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The Real Reason The Second Half Of The It Miniseries Bombed

Stephen King's stories have become some of the most frequently adapted in Hollywood. They've also proven among the most difficult to translate to screens, with King's 1986 epic "It" proving particularly challenging. To date, there have been two high-profile adaptations of the sprawling novel. But while many viewers feel Andy Muschietti's big-screen adaptation of "It" and the 1990 "It" miniseries nailed the first half of the story, plenty fans feel that both missed the mark in different ways with part two.

Whatever you think of 2019's "It Chapter Two," there's little argument it was more successful than Night 2 of the 1990 ABC miniseries, which paled in comparison even to its own trauma-inducing first night. As with Muschietti's recent adaptation, Night 1 of the 1990's "It" stayed true to the structure of King's book, detailing the Losers' terrifying showdown with the Pennywise (played by Tim Curry) in their youth. Night 2 was dedicated to the adult Losers return to Derry to finish the job. 

Like "Chapter 2" of Muschietti's adaptation, the second part of 1990's "It" just didn't work — faring even worse than Muschietti's tonally disparate offering by shorting the ominous spirit, inherent menace, and hint of cosmic craziness present in King's book. As a result, Night 2 of "It" is still widely considered a small-screen bomb for the ages.

In a 2015 interview with Yahoo! TV, Tommy Lee Wallace, the director of 1990's "It," revealed what led to the infamous Night 2 letdown. Like so many flops before it, it seems a late-in-the-game script rewrite derailed Night 2 of "It."

Part 2 of the It miniseries apparently struggled after rewrites

The rewrite came via Tommy Lee Wallace himself, who admitted to Yahoo! TV that he didn't undertake reworking Night 2 of "It" lightly, initially offering the job to Night 1 scribe Larry Cohen. Unfortunately, Cohen declined, leaving Wallace to do the job instead.

"Larry's script for Night 1 was just wonderful, well-organized and cleverly structured into seven parts for seven characters. His script for Night 2 wasn't nearly as successful, in my opinion. For reasons of his own, he had completely moved away from the plotting of the book, and created a much smaller story. I wasn't happy with it at all, but Larry didn't show much enthusiasm for a big rewrite," Wallace explained. "I asked him to come to Vancouver and work with me on the script for Night 2, but he declined. The rewrite better reflected the basic plot of the book, or as much as a radical condensation would allow."

For his part, Cohen claimed he was simply too busy to do another re-write on "It." He also acknowledged that he didn't think the project was quite as interesting in its condensed format, telling Yahoo! TV, "It wasn't that I didn't think it could be successful at four hours, it was that I felt it would be more conventional as a result. There were so many hard decisions about what to cut out that we made along that way, that the prospect of excising more was difficult."

One can hardly blame Cohen for opting out, and he was clearly right about further condensing King's work. But one has to wonder what might've been had he re-worked Night 2 of the miniseries in the style of his crackling Night 1 teleplay. 

In the end, Wallace's script lacked the soul and specificity found in both King and Cohen's works. Combined with some spotty casting and even spottier special effects, Night 2 of Wallace's "It" remains one of the most frustrating misses in television history.