Review: ‘Under the Dome (Week 2)’

Under the Dome (Week 2)

Aside from enough references to propane to make “King of the Hill” proud, “Under the Dome’s” second week brought to mind “Lost” — and not in a good way.

CBS made only one episode of the series available in advance, which was enough to provoke mostly positive reviews and pretty spectacular ratings, especially for June. Personally, my review cited the program’s potential but kept one foot on the floor, primarily because of past disappointments involving Stephen King miniseries adaptations that started well but didn’t have enough of a payoff.

The second hour, unfortunately, found the show dropping vague clues about the nature of what might be responsible for sequestering the town of Chester’s Mill from the rest of the world (and SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t watched), hinting at a conspiracy involving the town mayor (Dean Norris), among others. For those who haven’t bothered with King’s novel, it wasn’t enough to advance the ball, and several of the show’s other serialized elements are beginning to look a trifle problematic.

For starters, the whole “Pretty girl locked in the basement by crazed ex-boyfriend” subplot feels as if it’s been lifted from an entirely different show. In theory, “Dome” ought to explore what happens to the residents of a seemingly idyllic community when they’re isolated — along the same lines as the classic “The Twilight Zone” episode “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street.” 

At this point, the series appears to be about that to a degree (the old-fashioned bucket brigade to put out a fire underscored the notion of folks working together), but with about four other shows of varying quality living under its big tent simultaneously.

Hanging around for the summer might still be worthwhile if this really were a closed-ended miniseries, but CBS is leaving the door open to turn this into a continuing franchise. Writer-producer Brian K. Vaughan has talked about viewing the concept as “an ongoing series” and harboring “long-term plans for this,” but as with a lot of limited series, this really might be a case where less is more.

Of course, having started out so high ratings-wise, “Under the Dome” would have to plummet a long way to reach the point where, in business terms, CBS wouldn’t be tempted to bring it back. But then again, NBC was proclaiming “Smash” an “unqualified success” after its first season, and look how that turned out.

So while hour two didn’t completely squander the sense of mystery the premiere established, it did plant seeds of doubt regarding whether “Under the Dome” really has legs. And if the creative merit follows the path goes of many earlier King TV adaptations, it will be interesting if viewers do what the residents of Chester’s Mill can’t — namely, start heading for the exits.

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  1. Kym Bishop says:

    Under the Dome definetly has a “Lost”
    feeling about it. But in a good way…From
    the hunky guy who looks a bit like Sawyer. To the”randoms” (guess they might be called extras) except they seem more purposely placed,in a random way.
    Even the music somewhat reminds me of
    “Lost”. That show(Lost) had everyone talking…And so does this show. This is saying a lot for night time tv. There is so little offered to capture our imaginations now a days. I for one( I’m sure more) are greatly thankful for this 1 hour of distraction, that we can talk about for many more hours.

  2. TazmnDvl says:

    if you read the book, keep the great mental images. This mini series is SO awful I can’t believe they even used the same title.This has to be the absolute worst adaption of a book I could have imagined. I take that back, not even I could kill an adaptation, and I do not write much. The acting is atrocious – big Jim is a laugh. The premise for even the most basic things are so wrong I’m pretty sure I’ll never watch any of his adaptations again. The storyline – outside of the dome dropping is totally different. I guess you could argue I’m getting a two-fer with two different story lines. For shame Stephen King, for shame!!!

    • Frank W says:

      I don’t think King has a lot to do with the TV version other than give them his blessing. This really needs to be on HBO or something. I had high hopes, still watching because there is nothing else..

    • I so agree with you. Under the Dome miniseries is AWFUL. I do not understand why they felt the need to absolutely change most of the book. I cannot watch it. The book was slow for sure but the miniseries is just plain AWFUL. There have I said awful enough. I cannot believe I read the book to prepare for the miniseries. The names are the same but everything else has changed. I am so disappointed.

  3. sheila0405 says:

    The show is falling flat right out of the gate. I don’t care about any of the characters. So, if one of them dies, I don’t really care. It was unbelievable that the crazy pastor guy survived the fire with little injuries shown. He should have been burned badly. And the bulldozer stopped the fire from spreading? What about the intense heat near the propane tank around back? The girl locked in the basement story line is a big yawn. I hope the producers read comments like these and start to make three dimensional characters whose dialogue is better suited to a Saturday morning cartoon.

  4. venetian1 says:

    The Simpsons movie had much better plot “under the dome” than this “creative effort” with serious pitfalls. I turned my TV off about ten minutes of the second hour. Bad all over.

  5. Anne says:

    Does this show remind anyone else of CBS’ ‘Jeicho’? They are using so many similar mini plots. Episode to episode they are almost identical. The skilled stranger (friend or foe), the fires, the nerdy boy with no parents around, the teenage party @ the only house with a generator, the pig headed mayor, the Sheriff getting killed in the first episode. I could go on and on, and we are only on episode 3. Same show, just a dome vs. attacks.

