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The Watchman: CBS All Access Takes a ‘Stand;’ Disney Plus Series Toes the Line

The Stand on CBS All Access
‘The Stand‘ (Image credit: CBS)

The Stand begins on CBS All Access Dec. 17. Adapted from the Stephen King novel, the series looks at a world decimated by plague and a struggle between good and evil. 

Whoopi Goldberg plays Mother Abagail, Alexander Skarsgård plays Randall Flagg and James Marsden portrays Stu Redman. 

“We had a lot of updating to do to make a 42-year-old book feel relevant to our modern day,” Benjamin Cavell, showrunner and executive producer, said at a press event. “Little did we know how relevant it would come to feel.”

Cavell came on board three years ago, with no idea how relevant The Stand would become. But he sees it as more than a plague yarn. “Frankly, I’ve never regarded The Stand as really a book about a pandemic,” he said. “The pandemic in the book exists as a mechanism to empty out the world so that there can be this really elemental struggle between good and evil.”

Goldberg’s Mother Abagail represents the good. She drew on another one of her TV roles to inform her character. “It’s a person who is trying to get a whole bunch of people to do some things that maybe they don't believe in, they’re not sure,” Goldberg said. “Basically, I’m doing The View.”

On Pointe on Disney Plus

'On Pointe' (Image credit: Disney Plus)

Docuseries On Pointe is on Disney Plus Dec. 18. It’s a look at a season in New York’s renowned School of American Ballet. Students ages 8 to 18 from a wide range of economic and ethnic backgrounds chase their dreams as everyone rehearses for a production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center. 

One does not have to be a fan of ballet to dig On Pointe. “The themes of the series are universal,” said Sara Bernstein, executive producer. “It’s about excellence and true dedication and young people chasing their dreams.”

Bernstein calls On Pointe “intimate and immersive.” The series is produced by Imagine Documentaries and DCTV, with Brian Grazer and Ron Howard among the exec producers. They didn’t set out to make a reality series, Bernstein said, but one “about watching the students’ lives unfold.”

Bernstein said Disney Plus was a perfect home for On Pointe. “They are looking for new and exciting documentary-type programing to appeal to the co-viewing audience they cultivate,” she said. 

The series is also a look at the parent-child relationships among these standout kids. “The parents are willing to commit themselves,” said Bernstein. “They are inspired by what they see in their children.”

For her, viewing the students in their dress rehearsals emerged as something of a highlight. “It’s magical to watch their excitement and their anticipation and their nervousness,” Bernstein said. “And also their professionalism.”