Review of The Stand mini-series

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Neil W

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May 27, 2008
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Stephen King's sprawling post-apocalyptic soap opera becomes a TV mini series.

I use the expression because the story's vast cast of characters frequently involve us, the audience (or "constant reader", if you prefer), in their domestic affairs. But that's fine, because - as is often the case with King - every character has a part to play in a story which appears deceptively simple, but has more complexity to it than immediately meets the eye.

The TV miniseries format suits the size of the novel (400 previously excised pages were re-inserted in a revised and updated version), which tells the story of the few survivors of a super-flu plague grouping together into "goodies" and "baddies" enclaves, each of which has some sort of supernatural behind-the-scenes element, on the way to a potentially devastating confrontation.

Some of the casting is inspired, but some of it is massively wide of the mark: much as I like Gary Sinise, he is too lightweight and furtive to convince as Stu Redman. and Mother Abigail's portentous utterances of taking a "Stayund" provoked laughter in our house.

Worst of all - and, to be fair, it's not a big "worst" - is the fact that the miniseries trails off into low key anticlimax. In this, it is simply reflecting the book.
 
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Aloysius Nell

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Apr 1, 2014
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Flagg was just awful, and Molly Ringwald? Gimme a break.

I actually didn't have a problem with Gary Sinise, except he seemed a little too pretty and polished for Stu. Stu had a rough freakin' life before the flu. I thought the casting of Glen Bateman was inspired; can't think of the actor but he absolutely NAILED Glen, who is my favorite character after Stu.

And as a musician, I really MUST protest "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man" being some glossy, over-produced, lip-synch-style pop tune. Read the damn lyrics, it's a BLUES song!!!!! Larry sucked too.

So in conclusion, casting was not good. But I really did like the overall product pretty well. That's what it felt like - a product for consumption, not art. But that's OK.
 
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Grandpa

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Mar 2, 2014
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The Stu character, to me, is more Scott Glenn than Gary Sinise. Sinise did fine, because he's a really good actor but he just didn't fit the laconic Texan as well. The Stu/Howard psychic connection in the miniseries bothered me.

If I remember right, Mr. King was envisioning his own expansive Lord of the Rings type of journey or quest. It's a really great book. And it needs a Peter Jackson type approach to Lord of the Rings to make it right. And it could be done. You need to have the gravitas of close-ups and soliloquys and pondering on the profound. You need bedraggled people going down the lonely highways of death and not characters on a long stroll. You need a villain of unpredictable quiet menace and gleeful viciousness.

It could be done right. Hey, I'm available.
 
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Blake

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Feb 18, 2013
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With the new CGI, a director could do alot more with the Flagg character. Get him more than turn a secret knife up the sleeve into a banana, or whatever. Sinise was all-right, but too furtive like the other guy said, you would need more desert shots also, and more tube-neck. MH.
 
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skimom2

Just moseyin' through...
Oct 9, 2013
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I attended a The Stand 20 year anniversary panel at the con I recently attended, and director Mick Garris had some interesting things to say about the production & finished product. According to him, ABC started out saying they could cast whomever they wanted, until Garris et. al. started casting unknowns. Then the studio changed their minds and wanted NAMES--lol. Some were as good as forced upon the production (not too hard to guess which ones). It was a HUGE production for the time, and they had to make the most of their time & money. And the CGI? The best they could do at the time. Direct quote from Garris: "The hand of God? I'm sorry." (lol) He's receptive to an updated version, said a director like Ben Affleck would be ideal, but questioned whether justice could be done in less than 6 hours (I agree with him on that). Rob Lowe is a tremendous King fan and was willing to play any part (though he didn't seem suited for any of them, IMHO).

This is not from Garris, bu I remember reading somewhere (ah, the quote that dominates my life--lol) that Jeff Goldblum was originally supposed to play Flagg & backed out for some reason, so Jaimey Sheridan was a last minute Flagg. If so, he did a pretty good job on limited prep. Moderator would probably know if that 's a true story. I'd love to see Nathan Fillion take a crack at the character if it's remade. He was perfectly charming and menacing as Caleb on Buffy--reminded me of Flagg-in-my-head even then.

