It’s funny how the better part of the last two years I’ve found myself immersed in the world of Stephen King’s The Stand. It was all because of the release of my second book, This Dark Chest Of Wonders: 40 Years of Stephen King’s The Stand, which was published by Cemetery Dance back in January. Among the highlights of the process of putting together the book was talking to a few of the key figures behind the 1994 ABC mini-series – director Mick Garris, actor Jamey Sheridan, who portrayed King’s titular bad guy Randall Flagg, and W.G. Snuffy Walden, who composed the music for the 6-hour (without commercials) mini-series. All of them were gracious with their time and answers.
This past week saw the release of Stephen King’s The Stand: The Original Mini-Series on Blu-ray. In what’s been labelled as a collector’s edition, this new version has been sufficiently cleaned up from the previous DVD iteration. I watched those DVDs quite a bit over the last 20 years, and I can tell you that the series immediately looks vastly superior in its Blu-ray format. All the original footage has been restored, while its visual effects have been updated and improved upon. It’s a nice treat to see that some genuine care has gone into this reissue, just in time for the mini-series’ twenty-fifth anniversary.
As to the series itself, there’s a lot to still love in this version of The Stand, even if it’s showing its age. The first two hours remains an exceptional depiction of the power of the superflu and the crumbling of society. Gary Sinise as Stu Redman and Jamey Sheridan as Flagg deliver solid performances that have stood the test of time, as does Adam Storke as Larry Underwood. Many remember Molly Ringwald as miscast as Frannie Goldstein and, sadly, those memories are pretty spot on. She’s a piece of a mammoth acting puzzle that doesn’t quite fit, though to be fair, she has her moments. However, there are a lot of endlessly watchable performances that make the series’ runtime flow by.
While the greatest adaptation of The Stand so far remains the Marvel Comics version (in my humble opinion), overall, for fans of Stephen King, this mini-series remains a solid retelling of one of the author’s greatest works and looks better than ever.