The Stand is Stephen King’s masterpiece. It’s scarily timely. Set in a world where a virus destroys almost all of humanity, a tale of good versus evil ensues. Randall Flagg, the man in black, is the big bad of the book and King’s most iconic villain. It’s such a dense, epic journey that hasn’t gotten its due yet as an adaptation. There was a previous television adaptation, which has its fans, but a new adaptation from CBS All Access is far more promising given its cast and resources. 

The Stand Show

Josh Boone, who directed The Fault in Our Stars and the long-delayed New Mutants, directed every episode of the miniseries. It stars James Marsden as Stu Redman, the main hero of the story. It’s always been described as Lord of the Rings in America, and that comparison is accurate. It’s a huge ensemble cast of good, bad, and morally grey characters battling others and themselves. 

First Look at The Stand

Vanity Fair released the first look at the ensemble. We don’t even get our first look at Marsden at Stu, but it’s pleasing to finally get a good look at Boone and his fellow collaborators’ vision of these characters.

More Details on the Show

Showrunners Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore begin the series with Stu contained. He’s immune to the virus. When he’s out in the new world, he enters a war raging for the souls of America. 

On getting the themes of the book right, Cavell said:

“It’s about the fundamental questions of what society owes the individual and what we owe to each other. Over the last however-many years, we have sort of taken for granted the structure of democracy. Now, so much of that is being ripped down to the studs. It’s interesting to see a story about people who are rebuilding it from the ground up.”

What About The Big Bad?

Alexander Skarsgard (True Blood) is excellent casting for Randall Flag, although my dream choice has always been Cillian Murphy. Skarsgard is towering and charismatic, which is spot on for Flagg. On his performance, Elmore said: 

“He’s so charming and he’s so handsome, and so powerful—I mean genuinely powerful, able to perform these sort of miracles where he could levitate himself and he has these actual powers. And yet he needs this adulation and this kind of worship from these people whom he’s summoned to him. He needs to have them make a show all the time of how grateful they are to him.”

As for Flagg’s main opponent, Mother Abigail, she’s played by Whoopi Goldberg. Whoopi as the woman communicating with God and leading the good fight? Excellent. Playing Mother Abigail, who’s the wisest and kindest voice in the story, Goldberg said:

“We love old people. We just do,. On top of everything else they have been, and seen, and have different ideas and are probably trying to lead us in a good way. And if you show up in somebody’s dreams generally they do pay attention.”

When Will We See The Stand?

For the showrunners, it’s surreal to be making a show about a virus as a pandemic is ongoing. The series had to wrap production a few days early due to the coronavirus, but CBS All Access will still release the show this year. In the meantime, read the extended cut of the book if you haven’t yet and have the time. It’s a remarkable journey. 

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