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TV Review: The Mist 1.1 Pilot
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Dr. Zaius   |  @   |  
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Stephen King The Mist TV series Frances Conroy

The Mist
Episode 1.1 “Pilot”
Created & Written by Christian Torpe
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Starring Morgan Spector, Alyssa Sutherland, Gus Birney, Danica Curcic, Okezie Morro, Luke Cosgrove, Darren Pettie, Russell Posner, Dan Butler, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Frances Conroy
Network: Spike TV
Air date: June 22, 2017

In 2007, Frank Darabont brought Stephen King’s novella The Mist to the big screen and created one of the most jaw-dropping horror films in memory. The story was simple enough: a mysterious mist engulfs a small Maine town. The townfolk flock to a supermarket as monsters begin devouring those left outside. The monsters from the mist end up producing monsters inside as the people quickly turn to fanaticism and violence on each other. The film’s ending is one of legends. I won’t spoil it, but those in my theater were left speechless and motionless throughout the entire credits. A decade later, Danish writer/director Christian Torpe brings the King work to the small screen for a ten-episode run on Spike TV. The Mist is the first of three major adaptations of King’s work coming this year with The Dark Tower due out in theaters in August and the remake of It in September.

An Army officer short on memory wakes up in the woods with a German shepherd as the mist rolls in over the mountains. Quickly after entering, the dog is left gutted and beheaded and Officer Bryan Hunt (Okezie Morro) hightails it out of there as the mist creeps behind. We meet the cast of characters in Bridgeville and they are literally the most paint-by-number groups of castoffs from every late 90s coming of age story with some modern day socio-political jargon thrown in. There’s the teacher fired in the small straight-laced town for teaching Sex Ed. We have a “gay best friend” who eschews gender roles, because it’s 2017. Ten years ago, Darabont’s film played heavily on religious divisions enhanced through paranoia, but a decade later, this is a different world and now a lot of the setup feels forced and inserted to feel trendy and topical.

Alex Cunningham (Gus Birney) gets permission from her dad to sneak out to a party celebrating the big football win and there she becomes a victim of rape at the hands of the star QB (Luke Cosgrove). I am in no way eschewing the importance of this issue, but the show treats it as nothing more than a plot device. There is also some side plot involving a drug addict/criminal (Danica Curcic) that randomly pops up every few minutes and thus gives us any motivation to care. Oh yeah, and the show called The Mist has been mistless since the first scene and we’re more than halfway through.

When the mist does finally blow into Bridgeville it’s in the final 15 minutes and we get a few quick and gruesome deaths, including one pretty cool scene at the doors of the mall. The characters here are spread around the town as opposed to the film, which kept things central in the supermarket. Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy) finds refuge in a church after her husband is murdered in the mist. Alex and her mother Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) are trapped Dawn of the Dead-style in a giant shopping mall. Oh and the rapist quarterback is there too. Alex’s dad Kevin (Morgan Spector) is trapped with a motley crew in the police station. The thick mist looks really cheesy though, and the characters when encircled by it appear hazy; it all looks like a bad special effect. Every aspect of this show, from the acting and writing to the mist effects, feels amateurish and it’s really disappointing.

I don’t know what else I can say here. This was just painfully bad as a pilot episode. Every character is a stereotype or archetype with little to no originality. Serious things happen with little to no emotional resonance. And by the time the mist came, I was rooting for more characters to die. There have been some new horror series recently that took their time to grow. MTV’s Scream felt more like a typical high school drama which “oh by the way” had a masked murderer around. But at least that show had characters I could get behind and enjoy. This felt like something done to promote Stephen King’s summer of horror at the movies. There were long commercials during the episode for both Dark Tower and It, and I found myself wishing I could turn this off and put on Stranger Things on Netflix, which managed to borrow elements of King’s writing and make the best horror-themed show on TV in years, full of rich, exciting, and deeply developed characters.

The Mist returns on Thursday at 10pm on Spike TV. Hopefully now that they’re done with the boring introductory BS, we can get to the good stuff and actually have a scary new series. Episodes 2 & 3 are already available on the Spike App and on Spike On Demand. At least the previews for the rest of the season look good.

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