US tv miniseries (1994). Laurel Entertainment/ABC Television. Executive producers Stephen King and Richard Rubinstein. Directed by Mick Garris, teleplay by King based on his own novel The Stand (1978, text restored rev 1990). Cast includes Gary Sinese as Stu Redman, Molly Ringwald as Frannie Goldsmith, Rob Lowe as Nick Andros, Adam Storke as Larry Underwood, Laura San Giacomo as Nadine, Ruby Dee as Mother Abigail, James Sheridan as Randall Flagg, Matt Frewer as Trashcan Man and many others. Eight hours divided into four two-hour episodes.
King's enormous novel about the Holocaust, specifically about a plague produced by the military that wipes out most of near-future America to leave a ravaged Post-Holocaust land, was optioned as a feature film for some years, but nobody could find a way of fitting such a huge story into conventional film length, and the dark subject matter also worried the studios. The television solution was probably the best, and it is indeed a well made miniseries, probably Garris's best piece of direction to date, and something of a television milestone. Hovering between sf and fantasy, both book and miniseries focus on character studies as the survivors slowly begin to rebuild, with the democratic good guys restoring a decent sense of community in Denver and the fascist bad guys in Las Vegas planning to nuke them. Both groups have quasi-supernatural guardians, the old black woman Mother Abigail standing for good, and Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, for evil. Some sf fans feel that the supernatural subtext diminishes the story's strength as science fiction, but the story remains an optimistic, populist classic about the endurance of the human spirit after enormous Disaster, and the miniseries retains much of this strength. It is available on videotape. [PN]
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