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What could have been an intriguing story has been ruined by a terrible
script and even more terrible acting, not to mention a ridiculously
over-the-top attempt at political correctness.
Chester's Mill, a beautiful town in the middle of nowhere with cute little houses and perfectly manicured lawns, is probably also the most diverse place in the entire world. This sparsely populated village that fits neatly under an invisible dome has Caucasians, African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Native Americans, and mixed race lesbian couples! The only group that seems to be missing is single Sri Lankan gay men.
Everyone seems to co-exist just fine, even though it's not clear if anyone in the town actually has a job, except for Beth Broderick, the local diner waitress who pours coffee all day, Natalie Martinez, the most incompetent cop ever to make it onto the force, and the dreadful Rachelle Lefevre as the local hard-as-nails journalist who spends most of her time skulking around through open fields and taking pictures of air. No wonder she lost her big city newspaper job and ended up under this plexiglass shield.
Once that darned dome comes down, Chester's Mill becomes a modern day Peyton Place and everyone's deep, dark secrets begin to surface. The problem here, though, is that none of the characters is compelling or sympathetic. We just wanna find out what's up with that dome, but instead, we're forced to watch these poorly conceptualized folks interact with each other with eye-rolling dialogue like, "So they say you're passin' through town. What are you runnin' from?" Every now and then, someone mentions they're worried the dome may collapse onto Chester's Mill. Frankly, my fingers are crossed that's exactly what will happen. No town this boring should be allowed to stay on the map.
Dome = 1 Chester's Mill = 0
As with every other Stephen King adapted miniseries this one started well, faded in the second round, and became formulaic by episode three. The characters are all two dimensional and been done too many times before. The dialog is trite and banal "it pays to be team player in this town" says the former high school quarterback. There is little suspense, little action, little romance and it's hard to get involved when there's 3 minute of commercials every 6 minutes. And yet the rating is hovering around 8 because of people voting after the first episode - If this was an ocean cruise I bet they'd have written on the voyage comment cards after the first night "Best time ever! I love the Titanic!"
If they made the show a mini-series I might be here writing a review
giving it at least a 7 or an 8. Instead as I feared they decided to
make the "Under the Dome" adaption into some contorted series. It is
clearly the wrong treatment for such a good story.
The cast is great, the settings, special effects were fine. I could have easily given the first six episodes a 7 vote. But each episode was painfully drawn out further and further. Soon (around the 8th episode) it was all to evident they were going to stretch everything out ad nauseum.
It would have been better titled: "As the Stomach Turns", "Under the Dome: The soap opera version".
Now compare the episode rundown to the excellent "The Stand" 1994 adaption. The total large adaption of the epic book was only done in around 5 or 6 hour episode mini-series. Here 13 episodes and there is no conclusion, no end in sight, and it's not even close to the same depth of story.
This is what happens when corporate suits combine with art. They destroy it. In their dimwitted money driven tunnel vision they thought they would just exploit the heck out of the story and people would keep watching.
I'm sure the plan is/was to just keep milking it until people stop watching and the ratings drop too low. It's insulting that these suits think they are smarter then the viewers and have some sort of "eye for art" when clearly they do not.
Now since these suits don't actually respect their viewers, and don't bother to think beyond the dollar a minute mentality they completely miss the mark. If they actually just made the story a nice 5 or 6 episode mini-series they would have made good advertising revenue all the way through the end. Then there would have been DVD sales of it too. Finally they would have earned the respect of the viewers for the network (that will remain nameless). Instead they leave you in shame of it and much more weary of watching anything of theirs again.
I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to take these conceded corporate network execs and shove them all under a their own mini- dome to rot.
Skip the aggravation and boredom, read the book instead.
This show started out with promise. The SFX are good enough to be
believable. The concept is interesting. (as a side-note, I have not
read the book).
The problem is with the script, the characters, and the believability of the character interactions.
