When I think of Stephen King mini-series, this is the one that stands out foremost in my mind. I have extremely fond memories of renting this from the local video store and spending lazy summer Sundays watching it with my little brother and some close personal friends. It’s odd to look back on at my views of The Stand with near idyllic memories. Released in 1994 as a made for TV mini-series based on the Stephen King epic of the same name, it was originally conceived as a theatrical release. But due to issues of getting it short enough it was instead adapted for television. The Stand remains remarkably true to the novel, well as close as you can ask for a thousand plus page novel adaptation to be. Due to the screenplay being written by none other than Stephen King himself, who even makes a small cameo appearance.
The story is very straight forward after fleeing his post after the accidental release of a government created super flu, known later as Captain Trips. Charles Champion crashes his car in a small town in east Texas. Soon the whole town is soon infected with the exception of Stu Redman (Gary Sinise) who is remarkably immune. But due to the high communicability of Captain Trips, it soon spreads over the whole world, killing over 99% of it’s population in a few weeks. From the ashes two new enclaves arise, one centered around benevolent 108 year old Mother Abigail Freemantle (Ruby Dee), with the prominent members of this group being Nick Andros (Rob Lowe), Frannie Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald), Larry Underwood (Adam Storke), Glen Bateman (Ray Waltson), Tom Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke) with many others. On the other side of the coin is Randal Flagg (Jamey Sheridan) aka the walking dude, with his chief lieutenants being Lloyd Henreid (Miguel Ferrer), Trashcan Man (Matt Fewer), who oversee Flagg’s legion of followers. Mother Abigail’s group settles in Boulder, Colorado creating what they call the Freezone, while Flagg and his disciples settle in Las Vegas. After a startling betrayal by one of their group, members of the Freezone walk west to Vegas to make their stand against Flagg.
If it feels like I left out a lot in the plot summary, its because I did. As there is a lot of story and I’m simply not willing to spoil it for you, if you have yet to see it. While The Stand is long, even for a King mini-series clocking in at a whopping 366 minutes. It’s still my favorite to date, even beating out Stephen King’s IT for the top slot.
The strongest part of this film is most definitely the casting. As this series is littered with stars, and even some rather sly cameos. Not just King, but even John Landis makes a small cameo appearance. I do have to admit that Sheridan’s performance did leave something to be desired, as even as a child I never found to be that unsettling. But the rest of the cast, they do a fantastic job. They are relatable as you can find something in each of them that you can relate to on one level or another. The best performance goes to Rob Lowe and Bill Fagerbakke, who share an on-screen chemistry that makes believe that these two could have been real friends. Furthermore, as I’m currently re-reading the novel, both actors are reprising their roles in my imagination.
I have to admit that deep in the nostalgia from that is this series, is something I have to briefly mention. Molly Ringwald, already a childhood crush from her work with the brat pack during the 80’s she had already claimed the spot as my early childhood crush. Admittedly I still have a soft spot for to this day. While objectively she isn’t at her best here, I don’t care one bit. Molly Ringwald.
Final thoughts, it’s good. Not great as I remember, but still has that charm essential to all of King’s adaptations. The musical selections are on point every time. I love the changing scenery, with Mother Abigail’s house being a strong personal favorite. The acting is good, not great, but solid enough throughout the production. So The Stand gets a strong, but not stellar score of 7/10.