In an age of television heavily dominated by genre programming, it makes sense that networks would be eager to mine material from the work of prolific author Stephen King. In this decade alone, Syfy has loosely adapted The Colorado Kid into the series Haven, CBS has taken viewers Under the Dome, and most recently Hulu sent James Franco back to 11/22/63. The latest story by the “master of horror” to head to the small-screen is The Mist, a novella first published in 1980, but probably best known as the first entry in the 1985 King anthology Skeleton Crew.
The Mist’s plot concerns main character David Drayton and his grocery store-set fight for survival alongside a group of fellow frightened Maine residents after a mysterious mist containing otherworldly monsters blankets their small town. The novella was adapted theatrically by director – and frequent King collaborator – Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile), and starred Thomas Jane in the lead role. The film went over quite well with critics and many fans, although the altered ending – made much bleaker than King’s original conclusion – caused some division.
Spike had previously ordered a pilot for a TV series based on The Mist back in February, but have since been sold enough on the project to make a full series order. The Mist’s first season will consist of 10 hour-long episodes, and is slated to begin filming this summer, with a 2017 premiere in mind. TWC-Dimension Television is handling production on the series, with Danish writer Christian Torpe on-board to executive produce. As of this early stage, no actors are attached, and no plot details have been revealed.
With The Mist now officially getting at least 10 episodes to try and win over audiences, the question for fans of the story now becomes just what Torpe plans to do with the material. At this point, it remains anyone’s guess whether The Mist’s TV adaptation will be a straight retelling of King’s prose, or instead use the written word simply as a launching point.
The Mist is arguably much more about the high concept than the individual characters, and it’s not hard to imagine the TV show’s writing staff opting to craft their own survivors of the titular possibly apocalyptic event, or perhaps throwing in a narrative curve ball or two. An example of this type of approach would be the aforementioned Under the Dome, which retained the premise and main character names, but ended up going in directions never even broached in the King book.
While expanding on and/or altering The Mist’s universe may risk alienating King’s constant readers, it might very well be inevitable, especially if The Mist does well enough to earn a second season. A group of people trapped inside a grocery store might work great for one film, but it’s likely to eventually wear thin when played out over the course of a week to week series. Thankfully, The Mist’s concept presents an almost limitless number of avenues to take the show down, as many questions posed in the novella were never fully addressed. Where does The Mist come from? Has it affected the entire world, or just the United States? Is there any way to undo what’s been done? Spike’s journey into The Mist might end up becoming a very interesting one indeed.
The Mist TV series begins shooting this summer, and is set to premiere in 2017.