The Stand 2020: Episode 9 – Frannie in the Well

“Life was such a wheel that no man could stand upon it for long.
And it always, at the end, came round to the same place again.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

And so, the new version of The Stand ends as it began – missing out huge, rather important parts of the story, and focusing on two characters so underwritten and uninteresting you simply didn’t care what happened to them. Along the way, you had to keep reminding yourself of the stakes, since the whole “pandemic wipes out 99% of humanity” thing has been so underplayed throughout, you could have been forgiven for thinking the USA that Stu and Fran were trekking across was perfectly normal. After all, it’s not uncommon to drive hundreds of miles across America’s heartlands without seeing a town or a human being.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 8 – The Stand

“I will fear no evil.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

So here we are at episode 8 of the new version of The Stand, and it’s The End. Not the end of the novel, or, weirdly, even the end of this series. But definitely The End of the only story the showrunners seemed interested in telling, the final confrontation between the demonic Randall Flagg and our heroes representing The Forces of Good.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 7 – The Walk

“Nadine. How I love to love Nadine.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

This new adaptation of The Stand has made plenty of changes from the novel along the way. That’s actually laudable – there would have been no point making it otherwise, with a perfectly adequate version produced in 1994. Some of the changes have been smart, or efficient, or (more frequently) have left out material vital to the later parts of the story that have been faithful to the novel.

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It’s a Sin

“Boys die, in London, and they say it’s cancer, or pneumonia, and they don’t say what it really is. But it’s a lie, and I don’t want that. Do you know why? I had so much fun.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE WHOLE SERIES. ALSO PROBABLY NSFW)

In 1988, I was at university, and in denial. My eyes were drawn to attractive boys, furtively, pretending not to look. Glancing over my shoulder as they passed, sneaking looks at their behinds, clad in those late-80s stonewashed jeans that were ever so slightly too tight. Thinking about them as I lay in my creaky single bed in halls, trying not to make too much noise while I had a quick wank imagining them naked. But I wasn’t gay, I told myself. How could I be? Even with my ultra-liberal, Doctor Who-founded tolerance of every creed, colour and sexual orientation, some part of me, deep down, was ashamed.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 6 – Vigil

“Hey Trash! What did ole lady Semple say when you torched her pension check?”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

So here we are, nearly two thirds of the way through this new adaptation of The Stand, and we’re only now meeting the last of the story’s major characters. Everyone’s favourite pyromaniac the Trashcan Man (formerly known as Donald Merwin Elbert) finally put in an appearance this week – and not before time.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 5 – Fear and Loathing in New Vegas

“Standing there, looking out, was the shape of a man.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

It was a first in this week’s ep of this new adaptation of The Stand – everything happened in the narrative of the present, with none of the previous disjointed flashbacks skipping merrily around the characters’ pasts. Scene-setting presumably done (though I’m betting we get a few more flashbacks before we’re through), the writers went hell for leather on the Epic Supernatural Struggle they’ve obviously prioritised over all other aspects of the novel.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 4 – The House of the Dead

“… she took his hand.
And Harold Lauder succumbed to his destiny.”


(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

In Stephen King’s first non-fiction examination of his writing, Danse Macabre, he talks at some length about the process of writing The Stand. A large part of his inspiration, he says, came from George R Stewart’s classic 1949 post-apocalyptic novel Earth Abides. Stewart’s novel lengthily examines the realistic aftermath of a pandemic that nearly wipes out humanity, tracking the redevelopment of society and its evolution over the following decades.

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The Stand 2020: Episode 3 – Blank Pages

“… finally Nick understood.

               ‘You are this blank page’.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

This new version of The Stand is now onto its third ep, and has finally started filling in some of the gaps in its non-linear narrative, as we start seeing some of the bits we missed while it concentrated on five main characters in its scattershot first two instalments. That’s a welcome change of pace, but there’s still plenty of gaps to fill in for an audience that might not have been familiar with the source material.

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Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 0 – Revolution of the Daleks

“I was in prison for being me – right at the point I wasn’t sure what that meant.”

(SPOILER WARNING!)

The Timeless Children was a bit of a game changer (and I realise that, for various reasons, I haven’t written about it yet – I will get to it). Controversially rewriting the whole of Who continuity (again), it had a lot of fans up in arms, and left many, many unanswered questions. Continue reading “Doctor Who: Series 13, Episode 0 – Revolution of the Daleks”

The Stand 2020: Episode 2 – Pocket Savior

“There’s something in you that’s like biting on tinfoil, Larry.”

“Mister, if you’re real, then… I think you’re the Devil.”

(SPOILER WARNING – FOR THE BOOK AND BOTH VERSIONS ON TV!)

The second episode of this new version of The Stand carries on in the template set by the first – a non-linear narrative skipping through the book, to focus on a couple of the major characters. In this case, it’s Jerk With a Heart of Gold singer Larry Underwood, and no-good but slightly pathetic convict Lloyd Henreid. Just as last week, this is one character who ends up on the side of the goodies, and one who ends up on the side of the baddies, and their stories intertwine throughout the episode.

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