I’ll be honest. It’s been a good long while since I saw Frank Darabont’s feature film version of The Mist, based on the Stephen King story. But I do recall it being one helluva ride and easily garnering a title of “new horror classic”.
So I wasn’t necessarily overjoyed to hear about the forthcoming television series from Spike TV and the Weinstein Company. And now, after taking a gander at the pilot episode – there’s still that lack of joy.
That’s not to say it’s bad, but thus far – there’s just not that much to get excited about.
In a typical small town, various residents go about their day – contending with nosy neighbors and dealing with small town drama and small town gossip. A random, strange mist arrives in the little burg, enveloping everything in silence – resulting in no cell reception, no electricity and a violent (and yet to be seen) power. People from all walks of life are trapped inside various buildings in separate areas of town. And as the pilot ends – the baggage everyone carries (which we’ve just been introduced to), will have no choice but to be unpacked and sorted out.
But… the inherent problem with so many people for the writers to contend with – is that you automatically have to start off with broad stereotypes (think another King adaptation; Under the Dome). And frankly, with that as the audience’s entry into the world – it’s too flimsy and difficult to latch onto any one character. The writers try – by offering up domestic drama in the form of what will no doubt be our main family, Eve and Kevin Copland (Lynn Lowry lookalike; Alyssa Sutherland and Morgan Spector; respectively) and their daughter Alex (Gus Birney). Performances from all three are strong in this first episode, but the stories they’re made to tell are cookie-cutter, soap opera dribble.
There are a few frightening images in this pilot episode, but it sure takes it time getting there. While I understand we’re introducing a lot of characters in a short 48 minutes – fans of the film are tuning in to see some whacked-out and disturbing s***.
Thankfully, by the end of the episode, you’ll get plenty of what you’re hoping for (the aforementioned disturbing s***). But this show has a lot to live up to when comparing it to the film.
What I most liked about the pilot – and what differs so much from the film (I’ve not read the story) is that the moment the mist actually hits the town – characters are spread out – holed up in various buildings (a mall, a police station, a church) and so there’s not just the one grocery store we know from the film version. Which means there’s no end to the amount of interpersonal drama and wild directions the series can take. And the mall is a perfect example. There are dozens of secondary characters who will no doubt take on larger roles as the series progresses (a la Lost).
And the presence of Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, American Horror Story) as Natalie Raven – in what I’m assuming is the “Mrs. Carmody”/Marcia Gay Harden role from the film – offers the ultimate acting promise for the series.
This first episode of The Mist (the beginning of a 10-episode arc) will premiere on Spike TV on June 22nd.
But for my money – I don’t believe I’ll be continuing a journey through this small town and its many problems. Instead – a long overdue revisit with the film may be in order.