Hulu’s Castle Rock, the first three episodes of which arrive today, are a love letter to Stephen King’s lengthy, interconnected book series. The settings of the small Maine town, and the nearby prison of Shawshank, stand out in particular, and the show has more than a few casting nods. But intriguingly, the only character, so far, directly from King’s books, played by Scott Glenn.
In King’s novels set in Castle Rock, Pangborn is the hero of two stories. The first, 1981’s The Dark Half, has him uncover the supernatural connection between Thad Beaumont and his homicidal twin/alter ego Richard Stark, and in George Romero’s movie, he’s played by none other than Michael Rooker of The Walking Dead and Guardians of the Galaxy fame. In 1991, in Needful Things, Pangborn saves the town from a Satanic seller of collectibles, Leland Gaunt, although he doesn’t manage to stop the dynamiting of the town by local dirtbag Ace Merrill and a corrupt city councilman, and in the ensuing movie, Ed Harris played the role. If you’ve followed the series so far, 1991 is an interesting year because that’s also the year Henry Deaver went missing.
This Pangborn is substantially different from King’s, though, in a few ways. One, it appears Castle Rock survived whatever unfolded in 1991, and he stayed sheriff for a while. And two, in the books Alan is a widower with two kids who ultimately marries Polly Chalmers and moves to New Hampshire. Here, he’s stayed in Castle Rock and has been spending time with Ruth Deaver, Henry’s mother, who’s fighting dementia. Whether or not he’s as heroic is an open question we’ll have to see answers for as the series unfolds.