When it was said, several years ago, that CBS was putting together a new adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand, I was kind of psyched. It’s been so long since it was first announced, I really can’t remember if there was talk of a movie or a mini-series or a full on TV show. But I do know it was meant for the fledgling CBS All Access streaming service.
I mean… I was already planning to get (or maybe already had) CBS All Access because of the promised new Star Trek series that were coming. So, whatever they decided to do with The Stand, I was on board.
I’m on board because The Stand is absolutely one of my favorite books of all time. It’s definitely my favorite Stephen King novel. And I loved the ABC mini-series that aired back in the 90s starring Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald. That mini-series had been a four-part deal with each part being two hours (with commercials). Sure, it was limited by the technology of the early 1990s and the budget of network television. But for what it was, I thought it was great.
It wasn’t until several years later that I finally read The Stand, opting for King’s updated uncut edition. And considering the scope of the novel, it’s understandable that things were left out of that mini-series.
That said, I was always planning to watch every second of this new CBS All Access adaptation. I didn’t care who they cast in what roles. I didn’t care what they decided as far as length of the episodes. I didn’t care if it would be dragged out beyond a single season. Whatever the plan, I was gonna watch.
I got excited when they started announcing some of the cast… Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail; James Marsden as Stu Redman; Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman… it was shaping up to be a good cast. COVID hit and I’m pretty sure that pushed back the premiere date, but it was still coming. And could it be more timely? A limited series centered around the aftermath of a deadly pandemic?
As I write this, the seventh episode (out of eight) is available on the CBS All Access streaming service. So I’ve had time to formulate an opinion, even though the whole story has yet to be told.
I follow a lot of YouTube creators who make a living critiquing the same movies and TV shows that I tend to watch. But I can’t help but notice that The Stand has not really gotten any attention from those channels. One in particular, GameSpot Universe, has surprised me by remaining utterly silent regarding this Stephen King property. And I say that because they were on top of things when it came to covering each episode of Hulu’s Castle Rock series that ran for two seasons, a show which tied together a lot of little pieces of Stephen King’s literary macroverse.
Anyway, the fact that The Stand isn’t really being covered kind of tells me that people aren’t liking it. I have yet to see anyone putting out any kind of glowing review for the show. But that hasn’t stopped me from watching.
I would love to tell you that I have thoroughly enjoyed this series. But I can’t. I want to be able to say that because of how much I love the source material. And with us being more than 40 years removed from the novel’s initial publication, I was ready for the necessary changes that would need to come with the story. Though, I really don’t think there are any significant changes.
Sure, it’s been a number of years since I last read The Stand, so I may not have all the details locked away in my memory, but the big things… yeah, the story is basically the same. So that’s not really where the fault lies.
What is it that makes this new adaptation of The Stand less than great in my opinion? I’m not sure what it is. But it’s mediocre at best.
Here’s what I do know… I know that the show was lacking something by choosing to pick up the story after the decimation caused by the virus. Sure, we got to see a number of flashbacks with key characters in earlier episodes, but I’m not sure that was enough. It’s as though we picked up with these characters a third of the way into their stories. Therefore, a lot of my struggle has come with whether or not I even care what happens to these people, on either side of the battle lines.
I know these characters because I’ve read the book a couple of times and I’ve seen the old mini-series two or three times. But even that isn’t enough for me to care for the people I’m seeing on screen this time around. I can’t explain it… I just feel no connection to any of them. I know what’s gonna happen, but I’m just not interested.
I’m in it until the end. Which means I have one more episode to watch next week. And the only thing keeping me coming back is the promise of a new and different ending written by Stephen King, himself.
If you haven’t been watching and were on the fence, I’d probably steer you away from it. Whether you’re already a fan of the story or not.