Sunday, April 19, 2020

M-O-O-N, That Spells "I'm Done!"

As readers of Bob Canada's BlogWorld know far too well, my all-time favorite novel is Stephen King's The Stand. I first discovered it back in 1979, and have read it at least thirty or forty times since.

So naturally when I heard it was finally being adapted into a big budget film, I began following the project closely. Unfortunately, each update on the production has been more appalling than the last. 

First was the fact it was being written and directed by Josh Boone. Who better to helm a post apocalyptic horror epic than the director of the teen cancer tearjerker The Fault In Our Stars? Oy.

Then in 2014 there was the news that Boone wanted to cram the entire story into ONE measly three hour movie. Jesus wept. The Stand is a massive book with a huge cast of characters— at least 28 by my count. It'd be impossible include them all into a three hour film. The 1994 ABC miniseries was six hours long. Even at that length they had to drop certain characters and combine others, as well as eliminate entire subplots. There's no way in hell a two or even three hour version could do justice to the book.

A few months later Boone changed his mind, saying he now wanted to split the story into four theatrical films (huzzah!). He also said he wanted these films to be more "grounded" than the novel (boooo!). Yes, because when you're dealing with a supernatural story about good vs. evil, it should be as pedestrian as possible.

A year later (in 2015) Boone changed his mind yet again, saying he now planned on turning The Stand into an eight part miniseries on Showtime. OK, not quite the same as a theatrical release, but the story would definitely benefit from the extra time. But then in a bizarre turn he said he planned to conclude the story in a theatrical film. Son of a bitch! Who the hell's going to go to the cineplex to see the end of a goddamned TV show?

Then in 2016 Boone announced the whole thing was "temporarily on hold." Meaning the studio got tired of waiting on his ass and canceled the project.

Then in 2019 The Stand resurfaced again. It would now be a ten episode miniseries on CBS: All Access, the fine folks who've brought us two miserable seasons of Star Trek: Discovery (aka STD), along with the execrable Picard series.

As you can see, it's been a long, winding, miserable road.

Despite any misgivings I may have had about the project, I was hopeful that it might turn out OK. When the main cast was announced, I thought most of the choices were satisfactory, with just a few that generated mild concern.

Welp, that all went out the window with the most recent casting news, causing more red flags to pop up than in a Chinese military parade.

First up was the news that Fiona Dourif (daughter of character actor Brad Dourif) was cast as a gender-flipped Rat Man. As I said, I've read the novel thirty or forty times, but even I had to stop and think, "Who the hell's the Rat Man?" I finally remembered him, as he's a VERY minor character in the novel, one who gets maybe two or three lines.

See ladies? CBS All Access cares so much about female representation that they cast a woman in a forgettable Z-level role! Progressive!

And what's she gonna be called now? Will she still be the Rat Man? Rat Woman? Rat Man Woman?

I couldn't figure out why they were making a huge deal over such an inconsequential character. Then it hit me— she's NOT going to be trivial character in this adaptation. They're boosting her up to a major role.

And then I noticed that there's no mention of the Trashcan Man in the cast list. He's a major character in the novel, and becomes even more important in the third act. It would not surprise me if they're eliminating Trashy and substituting Rat Man Woman in his place.

So that's how it's gonna be then. We're doing CHANGES to the source material now. Got it. Because gods forbid we have a faithful adaptation of a successful and beloved novel, laws no. It must be drastically altered as the filmmakers put their own personal stamps on it, as they eliminate everything that made it popular in the first place.

My suspicions were confirmed when CBS proudly announced they'd cast Katherine McNamara (whoever that is) as Julie Lawry, who, according to the press release, is "a woman who hooks up with Lloyd Henreid in Las Vegas."

Wait a minute... that's not right. In the novel, Julie Lawry's an unstable teen who tries to kill Nick Andros and his pal Tom Cullen in Kansas. Later she makes her way to Las Vegas, and becomes an informant to Lloyd. They do NOT "hook up" though, as Lloyd actively hates Julie and thinks she's a nuisance.

At first I thought whoever wrote the article just wasn't familiar with the source material, but then I realized that the characters' ill-advised coupling was yet another change being made to the source material.

And then there's the casting of Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood, one of the seven main characters in the novel. Larry's white in the book, and is a singer who has a hit soul song right before the superflu hits. It's kind of a running gag that everyone assumes he's black based on his singing voice. Oh, the irony! I guess they won't be doing THAT joke in the movie!

So was Adepo just a diversity hire to bolster the miniseries' representation, or is it now offensive for a white person to sing soul music here in hyper-sensitive 2020?

By far the most appalling bit of casting is that of Brad William Henke as Tom Cullen. 

Jesus Motherf*cking Jetskiing Christ On A Cracker! Tom Cullen's supposed to be a kind, gentle, mildly mentally disabled man, who's the heart and soul of the story. He's not supposed to be the goddamned Mountain from Game Of Thrones! The audience is supposed to like Tom, not piss itself every time he glowers at us!

And if all that wasn't enough, Stephen King himself stepped up and announced he's written a brand new ending to the miniseries.

THAT'S IT! I am officially out. I was willing to put up with all the twists and turns this production's been through so far, because I desperately wanted to see a top notch, faithful adaptation of my favorite book.

It's clear to me now though that's not gonna happen. This miniseries will be The Stand in name only.

And yes, as I mentioned before I'm aware that the 1994 ABC miniseries made quite a few changes to the characters and story as well. I gave it a pass though, as it was hampered by a its length, budget and TV censorship. They had no choice but to alter things. This CBS All Access version has none of those restrictions, so there's no reason for any radical changes.

So I'm done. Life's too short to keep subjecting myself to subpar and disappointing versions of properties I used to like. I'm done with CBS All Access' version of The Stand. I probably won't bother watching it, and this is the last time I'll be writing about it (insert audience cheering sounds).

Actually I'm starting to wonder if The Stand will even be released at all. According to the internet, filming's already concluded and they finished post production in March of this year. Just days before the pandemic lockdown began!

Will the public even want to see it now? Who wants to watch a show about 99% of the world being wiped out by a deadly virus, when it's actually happening outside our barricaded doors for real?

On the other hand, there were hundreds of war films produced during WWII, so who the hell knows what the public wants? If I had to guess, I'd say The Stand will eventually air on CBS All Access, but not until well after our world returns to normal.

Another reason the miniseries will likely be delayed— the producers made the decision to cast Amber Heard as Nadine Cross! Heard's currently in a LOT of hot water over her antics regarding her antics with ex-husband Johnny Depp. In fact there's talk that she could possibly be facing jail time! Whether the allegations are true or not, it seems like they cast the right person to play the psychotic and unstable Nadine! M-O-O-N! That spells unfortunate casting decision!

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