CBS ‘The Stand’: In 2020, Stephen King’s epic falls flat

As a story about the world’s flu pandemic, Stephen King’s “The Stand,” whose second progressive detail change begins Thursday on CBS All Access, couldn’t be quicker. . And as a story about good and evil going on for the usual high steps – and democracy against autocracy, self-sacrifice against narcissism – it also feels very much a brand for 2020. Whether that is making people more likely to watch, I couldn’t no.

I’ve reviewed a lot of King’s adaptations over the years, and in addition to “The Shining,” my King reading is fully prepared for a review of the TV adaptations of Stephen King’s novels. Sometimes they are better than the books and sometimes worse. Originally published in 1978, at 840 pages, “The Stand” was updated in 1990 with a few hundred extra pages, and I apologize, I hope, if I do not accept this fact. I studied the novel – there is a deep source of information out there in the digital universe – and I have read it in parts, but I make no claim as to the relevant benefits of what appears on the page and on the screen. (I’m sure fans will have comments, especially those who think the book is a masterpiece, even though it’s just a big, reasonable TV movie.) A 2008 census in Harris named America’s fifth favorite book “ever” is less likely to lift this heavyweight, as the top ten also included two novels with Dan Brown, with “Gone With the Wind” and “Atlas Shrugged. ”

I would say that it works well, and where it seems more elegant, it follows the map just as King drew it. (This is a book that involves literacy deus ex machina.) But even when it’s silly, it’s fine too. And it’s never so silly – at least as you can see from here – with the relatively polite, expensive ABC ABC miniseries, starring Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald and Rob Lowe, in which King himself – as did Sam Raimi, John Landis and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. (“A salad of wild mystery slowly thrown into his own strange suckers,” Times Times critic Howard Rosenberg said on his release.)

Alexander Skarsgård and Nat Wolff enter

Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg and Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid in CBS All Access miniseries “The Stand.”

(Robert Falconer / CBS)

King’s stated goal was to create a modern-day American “Lord of the Rings”, visible in its length, the good and bad wizards and his trip-to-Mt. Struct doom; he puts Las Vegas as Mordor and a soft-spoken cowboy type as Sauron (Alexander Skarsgård as the demonic Randall Flagg), while overriding the real hacky bag republic Boulder, Colo., is a 108-year-old Black woman (Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abigail), who, if not just Gandalf, carries workers here. I can see that this concept may have seemed mind blowing at the time, or mind blowing at the right time in someone’s cultural age, but today, it’s a very old cheese, the after being worked over non-stop in the meantime.

After looking at the six events available for review (out of nine), one or two things are clear even from a distance. The usual practical cuts, tweaks and rearranges, along with some new innovations, have made the book work as a 2020 television show. Most of it comes from King himself, who, according to the climber, has “given a new excerpt not found in the book,” to the core audience for this venture something new looking forward to, or overlooking.

King ‘s detailed backgrounds, and even the progress of the virus itself – the usual industry that science has gone too far – have boiled down to a line or two of short talk or flashback; the world is already on its way to a complete collapse when we join it. In fact, the pandemic itself, which makes “the Spanish flu look like an insult” – and for some reason the nickname “Captain Trips” as Jerry Garcia in the old days – something next to the point here, just a way to clear the board for a post-apocalyptic apocalyptic show like Light and Dark playing their cosmic endgame. (It’s funny how supernatural forces always have to list “selected” lethal lists in order to achieve their challenging, defiant plans for world control – so weak.)

Nat Wolff, Jovan Adepo, Odessa Young, Greg Kinnear and James Marsden enter

Nat Wolff, Jovan Adepo, Odessa Young, Greg Kinnear and James Marsden will hold a meeting in “The Stand. ”

(Robert Falconer / CBS)

Like Richard Dreyfus in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” directed to carve the Devil’s Tower in mashed potatoes, the survivors have been immune to dream missions from Mother Abigail , in a cornfield, and / or Flagg, in a dark desert place that reminded me of the noisy planets “Lost in Space” and “Star Trek,” dragging them into challenging camps. These include the oh so good and so good Frannie Goldsmith (Odessa Young) and Stu Redman (James Marsden), characters you know even before they share a scene to be had together (physiognomy is the destiny in the moving pictures); creep rejection, revenge, nerdy Harold Lauder (Owen Teague); getting over pop singer Larry Larrywood (Jovan Adepo); philosophical man, somewhat older (Greg Kinnear); Tom Cullen (Brad William Henke), said he was “42 years old and mentally handicapped,” but with, you know, a heart; deaf-mute drifter Nick Andros (Henry Zaga); a teacher with a semi-wild child in Nadine tow (Amber Heard); and the strange misfortune of Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff), leading to a place of action in the Randall group. It’s a weird hire, on the face of it, but since I’ve never run a remodeled Las Vegas, I don’t think I’ll do this again.

The team, which also includes Hamish Linklater, Heather Graham and JK Simmons in small parts, fills anything hacked into their scenes with recognizable human influences. While this may not be the intention, they are better company in scenes where not much is happening than in those that play to a halt and horror, but even in many times of urgency, quality is natural, calm down at the conversation. Not all characters are equally interesting. Some are so rooted in evil or goodness that they serve the plot only in the most anticipated ways; others, which have not made up their minds, or if it were made up for them, are easier to invest in.

Developed by writer-director Josh Boone (“The New Mutants,” “The Fault in Our Stars”) and writer Ben Cavell (“SEAL Team”), the new screen version does nothing to reduce this dichotomy. In fact, he’s playing it in obvious ways, often cornball, going against the bump non-stop and grinding “New Vegas,” Flagg with his MA-14 genre and drugs and violence and, yes, roc ‘n’ roll – come for morality to go out, wait for the flowing costume – with the down jackets and work boots, acoustic guitar and food truck coffee of the Boulder Free Zone. There is a modicum of fullness, a scattering of psychopaths, rats moving out of bodies, some special “Exorcist” effects and the occasional digital movement of the world in silent ruins. But for the most part, characters just usually sneak around in the dark, fleeing tight spaces and looking for love in the same old, new American.

‘The Stand’

Where: CBS All access

When: Anytime, starting Thursday

Rating: TV-MA (this may not be suitable for children under 17)