In 1980, both Stephen King and John Carpenter released seminal works that dealt with condensation suspended in cold air. We are talking about Stephen King’s The Mist and John Carpenter’s The Fog, a novella, and a movie, respectively. Both of them would become very influential works of fiction, and their resources are still being used to this day to create the perfect setting for a mysterious story to unfold. Amazon Prime brings The Rig, as one of its first offerings for 2023, and it is a TV series that feels in the same family as those previously mentioned works.
The Rig is a TV series created by David Macpherson, and it will be released on Amazon Prime Video on January 6. The series stars Emily Hampshire, Ian Glen, Martin Compston, and Owen Teale. The series tells the story of a group of workers aboard an oil rig. As the date of their return to land approaches, they are hit by an intense fog that doesn’t allow them to see anything in front of them. The event seems to cut their communications with other rigs and with the mainland, and worst of all, the fog seems to bring something else with it.
In the two previously mentioned stories, The Mist, and The Fog, dark entities found a place to hide inside the fog and terrorize the unsuspected humans, who then defaulted to survival mode. The Rig also adds this fantasy element to its story. The fog is a supernatural event that goes beyond any sort of logical explanation and, with it, brings things that should not exist. This setup is perfect to explore characters, their interactions, and most of all, how they react to a situation where some people will definitely end up killing others if this benefits them.
So, the setup for the series isn’t something that is very original. We have seen it before, and it has been done better many times. However, The Rig also adds something more to the mix, which makes it stand out from other similar stories. We are facing an oil rig as a setting. This oil rig setting was perfected in the Deepwater Horizon movie, which was an expert story on delivering tension and thrills. The Rig tries to do what that movie did, but of course, the budget is much smaller, but the base is there.
Adding the oil rig element to the story allows for the show to work with highly capable people, which increases the tension and the stakes, especially when you see them fail. There is a lot of failing in this series, as no matter how capable the workers are, they are facing something they were not trained for. It makes all six episodes quite interesting and gripping. Six episodes is also a very short commitment, so you might be able to binge this in the future on a rainy, lazy day.
The series has an excellent cast composed of both veterans and new actors. The mix feels quite authentic, as the characters are also supposed to have that separation between them. The show never goes too far when it comes to exploring the characters on a personal level, but it is not necessary. The characters are instead explored during their acting on situations and making decisions. As the story progresses, you will form a clear image of who these people are and how they will react in the face of one situation or another.
Visually, the series is not pushing the envelope, though. Not all shows can have the budget of something like House of the Dragon or Amazon’s own Rings of Power. Because of it, the show can feel a bit small, even when it is supposed to take place in the vastness of the ocean. You can see that the filmmakers are trying to pull off every single trick at their disposal to hide what is being done in the background. Exterior shots are often very short and quick, and they don’t cover most of what could be covered.
However, the visual effects that are used in some shots are solid enough to sell the events happening on screen. It is all done in very good taste, and it never really goes overboard in a way that might take you out of the story. The rest of the visual aspect does a great job when it comes to the interiors and the feeling of being trapped inside such a frail installation during such a strange and dangerous situation. The oil rig set also seems very lived-in, which sells the characters quite well.
In the end, The Rig feels like something that could have gone maybe a couple of extra miles when it comes to the story, but what is here is still entertaining and fascinating enough to carry throughout all six episodes. The actors are great, and seeing Ian Glen and Owen Teale on the same show really brings you back a lot of good memories of when Game of Thrones was the greatest show on Earth. If you need a good dose of mystery or if you are a fan of Stephen King’s and John Carpenter’s works, then this series might be right up your alley.