Monday, September 23, 2013

Under The Dome: Review

The first season of Under The Dome wrapped up last week and while initially entertaining it became increasingly generic and disappointing. When it was first announced, a 13-hour adaptation of the massive book sounded like an intriguing idea for a miniseries.  But then someone decided to turn this one trick pony into an ongoing series with multiple seasons. Out went most of King's characters and plot and in came the bland, muddled stories intended to expand the scope  (in all the wrong directions). All to prove that this book never had the legs to be a series.

It's difficult not to compare the series against the book since it features the same title, basic scenario, character names and a marketing effort to remind you of the source material. Yet it's a complete departure from the book. If you are going to adapt a Stephen King book, stick to the story. It really can't be improved upon (or call it something else like Haven did).

The ending is different matter. It's a known issue that Stephen King often struggles to resolve his novels as eloquently as he starts them. The series had a chance to improve upon the original ending but unfortunately, there's no proper end to the season. It just sorts of stops and adds several pointless cliffhangers (Will Barbie be hung? What  are those pink stars? What is that nonsense with the black egg and the mini-dome? Why are the entities "protecting" Chester's Mill? Why is the dome now white?). Telling a good story means having a beginning, middle and end even with multiple seasons (did the writers learn nothing from the debacles of Lost or The Killing?). Whether there is an end remains to be seen in season 2... or 3... or 4...

Unlike the book, the series also lacks a distinct sense of urgency and plausibility. After you accept that the dome exists – a fascinating concept – you would expect a town cut-off from the world to go nuts (like they did in The Mist). In the book, it takes only a week to go from pleasant townsfolk to bat-sh?!t crazy war mongers. In the series, everyone is so calm and collected having flapjacks at the local diner (until episode 6 when panic erupts for two whole scenes) or setting up fight clubs to pass the time. It doesn't help that the characters are so underwritten that their purpose for existing evaporates the moment they leave the screen.

It's a shame the series didn't even attempt to capture the book's concepts of good versus evil, the struggle of the human sacrifice, drugs and God, the corruption of power, and the will of one man against all odds. Granted, these are not the most original concepts, but a great story nonetheless.

This image has more heart and soul that the entire first season of Under The Dome.



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