I am a fan of all things Stephen King, so it gives me no pleasure to tell you that The Stand, the upcoming CBS All Access miniseries based on King’s massive apocalyptic novel, looks kind of blah. To be fair, I haven’t seen it yet, and I am hoping for the best! But every bit of promotional material released in anticipation of the upcoming premiere has been underwhelming. Case in point: new The Stand images arrived today, and they’re either bland or downright silly, depending on which image you’re looking at.
Even if you’ve never read The Stand you likely have a good idea of what it is: a big, epic story about the end of the world. Everything about Stephen King’s sprawling novel is oversized – it has a huge cast of characters who travel all over the country, and it spans over 1500 pages. It’s basically a reboot of The Lord of the Rings, set in America instead of Middle-earth. There’s already been one adaptation of the book – an enjoyable-enough miniseries from 1994. Now, the tale is getting the miniseries treatment again, and it looks…not great.
First, here’s Alexander Skarsgaard as the evil Randal Flagg, a supernatural being who rises to power in the wake of a devastating plague that kills off almost everyone on the planet. Go ahead and take a look at this image – is there anything threatening or ominous here? Or does it just look like Alexander Skarsgaard wearing a jean jacket and a fake beard? I’m not saying every image of Flagg needs to have the character with glowing red eyes or something silly like that, but come on – why does this look so boring?
Next up, here’s Amber Heard as Nadine Cross. In King’s novel, Nadine is one of the people who is eventually drawn to Flagg. “She’s one of the most nuanced of King’s female characters and not an easy part,” Heard told EW. “She owns and uses her sexuality, but that’s just part of her repertoire, not something that defines her. She also represents for me a kind of a balance between someone who is a villain and a victim.” Great, that’s all well and good. But again: why is this image so boring? It looks like something from an Anthropologie catalog. Stop boring me, The Stand images!
This image, of Ezra Miller as the infamous pyromaniac Trashcan Man, is a little better…I guess? At least it doesn’t look as clean and sterile as the previous two images. Miller’s casting was a closely-guarded secret up until last month when producers let the cat out of the bag.
Finally, here’s the silliest image of the bunch. I call this “Wacky Courtroom!”, and it features Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid, one of Flagg’s henchmen, and Fiona Dourif as The Rat Woman, another Flagg acolyte (the character is The Rat Man in the book). I’m sorry, but this is some goofball shit right here. Yes, Stephen King has plenty of wacky stuff in his books, but this image, with Lloyd wearing a powdered wig and Rat Woman drinking some beer and using a regular hammer as a gavel, is all sorts of dumb.
Again: I hope I’m wrong. I hope The Stand turns out to be a wonderful surprise and lives up to King’s book. King himself actually stepped in and co-wrote the final episode, so it has that going for it. I just wish it had more.