Back in mid-2019, it felt like fantastic news to hear that Stephen King’s The Stand was getting the remake treatment with a limited series at CBS All Access. Then six months passed, and you-know-what happened, and suddenly, this show seemed like the victim of unfortunate timing. Yes, King’s book is widely considered to be one of the best post-apocalyptic works of fiction, but perhaps a revisiting of the Captain Trips virus that obliterated 99% of Earth’s population isn’t such a great idea in 2020. Well, CBS All Access has thought this through, and they still got production back on track to move ahead with a December 17 release.
Skepticism might be the initial reaction to this decision, but this is Stephen King we’re talking about. People know to expect a darkened (and possibly darkly humorous) tone from him. Even HBO’s The Outsider contained a Spanish Flu reference around the same time that Covid-19 was heating up, so there’s that. And King had already written a new ending for the series, so there’s some curiosity-fueling potential for this remake starring Alexander Skarsgard as Randall Flag, James Marsden as Stu Redman, and a vast ensemble cast that includes Marilyn Manson as an unknown character.
Variety quotes The Stand showrunner Benjamin Cavell about why the time might still be right for this remake, despite it feeling all-too-eerily relevant:
“During the two years we spent making ‘The Stand,’ we all felt the responsibility of adapting what may be the most beloved work of one of the world’s most beloved storytellers, but none of us could have imagined that Stephen King’s 40-year-old masterpiece about a global pandemic would come to be so eerily relevant. We’re honored to tell this sprawling, epic story, including a new coda that Stephen King has wanted to add for decades. We’re so proud of this show and its attempt to find meaning and hope in the most uncertain of times. We can’t wait to share it with the world.”
Back in March, James Marsden revaled how unsettling it felt to be on set when anyone displayed symptoms like coughing, but it appears that everyone rallied to get this remake’s footing back on solid ground for a launch. And who knows, this might actually draw in some wild TV ratings, depending upon several factors, including where the U.S. stands on putting Covid-19 to sleep for good.
Recently, King’s son, NOS4A2 author Joe Hill, told us that he sometimes talks with King about our current situation. Hill quoted King as saying, “The thing about this particular scenario is that imagination is this incredibly vital tool that’s used to make a living, but it can also turn against you.” Clearly, both father and son are in the business of horror, and they do it well, and the genre can provide therapeutic experiences for audiences. We’ll find out more in December when The Stand remake launches.