Back in the 1990s, Stephen King movies-of-the-week were all the rage. I remember chiseling out time to watch week-long miniseries for The Tommyknockers, The Langoliers, The Stand, and The Shining. The movie-of-the-week format is long dead (outside of Lifetime) but Under the Dome is a close sibling.
Under the Dome is based on the King novel of the same name, about a small town called Chester’s Mill that is suddenly, mysteriously encapsulated under a giant, invisible dome. The mystery becomes: what is this dome, where did it come from, and who put it there? The outside world is not oblivious to the dome; they just can’t figure it out either.
Naturally, a show like this features a large cross-section of humanity. There is Jim, a used car salesman and city councilman who knows more about this dome than he is letting on; Jim’s son, Junior, a dangerously unstable college dropout, who is in love with Angie. Angie and her brother, Joe, are left alone after the dome drops because their parents are outside the dome limits. There is Julia, the editor of the local newspaper, who is destined to have an affair with “Barbie,” the mysterious stranger with dark secrets who finds himself trapped in this town. There is Duke, the sheriff, who apparently turned a blind eye against whatever Jim was planning; his deputy, Linda, whose fireman fiancee is on the outside of the dome; DJ Phil and his technician Dodee, who thinks she has been able to pick up blips of outside radio frequencies; and a pair of lesbians from Los Angeles who are passing through town to drop off their rebellious teenage daughter at a “bootcamp” for troubled teens.
I have not read the book, so I can’t speak to how the show was adapted. With only one episode to judge by, it is tough to say how long it will keep my interest. I will say that I am intrigued enough to want to see the next episode, but if you already know what happens, you may be less inclined. The acting is fine. Not good, not terrible, but if you already know what the mystery is, the cast probably won’t keep you around. There are too many characters to really get any depth on them; this could be a good thing because, again, none of them seem particularly interesting. I have been spoiled by cable programming characters, in which you learn about the characters slowly. In Under the Dome, the audience is spoon-fed all the necessary character info in what feels like a rudimentary way.
My biggest concern is that after the first episode, there won’t be anything else crashing into the dome. I could pretty much watch stuff crash into the dome (or, even better, get cut in half by the dome) all day long.
Under the Dome premieres on CBS on June 24th.