An Under the Dome Community
CBS (ended 2015)
Yes, I'm going to do it. I'm going to toss down the gauntlet between these two Monday 10/9 central shows which have a vaguely similar theme: people trapped in an isolated situation and forced to fight for their lives while dealing with the breakdown of societal institutions.
Up front I'll admit it: I like Siberia better. I've seen six of that, and eight of UtD. I think we can all come with an informed opinion by now. If anything, I went into the two shows with a more open-mind toward UtD. NBC has a horrible track record for "event" programming: Persons Unknown and The Event, anyone? And I'm not a fan of competitive reality shows.
On the other hand, I'm a Stephen King fan. That said, Under the Dome is my least favorite of all his novels, because it was the only one I couldn't finish on the first read. (I'm now rectifying that.) I know his track record for media adaptations is spotty at best, but I can usually forgive his mediocre efforts and understand that a lot of his stuff doesn't adapt well. For example I'd rather have It on TV, dumbed down, then no It at all.
Despite that, I'm giving the nod to Siberia. Why? It comes down to 5 reasons.
1) Working Against Expectations
People expect more from Stephen King than Matthew Arnold (who??). I'm among them. Even the worse King adaptations that actually followed the original story had something good to them. (Stuff that tossed the original story out entirely, like Lawnmower Man and Mangler, not so much.).
In this case, a good Matthew Arnold trumps a mediocre Stephen King. The problem is that we're getting Stephen King... but we're not. We're getting his high concept of the Dome, and some borrowing from the bones of his original novel. But then a bunch of generic Hollywood writers stepped in to write. If you're going to borrow from the Master, keep borrowing. King will be writing the season 2 premiere, but it seems like too little, too late.
Matthew Arnold (who??) is directing every episode so far, writing a couple of key episodes, and got people he apparently handpicked to write the others. You might agree or disagree with his vision for his show, but at least it's his vision.
2) Taking It Slow
UtD is a "start with a bang" novel, literally. It starts with a bisected ground chuck and an exploding plane. That works in the novel because King can describe the inner thoughts of his characters and do flashbacks. But what it means on the show is that we're swept up into the excitement and then it... stops. We could have used an episode, or maybe even a half-episode, to learn about what these people are like outside of a crisis. Then we can watch them deteriorate. But that's not what happened here. That's why we got the "crisis of the week" for the next few episodes.
Siberia starts slow and it's a bit misleading. It starts as a reality show, with all the garbage reality show interviews and "deep character moments on the camera" and so on. But we get to learn about the characters. They're not particularly deep or original, but at least we know what they are and we get to see them change once the crisis kicks in during episode five. So hey, we'll call it misdirection instead of misleading. :)
Siberia also builds up the suspense. Both shows have a mystery, but UtD's mystery just isn't that… suspenseful. Maybe it's that the UtD characters for the most part don't seem that interested in solving the mystery, except for Joe and Norrie. And now Julia as of episode eight. And that brings us to...
3) Proactive Characters
Now that the crisis is upon the contestants in Siberia, they're doing stuff. They're building signal fires. They're sending out a party to find that radio beacon. They're hunting for food. They're tipping over reward boxes. They're finding lockets and bracelets and skeletons and diaries and little girls. Heck, they're preparing to sue the producers when they escape and making sure everything gets filmed as evidence. (Which conveniently provides a reason for the cameramen to keep filming.)
Joe and Norrie are the only ones looking into the mystery of the Dome. And they're not doing much. They find the mini-Dome and the egg, and they... cover it up and walk away, keeping it a secret. I'd be out there every spare moment poking and prodding it, getting more images to appear and say cryptic things. Okay, Alice died and it might have been connected to what they did. But guess what? They're probably going to die if they don't investigate the Dome. Does anyone think the Dome is waiting for someone to find the egg and poke it before it starts manipulating people's lives?
Eventually Joe tells Julia, and she's kinda curious. She touches the mini-Dome once, gets a message, and walks away. Ugh. I understand not telling most people in town. But call in Dodee, she's got some technical expertise.
4) Believable Characters
Okay, the characters on Siberia aren't very believable. But at least they're proactive and seem willing to cooperate. Esther, the resident heel, actually regrets what she did to Irene and has a heartfelt conversion. These people realize they may not like each other, but they have to cooperate to survive. Except for Miljan, the Junior stand-in. But even he seems to be going insane, instead of starting insane and staying insane.
Big Jim and Ollie still carry on their feud. Junior is still chasing Angie. Okay, he's nuts, but does he have no sense of self-preservation? No one seems too worried about their long-term survival and they're going about their lives just about like they were before the Dome. Big Jim was a power-hungry jerk before the Dome, and he's a power-hungry jerk after the Dome. King's novel was about the fact that crisis brings out the worst in people. But because we didn't see Big Jim before the Dome, we don't get that fact.
Ditto on Junior. He's started by locking Angie up, and he's just as nuts seven episodes later. The only reason he can kill people is because they keep giving him guns, not because he's gotten any nuttier.
5) Dialogue
Siberia is no great shakes, but they have occasional bits of moving dialogue, and they mix in some comedy. There's a certain naturalistic quality to it.
UtD is an uneasy mix of King's dialogue, attempts at doing King's dialogue, and Hollywood 101 clichés. The former make the latter two stand out, and not in a good way.
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So overall, I'm giving Siberia the nod. I'll watch both, and we'll see how they go. Either one could yet surprise, but that's the mid-season or near mid-season assessment.
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I'm going with Siberia. How could I not root for the obvious underdog?

