TV Review: Under the Dome

This column was originally published in the Central Western Daily on Tuesday 2nd July 2013.

The latest adaption of a Stephen King novel arrived on our TV screens last week. Premiering on Channel 10 just hours after its US broadcast, Under the Dome was watched by 1.7 million Aussie pairs of eyeballs. That’s a pretty good rating for a network that has been consistently failing in the rating of late. Reef Doctors anyone? I didn’t think so.

The premise is ripped straight out of The Simpsons Movie. A small town in the USA is encased in a mysterious dome. Even said dome’s crash landing was reminiscent to the completion of new buildings in The Simpsons Tapped Out game. I half expected Homer’s voice to exclaim “Kaboom”. Unfortunately, there are no further references to The Simpsons in this review. Doh!

The debut of the titular transparent structure hopefully set the tone for the rest of this 13 part mini-series. Landing on a farm, the dome wall managed to turn an unlucky cow into one of those Gunther von Hagens anatomy art installations. Wait, there’s one more Simpsons reference. Don’t have half a cow, man!

With two occasions of severed arms, told from the two available perspectives, Under the Dome introduced itself as an episodic thriller with lashings of gore. Finally, there’s something to watch each week alongside Hannibal and MasterChef.

Over the course of sixty minutes, we were introduced to the central characters and the subplots were laid which will hopefully entice viewers to stay for the entire season. The show opened with Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Mike Vogel), a war vet with a stupid name and mysterious motives for being in Chester’s Mill, burying a body, which we later discover was the husband of investigative reporter Julia Shumway (Rachelle LeFevre). Of course, by the end of the episode, Julia has unknowingly befriended Barbie. Why does every two bit American town have an investigative reporter? Wouldn’t the majority of stories in the local newspaper concern corn prices and weather forecasts?  And what’s with the ridiculous surname? The last TV character to have that surname was ALF.

Then there’s shady used car salesman and local politician “Big Jim” Rennie (Dean Norris) and Sheriff “Duke” Perkins (Jeff Fahey AKA The Lawnmower Man), both of whom seem to have known that the dome was coming because they were stockpiling propane gas. Maybe they were just preparing for a big town BBQ? After all, there is that half cow for disposal now. And do we really need to stoop to such silly stereotypes as car salesmen in local government?

For the younger demographic we have Joe and Angie McAlister (Colin Ford and Britt Robertson), teen siblings whose parents are locked out of the dome leaving them home alone. Let’s hope that the Wet Bandits are not around. The episode started with Angie in bed with local psycho Junior Rennie (Alexander Koch), son of “Big Jim”, and ended with her handcuffed in the basement. Breaking up is hard to do.

Overall, Under the Dome is shaping up to be an interesting watch but I’m going to give it one or two more episodes before committing. It won’t take much for the show to degenerate into a soap opera set inside a bubble. The producers need to tempt us back week with just a little more information about the dome.

Is it of human or alien origin? How is it powered? Where did it come from? Can you dig under it? Will it snow when you shake it?

Let’s hope the audiences stick around to keep Under the Dome running long enough for some satisfying answers.

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Published in: on July 2, 2013 at 17:20  Leave a Comment  
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