“Under the Dome” Pilot Review

I am a huge Stephen King fan. Huge. I have an entire shelf filled with King’s books. I’ve read nearly all of them. I must admit that I still haven’t tackled the Dark Tower series. I know, I know. Shame on me. I’ll get to them eventually.

Under the Dome wasn’t one of my favorite King books. Honestly, it wasn’t even close. I had some issues with it. But for a TV adaptation, it’s still probably one of the first I would’ve chosen.

Under the Dome is about a town that is suddenly, inexplicably shut off from the rest of the world by an invisible dome. It’s a deliciously sci-fi premise. The dome inspires love, lies, betrayals, revelations, societal factions, and basically every other human issue that could arise. By sealing off a town from the rest of the world, King opened up a world of storytelling possibilities.

Under the Dome was a whopper of a book. At over 1,000 pages long, there’s quite a bit of source material there. Though it’s still just a single novel so there certainly have to be some liberties taken to sustain a show.

My problem with the novel was always the characters. I loved the overall idea. The dome was overwhelming and intriguing. But the characters felt too much like stereotypes. They were either very good or very bad. I missed the coveted gray area.

CBS has given King everything he needs to finally see an adaptation of one of his books work on TV. There have been attempts before. In fairness they haven’t all been terrible. But yeah, most of the shows or miniseries have been terrible.

Creator Brian K. Vaughan, who wrote some amazing episodes of LOST, was apparently told that he could take any liberties he needed to for this show to work.  My fingers are crossed that the liberties he takes are with the characters.

The Pilot is all about setup, which is not surprising since most first episodes are. The show opens with a bang. Quite literally. The dome falls over the city and chaos ensues. In the book the fall of the dome was devastatingly brutal. I loved it. We don’t quite get that in the show. But it’s pretty close. A cow gets cut in half. It’s gross. And anatomically inaccurate. There’s a fiery airplane crash and severed limbs. Our characters jump to action.

Even from the first episode there are some really annoying characters. Junior is a love-crazed little shit who I wanted to die even before we knew he was crazy. There’s a bitter teenager from LA who was being sent to camp, and god, do I wish she had made it there and been trapped on the other side of the dome. And Linda, the good cop, also annoys me. But I’m not even sure why. I guess she’s too nice.

But there are intriguing characters, too. Big Jim, played by the phenomenal Dean Norris, seems to be our antagonist. He definitely has secrets and an evil smirk. I look forward to seeing how the show handles his character. I’m hoping he’s less black and white than he was in the books. I want redeeming qualities, damn it!

Barbie, our resident hot guy, is interesting. He would be a boring hero if we hadn’t seem him burying the body of the reporter’s husband in the opening scene of the show. He has potential.

The reporter, Julia, has potential too. We don’t know much about her. Right now she’s your average nosy journalist. But hey, I’m a little biased and I always like nosy journalists.

Duke seemed like a genuinely nice guy and a good leader, but his pacemaker exploded right when he was revealing secrets to Linda, so he’s out of the picture. Rest in peace, Lapidus.

Based on what we’ve seen, the characters are still pretty weak. But it is a pilot episode and weak characters are understandable. A first episode has never been a good place to judge characters. What I know is that the premise is good. The dome is still fascinating. And the dome isn’t going anywhere. The problems that it will cause are going to be fun to watch.

Under the Dome is worth watching.

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3 thoughts on ““Under the Dome” Pilot Review

  1. I haven’t had time (or the motivation, after most of my trusted friends didn’t like it) to read the book yet, but I think I’ll give the TV show a chance. The premise has always sounded interesting.

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