Stephen King promised that “Under the Dome” would be riveting television.
The author might be onto something here. The new TV series, which premiered Monday night, is based on King’s 2009 bestseller and is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated series of the summer.
But does it live up to the hype?
Many TV reviewers seem to think so — The New York Times noted that the Steven Spielberg-produced show gets off to “an addictive start,” while The Wrap called it “captivating,” asking, “What have we done to deserve a show this entertaining, especially in summer?”
Long known as rerun season for many networks, summer 2013 now is offering up a new spin with CBS’ 13-episode show.
At the start of the premiere, Mike Vogel, who portrays Army veteran Dale “Barbie” Barbera, is seen burying another man. By the end of the episode, we get a clearer picture of who that man is. But most of that story remains unknown.
Before there’s a chance for the first few scenes to even sink in, we’re introduced to the many of the residents of Chester’s Mill, who soon learn that something is wrong. Very wrong. There’s a mysterious plane crash, loss of phone service and power and bloody deaths in the small town. Soon some of the residents discover the dome for the first time; it seems like an “invisible fence,” they think. But that “invisible fence” is a lot more. People are trapped inside the dome and there’s no way to communicate to the “outside world.” Kind of like being “stuck in a giant fish bowl,” says Angie McAlister, played by Britt Robertson.
Is it a chemical spill? An act of terrorism? Or something even worse?
“What if the government built this thing?” Barbie asks at one point, later saying, “Whatever this thing is, it’s big.”
“Where the hell did it come from?” asks local newspaper editor Julia Shumway, played by Rachelle LeFevre. But minutes later, there’s a bloodied women yelping, “Help me!” — and throughout the episode, some residents are falling to the ground out of nowhere, appearing to have convulsions.
“We’re trapped,” said “Big Jim” Rennie (Dean Norris), a town councilman, in a moment of stark realization. Some residents try to spring into action, attempting to hatch a game plan to figure out what is going on. The local rock radio station acts as a means of communication to residents on both sides.
Overall, the first episode does a good job of luring us in, setting up the plot and introducing us to some of the characters — many of whom seem to have interesting back stories that we only get a glimpse of. There’s potential for intriguing future plot lines, with some romantic entanglements and personal conflicts foreshadowed.
In future episodes, fans of the King’s book may be in for some surprises, as actress Jolene Purdy, who plays engineer Dodee Weaver, hints that the series may stray a bit from the novel.
“Under the Dome” is expected to wrap in September, but producers have high hopes for the series. If all goes well, there could be more episodes to come. Nina Tassler, CBS Entertainment president, told The Associated Press that producers have “such a clear vision of where this show is going. We’re prepared for success.” Tassler said the series cold return in time for the “winter cycle.”
“Under the Dome” airs Monday nights at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
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