Saturday, June 24, 2017

the mist (TV series): pilot

i have to ask, is a TV series based on the stephen king novella necessary?  how much material can be sourced to sustain an open-ended narrative?  besides, director frank darabont created a haunted, bleak version of a movie in 2007.  wouldn't that be enough?

i don't have the answers, duh!  but to get back in to the habit of movie reviewing i'm going to try to write about each episode of this series shortly after i watch them.  so far, i'm not dedicated to this show so i may skip an episode or two.  however, i do my best to be faithful to writing a review when i do watch the show.

now on to the pilot.  a soldier wakes up in the woods with his canine companion keeping vigil.  he doesn't know where he is, how he got to the woods, or why he's there, nor he remember his name.  he checks his wallet and finds out his name by his credit cards.  his uniform has an arrowhead patch, and if you are familiar with this story you know that he is integral to the mystery of the plot.  the mist is descending from the tops of the hills and the soldier, whose name is bryan, runs the hell toward the nearest town.

the nearest town, which i didn't catch the name of, is i believe a hamlet in maine, stephen king's beloved state and the setting of most of his fiction and films.  here we meeting a junkie being beaten by a drug pusher.  a family with a teenage daughter who wants what most teens want, greater freedom, independence from her parents, and the ability to make a choice or two on her own.  her mother [again, the characters' names escape me, and i do not know these actors for they are all brand new to me.  i could easily look them up, but i prefer to learn more about them as i get deeper into the series].

the parents of the teen girl have a good marriage.  the mother is a school teacher who got fired because she chose to teach her students more about sex education than the curriculum allowed.  the father is a good man and a bit of a pushover when it comes to letting his daughter get away with more stuff than her mother allows.  more about that later.

the teen girl has a gay friend who wears make-up.  his name, if my memory is not total shit, is adrian.  adrian's father hates his gay son.  so do a few others in the tiny community.  the girl also has a crush on the local hot jock quarterback whose father is the sheriff in town.  there is a football game in this burg where football is a huge deal.  the hunky quarterback wins the game.  he has a party where there are drugs and alcohol and invites the girl.

meanwhile, the soldier makes it in to town bursts into the sheriff's station to warn them about the things in the mist.  the peace officers don't take kindly to strangers bursting into their station raving about danger and promptly throws bryan in jail.  oh yes, the junky, whose name i didn't catch either, had been poking around her former digs.  she digs up a bag of money and passports in the garden shed.  however, the current owner of the house didn't take too kindly to someone breaking in to his shed.  she is thrown in to the cell next to bryan.

meanwhile, the mist is quickly descending down the mountains.  but you see there was a party.  the beautiful quarterback invited the teenage girl to his party.  her mother forbade it.  the father whispers in the girl's ear, as long as you get adrian to go with you, and you promise not to drink, you can go to the party for a couple of hours after your mother falls asleep.

the mother promptly falls asleep and the girl and adrian make it to the party.  adrian is almost beaten up by one of  the jocks, because this is an insular town and adrian is too colorful for these choked in lives.  the girl is slipped a mickey and is raped by the quarterback whose father, remember, is the sheriff.  adrian was a witness to the crime.

the girl tells her parents what happened.  they go apeshit, as i think any parent would.  they go to the sheriff and make a report.  the quarterback is arrested on campus.  the girl sees a therapist and is prescribed an anti-anxiety drug.  some of the town turns against the girl, a few jocks paint the word 'whore' on the street in front of her house.  the strain of the crime pushes the girl's parents apart.  the mother is taking the girl out of town for a few days.  they stop at the local mall to get the girl's prescription filled.

all this while the mist is just above the town.  if i hadn't made it clear by the build-up of characters it is because king's novella, and darabont's movie, is about human relationships under the strain of of intense stress.  as the main character says in the movie version, you put people in the dark and scare the shit out of them they will turn on each other.  that's what the pilot's all about.  we get to know these people, and many of their relationships are pretty nasty before the mist arrived.

one more thing, there is a motif of the insect casually squashed or flicked off.  the soldier is awakened by a spider crawling across his face.  he flicks it away without a second thought.  the mother of the teen girl punts a caterpillar from her leg as she sits in a park with her husband as they discuss options after she was fired from her teaching job.  and so on.  is this motif relevant because the creatures in the mist will also exhibit similar indifferent cruelty to humans as humans do to insects?  there are a few other characters we get to know who become mist creature chum.  like an older couple, neighbors to the teen girl's family, who are in to gardening and bicycling.  a bunch of frogs leap out of a stream as if they were chased out of the water.  one of those frogs chomps on a moth that alighted upon the older woman's hand.  the older couple are curious about such a sight of frogs so they go to the library to search the newspaper archives if something like the frog force happened before.

then the mist descends.  and a few weird things happen.  like a man who is in the mist and bumps into the older couple as they stepped out of the library.  the man with a gun points his gun at the older man and asks, are you real?  the older man says, yes.  he is shot.  the man with a gun sees that the older man was real, he apologizes to the older lady, then puts the barrel under his chin and pulls the trigger.  the older lady runs into the mist and finds herself at her church.  the mist is filmed with a hallucinogenic filter that makes it seems that the mist is not only home to homicidal creatures but might even fuck with your head making you doubt what is real.

the teen girl and her mom is trapped in the mall.  her father is at the sheriff station where bryan and the junky woman are held.  adrian is at the station too because law enforcement need to take his statement because he was a witness to the teen girl's rape.  the mist trap everyone in place.

and that's when the show ends.  you can see this series is taking great liberties with the source material.  indeed, king's novella is more an inspiration than a partial treatment.  i'm guessing that many of these dysfunctional relationships are going to get more estranged as the series progress.  still, i was reading stephen king's twitter feed last week -- he is an active, prolific twitter user -- and he totally tweeted this show up.  i thought the pilot was interesting.  tho i have no idea where this show will go or how it can sustain itself.

i'll stay tuned.


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