TV Review: ‘Under the Dome’s’ Underwhelming Finale

"Under the Dome" Season Finale TV

Don't halve a cow: Turns out a Dome's just the place for a show that hit a creative dead end

CBS was understandably giddy when “Under the Dome” opened to eye-opening ratings, and proceeded to hold on well. Not only had the network taken a big swing outside its wheelhouse, but it scored a rare summer hit, at a point where scripted network successes have appeared increasingly elusive. Small wonder the whole “limited series” idea pretty quickly went out the window, resulting in a second-season pickup and Monday night’s open-ended, cliffhanging season finale.

None of which should obscure how empty, silly and tedious “Dome” became after its intriguing premiere, going the way of many a past Stephen King miniseries adaptation — only in this case, in what amounted to slow motion. “Stephen King’s It” and “The Tommyknockers,” all is forgiven.

Why did a Dome descend over the little town of Chester’s Mill? Apparently, to create cover for a series of crazily violent exchanges, conveniently timed murders, stray characters and portentous dialogue, since a few teenagers are able to “speak” to the Dome — although we’re still not quite sure what the Dome is — by touching it and falling into a kind of trance.

Frankly, it would have been so much cooler if they had to say, “Wonder Twin powers, activate!”

It’s hard to fault CBS for wanting to continue to milk the show (with apologies to that poor cow), having averaged nearly 15 million viewers this summer if you throw in delayed DVR viewing, while also performing well internationally, including Australia, the U.K. and Germany. Besides, there’s something kind of nice about seeing “Breaking Bad’s” Dean Norris segue directly from that show into another series with legs, even if his character — the evil mayor — has been saddled with some of the program’s more ridiculous moments.

That said, let the “Dome” experience be a warning to anyone who really thinks any of these limited series will truly be limited and provide closure if they happen to work. As soon as the live-plus-three numbers look promising, network execs will be on the phone wondering how to extend these shows faster than you can say “American Horror Story” and slap a colon behind it.

On the plus side, CBS and the producers (a roster that includes Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television) have nearly a year to figure out how to keep this storyline going, hopefully in a manner that makes a bit more sense than the narrative mess that was season one.

Not that there’s an incentive to tamper with something that appears to be working, of course, especially when the obvious goal is to find a way to keep going around in circles. But the “Lost” experience is illustrative in cases such as this, inasmuch as that was a far superior series and still began to slide and struggle as it sought to sustain its mystery.

Because the bottom line is if “Under the Dome” can’t become a bit more transparent, sooner or later, it’s going to run straight into a dead end.

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  1. pc says:

    I am fine with the show ending and most of the story was revealed to my satisfaction, but the nothing happened in the finale. I thought my DVR only recorded half an episode. I wanted one last successful adventure such as breaking Joe out.

  2. carol athey says:

    If you read the book “Under the Dome”, you know the series is very little like the book. The only reason you would watch it again, is to see if it ends anything like the book. It was one of Stephen King’s lesser books, as far as I am concerned.

  3. Chgo-Jim says:

    The “ending” of the TV version of Under the Dome: STUPID!!!!!!
    Equally as bad as the ending of “Lost”.

  4. Eve says:

    Once again so unhappy with a summer show. I did not sign up for another season… Simply will read the book!!

  5. Paul says:

    The book was better. Forget the CBS series and read the book!

  6. sr says:

    I would of perfered to watch it as a film all at once, but please get an ending to it asap I wanna no now :)

  7. DerDer says:

    I might have mistaken on that last one. Maybe it was the cow that got cut in half and left blood on the dome, but the next one to get cut in half left nothing. Anyways, we are talking about the show which makes the producers very happy.

  8. DerDer says:

    It’s just unbelievable how many flaws there are in the show. These editors are not at all good at their job. Just one of many examples was the fact that in the first show no blood was on the dome when the cow was sliced in half.

  9. Albanyduck says:

    Thanks Brian, I felt like jerk expecting the season finale to resolve all the including Barbie and at a minimum the end of big Jim. This was worst than trying to follow the flashbacks within flashbacks on ‘The Event’ I will never get sucked onto another dome. Unless it’s another ‘finale’ of course

  10. Craig radley says:

    …I hate to say it, but being a TV addict for the last 45 years, I think I’ll just read the book.

  11. TOA says:

    I hate big Jim with a passion…..when Barbie finally kills him I hope it will nice. And slow…….