Someone might say that UtD is still superior to Siberia because of the actors, camera work and the sets. However, I have to say that Siberia is much better when compared pound for pound. If one claims that UtD is better than Siberia, the only reason for that is its much larger budget. But Siberia has managed to squeeze much more out of its few resources. It simply is an endearing, little, entertaining show, despite its modest set-up.
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I think they'd be nutty if someone said that UtD had superior actors, camera work, or sets. Neither show really has great sets: small town, Siberian wilderness. The camera work on UtD is average at best, and they've done some nice outdoor shooting on Siberia. And the actors on UtD may be "superior" (i.e. they seem to have actually worked in the industry ;) ), it's hard to tell because there's so little they can do with what they've given.
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I agree, Siberia is actually kind of awesome.....I got bored about 3 episodes in but stuck with it and am surprised to find that I actually care about the characters.
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Next week! I will officially start watching Siberia live. I had my Teen Wolf obligation end last night (and MTV, I might start recording the second airing of this show because I cannot stand your hashtags!) and I am not contributing to UTD numbers. I will likely still watch it on Monday nights while zooming through my DVR but really only because Siberia might scare the crap out of me (seriously, Sabine found her own body! and really did it not occur to any producer that the Russian government likely never collected many of its prisoners)
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I completely agree with your comparison!
In the beginning of the midseason I was also looking a bit more forward to Under the Dome than Siberia, and the first episode of UtD was really cool, too. But then it somehow didn't go anywhere from there, while Siberia improved a lot.
For me personally, also the characters play a big role in this. The characters in UtD turned paler over the course of the show, and I don't really care for any of them. The only characters that interest me are Joe and his girlfriend and the dome, but the dialogues with them are just horribly written. In the beginning, I liked the cop, but she turned out to be an idiot. Julia could also be interesting, but she doesn't do that much that has impact?
In Siberia on the other hand I find it much easier to relate to most of the characters. Most of them are still idiots, but in a more realistic way. Except Miljan and sometimes Esther (who apparently can't decide between being a horrible and a sweet person) everybody seems pretty okay and reasonable. I like that.

Another plus for Siberia is that it reminds me of the good old mystery days of Lost (although they just recycle just everything what happened there...). And right now, they already introduced so many mystery elements that it's completely open for where they want to go: They could be attacked by the creepy children and the other evil people in the woods, another tiger could show up, or maybe the travel through time, or maybe it's just going to be a survival story where half the cast will freeze to death and the rest of them has to eat them...
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I think the people behind Siberia are doing a better job, but I still have to go with Under the dome. The premise of that show makes it more interesting, even though all the people in that town are idiots. After 8 episodes, only one person has been clever enough to go to the center and see if there's something there. People on the outside are idiots too. They dropped a bomb on it without even trying to set up a way to communicate with the people on the inside. I can assure you that anyone who has studied physics up to the level of an introductory course in electromagnetism will immediately come up with the idea to check out the center. And I assume that a lot of people who haven't studied physics would come up with the idea pretty soon as well. So why isn't there a bunch of scientists outside, asking them to check out the center? Because the government isn't letting them? That's the only answer that wouldn't be terrible writing, but it only makes sense if the government already knows what the dome is. I'm guessing that they don't.

