‘The Mist’ Was Merely a Summer Series of Camp, and Not Much Else

While Spike TV’s adaptation of Stephen King’s novella “The Mist” started out as an ambitious and intriguing series, the initial draw was short lived. However, the season (series?) finale, which aired on Aug. 24, ever so slightly redeemed a series that suffered greatly in its middle grouping of episodes.

Given the prestige level of genre programming for horror fans to feast on, “The Mist” is lost among its contemporaries. An intertwining and complicated web of sexual assault, deaths and betrayal make for intriguing driving forces. But the presentation and special effects make the series feel rather “B-movie” in comparison to the bar set by other genre television favorites, including “American Horror Story,” and the recently concluded, “Bates Motel.” Not to say there isn’t a place for a campy summer drama.

It’s uncertain whether the mind-altering mist is driving the characters to do nonsensical things, or if it’s just poor writing. By the end of the season, it’s a giant reunion for everyone. Kevin (Morgan Spector), dead set on saving his family, finally arrives at the mall. Eve (Alyssa Sutherland) has tried her best all season, but she seems unable to effectively function without the duality of Kevin’s aid. The series was littered with so many other side characters; they almost became as petty as the show itself.

Everyone tried to keep Jay (Luke Cosgrove) and Alex (Gus Birney) separated. At its most ridiculous point, Adrian (Russell Posner) even spits out that the doctors at the hospital claim that Jay’s DNA matches a sample from Alex’s previous attack. The line is seemingly cut out of a daytime melodrama.

The show proved the power of influence as people were sacrificed to the mist at the behest of cult-like leadership. Nathalie (Frances Conroy, who churned out the series’ best performance) showed the true power of persuasion, best illustrated by Conner’s (Darren Pettie) willingness to sacrifice his own son, Jay, to the mist. Once the military started rolling in during the final scene, the characters realize their troubles could be far from over when they see even higher authorities in tow.

Every surviving character has been altered in a way that makes their new relationships and alliances a different show. The show feels as if it is a giant missed potential. The final episode finds the characters isolated in the mall, with the announcement that their food supply has run out. This would have been an intriguing element to help push the story, but it comes about five episodes too late.

Quite possibly more interesting than the series itself is the way that it was distributed. Following the release of the pilot episode on June 22, Spike TV made the first three episodes of the series available for streaming on its website. This allowed viewers the opportunity to binge the show and, possibly, become engulfed in the story. This would lead viewers to tune back in, although the ratings would suggest otherwise.

Also unique to the distribution of the original cable show is the deal it inked with Netflix. The full ten episode series dropped on the streaming giant in some territories as early as the day after the final episode premiered. This unprecedented move bridged the gap between traditional airdate and streaming date. While content has traditionally taken months to make the jump from television to streaming, “The Mist” isn’t wasting any time. Perhaps the move is to build off of the preexisting social media buzz around the series before anything really dies down.

If the ten episodes of “The Mist” were a rollercoaster, the first few episodes climbed to a promising height, but the middle sagged far too low. By the time the finale came around, it was somewhat redeeming – but not enough to resurrect the series as a whole. Whether or not the untraditional distribution strategy will work enough to garner a season two is not yet known. Much like the short lived Stephen King summer series, “Under the Dome,” on CBS, if “The Mist” has any chance of continuing, it will be a short lived run at best.

“The Mist” isn’t the only Stephen King oriented television hitting the small screen this year. DirecTV’s Audience Network recently debuted an adaptation of “Mr. Mercedes.” Later this year, Netflix is releasing their version of the King novella, “1922.” The ten episode series is dropping on Netflix Oct. 20. Hulu is currently in production on “Castle Rock,” which uses King’s canon as a jumping off point — not to mention the highly anticipated big screen remake of “It” and the feature length retelling of “Gerald’s Game.” If one thing is for certain, it’s that audiences are hungry for King. “The Mist” was a campy and, at times, fun series. But the series will most likely get lost in the foggy white mist.

The Mist” season finale aired Aug. 24 on Spike TV.