The trailer dropped this morning at the end of a 30-minute digital NYCC panel. The Josh Boone-helmed, nine-part series looks — from the scenes we saw — pretty damn faithful to Stephen King’s epic novel, which was originally published in 1978 and filmed once before as a four-part ABC miniseries back in 1994. Take a look:
The book begins with the escape of a biological weapon — a virulent form of plague — from a government lab and its destructive path across the United States and the world. With most of humanity wiped out, two distinct sides form in what’s left of the US: a group of righteous, basically decent folks who gather in Boulder, Colorado around a mystical old woman named Mother Abagail (played here by Whoopi Goldberg) and a collection of criminals, malcontents, and the weak-hearted in Las Vegas, gathered around an evil entity in human form known as Randall Flagg (Alexander Skarsgård).
The trailer gives us our first extended look at a number of scenes and images that appear to be directly lifted from the novel, including the streets of New York City clogged with abandoned cars, hero Stu Redman (James Marsden) making his escape from a lab where he’s kept while the last remaining scientists try to discover why he’s immune to the virus, the initial meeting between Stu and world-weary pop star Larry Underwood (Jovan Adepo), and the first gathering of the Boulder community.
We also see Larry and drug-addled socialite Rita Blakemoor (Heather Graham) surveying New York from a penthouse apartment in which they hole up before making their fateful decision to leave the deserted city, and there are glimpses of the dreams that Stu, the pregnant Fran Goldsmith (Odessa Young), and the deaf mute Nick Andros (New Mutants’ Henry Zaga) all have in which Abagail calls to them to come together in Boulder.
And then there’s Flagg, a.k.a. the Dark Man: we watch as he intrudes on the dreams of the Boulder folks, before gradually recruiting others to his side, including petty thief Lloyd Henreid (Nat Wolff) and the jealous, sociopathic Harold Lauder (Owen Teague), who will start out in Boulder but betray the people there in horrific fashion with the help of the conflicted Nadine Cross (Amber Heard).
This version of Flagg’s Vegas seems even more circus-like than the book or the 1994 adaptation portrayed it, with Flagg heard in voiceover exhorting his followers, “In the world that was, they told you it was wrong to want more — their time is at an end. Our time has begun!”
The final image of the trailer is an iconic one to fans of King’s book, which is generally regarded as his masterpiece: Stu, Larry, sociology professor Glen Bateman (Greg Kinnear), and Ray Brentner (formerly Ralph Brentner, gender-swapped from the book and played here by Irene Bedard) walking down a desert highway on their way to Vegas, where they will make their stand against Flagg.
The panel itself was largely uneventful, with Marsden, Heard, Young, Goldberg, Kinnear, Adepo, and Teague — alongside showrunner Benjamin Cavell and executive producer Taylor Elmore — going through some basic exposition about their characters and the story, and how this version modernizes both (Whoopi Goldberg, for example, is adamant that Abagail not be portrayed as a “magic Negro”). It was also noted how eerily relevant King’s 42-year-old tale — with an unstoppable virus and an evil leader wreaking havoc in the US — still is in 2020.
We’ve heard that this version of The Stand will rearrange events to some degree and not necessarily begin or end in the same way that the book does, but as one of those readers for whom the novel is a revered text, the trailer today was full of promise.
Boone (New Mutants) has directed the first and last episode (the latter featuring a new ending written by Stephen King and his son Owen), while the rest of the directors have yet to be announced. Writers on the show include Boone, his frequent collaborator Knate Lee, Cavell, and others, with the Kings, Boone, and original The Stand producer Richard P. Rubenstein also on the list of executive producers.
The Stand debuts on CBS All Access on Dec. 17.