tek's rating: meh and a half

The Stand, on ABC
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streaming sites: Vudu

Caution: spoilers.

This is based on the book by Stephen King, which I haven't read. I wanted to see the miniseries when it first aired in May 1994, but I didn't get ABC at the time. I finally bought it on DVD in 2020, planning to watch it when a new limited series based on the book streamed on CBS All Access (which I don't get), in December 2020 - February 2021. But somehow I ended up not watching the DVD until a few months after it ended, in May-June 2021. I gotta say, I'm pretty disappointed by the whole miniseries. I don't think much of anything in it made sense, and everything that happened was pointless. Still, it was nice to see so many familiar faces. And I'm glad to have finally seen it, just so I can stop wanting to see it.

Part 1: The Plague
Well, a lot happens in this installment. We're introduced to many characters in several areas of the United States, so I couldn't keep track of all the names and places. But most people died, anyway. There's this weaponized virus developed for the military, which somehow breaches containment at the lab in California. An MP named Campion and his family escape and drive cross country to Texas, where they all die of the disease. They've apparently infected various people throughout the course of their journey, though I find it a bit odd that some of the places the disease subsequently appears are in states they never got anywhere near. But I suppose people travel without knowing they're infected. Anyway, the miliarty, led by General Starkey (Ed Harris) do their best to contain the outbreak and to prevent the public from learning that it even exists. Of course, in spite of murdering any number of civilians, including reporters, to keep their secret, it becomes impossible to contain knowledge of the epidemic, when so many people start dying. One thing they do is take some people from Texas whom Campion had infected, and fly them to a CDC facility in Vermont. A doctor named Denninger (Max Wright) studies these people, but all but one of them die. The survivor is Stu Redman (Gary Sinise), whom the doctors test for an immunity factor, but they fail to find one. Within a few days, everyone at the facility dies from the virus, and Stu escapes.

Other survivors we meet in different places include a young woman named Frannie Goldsmith (Molly Ringwald), a criminal named Lloyd Henreid (Miguel Ferrer), a singer named Larry Underwood, and a deaf-mute man named Nick Andros (Rob Lowe). (Looking at Wikipedia I see that there are other survivors, some of whom haven't yet been introduced.) Both Nick and later Stu have dreams about a 106-year-old woman named Mother Abagail Freemantle (Ruby Dee), who wants both of them (and their "friends") to come find her in real life, I guess, at Hemingford Home, Nebraska. At this point I don't really feel the need to go into any further details of the plot. Oh, except there are references to someone (or something) called "The Dark Man", who will become more important in future installments.

Part 2: The Dreams
In this installment, we learn that Frannie's teenage neighbor Harold Lauder (Corin Nemec), who has a crush on her, has also survived. (He had been seen in part 1.) The two of them begin traveling together. Meanwhile, Larry meets a woman named Nadine Cross (Laura San Giacomo), and they travel together for awhile, but unlike Larry's dreams of Mother Abagail, Nadine dreams about the demonic Dark Man, who wants to marry her. So she eventually leaves Larry. The Dark Man recruits a mentally unstable arsonist called Trashcan Man (Matt Frewer). He also releases Lloyd from prison, telling him that his name is Randall Flagg, and that he'll make Lloyd his foreman. Larry meets a young woman named Lucy Swann, who is traveling with a boy named Joe whom she'd met awhile back. Nick meets a mentally challenged man named Tom Cullen (Bill Fagerbakke), who can't read, so they have some trouble communicating. But they begin traveling together. Later they encounter a woman named Julie Lawry (Shawnee Smith), who isn't very nice, so they leave her behind. But they eventually meet a man named Ralph Brentner, who has a pickup truck, and they begin traveling with him. They're the first ones to make it to Hemingford Home, accompanied by a woman and her daughter who have their own car. (We hadn't seen them meet Nick and the others, so I don't know what to say about them.) Abagail says God spoke to her, though the details of that are murky at best. But she and the others soon leave to go to Boulder, Colorado, leaving a sign behind so anyone who shows up later will know where to go. Stu meets a man named Glen Bateman (Ray Walston) and his dog. Not long thereafter, Frannie and Harold arrive on motorcycles, and they begin traveling with Stu and Glen. Trashcan Man eventually ends up in Las Vegas, where Lloyd and a few other of Flagg's recruits are waiting for him. And I hope I haven't forgotten anyone or any major plot points. But I must say, these first two parts just seem to be about worldbuilding and setting up pieces on the chess board. Aside from the horror of the "superflu" epidemic, nothing much really happens. So I'm hoping the next two parts will be more interesting.

Part 3: The Betrayal
Okay, what can I say? Larry is now married to Lucy, and Stu is in a relationship with Frannie (who is pregnant, I'm assuming by her ex-boyfriend, who we never saw). Stu and Frannie's relationship, of course, makes Harold jealous, but he's eventually seduced by Nadine, to join Flagg. (This later results in the "betrayal" of the episode's title, the exact nature of which I won't reveal. Also for some reason, Harold starts acting like a total dick toward Nadine.) Meanwhile, there are a ton of new people in Boulder, most of whom we don't get to know at all. One person we do get to know a bit is a judge named Richard Farris (Ossie Davis). At one point a man and woman work together to restore electricity to Boulder. Later there's a town meeting, with Stu speaking as chairman. He acknowledges the man, Brad Kitchner, who got the power on, but not the woman for some reason. That seemed weird to me. Anyway, the main agenda of the meeting is to vote on a list of names suggested by Mother Abagail to be on a committee to lead the "Free Zone" that's been established in Boulder. Most of the names on the list are familiar, but one is Susan Stern, the woman who worked with Brad to get the power on. (She's described as his "good friend".) The townsfolk vote to accept all the names on the list. The committee eventually send out a few scouts to spy on Flagg's group, including Judge Farris and Tom Cullen, and some woman I never heard of named Dayna Jurgens. (Glen hypnotizes Tom to follow instructions on his mission, I'm not sure why, unless they thought he just wouldn't remember the details any other way, which seems weird to me.) Abagail leaves town for awhile, but eventually returns and tells Stu, Larry, Glen, and Ralph that they must go to make a stand against Flagg in Las Vegas. Or something. Other stuff happens, but that's all I feel the need to mention.

Part 4: The Stand
I don't feel the need to spoil anything that happens in this installment.

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