Teen TV Critic

Stephen King's The Stand offers chills for hot summer nights

By Vivian Rose

Just when you thought there was nothing on TV this summer but reruns, Stephen King's miniseries The Stand pops up on ABC, more chilling than an air conditioner set on high. Over four nights, I watched transfixed as 1,141 pages of Stephen King's best work played out on the small screen.

As the story opens, US government scientists are working on germ warfare when a containment accident occurs, and everyone inside the facility is killed by a "superflu" strain. Alerted to this "code red," the outer gate guard is ordered to close the gate and lock himself and his family inside. Instead, they flee and drive away, spreading the superflu everywhere they go. Before you can say, "Oops, it's the end of the world," everyone is dying.

There are, however, a few survivors who are mysteriously immune to "Captain Tripps," as the superflu comes to be called: Frannie (Molly Ringwald), a pregnant college student whose boyfriend dies of Captain Tripps; Howard, a wannabe poet, who's always had a crush on her; and Stu Redman (Gary Sinise), the only survivor in a failed quarantine camp, who escapes and heads out to Boulder, Colorado--where he believes he will find Mother Abigail, a 106-year-old woman he's been dreaming about. Along the way he runs into Frannie, Howard, and a few other survivors, who have all had similar dreams.

Enter the bad guys, headed up by Flagg, or the Dark Man, Stephen King's version of the devil. En route to Las Vegas, Flagg frees a trapped, starving prisoner who was reduced to eating a dead rat. (This is more disgusting than the impressive special effects later on in the series.) Once in Vegas, Flagg attracts many nutcases--including one who apparently burned down Des Moines just for fun--while the good guys gravitate toward Mother Abigail. Then there's Nadine (Laura San Giocomo), who shows up in Boulder, where the intuitive Mother Abigail knows instinctively that she's "bad." She's right: Nadine's ultimate goal is bear Flagg's devil-child.

Yeah, it sounds idiotic all right, your typical apocalyptic horror show. And as with all good-vs-evil stories, you know who's going to win. But almost anything Stephen King dreams up is bound to be enthralling, and well-drawn characters make this story especially intriguing and spooky. Gary Sinise (remember him from Forrest Gump?) is particularly well-cast as Flagg's nemesis, Molly Ringwald has her first good part in years and Laura San Giocomo is delightfully twisted and nasty as Nadine. I just hope that The Stand is one of those miniseries that makes it to video stores.

Totally Teen TV! is delighted to welcome Vivian Rose as a regular contributor. Best known for her daily film reviews on the popular Teen Movie Critic website, the Winslow, Arkansas native began her career at the age of 9 on a local radio show. Now 15, Vivian has been writing celebrity interviews for the Tampa Tribune for the past three years. She also reviews movies with adult anchor Steve Voorhies on the local CBS affiliate KFSM-TV in Fayetteville-Ft. Smith, Arkansas.

To write Vivian about this site,
contact vivianrose@ipa.net (Vivian Rose)

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