The Stand

The Stand – Episode 1…Thoughts

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Let’s get this out of the way first: The Stand has been my favorite novel since I first read it at the tender age of 16. In the version I read, the events I read in the book were happening the very summer I was reading them (aHEM, summer 1985, to date myself) which lent an extra eerie quality to what I was reading. To add insult to injury, I lived in Boulder, CO, where a good chunk of the action takes place. I’ve read the book at least 10 times since then, and have further enjoyed several readings of the mammoth uncut version, including once earlier this
spring while “leaning in” to the pandemic.

It has a special nostalgia for me also, in the fact it was my very first fictional postapocalyptic experience in what would become a lifelong enthusiasm for the genre. I was disappointed in the miniseries that came out in the 90’s, though honestly, how could they expect to cover EVERYTHING in a 3-night event? I did like most of the actors, though, despite the fact some of them were a helluva lot older than their characters were in the book. (Molly Ringwald, I think, was nearing 30, Frannie’s supposed to be a college girl of 21, Rob Lowe also was a bit long-in-the-tooth to play Nick, but I loved him in the role.)

So I have higher hopes for this new series, in that at least they’re giving it a longer arc. First impressions:

  • I loved that Mother Abigail’s was the first voice we heard, through a cornfield in Nebraska. That set a nice tone. I’m seeing lots of Whoopie Goldberg hate on the internet right now (politically motivated), and I think it’s a shame people can’t separate the art from the artist.
  • Wow, they’re jumping around a lot with timelines. Not at all confusing to me, but wonder if those who haven’t read the book are confused.
  • Another skinny Harold. Harold is supposed to be fat, at least at the start – couldn’t you at least have gotten a SOMEWHAT CHUNKY actor? Representation matters. BUT, I did appreciate the little scene where he was practicing smiling in the mirror.
Owen Teague as Harold Lauder
  • JK Simmons, as Starkey, rocked my world – his one scene was awesome, glad they had him read the Yeats poem, which is one of my favorites. It was nice to have his gravitas.
  • I appreciated they alluded to Randall Flagg, but it was all kind of in a smoke & mirrors way, except for the very end, and I got goosebumps when Charles Campion was leaving the bunker in California and escaped through a malfunctioning door…and we saw someone’s foot stuck in the door, and I knew immediately whose foot it was! I was totally Team Eric during the TrueBlood years, and while I think Alexander Skarsgård is waaaay too pretty for the character (in the book, he’s supposed to look unremarkable, someone who could be anyone and totally forgettable in a crowd), I like his body of work and he can definitely creep it up, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with it.
Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg
  • I feel they glossed over Frannie’s arc a bit in the beginning – we saw her Dad for about two seconds before he was suddenly dead, and the plague had already wiped out most everyone in town. I’d have preferred at least a LITTLE more preamble – rather than an extra shower suicide scene that felt completely irrelevant. I did, however, appreciate the wee nod to Harold’s mom and sister Amy, who was an ass.

So I guess for now, I’ll say I mostly enjoyed the first episode, but it’s also contingent on how the whole thing unfolds. I may have to watch it again once I know more, but for now, I’ll give episode 1 a B+.

In addition to being obsessed with postapocalyptic books, television & film, Carolynne is a theatre "slash" artist (actor/playwright/producer/graphic designer) living in Seattle, who's even written a few postapocalyptic stage plays...find out more at www.carolynnewilcox.com.

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