Is it possible for an unexpected supernatural event to pull a small town together or destroy it from the inside? That’s part of the premise behind CBS’ new show “Under The Dome,” which was based on Stephen King’s book. The overall idea might sound familiar, but the show’s fast paced execution has made it worth watching regardless.
“Under The Dome” followed the residents of a small town known as Chester’s Mill as they went about their daily lives and buried some shocking secrets. Dale “Barbie“ Barbara (Mike Vogel) was a army veteran with secrets that involved him burying a dead body for reasons unknown. He was just passing through town when his car was derailed at the worst possible time. Once a mysterious dome covered the town, he was trapped inside with his darkest secrets. Barbie started to develop a friendship with local reporter Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre) who had a connection to the dead body that he was burying. He also started to develop a rapport with local waitress Angie McAlister (Britt Robertson) and her brother Joe (Colin Ford) as they were forced to fend for themselves while their parents were trapped outside of town. Joe had a possible connection to why the dome appeared in the first place, but his life could be in danger as he grew closer to the truth. Angie also had to contend with a jealous suitor in James “Junior“ Rennie (Alexander Koch) who would do anything to keep her, including hiding her in his father’s (Dean Norris) old bomb shelter. The town was looking for stability and needed a true leader to do something to ease their fears. Deputy Linda Esquivel (Natalie Martinez) is forced to take charge after her mentor became the latest casualty of the dome. Will she be up for the task or die trying?
In terms of questions, “Under The Dome” posed quite a few that won’t likely be answered for quite some time if they want to have enough material for multiple seasons. Writer Stephen King was heavily involved in adapting his book into a 13 week season, but it’s unclear whether how closely he’ll follow the book just yet. The premiere managed to lay the groundwork for the rest of the season. The premiere’s biggest plots involved Barbie’s shocking secret and Junior’s descent into madness as he became obsessed with his girlfriend. Barbie and Junior appeared to be walking very different paths of destruction, but they will definitely collide sooner rather that later. The writers have the challenge of making both character seem realistic enough for viewers to understand why they choose to make questionable decisions. Although some elements of the plot were familiar, there were a few surprising moments that made viewers sit up and take notice. The beginning of the episode showed a cow being cut completely in half by the dome. It demonstated that a little shock and awe was expected to keep viewers interested. Although, the biggest shock came at the very end when a potentially popular character’s heart literally exploded for reasons unknown. The moment was so unexpected that it made the audience realize that no one in the cast was safe. In terms of casualties, only time will tell if a major character will be the next victim of bad circumstances.
As for breakout performances, Vogel and Lefevre led the pack as their characters started an unlikely friendship that would be destroyed before anyone expected. Vogel embodied Barbie as a damaged army veteran who was forced to do questionable things for reasons only known to the character. He gave his character the potential of being a heroic individual as he helped various victims who were injured by the dome. It also didn’t hurt that Vogel had a strong rapport with Lefevre that would get more complicated once she found out Barbie’s secrets. Lefevre, on the other hand, gave her character a mixture of professional curiosity and grit that could get her into trouble either way. Near the end of the premiere, Vogel and Lefevre had a very memorable scene that involved them coming to terms with some very hard truths. Lefevre’s Julia revealed that she might be naive about her husband’s whereabouts. She demonstrated her character’s vulnerability by looking at his picture with the right balance of longing and sadness. Vogel had the challenging task of showcasing Barbie’s guilt without saying a word. He reflected his guilt by looking away from the photograph Julia was holding long enough to not make her suspicious. Hopefully, the truth will come out soon, because it would be interesting to see how much Barbie and Julia’s friendship will change overnight. The show’s only casualties so far were Norris and Koch who were designed to be mere stereotypes in the premiere. Let’s hope that future episodes will give viewers a chance to understand their characters better, because Norris and Koch had the potential to make their mark this season if the material was there for both of them.
“Under The Dome” premiered on June 24th and airs Mondays at 10:00 PM on CBS.
Verdict: A show that had some potential with both a supernatural mystery and how people responded to it. It’s too early to say whether the show will unfold exactly like King’s book, but the premiere set up some interesting stories that should help shape the season.
TV Score: 3 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)