  12. Judy Adkins says:

    I read the book when it came out. Could not put it down. When the series started I wondered if I remembered the book correctly. I read the book again. Should have been a mini series our two part TV movie. The changes made were gratuitous and did not enhance the storyline at all. I am a life long Steven King fan. The movies rarely do his book justice. This was a lost opportunity.

  13. billybob says:

    why is some red neck council muppet ( big jim)who thinks he is the law and above everyone else attempting to hang barbie when it should be dopey linda. ( The clueless sheep ) doing it. How in the hell did jim know that it was barbie that shot the Female Dj, ??? how on earth would he know when shes in a burning building ?? yet not one single person questions this ?? Even linda didnt question the facts !!!

    wind in a enclosed dome ? big jim shotuing to junior to kill barbie ? backup generators come up all because the domes gone black – yet no power cut so why the generators ?? young lad ( joe ) able to lift the dome on his own whilst sleep walking – yet needed a truck to move it underground.?? julia couldnt get out of bed yet, when was able to run into the woods with the other 3 ? why did linda find ” the pink stars are falling ” in the barn when they werent there originally ?? @ 32:45 episode 11 when Big jim shot maxine and her body guard jims about to shoot barbie when barbie turns it around then all of a sudden linda the sheep appears from behind the car , big jim shouts ” linda thank god he cuffed them and shot them in the head ” WTF ???? bigjim shot them in the CHEST . NOT IN THE HEAD !!!! etc etc etc … At least make the words match the script properly… ?? what a pilr of brown stuff.

    Theres more holes in this crap than there is in a Colander. what a waste of time.

  14. Terry Thibodaux says:

    The reason for so many viewers was because we all thought it was going somewhere. I also will not be watching if there is a second season.What a disappointment

    • Cindy Lewandowski says:

      Use your imagination like -what happen to the people out side the dome after the bomb went off? why did the dome land over that particular town? did the teens have some special powers? What are the pink stars? Is the dome there for there protection or there destruction? Why was there a smaller dome with the purple egg in it? I would love to continue viewing the dome please find and ending at least.

  15. Bret says:

    I thought the show was entertaining. Not as good as Lost’s first season but very watchable and a nice change of pace. If u didn’t like it, cool, but maybe tell us what u do like instead. Also to the writer of this trash; you are a pretentious odious POS and I hope you choke on your own repugnant overuse of the English language. Mark Twain ftw

  16. Dwayne Campbell says:

    what happen to the rest of the story what a stupid way to end?????????????

  17. Brittanie says:

    I don’t think I can sit through them dragging on another season, I mean, they dragged this one on forever it seemed. I was very disappointed by the ending.

  18. Joe smith says:

    I was disappointed in the non-ending. i can invest any more time oin the show- i’ll never know the ending I guess, or Ill just asks someone who wastes their time watching it

  19. Blaise says:

    I think your review of “Under the Dome” hits the nail on the head. The series is on a slippery slope. As you say, it will be interesting to see if the writers can lift it from it’s precipitous proximity to obscurity.

  20. dudley58 says:

    I swore this was sold to the public as a one season mini-series. As a reader of the book I was waiting to see how they would bring the ending to the screen, but alas, ripped off. I will NOT be watching next season.

  21. Denis says:

    I was waiting for the next episode and them they pulled that crap. Definately will not watch again. Now that its dragging on it seems a lot stupider. They stole all those hours on Monday nights…boring

    • Billy B. says:

      I agree… They should have made it a mini-series and finished the plot. The final episode was horrible… I’m very disappointed. Nothing new with main stream television… I guess if we want entertainment, we need to turn to books and the web. For a season finale, this was pathetic… The acting overall was so-so, I could deal with that. I actually liked the actors. The story line was interesting, it kept me coming back. However ending it at this point in the story was a huge no-no. I’m going to buy the book and tell CBS to fly a kite. Nothing new though, television today is pathetic.

  22. Johnny says:

    We stopped watching it after about 5 episodes. It just kept getting more and more ridiculous.

  23. Tami says:

    I watched all 13 episodes faithfully. Not because the show was good but because I failed to shell out 30 dollars to buy the book and wanted to see what happened. Now, I’ll never know. I want my point in CBS’s ratings back. I did, however, enjoy making fun of the simplistic writing, the bumbling deputy lady who couldn’t make a decision to save her soul much less the town without asking the obviously evil councilman, the redheaded news lady who’s husband is missing so she sleeps with her stranger house guest in less than a week, the stranger house guest who just happened to kill the redheaded’s husband but sleeps with her anyhow, the really stupid scene where mob lady’s mom drowns because her hands are tied in front of her (it might have been more realistic had she shouted that she couldn’t swim instead of how her hands were tied) and so on….

