First of all, Happy New Year! I hope everyone had an excellent festive period, whatever you were doing. I so needed a break from work and now it’s almost over and I’m having to face reality again. Unfortunately, my plan to clear up my backlog of posts and catch up on TV and films didn’t fully go to plan but I’ll soon catch up. Anyway, onwards with this new post:
Season 1 of Under the Dome aired over in the US over the summer and aired in the UK a few months later. Based on the novel by Stephen King (something which I’m now intrigued to read) it’s about a normal small town that suddenly has a large solid dome surrounding it, effectively trapping everyone inside. No one can explain how it got there or how to get rid of it: the towns populous are stuck inside, and soon problems start to arise.
After watching the first season, I’ve come away with a mixture of feelings toward the show, but overall I can see some potential and I’ve mostly enjoyed how the show progressed. There are so many interesting ideas and concepts, and at its core it’s a chance to explore human nature and how people react and change in a time of crisis. However, that’s not to say the show didn’t have its weaknesses
At times there was some bizarre dialogue, as well as strands of the plot that run on far too long or become extremely far-fetched such as when one character remains trapped in a basement for 4 episodes and no one really notices she’s missing. When another character dies, her daughter Norrie goes through the five stages of grief over a 45-minute episode and after that appears mostly fine. Some of the characters get incredibly tedious and annoying rapidly; the four main teenagers discover a mini dome, proclaiming they are its protectors. One of them, Junior (Alexander Koch) is particularly grating – he looks incredibly psychotic and actually is a bit unhinged –he locked Angie in the basement and constantly obsesses about her. His relationship with his father is also a messed up one; he looks to make his dad proud, whereas his dad uses his son when he’s needed and tries to pollute his mind later on.
Speaking of Junior’s father, let’s move on to the positives; in certain episodes the show really is on point, mixing typical dramas with the added pressure and reality that the town is now facing. The law enforcement soon loses control, and is constantly fighting to regain it, with help from civilians which ultimately causes power controls to break out. In one character, this control ultimately develops into a web of lies. Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) is a typical town big shot – everyone knows who he is and he doesn’t seem to put a foot wrong: the typical Mr Nice Guy. However, under the surface he has a huge hidden agenda, putting himself on a pedestal by leading the town in various missions or acts but by force and pressure rather than democracy. He relishes the power and the way he can manipulate people, and by the back 4/5 episodes he unravels significantly towards the end, experiencing more delusions of grandeur, feeding his ego. He becomes the selling point of this series and is brilliantly played by Norris. On –screen the audience are treated to the disintegration of a town big shot into the villain inside.
Also of note is Mike Vogel and Rachel LeFevre who play Barbie and Julia respectively; they develop a friendship and subsequently a relationship, despite the fact that Barbie killed Julia’s husband (although this was before he had met Julia – another strange decision the show makes). Barbie is supposed to be the opposing element of Big Jim, flawed as he is the hired gun but a hero nonetheless. And it helps that Mike Vogel is quite attractive.
Under the Dome is an intriguing drama; the sub-plots of the egg and the dome’s strange activities act as secondary elements to what the drama tries to explore – how people behave during a crisis. As I said at the start, this show does have potential and by the end of the run of episodes I was enjoying it a lot more. I’ll be going back when Season 2 begins in the US this summer, with the opening episode being written by horror author Stephen King. However, whether I’ll stick with this series will depend on whether they can build on the positives and work on the negatives.
“You’re a sick bastard! And one day everyone’s gonna know it. And they’re gonna smile when you die” (Dodi, Under the Dome, 1.12)