With a strong cast and writers of a such high calibre in Stephen King and Brian K. Vaughan, could the 13 part first series of Under the Dome be the TV success that King has yet to have? Over the next few months I’ll be looking at how well a transition – from book to TV – Under the Dome makes.
Barbie sans Ken
Not since the premier of LOST has a TV series had such an explosive (I’m talking plane crashes here) way of introducing the main cast. It’s a fine balance getting the premise of the first story arc over to the viewer without diluting it by having to introduce a large cast. Under the Dome does this fairly well with the main cast getting a good balance of screen time each. Not too much is given away in this pilot episode; the inhabitants of Chester’s Mill begin what they believe to be a typical day only to be separated by an invisible dome. There’s no doubt that there are some dark deeds afoot, even before the dome appears, that are more than hinted at in the very first scene with Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara.
To those that have read the Stephen King novel, that this series is based on, will recognise that the characters have had a few alterations made to their backstories. I’m currently reading the book and believe that these changes will make for a better TV show. Sticking too closely to the novel could be a disservice to the show in the long run. Especially now that a second series of a further 13 episodes has been green-lighted. A little flexibility with characterisation, that fits within the main storyline, should allow the TV show the scope to mature the at a better pace. Time will tell with that assumption. Die-hard fans of the Stephen King book could be at odds with the TV show on these changes.
Paul Blewitt’s thoughts
“…stars are falling…”
The metaphysical/mystical properties of the dome are neatly introduced in this pilot but it’s the physical effects that the inhabitants try and get to grips with early on. From the destruction of property, livestock and human life to the inability to communicate with the outside world shows Chester’s Mill time under the dome is only in its infancy. The psychological trauma and how the inhabitants deal with the after effects have yet to be broached. This is a key draw to wanting me to come back to watch the next episode. It’s a very clear hook to bring the viewer back to see whether the limited chance of empathy with any of the characters increases as the series evolves.
As pilots go I have seen much worst than this. The casting seems OK and the premise allows the ‘What if…’ scenario. There’s plenty of scope for an improvement in building tension and empathy to the plight of Chester’s Mill. I’m yet to care what happens to any of the characters bar Julia Shumway who is an investigative reporter that has an early emotional tie to Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara.
13 episodes per season seems an ideal length for at least the first season and I’m sure that they’ll be a draw to the second season with Stephen King penning the season premiere.
If Under the Dome can fill some of the void that has been left since LOST was last on our screens then I will be happy enough. Anything else will be a bonus.
Under the Dome is currently airing once a week on Channel 5 in the UK.