To be fair, the people on Siberia have been stupid as well. For example, when a person got seriously injured and they realized that the only way to get her to the "help" button was to carry her across the "now you're out of the competition" line, no one came up with the obvious idea to demand that the camera crew handle it. They should at least have asked one of the camera guys to run to the button and press it. (Yes, I remember what Esther did, but the way I remember it, she didn't do it immediately).

Where's the camera crew sleeping anyway? At the base camp that was destroyed?

The interview scenes in the first few episodes were pretty irritating. All they did for me was to remind me that I hate reality shows. I don't think there were any interview scenes in the most recent episode. I hope there won't be any more, or at least that there won't be many more, now that the competition is over.


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I think it's safe to figure that 9perhaps like reality shows in real life) the contestants going in know that the rules are that they can't coerce the cameramen to do things in the game that would help the contestant or hurt another contestant.
Like I noted, I also wonder some about the cameramen, like what they are eating. Then again, that may be a question they answer. I'm willing to wait and see.
I don't know if they're going to stop the interviews. I don't recall any in the last episode, either. We'll see, but I like how they set it up so that the cameramen now have a reason to keep filming: to gather evidence against the producers.
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"...the rules are that they can't coerce the cameramen to do things..."

Right, but when someone gets seriously injured, they have to at least try. At that point, they still thought that they were in a reality show. The producers of that show would have been both morally and legally responsible for the safety of the contestants. So from a contestant's point of view, it wouldn't make sense for the camera guys to refuse.

"I like how they set it up so that the cameramen now have a reason to keep filming"

It's good that they did something to explain it. But they could perhaps have done more. By now the camera guys must realize that their lives are in danger too (unless they're all in on it), so they should start working on other things than filming the contestants.
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I suppose that would depend on the legal contract the contestants signed. Which I'd kinda liked to see. But if they signed waivers...
Still, the contestants have said that the cameramen should help them, and got quite violent a couple of times when they didn't, so I think the writers have that covered.
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Staff
Fantastic work yet again! Keep it coming! I noticed someone on staff promoted it to the homepage. Really awesome!
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I appreciate the photo! I hope it isn't too confusing for folks. Now, if we could do a mash-up image...

It's also an idea for an UtD tagline: "What happens when a Stephen King adaptation goes horribly wrong?" :) Not that it's wrong per se. It's just the least adapty Stephen King TV adaptation ever.
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Staff
Ha, I like that!

Yeah, the photo did get added for the promotion. If you make or find a mash-up image we could always replace it :)
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Gave up on UtD by episode 5, also. Went and read the novel, instead. Probably a much better use of my time. Was almost ready to give up on Siberia after episode 4, but stuck it out. Glad I did. Siberia has become far more interesting with episodes 5 and 6. Things are starting to make sense, too, if you appreciate time travel/displacement stories. Let's hope they can pull off a satisfying conclusion to the series.
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Well, it wouldn't be the first NBC "event" show that started off promising but botched the landing. (*cough Persons Unknown* cough).
http://www.tv.com/shows/persons-unknown/
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Never got past episode 7. Guess I was lucky.
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Thank goodness. Because you missed one of the most horrifying sights known to man. The Doctor on Voyager really wanted some hair...



Not since Christopher Lambert in Highlander 2 has there been such a bad old-age makeup job as the one they slapped on Robert Picardo.



Twins separated at birth? You be the judge.
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I stopped watching Siberia after episode 1.
I stopped watching UtD after episode 5 because I had some hope or because I'm desperate ...
In conclusion & in my opinion, both are major fails.
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Siberia has improved.

