I've been watching The Stand on CBS All Access. I haven't ever read the book. But given that there are many adaptations of this book now, I don't think that the story has aged well. And this probably means that I won't be reading the book, like ever. My reasons are based in the reality that entertainment is much more exciting now. And that's just the march of time, I think. It's not any fault of Stephen King. Rather, my brain just requires more stimulus these days to hold my interest. Allow me to tell you a story.
My mother (who was born in 1933...she passed away in 2016) would always tell me that Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho was the scariest movie she had ever seen. When I watched it as a teenager, I wasn't scared at all, because the bar had been raised so much higher on "thrills." But I had the intelligence to know that it was a masterful film, and I knew why my mother was so impacted by it. The horror of the mental illness, coupled with the reveal of a mummified body kept in hiding within the old house, was something audiences had never seen before. So it was ground-breaking and terrifying. To me...it was boring. So I only watched it once.
Anyway, I think that The Stand is also suffering from this kind of age-inflicted banality. It's a forty-year-old story, and it unravels much the same as it always has in its other adaptations. Only this time, I noticed how boring everything was. A disease wipes out humanity (we've seen this before now so many times it is cliche). Mother Abigail is a prophet, but as far as prophet's goes she's just basically wise and has the power to project herself into people's dreams. Flagg can use illusions and float and survive fatal damage. We live in an entertainment world where Wonder Woman soars and Thanos snaps people out of existence. Sure, Flagg also appears as a kind of undead thing or as an animal depending on his mood. However, he technically has fewer powers than Dracula, and I just wasn't impressed.
The characters live mostly in and around two locations: Boulder and Las Vegas. In Las Vegas, they do what sinners do, and nothing is shocking anymore, because entertainment has filled all of those holes in the decades since The Stand was published. We see people having public sex, doing drugs, gambling, and killing for sport. This is pretty much run of the mill now in shows that just want to feature any level of debauchery. Game of Thrones was honestly more edgy than anything we saw in Las Vegas in those scenes. There's nothing unusual about it. In Boulder they hold meetings until five people need to travel to Las Vegas to make a stand. The hero of the story, Stu, falls and breaks a leg. So he can't go on. Meh, seems legit. The trip there is boring, and what happens in Vegas really doesn't register any blips on my emotion reader. Nadine pregnant with an evil baby jumps out of a window and kills herself along with evil baby. We've all seen "evil baby in woman" before, and there's nothing special. Prometheus did it better. And then Trash Can man blows up Vegas with a nuclear weapon, which is about the most exciting special effect you get in this series.
Now...I'm not saying The Stand isn't a good story. It is. But it feels like it belongs in another era. It's "frights" are like Edgar Allen Poe's Fall of the House of Usher or The Pit and the Pendulum. It's like reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I'm sure audiences when these things were first released, were shocked and frightened. There are plenty of accounts that Frankenstein when it was new, scared the bejeebus out of its readers. I have no doubt that it did. But no one who reads Frankenstein in 2021 finds it even remotely interesting. It's boring. The thrills just haven't aged well.
I think it's sad that I found The Stand to be so slow and plodding. I didn't feel emotionally invested in any of the characters, because they were essentially just real people who had real jobs and were somehow immune to a world-ending disease. It was like watching a show where Joe from 7-Eleven now has to help other survivors figure out how to turn the lights on (because the people who did that before have died). So you end up watching the show, and they get the lights on, and yup...that's pretty much it. It would be like you inviting me to watch you do your laundry, only it's harder because a lot of people died a year ago and soap and fresh water and electricity is harder to find. But there aren't any supernatural monsters like zombies complicating things.
If these characters die, it's not through anything unusual. They fall, or they get shot, or they die with the fragility of being human. There's nothing supernatural or spectacular. A person that falls ten feet is probably going to die without a doctor. So yeah...that part is very real, but it seems weird when contrasted with how other shows do death. Like Daenerys Targaryen has a fire-breathing dragon burning people to ashes. You just don't get anything cool like that at all from this show. When "god" shows up in the finale (I think it's god), it's just in the form of a smoky cloud with a bright pinpoint of light that throws lightning bolts around.
Anyway, it was an interesting thing to watch. Would I recommend it to anyone? I would if you are someone who doesn't watch a lot of television. If you are someone who cannot handle a lot of stimulus, it is perfect for you, because it isn't very stimulating. There's hours of people walking, and you see them talking about stuff. There's a deaf and mute character who seemed interesting but he didn't do anything at all except walk places and then he just died. I think if you are under forty, it will bore you to tears. But in its day, I hear it was quite the thriller. It's just more proof that certain ideas have an expiration date, and they are best viewed within the context of the era in which they were released.