Saturday, September 21, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Under the Dome, season 1 (2013) **

TV-14, 13 45-min. episodes
Creator: Brian K. Vaughan

Directors: Niels Arden Oplev, Jack Bender, Paul A. Edwards, Kari Skogland, Miguel Sapochnik, Roxann Dawson, Sergio Mimiaca-Gezzan, David Barrett, Peter Leto

Writers: Brian K. Vaughan, Stephen King (novel), Rick Cleveland, Adam Stein, Peter Calloway, Soo Hugh, Caitlin Parrish, Daniel Truly, Andres Fischer-Centeno, Scott Gold

Starring: Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, Dean Norris, Natalie Martinez, Britt Robertson, Alexander Koch, Colin Ford, Mackenzie Lintz, Nicholas Strong, Jolene Purdy, Aisha Hinds

Guest starring: Jeff Fahey, Samantha Mathis, Beth Broderick, Dale Raoul, John Elvis, Josh Carter, R. Keith Harris, Ned Bellamy, Leon Rippy, Andrew Vogel, Jaret Sears, Linds Edwards, Natalie Zea, Mare Winnigham, Ray Hernandez, Crystal Martinez, Jason Alexander Davis

I rarely stay on the fence about a television show for as long as I have with “Under the Dome”, the continuing series based on Stephen King’s best-selling novel about a small town whose citizens suddenly find themselves mysteriously trapped under an invisible dome. The premise is compelling and lends itself well to an extended series, rather than a two-hour movie. It should be a great series in this day of the mythology series as opposed to the episodic television of old. Truth be told, it even lends itself to some episodic exploration as well.

Unfortunately, its premise seems to be all the CBS executives seem to think is necessary to hang it on. While I recognize some of the writer’s names from better television shows, it seems they’ve gone for the bargain basement bins in terms of writing quality. The writing is the biggest drawback of the show. Instead of building mystery with its strange premise, the writers are content to write their lines based on cliché and sap. Nothing is subtle in this series. No one in the town seems to approach the developments with the awe and astonishment appropriate to the situation.

They’ve assembled a good cast that either doesn’t care that much about the material, or can’t muster the chops to rise above the pedestrian teleplays. Dean Norris, who is so good as the DEA agent brother-in-law in the hit cable series “Breaking Bad”, plays the heavy in this series and seems to need some dentures to help him with all the teeth gnashing he asked to perform. The rest just aren’t really given much to work with. There’s little to no character development, and everyone seems to react fairly similarly to some pretty extreme events. Even the psychotic kid seems to become pretty fair and balanced about things by mid-season.

I want to like “Under the Dome”. I want to know what happens to this town and why it is happening, but I think I’d be better off reading the book. The TV show just doesn’t earn its claim on such an intriguing premise. King seems to prefer these lesser type of television treatments to his material rather than the more accomplished films that have come from some of his books. I know he’s a fan of the medium, and this book is good source material for a series; but he needs to demand writing as good as his own. And if I have to see that cow get sliced in half by the dome one more time, I might just shoot myself.

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