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Under the Dome in Boredom

Posted on Saturday, August 17th, 2013 under Reviews | No comments

So far, I have been thoroughly unimpressed by CBS' rendition of Stephen King's "Under the Dome".

Logistically, it's been great seeing them take advantage of the Amazon Prime platform and offer new episodes every Friday at no additional cost (though can someone explain why that leaves them without a episodic presence in their own iOS app?). Amazon can't seem to make anything of their own with any real quality, so it's comforting seeing other content providers take advantage of the established pipeline.

But, if you are like me, after enjoying all the hilarious dome-related gags in the Simpsons movie (We're gonna miss you Doctor Nic!), you checked out Under the Dome to see why any network would pick it up as a serious drama/sci-fi vehicle. And like me, you are probably still waiting and wondering. Aside from the deft design work done on their title card and brand advertising, there is nothing innovative or at times even on par about the show.

Granted, a few plot points (e.g. Junior kidnapping his girlfriend in a deranged mental state or Barbie being trapped in close proximity to the wife of the man he murdered or Ollie becoming the sole source of water in the town) were intriguing enough to keep me checking in, but each has ended up falling pretty flat. The writers seem to have good intentions about where to move the show, but keep getting side tracked by actions that really only help to make more episodes; i.e. It would have been more interesting to see the depth of Junior's character and seen his broken psyche mount and boil, with no release but upon his fellow trapped domees. Instead, he falters on his compulsions in time for the next commercial break.

There is also present that frustrating mechanism I am going to call "idiot tension", for lack of a better term, wherein the only drama happening is caused by one character not giving over contextual details and instead just quipping out a "You don't want to know" or "It's complicated" or the (LOST-finessed) silent stare followed by a walk away. It is feels played out, like a hackie reality show stretching out results and resonates as disingenuous to real life (at least mine any way).

There have only been 8 episodes and I miss X-Files too much to jump ship before finding out that is causing the dome, the seizures and the glowing egg ... but that won't keep much longer. There are other shows going on right now where the actors remember its not supposed to look like their acting and waning curiosity means I'm gonna eventually gravitate back to better TV (know what I mean The Event, The Cape and Revolution?).

Update: Entertainment Weekly had an interesting quote from CBS CEO, Leslie Moonves, where he mentions the difficulty of broadcast TV to compete with cable ... "'Game of Thrones' probably costs three times as much [to make] and is given three times as long to shoot".

Put in that light, you could make a defense for Under the Dome's obvious flaws, but I believe it still pales when compared to other broadcast shows of the same ilk (something like 'Person of Interest' comes to mind).

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