Photo by CBS
When the citizens of Chester's Mill suddenly find themselves trapped by an invisible barrier, they must live ... "Under the Dome." (Dun, dun, dun.)
Based on the novel by Stephen King and developed for CBS by Brian K. Vaughan, the series -- now two episodes in -- sees characters attempt to understand the mysterious dome, why they're trapped, and how they're going to survive, all while attending to their own selfish agendas. If you think this sounds awesome, you are correct. If you think this sounds less than awesome -- well, you're pretty much correct about that, too.
"Under the Dome" certainly has several elements that could make the show great:
1. The citizens of Chester's Mill are literally trapped under a dome
Imagine being trapped under a dome in your town. Imagine being unable to escape the people you hate, or not having the Internet, or having to share space with killers like Dale "Barbie" Barbara (Mike Vogel), who accidentally took the life of Peter Shemway (R. Keith Harris) in episode 1. There's no way this isn't a recipe for disaster -- or more murder (we hope).
Mike Vogel as Dale "Barbie" Barbara on "Under the Dome." (Photo by CBS)
2. Nobody knows the origins of the dome
An invisible and potentially harmful barrier (it caused the police chief's pacemaker to explode!) has dropped from the sky for no reason, no explanation, and no known expiry date. Scientifically, this is one heck of a plot in itself. Socially, even more so, because...
3. Wait a minute: the dome's origins may not be so mysterious after all
After the death of Police Chief Perkins, politician James "Big Jim" Rennie (Dean Norris)and Rev. Lester Coggins (Ned Bellamy) rush to cover up what may actually link them to the dome. That's how the Reverend burns down Perkins' house in episode 2: in an attempt to destroy the incriminating documents, he sets the house ablaze (because he doesn't know how to set a controlled fire, we guess). Cue: even more problems.
4. The people of Chester's Mill are totally on their own
The fire department is outside of dome boundaries, so as the Chief's house burned down, the townspeople had to work together to stifle the flames. Meanwhile, a police officer gets shot by a ricochet after one of his coworkers begins shooting bullets at the dome in frustration. So who are they going to call? Not the Ghostbusters -- they can't get in.
True, Julia Shemway (Rachel Lefevre) is mourning the absence of her husband -- whom she assumes is just missing, and not dead-- but that doesn't mean there isn't room for an illicit dome-sanctioned affair between her and Dale. He's already crashed at her house once, which obviously means they're going to do it.
Rachelle Lefevre as Julia on "Under the Dome." (Photo by CBS)
However, "Under the Dome" is still not without its problems. And to address those, we offer the following:
Once in a while there's a television character so horrible, it not only takes away from the show, it takes away from your quality of life. That's not to say actor Alexander Koch isn't talented -- he is. But his character, a man so hung up on his ex-girlfriend that he locks her in a storm shelter in the midst of a town's crisis, offers nothing to "Under the Dome" other than a few eye rolls from viewers. We understand: the show needs melodrama. But find it between Dale and Julia -- or Big Jim and the Reverend.
2. The lack of answers
OK, so the show is only two episodes in, but while the lack of answers surrounding the dome are enticing, there's about one week left before they become the opposite. True, the townspeople are still in a panic, but if we're not offered anything more than "they're still under a dome! Aaaahhhh!" it'll seem less like a mystery and more of struggling storyline. Even confirming or debunking that Big Jim and the Reverend are 100 per cent responsible would be enough of a reason to keep tuning back in. We all remember the "Lost" debacle, people.
Dean Norris as Big Jim on "Under the Dome." (Photo by CBS)
3. There isn't enough panic
Again, think about it: a dome has been dropped over your town, and now two police officers are dead. You would be terrified. You would be panicking. There'd be a lot more going on than just banding together to put out a house fire. Where's the looting, the alliances, and the abuse of power? Even just to watch "Lord of the Flies: Under the Dome" play out would be a treat. Think about it, CBS.
4. Junior (he's annoying enough that he gets another entry on this list)
Seriously, though: not only does this obsessive ex-boyfriend take his ex-girlfriend captive, imprisoning her in his storm shelter, but he confronts Dale, whom he thinks had an affair with her (because she told him they did -- for reasons no one can fully understand). Who cares? Does this have anything to do with the dome? Unless Junior is responsible for the dome, we have bigger things to worry about -- like, oh, I don't know, the dome.
Alexander Koch as Junior on "Under the Dome." (Photo by CBS)
5. There's too much focus on personal problems
We're probably being too hard on Junior, since the rest of the townspeople continue to focus on themselves, despite being trapped under a force field that blows up up people's chests. And while humans can be selfish, focusing the narrative on a group of selfish humans doesn't inspire viewers to cheer them on -- it inspires them to cheer for the dome instead. Go dome! Sure, we'd like to know more of Dale's backstory, but first we'd like to know how people are really reacting to the dome. That's what they're under, after all. The dome. (The word "dome" has now lost all meaning. Dome. Dome.)
Do you watch "Under the Dome"? What would you change to make it better? And what do you think makes it worse?
"Under the Dome" airs Mondays on Global and CBS at 10 p.m. ET.