    Sometimes, I just feel stupid for having read a certain book or watched a certian show…this would be one of those times.

    • Don Seils says:

      Heh…the story is so unlike the book, which could NEVER be faithfully done on network television, that you will never know…unless you put an infinite number of screenwriter monkeys with an infinite number of laptops! Seriously, as a presentation of a King shock novel, this series falls pitifully short…and had to!

  24. thomasine Pruitt says:

    I liked under the dome. I think a good science fiction is far superior to a hostage program. We live iin a sick world where there will be some fools who will copy the hostage plot and try it in real life. Although the dome had real life crime and bad guys, there was enough science fiction to create the feeling that you were not looking at real life but a typical stephen King fantasy. I for one am sick of looking at bad guys, car chases, etc. Real life contains enough of that. When I turn on TV, I want to be entertained not made to look at something that could happen to me tomorrow,

  25. anne says:

    Thanks CBS start out with a great summer show America was enjoining this!!! Then you stop a bring in some of these news shows that may not even make to December2013!!!! Thank you for those shows that are good like Two Broke Girls and what happen to Mike and Molly??? Took that off too an not bring it back either????

  26. Jersey Joe says:

    This is what happens when a true talent (King) decides to turn to prostitution to pick up some quick cash, and hooks up with america’s biggest pimps (TV networks).

    In the end, the pimps (all flash and no substance) have ended up with all the money, king’s makeup ends up smeared all to hell and the american public gets screwed again.

  27. KMD says:

    Didn’t care much for the ending and all the shows (not just ‘The Dome’) were so badly cut up with commercials that one tended to lose the story line between segments. What was the ratio, 10 minutes of show and 5 minutes of commercials?

  28. Denise says:

    What happened with the show? Will there be more episodes letting us know if the dome was eliminated. Did the people survive and live healthy as they did previously?

  29. Ed Snead says:

    I was more surprised at Debbie’s comment. It was my exact same comment that I have!..

  30. Debbie Caldwell says:

    well that explains the non ending of the “limited series” I didn’t know it was being extended into another season;… I am having flashbacks of “Lost” The book was way way better than this was.

  31. Molly says:

    I’ve loved SK ever since reading Salem’s Lot many years ago. I’ve read just about everything he’s written (didn’t get into the Dark Tower series) and enjoyed it all very much. I did enjoy UTD, the book. However this mess in no way resembles the book at all. The only thing they have in common is that it takes place under a dome. Which would’t necessarily be a bad thing, if it was a good show on its own. It’s not. The acting is, in general, awful. Those 4 obnoxious Tweens annoy me to no end and couldn’t act their way out of a paper bag. This is on at 10pm. Why do I have to suffer through “Twilight” wannabes? Who are they trying to sell this garbage to? The characters have been destroyed. It’s stupid and boring. You don’t care about anyone in it. I tried and tried to get into it. In fact a friend of mine who liked the book was disappointed. He hadn’t realized it was on. I started to tell him what was going on. He joked “No, don’t tell me. A caterpillar?” Haha. Uh, yeah. “A caterpillar”. The look on his face was priceless. That was followed by “never mind, I’m not watching”. Yeah. That makes 2 of us. So disappointed. First Breaking Bad ends, and now another tragic mauling of King’s work. And it sounds like it was with his blessing. That’s the most disheartening thing yet.

  32. Anne McAtee says:

    CBS can milk Under the Dome all they want! They lost this viewer. I don’t watch something for 13 weeks only to not have It end. NBC did this with another program which I cannot remember the name of, but one of the characters is going to be starring in Hostages so I assume that show bit the dust too.
    Farewell Under the Dome. I am over you!

  33. Shaila says:

    The show went from interesting to idiotic in a hurry. I am done with it.

  34. I’m done with this show. I was disappointed in the film adaptation of “The Mist,” so I should have known better than to waste my time watching Under the Dome. I’m angry with myself for making that mistake. I agree, it’s a ripoff, a “golden cow” for CBS to milk every rating point ($$$$$) possible. I wasted about 520 minutes of my summer that I can’t get back watching this nothing series hoping that at least they’d get rid of “Big Jim,” who’s really just a big a** hole with an ego bigger than the dome. Alas, Season 1 has ended and Big Jim continues to reign over his kingdom with his minion, i.e. his idiot of a son. After the season finale I’ve concluded that Sheriff Linda is also a blubbering buffoon and she and most of the town folk are mere lemmings. I’m also tired of hearing naive Joe asking why they should kill Big Jim. WAKE UP, for God’s sake. But who cares what I think…I’m just one of more than 200 million TV viewers in the US. Certainly not Stephen King, whose written response to criticism of the show made me want to hurl (There’s no place like Dome??? What the hell???) and throw away the two books of his that I have and who I’m convinced is raking in more big bucks for his treasure chest from this show. I’m done with his work. What’s important to me is that THIS SHOW WON’T BE SEEN IN MY LIVING ROOM NEXT SEASON. It’s TRASH. I can’t figure out CBS. They did so well with The Big Bang Theory, Elementary, and Person of Interest…and then they come out with this.