At least in the first few episodes, the lack of utter pandemonium significantly hurts show. Additionally, why are folks so easily able to quiet and address the masses. The crowds are far too manageable; far too docile.
Worse than this though, are none of the characters being likable. After five episodes, I just don't care about any of the characters. The front runners on the likability scale are Bushy and his engineer, Dodee. Considering they're peripheral characters, this is not enough. Barbie is next on likability. At least he has a modicum of depth and conflict. My wife and I now hope that they all die in the dome. The world would be a better place.
The show has become like a scab that you keep picking at. I'd like to know what ends up happening yet I'm becoming increasingly unwilling to stay on the ride to see.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I watched the two first episodes of this series, given that it's tied
to (1) Stephen King and (2) Steven Spielberg, which is also why it
probably has such a high rating on IMDb. The high rating certainly
can't be because of the quality of the show--it's just not well-acted,
or plotted. I could handle the mediocre acting and dialog if the actors
were making semi-logical decisions given their circumstances.
Here's the basic plot, which unfolds quite quickly. A clear dome descends over the town (image God dropped his huge contact lens over a town, because apparently this thing is semi-permeable--except it's also bulletproof and tough as a the hoover dam--yet transparent).
What gets me is the lack of effort to escape the dome; there's an odd acceptance that implies, "Oh, there's a dome over us. Guess we'll just wait around for someone to rescue us." By the end of episode two, the escape attempts have involved spraying the dome with water from the outside ... and nothing else. The military is keenly observing. No one has tried the most logical solution--digging under the dome--even though the series opens with a guy with a shovel digging a deep grave to to hide a body, so we know that this is a society that has shovels and knows that the earth is, in fact, able to be dug.
But no one tries to dig. No one tries anything. They just wait, and somehow the waiting amplifies their personal drama, though realistically at times of dire straits people generally band together. Seriously ... even dogs can figure out how to dig under a fence.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I can't believe this is still on the air. It should have been banned from the airways after the first episode and now only 2 episodes in and I'm surprised their isn't more of an uproar about the obvious inconsistencies. I can't even begin to list the number of complete fabrications. The lack of background in the characters, the important changes to other characters and the total loss of main characters - all of which play a very distinctive roll in the unfolding of this adventure horror. I am a huge fan of SK writings and have read with earnest everything he has written to date. Having SK actually approve the release of this travesty is more disturbing than his writings. It has proved to be nothing more than a typical "nothing else to watch of TV" program. Even that is giving it praise in my opinion. How unfortunate for all SK fans to bear witness to such a destruction of such a good novel.
Each subsequent episode of the show is becoming more and more boring and long-winded. The characters behave stupidly. There is no reasonable justification for their strange behavior. Extending something that should last a maximum of three episodes. It was going to be fun, but terribly disappointed. I'm afraid that at the end of the show did not get a meaningful explanation for the strange events. Or the writers will end the story in a strange way, in the style of Lost. The idea for the series, it was interesting, but the idea is not enough. Too bad, because I was waiting for this show. The same was true of other television series on the book by Stephen King - Haven. It started well, but then it was all downhill.
I am really surprised that Mr. King would give his blessing to having
his novel even remotely associated with this utterly contrived formula
series by the same name. What on earth was he thinking. Other than the
title "Under the Dome", this mangled TV series has NOTHING to do with
the novel. If you want a really good story, read the book. If you are
satisfied with a formula, made by committee piece of tripe then you are
in luck. Watch the series.
I suffered in disbelief through the whole first season just to see how far off track the story line would go. It went off the rails and crashed into the abyss of utter astonishment and disappointment.
I will cut my losses and not bother to watch season 2. This train wreck is not going to get back on track.
I haven't read the novel but I can't imagine Stephen King could have
envisaged his story could be turned into such a hot mess.