One interesting insight from another panelist, Michael Collings (a King scholar), is that the story in both the book and TV movie reaches its apex when Glen meets Flagg and bursts into laughter. "Oh my. You're what we were so worried about?" (an approximation--too lazy to go get the book for a direct quote) as climax; the rest of the story, in Collings' words, "is just clean up--getting people where they need to be." I've never thought of it that way, but I can see his point.

The actor who played Glen was Ray Walston, and he was absolutely perfect, as was Bill Fagerbakke as Tom Cullen.

All in all, it was just an okay movie for me. I have so much inner vision invested into that story that no one else's interpretation is ever going to satisfy me.
 
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Dana Jean

Dirty Pirate Hooker, The Return
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Apr 11, 2006
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I attended a The Stand 20 year anniversary panel at the con I recently attended, and director Mick Garris had some interesting things to say about the production & finished product. According to him, ABC started out saying they could cast whomever they wanted, until Garris et. al. started casting unknowns. Then the studio changed their minds and wanted NAMES--lol. Some were as good as forced upon the production (not too hard to guess which ones). It was a HUGE production for the time, and they had to make the most of their time & money. And the CGI? The best they could do at the time. Direct quote from Garris: "The hand of God? I'm sorry." (lol) He's receptive to an updated version, said a director like Ben Affleck would be ideal, but questioned whether justice could be done in less than 6 hours (I agree with him on that). Rob Lowe is a tremendous King fan and was willing to play any part (though he didn't seem suited for any of them, IMHO).

This is not from Garris, bu I remember reading somewhere (ah, the quote that dominates my life--lol) that Jeff Goldblum was originally supposed to play Flagg & backed out for some reason, so Jaimey Sheridan was a last minute Flagg. If so, he did a pretty good job on limited prep. Moderator would probably know if that 's a true story. I'd love to see Nathan Fillion take a crack at the character if it's remade. He was perfectly charming and menacing as Caleb on Buffy--reminded me of Flagg-in-my-head even then.

One interesting insight from another panelist, Michael Collings (a King scholar), is that the story in both the book and TV movie reaches its apex when Glen meets Flagg and bursts into laughter. "Oh my. You're what we were so worried about?" (an approximation--too lazy to go get the book for a direct quote) as climax; the rest of the story, in Collings' words, "is just clean up--getting people where they need to be." I've never thought of it that way, but I can see his point.

The actor who played Glen was Ray Walston, and he was absolutely perfect, as was Bill Fagerbakke as Tom Cullen.

All in all, it was just an okay movie for me. I have so much inner vision invested into that story that no one else's interpretation is ever going to satisfy me.
I just finished reading Rob Lowe's book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends and in it, he sort of insinuates that he chose his part.
 

Dana Jean

Dirty Pirate Hooker, The Return
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
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Not according to Garris. He said Lowe wanted Larry, but they went another way & cast him as Nick. Funny how people remember things differently :)
That was how I felt about the way he worded it. He made it sound like they wanted him for another part but he wanted to challenge himself. I am totally paraphrasing him and also maybe reading between the lines. lol.
 

Lily Sawyer

B-ReadAndWed
Jun 27, 2009
6,625
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Some of the casting was off for me, but most of it was very appropriate.
I had someone more like Janine Turner in mind for Fran (she was pretty popular at the time the MOW was being filmed), but now it's obviously different.
If money were no object, no studio heads had the last say, and everyone was available for filming, I'd cast the following:

Stu Redman - Hugh Jackman
Fran Goldsmith - Jennifer Lawrence
Glen Bateman - Powers Boothe
Harold Lauder - Michael Cera
Nadine Cross - Lucy Liu
Larry Underwood - Charles Esten
Randall Flagg - Billy Bob Thornton
Nick Andros - Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Tom Cullen - Rainn Wilson
Mother Abagail - Alfre Woodard
Trashcan Man - Joaquin Phoenix
Lloyd Henreid - Steve Buscemi
Ralph Brentner - Aiden Quinn
Dayna Jurgens - Michelle Williams
 

Tim D.

Well-Known Member
Jan 15, 2013
704
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Kentucky
And as a musician, I really MUST protest "Baby, Can You Dig Your Man" being some glossy, over-produced, lip-synch-style pop tune. Read the damn lyrics, it's a BLUES song!!!!! Larry sucked too.
If a new version of The Stand does materialize King is gonna have to write a new song for Larry to sing. "Baby Can You Dig Your Man" just ain't gonna cut it in today's times.
 
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