UtD has... deproved? Now it's trending upward a little.
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noted. I saw a part of episode 2, and jcould not stand it. I'll have another go, never know. Thanks for the info.
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I think it's worth your time now that they've moved beyond the setup and gotten into the main premise: weird stuff, fight for survival, if it's the kind of show you do enjoy. If it isn't, then, well, some things just aren't for everyone. There's great shows that I can't stand. Not that I'm saying that Siberia is a great/classic show. But it's better than expected.
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Why do more people watch Under the Dome than Siberia?
  1. Plot - Invincible dome vs fake reality show
  2. Actors - Dean Norris, Rachelle LeFevre and Britt Robertson (Breaking Bad, Twilight and Secret Circle) vs people you probably have never heard of before
  3. Creator - as stated above Stephen King vs Matthew Arnold
  4. Network - CBS vs NBC

On paper UTD should be owning Siberia. But in reality, UTD only leads Siberia in number of viewers. The invincible dome plot has been a letdown as the writers refuse to make the dome the star of the show. They made it a prop and let it stay that way. Siberia got wise and shed its fake reality persona. It's now a full-blooded sci-fi/mystery with all the twists and turns that entails.

As for the actors, I'm not sure how proud the cast of UTD would be after the show is over. Let's face it, the writers made some of them look like total idiots. The Siberia cast should be proud of what they've done. And at the very least, they've earned one fan who will be looking forward to their next project.

The communities of both shows are quite revealing. 257 members vs 28 members. But when you read both you'll realize a lot of posts UTD gets are people commenting on how bad the show is and how they've stopped watching the show. It's a mixed pot of good and bad at best. The Siberia community on the other hand is on an upswing. Driven by two good recent episodes a member has began reviewing the show (thanks Gislef!). Theories and character discussions abound.

So for all of you out there who have grown tired of the Chester's Mill shenanigans come give Siberia a try. ;-)
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I think that the UtD producers are realizing they need to make the Dome a main character. Or maybe that was their plan all along to make it more important in episode 7. But if so, IMO it was a miscalculation.
It's a weird mix of impatience and foot dragging. We had to have the Dome NOW! But then it just kind of lost momentum until episode 7. It was like they wanted to do what SK did and drop the Dome immediately, but then they didn't know how to deal with it once they did. Or they thought it'd be more suspenseful if they dragged it out. But it wasn't.
Siberia, yes, they kinda dragged it out. But like I said, IMO they were doing some sleight of hand. It was "Yeah, look, we'll show you a reality show, and reality show characters and drop some mysterious hints about stuff out in the woods." But then episode 5 and BANG! a character gets badly wounded and a little girl is dancing through the forest giggling, and all their suspicions that the producers were playing with them came to fruition. It was near perfect timing.
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And people are finding what appear to be their own corpses. :)
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Well I quit Under the Dome after 2 episodes but I'm still enjoying Siberia~~I guess that tells you how I feel.

I can't believe all the hype about UtD and the ratings--I really disliked it enough to stop after 2 episodes (I even watched around 5 episodes of the truly horrendous show Cult before quitting it). I feel bad for Dean Norris who is a fantastic actor (check him out on Breaking Bad) to go from Breaking Bad to UtD...but at least it's a paycheck.

People trashed Siberia without even watching it or only watching one episode. While it's not a top tiered show it is 1000X better then UtD imo (unless UtD suddenly started kicking ass~~remember I quit after 2 episodes).

Thanks Grislef for your review on Siberia and thanks sluu3p18 for your insightful comments on Siberia. Hmm, I hope I got it right on who wrote it...
;-)
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Hey, I liked Cult. But that was in comparison to its closest competitor, The Following. (And that's another vs. article, maybe I'll put it in The Following community). But it's another show that botched the landing.
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The Following has a community? LOL, I might just join it. That show had potential but squandered it from the get go.
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Pretty spot on comparison.

My problem with UTDs progression is after each crisis/plot advancement/shocking reveal the show seems to revert back to status quo in the next episode. Remember the strong rain and the collected rainwater? Remember the charred ground outside the dome after MOAB hit? Remember all the longing for the loved ones outside of the dome? Remember the warzone that was main street? All gone in the next episode. Even baby dome was again covered by leaves at the start of this weeks episode. I wouldn't be surprised if Angie opened up the diner again and people came there to eat as if nothing happened. Eight episodes in and the only thing different in the town is that some people are dead.

I agree Siberia started slow, burning four episodes for "reality' show antics and only little clues to the big mystery. But come episode 5, the shit hits the fan and they're off running. The group has split up and you just know camp life will never be the same again.
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