Review: “Under the Dome” Pilot Episode

Posted: June 25, 2013 in Review
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Adaptations are either average, amazing, or really, really bad. Sometimes it’s easy to know which one is which, sometimes it’s not. But when you have Under the Dome, based on the thousand-page novel by Stephen King, it’s difficult to tell what this adaptation will be like. Especially when you consider that there are some big differences to the novel that His Scary Highness himself okayed.

For those of you unfamiliar with the novel, Under the Dome takes place in Chester’s Mill, a small Maine town that is cut off from the world by a giant invisible dome. The novel itself focuses less on where the dome came from and how they get out of it (though that does get its treatment), but on the social ramifications of being cut off from the rest of the world. The TV series, which may have more than one season depending on how well the show does in the ratings, will chronicle how the town does over a period of months (rather than days like in the book). Clashes will occur, people will die, and perhaps we may get a second season.

However at this point it’s too early to tell. There’s the usual weirdness and odd elements that typically define a King story. Two teens have seizures where they see “stars falling in lines” and there’s a cow that’s split in two early on. There’s also hints of something very wrong happening in Chester’s Mill well before the dome fell (I won’t give anything away if you haven’t read the book, but trust me when I say it’s important). And of course, there’s the usual elements of a small town in a King story: the local diner, the townsfolk knowing everybody and everything, and town politics that are bound to get nasty.

The King himself okayed certain changes to the story. What on Earth could that mean for the show?

As for character development though, not much. Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Bates Motel‘s Mike Vogel), our main character, is as mysterious to us as he is to the fellow townspeople. Big Jim Rennie (played by Breaking Bad‘s Dean Norris) isn’t yet the villain he’s supposedly playing (or will that develop later?), while his son Junior (played by Alexander Koch) is disturbed, but a different kind from the one in the novel. Still, very disturbing.

I’m not going to go into all the differences between book and TV show, but I do hope that this story can improve over time and become something I look forward to in the summers should it have a second season. For now, I’m giving it a rating of 3.4 out of 5 for at the very least giving a good attempt at bringing a Stephen King novel to the small screen. Let’s hope they can make it a great attempt as time goes on.

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