  35. Daniel says:

    I too feel cheated by the non ending, and will not watch any of the next season. Already wasted one summer and there is no promise that it will be resolved in season 2. It may go on forever and never come to a conclusion, but die with a whimper when the cash cow dies. CBS has “LOST” all credibility with this ripoff.

  36. John Spader says:

    Great show until the last episode. The final show left us like no other show we ever seen. There was no closure of ANYKIND!
    CBS won’t get me another year on this show!
    You all wonder why most TV viewers are going back to OLDER shows tha actually made sense, but today there is no common sense period…

  37. Peter Krikorian says:

    when does season two start ??

  38. Jmk says:

    This series is so far removed from its source it’s a joke. The book was incredible – the tv series is laughable. The acting is poor, the story line is ridiculous (the monarch will be crowned?!) and networks are just trying to figure out a way to stretch it out and keep ratings up. I’m surprised (and appalled) that Stephen King allowed this to happen. If you want to be entertained, read the book. It’s about a million times better than the tv series. I won’t be watching next season.

  39. nate liddick says:

    I really enjoyed under the dome this past year. It was a really good show with an interesting plot. I was disappointed that it wasn’t just the 13 episodes that it was supposed to be. I felt some of the episodes were mainly bull because nothing got done. I think they should of ended after this year. I was very disappointed with the last episode it shouldn’t of ended that way we should of got answers. Now I have to wait another year for the ending. I will watch next year but they better end it after that.

    • dudley58 says:

      Nate – as long as the ratings are up they will milk it for all it’s worth. Do yourself a favor and read the book – 100% better.

  40. mustangmach says:

    They’ve blown it already. It is so much tripe, so far removed from the source, that its a complete joke.

  41. Rocky92p says:

    Let’s put it plain and simple. You shot yourself in the foot. Forget a second season, bad enough the finale was extremely slow. But, this should be let as a mini series and closed out at the end. I for one will not care what happens at this point..

  42. kate says:

    to quote comic book man…..”worse ending ever”

  43. Loretta Nardi-Slocum says:

    Holy Gollywood! Typically, another bad creative decision motivated by the scent of potential profits. Despite the considerable heft of the tome, even this story can be stretched too thin. Will anyone care after a year-long wait what happens?

  44. Jack says:

    It started out ok, seemed to be sort of a compelling story but ended weak. It’s not a Lost and doesn’t seem to warrant watching in season 2.. Too bad the network had to try and make a short story into something it’s not..

  45. MrTemecula says:

    When the audience reaction is, “What? That’s it?”, the season finale failed at its job. Under the Dome was o.k. for summer, but I’m not going get jerked around for another season.

    Not especially when Breaking Bad has shown how to end a season. Which, by the way, Dean Norris you are the major reason I watched Under the Dome.

  46. Barbara Presnell says:

    The story didn’t “end” it just stopped! Did they run out of money or dopey ideas? The book was fairly decent, but the mess Spielberg made of it was pathetic. Much to my shame I suffered through each plodding episode, hoping something significant would happen–it didn’t! We began to call it “Under the Dumb”–will definitely give a pass on any further episodes. “You can fool some of the people some of the time…”

  47. Sally C. says:

    I agree – the final “spellbinding” minutes were cut off by a local news channel Just 5 more minutes would have wrapped things up nicely. And no second season. Not sure if I’ll even care next time the Dome shows up.

  48. maria rivera says:

    What type of ending was that! I thought the ending was cut off by the news! I was furious! What happened to Barbie? Did he hang? Wasn’t the son supposed to stab his father? Did it just clear or did the dome come down? That was the worst non-ending EVER! It really sucked! I’m disappointed.

  49. Doug says:

    Has the Brian Lowry even watched the show? Jim Rennie Sr is not the mayor he is a town councilman. Small trivial point to make, but someone giving a bad review of a show should get the facts right.

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