The pilot for Under the Dome doesn’t waste anytime in getting the titular Dome involved. Even though writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina,Saga) could have spent more time pre-Dome and been fairly interesting, playing up the preconceived tension of waiting for the Dome to drop by showing mundane small town happenings. Instead the Dome is dropped within the first 10 minutes. Using the ensuing chaos to accurately characterize most of the shows cast, of which there are many. Some of the first images of the series we see is of Barbie (Mike Vogel) burying a body after “aggressive negotiations” went south. With his black card, jacket and overall dark colors, he has the making of a stone cold hitman. Than once the Dome goes down he is saving lives, first the teenage boy from being crushed by debris and then the woman who lost her hand. He isn’t a bad man. The opposite is true for de facto leader of Chester's Mill, Councilman James "Big Jim" Rennie. His outward facing public smile hiding a sneering grin once he is alone with Police Chief Duke. The former clearly being a typical snake in the grass with designs for power and the later being a good cop who has made some poor choices. Ones he will not get to fix. Spending the entire or most of an episode around a single event is one of the things that madeLOST’s pilot so great. The actions within the chaos revealed all we needed to know about Jack, Kate, Locke, to a degree Sawyer. The same goes for Barbie, Big Jim and Duke.
There is one character that doesn’t fit this mold of chaos revealing true colors. That is Big Jim’s son Junior, played by Alexander Koch. Junior is another character we meet in the opening minutes of the pilot only his revelations happen pre-Dome. After what appears to be a bit of sex with his girlfriend, Angie. Junior turns out to be an abusive boyfriend. Who is constantly playing with his butterfly knife in every scene after...because he is CRAZY!!! All of this isn’t born out of the Dome falling down, Junior was always this way. Making it feel false. Most of my apprehension at this is with how much scene chewing Koch does. He plays Junior in that larger than life crazy way not subtly sadistic. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wonder how no one in this small town realized he CRAZY!!!
Small town. Big secretes, is what will make or break Under the Dome. Like the island and all that mythical stuff on LOST, none of it really mattered and only served as a vehicle to reveal and deepen character. The Dome does not matter. It’s only there as an excuse to lock everyone in one gigantic panopticon, a prison where every inmate can be viewed without knowledge of if they are being watched. Right now there seems to be enough going on inside with Big Jim’s power struggle, Barbie’s hit, something to do with propane storage, and odd seizures. All of which are only really hinted at. The original novel is 1000+ pages but most of my friends who read Stephen King tell me it’s like a lot of his work. It starts great and than peters out in the middle and fails to stick the landing. They also tell me that the pilot has already changed a couple of things so who knows maybe it will stick the landing this time.
Dome received an automatic 13 episode season order after Showtime president David Nevins felt that the series wasn't right for the network and suggested to Nina Tassler, his CBS counterpart. So it’s kind of a miniseries that could become an ongoing one if the numbers are good enough. From the sounds of it CBS has done a good job already licensing international and internet streaming rights. There are plenty of people in Chester's Mill so it wouldn’t be too hard to find material to fill episodes or a season 2.
Dome also marks the first major “event” style bit of television this summer. It’s also something that doesn’t fit with CBS’ overall brand content. Visually it has all the makings of a CBS show, a general adherence to continuity style with little hint of style. I had no idea Niels Arden Oplev (The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Dead Man Down) did this everything about the pilot seemed generic. Plenty of bright colors. It’s the genre heavy, serialized nature that makes this stand out from CBS’ crop of shows. In some ways this show could be seen as a commentary on the people who mainly watch CBS.
The Bits At The End
First off I haven’t read the book so please tag spoilery talk appropriately.
Is anyone annoyed with my refering to the Dome as if it were a character? Because it kind of is.
OK I can’t be the only one who thought Samantha Mathis was an older Gillian Jacobs right? She looked like slightly older lesbian version of Britta...CommunityXUnder The Dome must happen now.
In other hey this guy looks like this guy news Alexander Koch looks waaay to much like Andy Samberg only with a bigger chin and more CRAZY!!!
So does anyone else think Duke knowingly committed suicide by touching the Dome? Or was he just being stupid? The way that scene is played makes it hard to tell.
Also more The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street-ness love that episode.