Hey, maybe summer doesn't suck anymore! CBS is taking a chance on Under the Dome, a short-season summer series that actually has a script. The network has also been heavily marketing the project, hoping that a cable-length series might become an easy way stall the summer ratings slump. But can a sci-fi show be the answer? And more importantly, is it worth watching? I've seen the pilot episode and I'm here to help you answer that question and more so that you'll know whether Under the Dome is right for you or if the only time you need to waste on the show is the time you'll spend reading this silly article. (Note: I have not read the book, so I can not make any comparisons!)
Under the Dome... is this like a support group for bald guys?
No! it's CBS's attempt at making summer network television not entirely worthless. It's a small-town drama with science-fiction splashes, and it's just a bit beyond CBS's comfort zone. In Under the Dome, the tiny 'burb of Chester's Mill finds itself cut off from the rest of the world when an impenetrable half-sphere-shaped force field plops down around it. While those on the outside try to find their way in, those on the inside fall into the expected panic of having their world turned into a gigantic terrarium.
Who created it, what's it based on, and who's in it?
Bringing Under the Dome to television is Brian K. Vaughn, the comic-book and television writer behind Y: The Last Man, a handful of Lost episodes, and a bunch of Marvel and DC Comics books. It's based on a 2009 novel by some guy named Stephen King. Under the Dome has attracted an eclectic cast, including Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle), Dean Norris (Breaking Bad), Jeff Fahey (Lost), Rachelle Lefevre (Twilight), Mike Vogel (The Help), and Natalie Martinez (CSI: NY).
When does Under the Dome begin?
Da dome dropz June 24 at 10pm on CBS. It's been given a 13-episode first season, and since it airs in the summer, the likelihood of this getting canceled during its season is nil, so watch without worry. Under the Dome has also been called a miniseries by even the smartest of people (me!), but it's seen as a potential recurring summer series for CBS.
Who is Under the Dome trying to please?
Stephen King fans, mostly. That is to say, those who like an intriguing Twilight Zone-ish concept and a whole bunch of clearly defined characters, but who don't care for straining their brain too much. The pilot moves forward like a page-turning beach read. There's no need to slow down the story to build up relationships; it just moves on to the next plot point. But don't be fooled by the fact that Under the Dome is on CBS. The project was originally set up at Showtime and some of the goriness (limbs will be lost!) carried over, though it's not that bloody and I wouldn't expect it to last. You can watch this with your Nana!
What works well about Under the Dome?
WHERE DID THE DOME COME FROM!?!?! That question is easily enough to get you through a couple episodes. But what impressed me about the pilot was its efficiency. The premiere doesn't waste much time at all as early, dome-induced panic bounces around from character to character, and each person is boiled down to their essence. Like a crowd-pleasing popcorn flick, there's nothing subtle about Under the Dome, and the show uses that to its advantage. It just go, go, goes. And if you like seeing trucks crash into invisible walls or cows standing in the wrong place when a dome comes down, you'll dig some of the effects (thought I'd expect them to slow down after the pilot. I mean, things stop crashing into the dome, right?).
Where are the cracks in the Dome?
Again, Under the Dome is only here to entertain you, not to enlighten you. So while everything is in place, it all feels a little thin. The dialogue's a little hammy, the acting's a little bland at times, and the attention to detail's a little lacking. Some of the storylines veer toward odd places awfully quickly, too. How do some of these characters have time for nonsense when there's a FRICKING GIANT IMPENETRABLE DOME OVER THEIR HEADS?
So... should I watch it?
Yeahhhhhhhhhh! First of all, there's nothing else on, so let's all watch this together. Second of all, it gets off to a good start and looks like it could be exactly the kind of summer entertainment TV needs more of. Third of all, we need to ensure that summer shows like this one get good ratings so that we don't end up with Celebrity Bocce Party or Zero Gravity Dating every time it gets hot outside. But really, Under the Dome is definitely fun enough on its own. (Plus I'll be reviewing it weekly and don't want to be talking to myself.)
I can't read! Can I see a preview in moving pictures!?!?
Well if you can't read how will you know what the heading of this section even says? Anyway, here's the trailer, Einsten.
What beverage do you suggest I pair with my Under the Dome viewing?
Take some rum, various fruit juices, some fresh squeezed lime, and a few cans of Sprite, then mix them all together in a large, deep punch bowl. After the flavors are married, place the punch bowl upside down over your head and then shout "Look at me! I'm under the dome!" Or beer.
Under the Dome premieres Monday, June 24 at 10pm on CBS. I will also be writing up episodic reviews of the series, so just watch it, okay?