Monday, June 24, 2013

Review - Under the Dome


I confess:  I have only read one Stephen King novel (Gerald's Game) but I have seen nearly all the screen adaptations that have been done.  Before you start berating me for this, I acknowledge that the screen versions are different, contain many changes and are considered by many to be far inferior to the written versions.   But I would hope some of you would agree that sometimes the movies of King's stories were really pretty decent (good examples - The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, IT, The Shining, Carrie, Misery, Dolores Claiborne, and Stand By Me, which was based on his short story The Body).

So how does CBS' 13-week adaptation of King's 1,088-page tome Under the Dome stand up?  My thoughts in a moment.  First ...


Set in the near future, Under the Dome follows the saga of the small town Chester's Mill, whose citizens suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world by a mysterious, impenetrable barrier that surrounds the town. Panic, turmoil and dissension quickly arises and a small group of people attempt to maintain peace and order while also trying to uncover the truth behind the dome and how to escape from it.  

Dean Norris - who will say goodbye to his longtime character Hank Schrader this August when the spectacular Breaking Bad comes to an end - stars along with Mike Vogel (Bates Motel), Rachelle Lefevre (A Gifted Man), Natalie Martinez (CSI: NY), Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle), Colin Ford (Supernatural), Nicholas Strong (Nashville), Jolene Purdy (10 Things I Hate About You) and Aisha Hinds (Cult).


CBS was host to another high-intensity, mystery miniseries a few years back, Harper's Island, which also featured a group of people trapped together in a stressful, oft deadly situation.  While I liked that series a lot and though it featured a lot of shocking moments, it didn't have quite the "Oh s**t!" moments like UTD did tonight:  if you saw it, you KNOW what I'm talking about! (moo ... plane ... arm).  Pretty soon my jaw just stayed dropped in anticipation of even more.  And I loved it!

While in the dome, you can't hear anything on the outside.  It shocks you when you first touch it.  Everyone starts freaking out immediately, justifiably so, and you feel it right along with them because the tension and fear is portrayed and presented so well and convincingly by the actors and the actions that occur.

The pilot does a nice job of introducing some of its key players subtly, just going about their everyday lives, before the dome falls.  Some are good people, some not so much.  The cast features a nice blend of ethnicities - there's even a lesbian couple, one Caucasian, one African-American, with a Caucasian daughter, and I'm so glad there wasn't exposition about it.  It just is ... how refreshing. There's also a snappy little jab at the government (Ford's character asks why he doesn't think the government built the barrier.  Vogel's answers "cause it works."). And what's up with those cryptic seizures?

There's plenty of shock and gore ... hey, this is Stephen King, after all.  I still think NBC's Hannibal is the goriest show I've seen on main network TV (the big six), but UTD is going to give it a run for its money for sure.

What an exhilarating, tense ride this is going to be, figuring out what the dome is, where it came from, who created it, how the trapped residents will cope (or won't), who will survive (or won't) and ultimately, if anyone will ever escape.  I think this story definitely works in this limited format (13 episodes).  Unlike Lost, which worked great as a series, I think the story of UTD wouldn't sustain must past this short run.  In any case, I'm absolutely hooked.

Bottom Line:  Seal yourself in every week for this thrilling, chilling tale!

Under the Dome airs on CBS Mondays at 10 p.m.


  1. Unfortunately, they are planning/hoping for this to be more than a limited run. Brian K. Vaughan said they "hope to come back to the Dome for many summers to come", which having read the book I don't quite understand. Of course I didn't see how 24 could go past the first season, so what do I know? I hope they surprise me.
    I also just want to add to the list of great King adaptations, namely the ones Frank Darabont has done; The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist :)

  2. Right-O, Kellisays! Thanks, I've amended. The Shawshank Redemption is in my Top 5, but never knew it was from King!