Spike is making a sizable gamble in transferring Stephen King’s novella “The Mist” to the small screen. We’ve seen numerous networks try their hand at turning large King novels into successful television series. and those attempts frequently fail due to what seems to be an insistence in injecting every microscopic detail into the live action transfers. It rarely works and often leaves viewers feeling bored and prepared to move on.
Look no further than the recent sunken ship “Under the Dome,” which fizzled after three seasons because the story could’ve been adequately and successfully told in 10 to 12 episodes.
Spike’s launch of “The Mist” feels eerily reminiscent of the earlier episodes of “Under the Dome” despite the fact that this story is miniscule in comparison to “Under the Dome.” Somehow we’re still seeing the same pitfalls in the distance, which is rather confusing.
Without hurling a wealth of spoilers (let’s be realistic, the vast majority of you have probably seen Frank Darabont’s riveting big screen rendition of this story) in your direction, it can be safely said that the pilot episode takes time to introduce the characters while gifting us a relatively brief glimpse at the oncoming conflict. The problem is that the conflict feels like it takes a backseat in this vehicle, and that may not sit well with viewers.
While Darabont’s flick introduced focal personalities while in the midst of a strange monstrous invasion, Spike’s take spends the bulk of the pilot episode introducing the characters first, and that feels wrong. Again, it feels wrong in the same way that “Under the Dome” felt wrong. Viewers should absolutely be invested in the characters, but we don’t need an intricate introduction before the insanity truly begins; we need to meet the characters that matter to us and determine whether or not we care about them as the conflict is taking place. We need to see their response to a perilous situation because that’s when their purest responses are going to come to light. Spike is already doing all they can to convince us we love a very large number of characters, even though we have no idea how we’ll respond to their responses.
“The Mist,” unfortunately, feels as though it is already moving in the wrong direction. Furthermore, the pacing of the story also feels like a problem. As the pilot episode ends, we’re seeing our hopeful survivors taking shelter in a public setting (this looks more like a mall than a simple grocery store). They’re also catching glimpses of the things in the mist. Remember that by the time we’re experiencing these things in Darabont’s picture, we’re a good 30-35 percent of the way through the film. It’s hard to imagine this version not feeling like a cinematic Stretch Armstrong if we’ve still got nine episodes to travel before a (hopeful) conclusion.
For the most part the show’s primary performers sell the story well. Morgan Spector looks like a fine leading man, while Gus Birney plays Alex, the emotional teen, impressively. Alyssa Sutherland, who portrays Eve, the wife to Spector’s character, Kevin Copeland, is strangely out of place. To be frank, she comes across as an entirely unlikable bitch, which doesn’t seem to gel too well when she’s sharing screen time with the calm, collected, and generally friendly Kevin. These are two conflicting characters, and it’s difficult to imagine them unifying at any point, even during an epic tragedy… or monster invasion.
The cast also manages to become questionable with each new personality we meet. And this is essentially where “Under the Dome” fell to pieces. We’re expected to invest in a very wide array of personalities. Remember that in Darabont’s picture we’re basically asked to care about four unique personalities first and foremost: David Drayton (Thomas Jane), Marcia Gay Harden (Mrs. Carmody), Laurie Holden (Amanda Dunfrey), and Andre Braugher (Brent Norton). That’s a perfect group to draw viewers in, but Spike’s version introduces the aforementioned Kevin, Eve, and Alex, while we’re also expected to immediately care about youngsters Jay, Adrian, and Lila as well as other random characters like Mia, Bryan, Natalie, Gus, and Howard. So Spike is asking us, right from the jump, to dump our emotions into not four focal characters, but at least 11 – right off the bat. And there are many more waiting in the wings to receive their official introductions.
After tuning in to the pilot, the only individuals in Spike’s “The Mist” that intrigue me are Kevin, Gus, and Bryan. There isn’t an ounce of interest I have left to spare on the numerous other individuals we’ll be expected to invest in. And while the special effects look – thus far – solid, we haven’t seen quite enough of the things in the mist to really blow the mind. I don’t like admitting it, but “The Mist” gave me a nasty dose of déjà vu, and I could instantly recognize that the familiarity I was seeing stemmed directly from the train wreck that was “Under the Dome.” Here’s hoping a second episode drastically changes my initial reaction to what can potentially be a terrific series.
“The Mist” stars Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney, Danica Curcic, Okezie Morro, Dan Butler, Darren Pettie, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Russell Posner, Luke Cosgrove, and Frances Conroy. It debuts on Thursday, June 22nd, at 10pm ET/PT.
When the residents of Bridgeville, Maine, find themselves engulfed by a foreboding mist containing a myriad of inexplicable and bizarre threats, their humanity is put to the test. Based on a story by Stephen King, “The Mist” has been reimagined for television by executive producer/writer Christian Torpe and produced by TWC-Dimension Television.
A small town family is torn apart by a brutal crime. As they deal with the fallout, an eerie mist rolls in, suddenly cutting them off from the rest of the world and, in some cases, each other. Family, friends, and adversaries become strange bedfellows, battling the mysterious mist and its threats, fighting to maintain morality and sanity as the rules of society break down.
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