Why The Mist Failed

The Mist adrian

The world of The Mist captured readers and viewers minds like “The Tentacles from Planet X” grabbed Norm. With the gateway between dimensions broken, an alien biosphere flooded and completely dominated Earth, placing humanity smack down to the bottom of the food chain. Both the novella and the movie gave us only a taste and we wanted more. We wanted an in-depth survival horror series exploring the monsters and their strangeness as humanity adapted to its new role as a tiny, insignificant prey animal, scurrying for cover in a world ruled by monsters more terrifying and strange than anything they’d ever imagined.

“Screw that!” said the writers of the TV series. “We’re going to make it about psychic fog that makes your fears come true.”

It’s a fundamental difference of the premise that completely alienated the fans of the novella and movie: the fans Spike TV counted on to make this show work in the first place. The possibilities of an alien world sparked the imaginations of the fans, not projections of characters’ psyches. Of course the psychic Mist is actually an alien, sort of like the ocean in Solaris. But a hallucination come to life and reacting against the emotions of the characters is an entirely different animal than an alien animal made of flesh and blood, with instinct, drives and biological characteristics that can be creatively exploited in order to evade detection.

The Mist as a psychic entity is not a bad idea. Such ideas have worked well in Solaris and Silent Hill. But fans who tuned in expecting Stephen King’s world ended up disappointed, especially when The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse showed up.

So it comes at no surprise that Spike TV canceled it after only one season. 
The series had redeeming qualities, though. For the most part, the characters made viewers care about their stories. There’s room for criticism, of course, particularly with the reveal regarding the series’ big mystery (which most attentive viewers figured out at around episode three or four.) And the series can legitimately be accused of cheaply inciting anger from the audience with jerkass, one-dimensional characterizations of bigots, homophobes and rape apologists.

But the main characters had a lot going for them. Natalie Raven goes completely insane in ways that could almost be understood. She’s a dark perversion of a flower child, worshipping nature. Eve and Kevin Copeland draw the interest of anyone who’s interested in relationship drama, having fans rooting either for reconciliation or a divorce. (Either one of those could be considered a happy ending in some situations.)

All and all, The Mist was actually pretty good, but basically rockrolled fans of the novella and movie. They pulled up to the window expecting a double cheeseburger but got a chicken sandwich instead, so they sent it back. 

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