The acting is almost its worst feature. Every character has their range limited to either doe- eyed surprise or eye-narrowing meanness. The dialogue manages to be even more dire, with clomping, pointless exchanges between characters who do the most improbable things at the most improbable times.
The general gist is pretty straight forward. Mysterious dome encapsulates an All American village. Cut off from the rest of the world, secrets are unveiled and people either become the best, or the worst, versions of themselves. The morality tale is coupled with a slow reveal of why the dome dropped, and by whom. Predictably, a group of disparate youngsters seem to hold the key but their efforts to do the Right Thing are thwarted at every turn by selfish and cranky grown ups. Throw in a few paint-by-numbers romances between the local (and would-be transient) hotties and there you have life under a dome.
The flesh on those story bones is where things start to go wrong. I'm prepared to live with characters who look runway ready in spite of living in a hamlet with no power and presumably no water or sewerage. After all, the entire premise is that aliens or some such has dropped a big bubble on a bunch of people. But if I was stuck with people who behaved this moronically I'd be begging to get spliced in half like that cow on day 1.
Dome came with plenty of hype and in Australia we're now told that S1 (there couldn't possibly be a season 2) won't wrap until next year.
For a show with the production values and plot development of a soap opera, that's a big ask.
All the above is just my humble opinion of course, lots of people seem to dig it. For myself, I've watched a lot of hours hoping it would right itself, but I'm still not sure if I'll be bothered watching the conclusion in 2014.
A genuine disappointment.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I've watched the first three episodes but to be honest I'm not exactly
on the edge of my seat waiting for the fourth. There are just too many
negatives against the series for me to really get into it. Here are the
biggest ones to help you decide whether or not to watch the show.
1) It deviates way too much from the book. I know they said ahead of time that it was based on the book not a direct interpretation, but man come on.
2) Missing and combined characters. Major characters are missing or combined into one. Sammy Bushey and little Walter are gone, as are Junior's buddies who raped her including Carter a major character. Ollie, the most likable kid in the whole story and his whole family are missing. Brenda is gone or possibly combined into Julia. All of the original deputies are already killed off except Linda. No Gina either. Apparently for the TV show they decided to keep a fully stocked and personnelled hospital. All of Joe's friends except Benny are gone and they made Norrie an out of towner passing through Trouble is she looks old enough to be his mom ... who also has been edited out. They left her on the other side when the dome came down. Thurston Marshal and his teeny bopper gal pal have been exchanged for a same sex mixed race couple who are the parents of the aforementioned Norrie. The list goes on.
3) Major personality changes in characters. Dodie far from being a drugged out torturer of Bratz dolls is a tech in the radio station who has the amazing ability to turn a dial and get info from outside the dome since unlike in the book they cannot hear through it and have no internet or outside news or radio feed or phone reception. "Chef" Bushey has been changed to a respectable radio host instead of a drug addled quasi religious zealot and his radio station is rock not gospel. Junior, one of the most pivotal characters in the book has been changed from a serial killer to a spurned guy who went nuts and locked his girlfriend in a bomb shelter. I don't know if they wanted to make him more sympathetic or what but they failed. Barbie, the main character of the book is no longer a good guy. He is a debt collector who doesn't hesitate to murder a man who threatens him and bury his body in the woods.
4) The acting and characterization. The acting is soap opera quality, far too melodramatic and occasionally stilted. The exception is the character of Julia Shumway. The rest are pretty weak. The characters are also very flat and undeveloped. It's hard to care for any of them.
5) Not enough drama to be dramatic or action to be exciting. Directors have still not quite grasped that slice of life moments are inherently boring. There are too many long scenes of talking heads going blah blah blah. Politics are not interesting, speculation is not interesting, motivational speeches are not interesting. Most of the action in the whole show took place in the first half hour setting a mood that was not maintained. In the absence of action they should have filled the time with drama or even romance. They did not.
It may get better as time goes on. I don't know if I will be able to stick with it until then though. My advice is read the book, forget the TV series.
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