to town, I am instinctively suspicious of trendy new jargon. “Castle Rock,” the new mystery streaming today on Hulu, has been promoted as a story set in “the multiverse created by Stephen King.” So now it’s a “multiverse.”
The overly familiar setting allows the storytellers to assume that viewers are already marinated in the King mythology, which means the writers don’t need to explain things, or develop characters, to hook viewers from the beginning. The first episode is very long on weirdness and slow to explain. We’re scratching our heads long before we know or care about the people involved.
Like many King tales, the story is set in a remote Maine town, a place of subfreezing winters, gloomy architecture and a local prison called Shawshank. We catch a glimpse of that facility, known to us from another corner of the “multiverse,” just before the warden (Terry O’Quinn, “Lost”) commits suicide in a rather spectacular manner. We then cut away from Maine’s weird King-dom to visit a Texas prison where an inmate is being put to death in spite of the efforts of crusading lawyer Henry Deaver (Andre Holland).
Strange doings in the Lone Star State send Deaver back to Maine, where as a young boy he was lost for 11 days in forbidding temperatures, an ordeal he can neither explain nor remember.
Deaver also is black in a town that seems as white as its long winters, and some neighbors aren’t always very nice about that. We discover a closed wing of Shawshank and a mysterious new prisoner (Bill Skarsgard) who nobody can identify, but scares everyone like the devil.
It’s a spooky place, but you can’t say you haven’t been here before.
Hulu makes three episodes available today and will stream new ones every Wednesday.
-- Speaking of the Great White North, the CW imports the Canadian legal drama “Burden of Truth” (7 p.m., TV-PG).
Crusading attorney Joanna Hanley (Kristin Kreuk) abandons a lucrative corporate practice to return to Millwood, her hometown in Manitoba. There she joins forces with an old frenemy, Billy Crawford (Peter Mooney), to take on the source of toxins that have caused a mysterious illness. Gee, a lawyer who cares more about David v. Goliath cases than money. That sounds like something out of the John Grisham multiverse!
TONIGHT’S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
-- A bistro in Wichita falls on hard times on “Gordon Ramsay’s 24 Hours to Hell and Back” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-14).
-- Familiar judges hit the water on “Shark Tank Meets Shark Week” (8 p.m., Discovery).
-- Samantha’s style emerges on “Suits” (8 p.m., USA, TV-14).
-- An old woman returns to her past on “Reverie” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-PG).
-- Will strives to save the family on the season finale of “Colony” (9 p.m., USA, TV-14).
-- Rivals emerge on “Yellowstone” (9 p.m., Paramount, TV-MA).
-- “The Art Show” (9 p.m., Ovation, TV-14) profiles creators around the globe.
-- The soundtrack sets the agenda in the 2017 thriller “Baby Driver” (9 p.m., Sho2).
Julie Chen hosts “Big Brother” (7 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) ... Teams form on “World of Dance” (7 p.m., NBC, TV-PG) ... Fussy guests on “MasterChef” (7 p.m., Fox, TV-14) ... On two helpings of “The Goldbergs” (ABC, r), fanboys (7 p.m., TV-PG), war stories (7:30 p.m., TV-14).
Kevin Hart hosts “TKO: Total Knockout” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14) ... Luke is misplaced on “Modern Family” (8 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... Klaus takes a trip to the falls on “The Originals” (8 p.m., CW, TV-14) ... Katie’s day off on “American Housewife” (8:30 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG) ... The target nears on “SEAL Team” (9 p.m., CBS, r, TV-14) ... Pet sounds on “Shark Tank” (9 p.m., ABC, r, TV-PG).
Bo Burnham is booked on “The Daily Show With Trevor Noah” (10 p.m., Comedy Central) ... James Comey, Tig Notaro and Cory Kahaney appear on “Conan” (10 p.m., TBS, r) ... Jimmy Fallon welcomes Alec Baldwin, Nikki & Brie Bella and Toots & the Maytals on “The Tonight Show” (10:345 p.m., NBC). ... Amy Poehler, Fall Out Boy and Nate Smith visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (11:37 p.m., NBC) ... David Spade, Simon Pegg and Now United appear on “The Late Late Show With James Corden” (11:35 p.m., CBS).