After last week’s shithouse of a pilot, episodes two and three were much improved. It’s still awful yet kinda fascinating. And if you’re a writer, it’s unmistable because The Mist is the most valuable lesson in how not to write television…
At one point, The Wire’s Isiah Whitlock Jr. as the mall manager states:
“I think we need to establish a set of rules.”
I wish the writers’ room had, too.
Today we’re going to be looking at two ways to tell if a script is well written or not. The most glaring example of bad writing that The Mist is guilty of time and time again is having its characters make bizarre, illogical decisions just because the script requires them to do so… usually so they are left on their own.
IN EPISODE TWO
The amnesiac solider, Mia, the Copeland father and Adrian steal a cop car to go to the mall. On the way, they narrowly avoid an armed car-jacking so drug-addict driver Mia descends into a veil of confusion and somehow cannot hear her passengers urging her to slow down so inexplicably speeds up until she hits a stationary vehicle (completely defying all laws of physics) flips the car… all for no reason whatsoever.
IN EPISODE THREE
Eve and her daughter Alex are trapped in the mall hiding from the mist. Also present is football team captain Jay, Alex’s alleged rapist. Eve says they need to move to a place away from Jay so she and Alex explore upstairs and Eve immediately sends Alex off alone (for blankets) specifically so that she can bump into Jay.
Not only would this not happen, it’s the exact opposite of what would happen.
Even at their lowest, most teeth-pulling moments shows like The Walking Dead descend to this level. The characters always make logical choices based on their personality and the laws of physics apply. While The Walking Dead has become indubitably boring, it never crosses the line from mediocre to bad writing.
ADR IS LIKE A FOOTBALL REFEREE
Another way to tell how well written a show is, is by how much Automated Dialogue Replacement or over-dubbing it utilises. There are half-exceptions to the rule, like Westworld – the dialogue was often superb but they had chopped and changed so much in post that there was a ton of ADR added to the back of people’s heads (J.J. Abrams’ other big release in the space of that year, Star Wars: The Force Awakens was also guilty)
Either way, ADR is a great yardstick of how close the writer’s vision in the script was to the final product.
Speaking of jocks, ADR is like a football ref; if he does his job correctly, you should barely notice him. If he has a shocker, he sticks out like a sore thumb.
The Mist’s ADR sticks out like a sore thumb because the writer forgot so may details in the script. I understand Christian Torpe is Danish and therefore English is not his first language, but this rule applies in any language.
Besides, what is a script supervisor for if not a logic pass?
A well executed scene with some Hannibal horror imagery sees a tertiary member of the church group sprouts wings from a giant Death’s-Head Hawkmoth tattoo on his back before spewing hundreds of moths, even though the VFX budget obviously doesn’t stretch to much.
Watch this scene again and you’ll hear (as the moth flies towards the man) instead of recording indistinct rhubarb, rhubarb, they have duplicated dialogue by looping it in the edit. Amateur.
Highlights include Frances Conroy’s environmentalist zealot Nathalie Raven, who adds an otherworld-lyness to proceedings. Some religious allegory adds of a layer, but just as we’re getting somewhere, instead of showing us how a character is like Job à la The Leftovers, here Father Romanov actually sits down and tells Adrian Job’s story.
If we were really at Bridgeville High Scool, these two episodes gain a combined mark of D-
Much improved on last week’s U but jeez… mist try harder.
The Mist continues next Thursday, 6th July on Spike TV.