From ’94 To 2020: Thoughts On The Stand Adaptations

As a guy who watched the 90s take on Stephen King’s The Stand back in the day and still has a VHS recording of it somewhere in Oklahoma, its always been a part of my life. Just as I’m sure it has been for a lot of others for that matter as well and then came the remake. Something I was cautiously interested in checking out but never got a chance too until recently and after watching it, decided to also finally read the book. Of which I’m only 25 chapters in at the moment and, well, I can safely say that of the two adaptations of the book, the 90s take is my definite preference. It was slower paced and you actually care about the characters and the events they all have to deal with. The 2020s version… Doesn’t really have any of that for a large majority of it and I was genuinely confused about the Rita character Larry Underwood meets while in New York since the original version had her cut for one reason or another and somewhat merged her story with Nadine’s from my understanding.

Heather Graham as Rita Blakemoor

I honestly feel like they should have made the 2020s version a multi-seasoned series with the first season going into the beginnings of Captain Trips and the terrible effect it has on Society as a whole.

OG 1994 cast of The Stand

Followed by the second season where everyone starts to get the dreams and eventually arriving in either Nebraska or Boulder and as well as Vegas. Granted, we kinda got that in the original but a fully developed multi-season would really be able to dig into the material. Followed by seasons 3 and 4 with the 4th being the final season but alas we didn’t get that. Instead, we get a disjointed remake with a fair bit of rushing and no real emotional connection with the characters. And of course, NOT having Whoopi Goldberg’s Mother Abigail in a nursing home of all things as come on now… That just felt like it took something from her and make one think she’s just old and senile and because of it, is why she thinks she’s able to talk with God like she can.

Over all, Goldberg’s Mother Abigail for me has less of a presence than what Ruby Dee had and that’s a shame. Even if she does have a big moment of her own when she’s facing off with Alexander Skarsgard’s Randall Flagg. Then again, maybe that’s just me and my nostalgia for the original adaptation having quite the influence.

2020 Cast Of The Stand Remake

Though this version’s take on Harold Lauder does make me want to punch him for being a creepy little pervert who just can’t take no for an answer. Which… In a sense is kind of on Fran due to her advice towards him but had she known what that would ultimately lead too… She probably wouldn’t have given him that encouraging advice to begin with.

Now while I did like the Fran of the remake a little more than what I did the original, her relationship with Stu in the remake doesn’t hold a candle to the original. Especially as we at least got to see the 90s take on the relationship develop just a little bit more than what we viewers see in the remake. The remake’s take on Nick Andros, Glenn, Tom Cullen, Flagg, and the gender swapping of Ralph into Ray are also other factors I can say I wasn’t a fan of. Sure, it was nice to see some Native representation where Ray is concerned but by and large, she’s just there in a few scenes as a kind of sort of mouth piece for Mother Abigail where as Ralph had just a bit more to do in the original.

Sure, she’s of course part of the Big 4 that make their way to Vegas but ultimately, she just falls short and that’s saddening as so much more could’ve been done.

The friendship between Nick and Tom in the remake just really isn’t there and this version of Tom isn’t nearly as endearing as the original’s is. Perhaps I’m being too harsh on this take on the story due to my love for the original, perhaps I’m not, but I know I’ve seen a number of folks say they prefer the original to the remake so I can take some comfort in that.


Jamey Sheridan’s Randall Flagg, not a face to bring home to the parents!

And while the 90s Flagg had a mullet, he still had more of a presence then the Flagg of today, much like the OG Trashcan Man. Nadine not quite being as bat-shit crazy was nice to see and her connection to Joe was another thing I liked as well as it gave her more of a humanizing feel and I do wish because of that connection she had with him, that it would’ve made it just a little more difficult on her where joining Flagg is concerned. Though I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of a reaction from Joe after learning just how far off the rails she went. Kat McNamara’s take on a certain shotgun wielding whiny nut by the name of Julie in comparison to Shawnee Smith’s take is something I found refreshing.

Left to Right: Larry, Ray, Stu, and Glen.

As the character had a bit more to do and makes me wonder how her and Miguel Ferrer’s OG Lloyd Henreid would’ve been together instead of her and the new take on Lloyd. Sure, he kind of redeems himself in the end thanks to Larry and Ray but ultimately, the new version is just… Eh. A joke you can’t take too seriously at all.

Over all, while there are some points in the favor of the remake, the original wins out as at least in that, Fran isn’t likely to climb over a boarded up well like a dumbass. Sure, doing that had some important ramifications in the remake but I hardly remember any of that as when Fran, Stu, and the baby were going back to ol’ Fran’s homestead ‘cause of some homesickness and anything could go wrong and boy did it, I was basically checked out by then and fast forwarding through that just to get the experience over with. Something that’s not supposed to happen if you want your audience to be paying attention ‘cause they want to see everything! But with that said, I’m off to do more reading of the book!

Written by: Rob Wrecks

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