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'Under The Dome' Pilot Review

Christopher Monigle Christopher Monigle
June 27th, 2013 12:22am EDT

Under the Dome

Stephen King's Under The Dome was released in 2009, 2 years after The Simpsons movie. In The Simpsons movie, the EPA drops a dome around Springfield, and Homer needs to save the town. I joked at the time that Stephen King had run out of ideas. I imagined him watching The Simpsons movie and deciding to see what the story would look like if told seriously. Under The Dome's gotten pretty good reviews. My two friends said positive things about the book, though they did not like the ending. CBS would be wise to avoid keeping an ending considered horrible by people who've read the books. A series will be forever altered if a show doesn't nail the ending. The ending's far off, though--this is just the "Pilot."

The "Pilot" is busy. There are quite a few characters to keep track of, several abrupt turns in the story, plus the whole matter of the dome's mystery. Under The Dome immediately reminded me of LOST. The story cut from character to character. Each character is introduced decently into the story. I thought each character had his or her own specific definition. It's not like it's just a sea of people that blend together because nothing stands about them. There are murderers, crazy folk, power-hungry folk keeping secrets, a lesbian couple and their daughter, teenage siblings, a journalist, the town sheriff and his deputy (I think). The dome drops quickly. All hell breaks loose. Sort of. Not really. I expected more hell to be loosed than what was actually loosed. Under The Dome opened with a series of jarring scenes, though. The mystery of the dome will drive the series seemingly but what lives under the dome of these characters, in their heads and hearts, is, I think, potentially more interesting.

The "Pilot" provided sketches of the characters more than complete pictures. Pilots are designed to hook the viewer. The "Pilot" barely scratches the surface of the story. The town sheriff, portrayed by the delightful Jeff Fahey, is about to tell his deputy something about the dome, but then his pacemaker explodes after touching the glass. The town's congressman or councilman, portrayed by the gentleman from Breaking Bad, definitely knows more about the dome as evidenced in his threatening scene with the sheriff. Two teenagers are afflicted by seizures in the "Pilot" and utter something about 'stars falling.' The male teenager is hit by a seizure just as he figures out the important questions. Under The Dome has mystery bursting from the seams.

Under The Dome is reminiscent of LOST, but that seems like an unfair comparison for a Stephen King story. The Stand was a model for Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams, and Carlton Cuse. Under The Dome's been adapted for the small screen by Bryan K. Vaughan, a successful comic book writer and former writer on LOST. Cort Fey is the director of photography. Jack Bender works as an executive producer, though he did not direct the "Pilot." Under The Dome puts alot of different characters into a tight space. Mystery temporarily brings the characters together but there will be division and unrest.

A husband is cheating on his wife; loved ones are separated by the dome; a crazy man named Junior kidnapped the girl he loves and has her locked in a fallout shelter; plus who knows what else is happening with all the other characters whose hook couldn't be integrated into the busy "Pilot." I like the rugged badass who's introduced burying someone he killed. The rugged badass has a Sawyer quality. He's desperate to escape the town, but he's trapped. The town journalist takes him into her home, and she's adept at getting the truth. LOST's John Locke once told a character to be careful burying anything on the island because it won't remain buried. Locke quips it's because of erosion. Well, it won't be erosion in Under The Dome. The rugged badass' buried body won't remain buried. The rugged badass also has a little confrontation with Junior. Junior's the resident psychopath.

Britt Robertson plays the girl Junior kidnapped. In the second scene of the episode he told her he loved her and she told him she had fun over the summer. Junior took her reaction badly. Robertson is currently stuck in a fallout shelter. Robertson's one of my favorite actresses. I watched a full season of The Secret Circle because of her. I also watched Avalon High because of her. I'd like to see given more to do than be scared out of her mind every time Junior walks in. I'm hoping for rugged badass to save the day.

I think Under The Dome could be a successful summer series. CBS is a stable network. Audiences will watch what's put on the network, season be damned. Early reviews have been good, but reviewing pilots is a crap-shoot. Some pilots suck but then the writers figure out the show; some pilots are great but then sink because for a myriad of reasons. The production team gives me hope Under The Dome will maintain the pacing and tone of the "Pilot."

Photo Credits: © CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved


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