CBS’s adaptation of Stephen King’s Under the Dome started on Monday and it was actually pretty damn good! If you’re not watching this series then you should be. It’s no Hannibal but it’s helping to heal the hole in my heart left by that season finale. Under the Dome has the opportunity to be a very smart thriller and that’s something we’re going to need in the long summer months.
The show is about a town in New England called Chester’s Mill that suddenly an inexplicably becomes encased in a giant dome. Not much can pass through the dome and the people are essentially trapped in their little town relying solely on whoever happened to be in town at the time the dome came down. But the show is less likely to be about the dome itself and more about the people inside of it. The book was about how people in a very short period of time sort of changed and adapted and essentially wen’t pretty crazy. The show, though, will stretch far more than the short span of the book and so we’re probably going to see a lot more conflict, a lot more secrets, and we’re going to have a lot more of an opportunity to get to know characters and see just how far they will go in these closed quarters.
I really think I can get into this one. And not just because Mike Vogel is hot and I was sad that he wasn’t on Bates Motel any more. (Though it totally opens up the possibility of sexy time with Norma and the sheriff. Aw yeah.) Plus Colin Ford is adorable. It’s baby!Sam Winchester. How can you not want to watch this show?
And we know it’s going to be good.
How do we know?
All good shows start with a backwoods burial.
Under the Dome starts off a bit sinister. But for a show with a fairly secretive, mysterious, sinister air about it, that’s not much of a surprise. Our first look at our hero Barbie – yes, Barbie (it is a nickname) – is of him burying some guy with a couple bullet wounds in his chest in the middle of nowhere.
After which the show decides we need to get a good look at some of the other important characters in the show. This is an ensemble series with lots of characters playing lots of important roles. We’ve got the sheriff and his deputy – whose husband just happens to be going to the next town over for a training exercise with all the rest of Chester’s Mill’s firemen and firetrucks. You’ve got Big Jim Rennie the city councilman and the local diner owner as well as Big Jim’s son Junior and Junior’s pretty girlfriend – who works at that aforementioned diner – with their relationship issues. Later, you have the two married women and their rebellious teenager daughter.
Reporter Julia shows up at some lady’s house investigating excessive propane deliveries – which one old lady in town thinks is involved in terrorism. Which, you know, seems foolish. It’s all going to the town hall to stock up on emergency reserves. Probably. It’s basically a chance to clue the viewers into some of the underlying conflicts in the town that are only going to develop into something more intense now that the townspeople are completely and totally cut off from the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Barbie is trying to hightail his way out of town because, you know, he just killed someone. But he gets distracted by the cops passing him on the road and, you know, almost hits a cow. Eyes on the road, Barbie. Way to jack up your ride. If only he hadn’t crashed he would have made it out of town before the dome fell. Instead, BOOM. DOME. WHAT NOW? Barbie gets to watch a cow get bisected and meet up with Scarecrow Joe – a nerdy teenager who is actually one of the key characters in the series. They then proceed to touch the dome and get shocked and then dive out of the way of falling birds who run into it… also a falling airplane because holy crap. The dome is high.
It’s also invisible and pretty much anyone whose driving into town is going to completely crush their vehicle. Luckily Barbie and Joe manage to stop the town’s firetrucks from smashing into it. But all around the town people are still generally oblivious to what is going on. And, unlike in the books, there’s not really a way for people to contact others and warn them. We learn this tidbit from the quirky radio staff who aren’t picking up any other radio stations and are operating on a generator because all the power is out. So basically. Bitches are going to start slamming into the dome. And they do. There are accidents reported on every road in and out of town. The two lesbian ladies and their daughter come very close to being one of them. Their daughter does have a seizure, though, and starts taking crazy talk about stars falling in lines. This is important and will happen again. Just, you know, FYI.
The sheriff and his deputy come to check out the dome where the plane fell and meet up with Barbie and Scarecrow Joe. Deputy lady’s husband is on the other side of the dome and they have a moment. Then Big Jim shows up and they get down to business. The cops go around town to check out the different exits while the reporter lady, Big Jim goes down and threatens the radio people unless they let him broadcast a warning over the air, and Barbie wander around the perimeter trying to see just how big this thing is. Conveniently, they run into a woman who needs to be taken to the hospital (so we get to see just what dire straits the town is in) and then Joe goes home to find his parents but both of them are out of town. The only one in his family who is still around is his sister – who happens to be Junior’s girlfriend. Similarly, we find out that the guy Barbie was burying in the woods was the reporter lady’s husband.
We’re seriously going to need a flow chart to keep track of all this shit.
Junior is seriously disturbed – that’s what the show wants you to know. He’s about to slit his wrists when his father comes on the radio. Then he gets all kinds of jealous and upset and flicks around a butterfly knife when he sees his girlfriend talking with Barbie. He stalks Barbie and follows him around then tries to pick a fight. I mean, this kid has issues. And it becomes a lot more obvious later that night when he abducts the girl and throws her into his father’s old fallout shelter. Because, yeah, they are those sort of people who after 9/11 bought a fallout shelter. (It could be left over from the Cold War era. Who knows.) Basically he’s creepy as shit. And afterward goes to hang out with his dad and be like, “I want to help!” Yeah. Because this kid needs to be put in charge of anything or help with anything.
Which is kind of what Jim wants to do. Because he tries to force sheriff Duke into authorizing a series of temporary deputies. He also apparently has some sort of sinister plan for this propane or something. I should remember what it is from the book but honestly I have no idea. But whatever it’s for the sheriff knows and it’s not good. Oooh, devious plot. Obviously we’re not going to find out what that plot is for a while. We have a whole season to stretch this out over, after all.
Barbie goes to spend the night with the reporter lady who doesn’t know he whacked her husband. Instead, she just thinks he’s been having an affair and was out of town when things happened. Joe meanwhile is totally unsupervised and goes to some party that a bunch of stoner kids are having on a street at the edge of the dome. Joe meets up with some kid named Ben and they start walking along the barrier checking it out. And then he has a seizure and starts talking about stars falling in lines. Noooo, Joe. (Meanwhile the army is on the other side of the dome wishing they could be partying as hard as the kids on the inside.)
Back in town, the sheriff tells everyone at the diner that at least twelve people are dead and tons of others were out of town when the dome came down. He also tells them that there doesn’t seem to be any way in or out. Then he and the deputy go out to the edge of the dome and the moron touches the barrier. They keep making this big deal about how he’s got a pacemaker so OF COURSE HE DIES WHEN HE TOUCHES IT. The electric shock hits the pacemaker and it explodes out of his chest. Just as he’s trying to tell the deputy how evil Big Jim is and stuff.
That’s how the first episode ends. We’re about to get answers and then BAM. Dude’s chest explodes. This is pretty much going to be standard for the rest of the series. Mark my words.
At the end of the episode we also get a pan out of the whole town and dome with the military barricades surrounding it and reporters talking about the crazy phenomenon. The dome itself really is a dome – which I think is a change from the books. Also, it doesn’t seem like it is that big. Like, you can see the entire dome and the military barricades and… it’s not very big. It doesn’t look like much of the town is in there anyway.
I need to re-read the book before I can really comment on changes from the source material. Suffice it to say, Stephen King is pretty much on board with everything and that’s good. I think that in a book limiting his time frame like he did worked out. I’m interested to see how the story changes as the time inside the dome lasts longer and longer.
I’m also really looking forward to having all these characters developed on screen. I just worry a bit that some of them might not get all the attention they need.
Barbie though? That hot bastard will get all the development he needs and more. He better anyway.