Like millions of Stephen King fans across the country, I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of the eight-hour miniseris of the author's crowning achievement, The Stand.
Because I consider this 1978 novel about life after the end of the world to be his masterpiece, I did not want to see it ruined on the screen. Luckily, I was not disappointed.
The plot is simple. A flu-like virus escapes a government laboratory in California, and in two months, it has killed almost everyone in the country. The survivors scattered about the country divide into two groups: good and evil. The good guys are united by Mother Abigail (played by Ruby Dee), a 106-year-old black woman from Nebraska, who represents God and the bad guys rally behind the devil incarnate Randall Flagg (Jamey Sheridan), who sets up his operation in Las Vegas. The story comes down to the final battle, the final stand, between good and evil.
Adapting The Stand for television was not an easy undertaking because of the dozens of characters and the supernatural occurrences that King so effectively writes but are not easy to translate to the screen. Yet the producers of this miniseries got it right; they did justice to the book.
This may be partially due to the fact that King wrote the teleplay, and took an active role in the production. One aspect of the film that pleased me was how King stuck so closely to the book. In his book, even the good guys die sometimes, and King did not alter their fate or attempt to provide a Hollywood happy ending for television.
The casting for The Stand was outstanding. There were also cameos by Stephen King, actors Ed Harris and Kathy Bates, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and film directors John Landis and Sam Raimi.
The first part of the miniseries was a little slow because the story had to be explained and the characters introduced, but as it moved along, the pace did quicken.
Stephen King's The Stand may have taken a long time to be produced, but it was worth the wait. If you happened to have missed it, I strongly recommend looking for it on video. .
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.