Stephen King’s The Stand, 2020 versus 1994

I’ve just watched the second episode of the new adaptation of Stephen King’s landmark pandemic novel The Stand, which is currently streamed on American subscription service CBS All Access, and I doubt I’ll watch a third. So far, despite its contemporary theme, the updated big budget dramatization has proven to be a pretty mediocre proposition, with poor character introductions and rather inept flashbacks, making it difficult to sell when a multitude of prestigious television shows are available elsewhere.

So far, the critical response has been mixed, with much of the praise and online chatter centered on the promised changes in the plot to suit current cultural and social mores. Which suggests that some of the positive noises about the show are skewed by the same kind of neoliberal virtue signs we saw in drab “re-launches,” like Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters movie, which belongs to men to women, in 2016 or Gary Ross’ equally shallow Oceans 8 in 2018. Whatever the quality, feel the right thinking. The irony, of course, was that deliberately female-led films like Steve McQueen’s nifty pulp thriller Widows or Andrew Bujalski’s cunning feminist Support the Girls, both released in 2018 to modest financial success, have been more or less ignored by legions of keyboard activists .

In any case, more than one reviewer on the CBS All Access show has referred to the original television adaptation, the 1994 ABC miniseries in the United States. While it is very much of its era and flawed in its own way, it says a lot for the new version that it compares unfavorably to a version produced nearly thirty years ago. Fortunately, readers can judge for themselves as the older show is widely available on YouTube in various qualities. Enjoy!

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