June 23, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Mist”


THE MIST:  Thursday 10PM on Spike – Change the Channel

THE MIST is far from the most imaginative or robust of Stephen King’s works.  King has rarely been accused of too much concision, but he was only able to wring out enough material from this premise for a novella; the title conveys just about all there is to know, as a small town is engulfed by a thick fog, within which murderous monsters lurk.  Nevertheless, the piece was the basis of a feature film from Frank Darabont, and now a continuing series for Spike.  The novella and movie claustrophobically focus on a small group taking refuge from the deadly mist in a supermarket, but Danish series creator Christian Torpe has turned the situation into something more akin to Under the Dome, with characters scattered throughout the town.

Torpe’s version revolves around an almost entirely new set of characters.  Our protagonist appears to be strong-willed teacher and mom Eve Copeland (Alyssa Sutherland, from Vikings).  She has a nice-guy husband named Kevin (Morgan Spector), and they’re horrified to learn that their troubled teen daughter Alex (Gus Birney) was raped at a local party, apparently by Alex’s crush, football hero Jay (Luke Cosgrove).  That crisis is overshadowed by the arrival of the mist, but will presumably reverberate through the series.  Alex also has a gay best friend, Adrian (Russell Posner), whose role so far is to be “gay best friend.”  One assumes that elderly Natalie Raven (Frances Conroy) will be a character of some consequence, since Frances Conroy is playing the role, although in the pilot her only big moment is watching her husband get his brains blown out by a crazy inhabitant of the mist.  In addition, there are two mysterious figures, an amnesiac going by the name Bryan Hunt (Okezie Morro), and Mia Lambert (Danica Curcic), who arrives looking for a bag of hidden money, and who knows something or other about the phenomenon sealing in the town.

The pilot hour, written by Torpe, doesn’t succeed in making any of these people particularly fascinating, and the dialogue is all set-up and exposition.  Sutherland is a natural leading lady, but she and the other performers haven’t been given much to play.  Although pilot director Adam Bernstein’s cable drama credentials date all the way back to HBO’s Oz, there’s nothing interesting going on visually either:  the mist, when it comes, is just a thick curtain that may save on budget, since it obscures sets and locations, but makes every scene look roughly the same (and without “sunlight” lighting, soundstage interiors look even faker than they otherwise might).  The “shocks” of something bloody bursting out of the haze come exactly when you expect them to.

Spike itself is about to vanish into a corporate fog, earmarked for rebranding as the Paramount Network in a few months time, with a line-up largely looted from other Viacom networks.  This may be the last “real Spike” show we’ll see, and it doesn’t make one nostalgic for the brand.  The Mist is utterly routine, without even the gonzo spirit that now and then enlivens a Syfy series.  It feels muffled and second-hand.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."