Under the Dome 'ludicrous' TV

Last updated 15:04 30/06/2014
Under the Dome

DUMB DOME? But the viewers seem to be lapping it up.

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The way certain sceptics feel about climate change is the way I feel about the dome - and everything under it.

I just don't buy Under the Dome, on any level. I think the story is a shambles and the concept is dumb. I doubt its worthiness as a hit, and I think Stephen King is a hack.

Nevertheless, I'm open to having my mind changed by the evidence - or the plain testimony of fans who know it's not fantastic television even as they gobble it up. When it debuted last summer to relatively great ratings, "Under the Dome" (based on a novel by King) was something of a surprise

Between it and SyFy's over-the-top "Sharknado" - which became a Twitter sensation no one saw coming - envious network executives started ordering up "limited" "event" series and specials (leaving behind outdated terms such as "made-for-TV movie" and "miniseries") that are designed to lure viewers who are too jittery to commit to the usual fare.

This trend also provides a soft landing for shows that bomb - remember, you were told it was a limited engagement.

All right, whatever. Those poor people of Chester's Mill, Maine, who were trapped under the dome at the end of Season 1 are still trapped under it as the series returns Monday night in an episode written by the belletrist King himself.

In case you missed the extraordinarily helpful Cliffs Notes-style recap that aired recently, the town's control freak, Big Jim (Breaking Bad's Dean Norris) had heroic drifter Dale "Barbie" Barbara (Mike Vogel) noosed-up and ready to hang from the gallows.

Indeed, things have become so bad under the dome that the townsfolk constructed a gallows to deal with reprobates. (And they've been under the dome for only two whole weeks!) Since the mysterious clear dome descended and sealed everyone off from the rest of the world, the story has only partly dwelled on the panicked tendency of the residents to act on their worst instincts.

Instead, Under the Dome is a rapidly expanding X-file, preoccupied with supernatural cause and effect.

Four young people - Big Jim's son (Alexander Koch), his ex-girlfriend (Britt Robertson), her kid brother (Colin Ford) and a petulant teen (Mackenzie Lintz) - discovered they can commune with the dome and have tried to interpret its meaning or intent. They learned about the "pink stars falling" and the weird egg and the monarch butterflies. So far it's amounted to nothing but a whole lot of running around and shouting "LOOK OUT!!" - and occasional deaths, which are on the uptick in this new episode.

Even if the novel serves as a template, Under the Dome often has the quality of making things up on the fly in the grand tradition of shows that like to string viewers along - and viewers who like to be strung along. (They exist!)

In my more accepting moments, I see "Under the Dome" less as a TV show and more as a campfire game in which someone tells a small part of a horror story and then it's up to the next person to keep the story going, no matter how ludicrously. The actors wear the knowledge on their faces: This may not be the best show they've ever worked on, but they're having a lot of fun doing it, and sometimes that's good enough.

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-The Washington Post

*In New Zealand, Under the Dome will return to Prime this year. 

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