18th Dec2020

‘The Stand 1×01’ Review

by Paul Metcalf

Stars: James Marsden, Odessa Young, Owen Teague, Whoopi Goldberg, Alexander Skarsgard | Created by Josh Boone, Benjamin Cavell

Being a big fan of the Mick Garris mini-series I couldn’t help but go into this new version of The Stand ready to compare it with the 1994 version. Times have changed though and so has The Stand, but even with that in mind, does the first episode stand up to the hype around it?

One thing that struck me straight away was the fact there is no slow start to this, in fact The Stand will throw some fans off with where it starts. This is done of course for what seems to be a main reason, much of the first episode features flashbacks for the characters that are being introduced.

In this episode the main people we get to see are Stu Redman (James Marsden), Fran Goldsmith (Odessa Young), and Harold Lauder (Owen Teague). Readers of the novel and fans of the 1994 mini-series will already know the connection with these characters. What we get is familiar territory, though for most of the episode we don’t get to see them together.

What this version of The Stand does well is to set the foundations for the Harold character. No spoilers for those who haven’t seen/read The Stand and don’t know the character, but Teague plays the character well. I will say though while Harold is almost likeable in the 1994 version of the mini-series, in this version there is little to like. Nothing is hidden with where this character is bound.

Fran is a character that in some respect we pity, being that she has Harold to put up with. There are some elements in the 1994 version of the show that don’t emphasise how much of a fighter she has to be, but even in this first episode we get the feeling that she’s fighting for survival, even though she does try to escape it. It’s almost nice to see her in a good position so early on in the show.

With Stu Redman, Marsden again does well with the character, who in many respects is just a nice guy caught up in the chaos of the pandemic. Marsden feels comfortable with this character, and looking at a lot of roles he’s played in the past it’s understandable why. Redman gets a lot of time focused on him in this first episode, and of course that is important to do. In many respects we see the events of The Stand through his eyes.

For many, the characters of Mother Abigail (Whoopi Goldberg) and Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgard) will be of most importance, and for the most part what we are introduced to in the first episode is positive. Goldberg has big shoes to fill going up against the performance that Ruby Dee gave in the 1994 version of the show, and while she does well I don’t really feel her as Mother Abigail just yet. There isn’t much to compare though just yet, so there is plenty of time for this character to grow.

Skarsgard as Flagg though shines from the first time we see him on screen and seems to relish playing the Dark Man. We don’t see much of him, but what we do makes it clear that he’s in control of a lot that is happening, even playing parts in events that are surprising to those who know the story. It’s obvious that he could be the show stealer with this one, which to his fans will be no surprise.

When comparing this new version of The Stand with the 1994 one, I do feel that it is off to a very good start. There is a long way to go though, and things could change. If the quality stays the same though, this could be a show that should not be missed. Especially when we know that it has a new ending written by Stephen King himself.

The Stand premiers on StarzPlay in the UK on January 3rd.

**** 4/5

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek
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