  6. This mini-series is nothing like the book-extremely disappointing. I thought the format would allow the whole plot to unfold, but it’s unrecognizable. They blew it.

  7. Clara Mark says:

    I’ve been a King fan for 40 years, but I switched channels halfway through the second episode. So disappointing.

  8. lslee says:

    I would be very disappointed if it became a long term series, or even worse if it had a season 2, 3 or more. Under the Dome is based on a novel, period. It has a beginning a middle and a end, and I think it is already moving pretty fast. And even though nothing by Stephen King could fit in any 2hr movie, a mini series is just right. I just hope they can really capture the essence of King.
    Good Luck!!! I’ll be watching

  9. Robert Morgan says:

    This really was LOST season 2. I wanted to like it but unlike the dome it had huge holes in it.
    The crazy boyfriend plot is a WTF??, The preacher being rescued from the fire and the
    “EVIL” town council member,,WTF?? The first episode gave me hope but like someone
    said earlier I could hear Fonzie yelling Wheeeeeee! as the show cleared the shark tank.

    • Frank W says:

      Robert, as I understand it, the crazy boyfriend plot is in the book but the tv ending is different.

  10. Deb Johnson says:

    I have been a huge King fan for years. I’ve been waiting for this series to start for months now, but sadly, shut it off midway through the last episode. So many unnecessary changes! The good King works on screen are the ones where they have NOT been tampered with, like Misery, Carrie, Salem’s Lot and It, to make all these stupid “creative” changes.

    I really hope Vaughan’s “creative skills” have been reigned in for episode 3!! The same type of movie slaughter happened with the book “The Help” – didn’t make it through the first 5 minutes of the movie. When the writing is this good – just go with it – PLEASE!!!

  11. Jen says:

    I was looking forward to having a mini series I could really get into this summer and I thought that Under the Dome might be it. The first week wasn’t bad…although none of the characters really drew me in. But, this week’s episode was horrible. The acting was awful and the premise is unbelievable. There are so many weak scenes…the water being sprayed against the dome and the boys on the inside determine it’s like a sieve…yet the people on the outside don’t even acknowledge the boys’ discovery? What was that? And during the fire, the place goes up in a flash, yet the psycho pastor isn’t immediately killed? As if.

  12. Norm says:

    Iv’e been a Mr.King reader from his very first novel(Carrie) over 40 novels (and still counting).yet have you ever had a apple pie without the pastry?well this is what happens when T.V.magnates get hold of pure horror in print & think they can replicate the novel to T.V. SORRY just not my style,when so many parts of the novel are edited out when the most importance IS what comes next with Mr.Kings novels that twist & turn that cant be in a T.V. series. If you want the BEST turn off the remote & pick up the book.

  13. AJ Palmer says:

    the show is awesome but if you watch closely you can see trees and bushes and other things like the pastors hair blowing while standing still. with the dome sealing them off how is wind possible?

  14. Dawn Bawell says:

    I haven’t had a bigger disappointment in a long time. I thought King’s Under the Dome was one of his best books ever and was so looking forward to the series. There aren’t adequate words to describe the disappointment with the acting, the writing, the changes from the book.

    • Linda Nicpon says:

      I totally agree. I also read the book and thought it would make a great TV movie but I’m so disappointed. I realize they would have to change a few things for TV but these changes are so confusing. I can’t imagine how other viewers feel if they haven’t read the book. They have completely changed the characters from the book and left out some key people. I’ll give it another couple of weeks but if it doesn’t pick up and make some sense, I’ll just have to be satisfied that I read the book and leave it at that.

  15. E Cheung says:

    UNDER THE DOME: The writing is atrocious, the major plot changes (from the novel) are atrocious, the dialog is atrocious (no one talks like this…no one!), the directing is atrocious, the acting is atrocious (with the exception of two or three of the leads), and even the art direction is atrocious. Brian K. Vaughn…you screwed up a good King property, and, as a King fan, I say you deserve a trip to the proverbial woodshed!

  16. Frank W says:

    Instead of using LOST as you analogy, you should have used ABC’s “Revenge”. If there wasn’t a show that started strong that we wouldn’t miss to a show that didn’t just “jump the shark” but jumped sperm whales long ways, I can’t recall any others.

  17. Frank W says:

    Ironically I started rereading Pat Frank’s Nuclear War aftermath novel “Alas, Babylon” just as the show premiered and they both have the same vibe of people trying to survive with limited resources. The differences are there isn’t a panic right away and somehow, I thought the power was cut, still have working mini marts. I understand they have changed things from the book, but like most King translations, the endings always fail. “It” made the clown frightening but the cause was like, WTF?

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