Mid season review: Under The Dome

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If you want a serious, well acted drama that explores social interaction then you should desperately avoid Under The Dome.

The premise is simple – one day a mysterious dome separates the small town of Chester’s Mill from the rest of the world. Nothing can make it through the dome except for the occasional radio wave – no one on one side of the dome can hear what someone on the other side is saying, and the dome its self appears impenetrable.

Under The Dome comes originally from the Stephen King book of the same name. The first episode of the show follows the book closely, and then deviates massively. This deviation is where things start going wrong. King’s book is an interesting exploration of what happens when people are confined into the ultimate microcosm, and how power corrupts completely. The television show of the same name becomes more of a soap opera, and less about human dynamics.

There are some interesting moments within the show that explores the depths of human desperation and what we are willing to do to maintain our own position. When the town’s water supply is compromised “Big Jim” Rennie (Dean Norris) goes to a local farmer with a well on his land, only to be blackmailed into providing propane in exchange for enough water for people to survive. These sparse interactions provide interesting interludes, but they are too few with too much time between them to make the show have any kind of real impact. Essentially it just becomes more and more silly.

uner the domeConsidering that Dean Norris requested his Breaking Bad character to be killed off in season three (he was denied) so that he could make the pilot of this show, you’d think that it was a particularly meaty role. Instead, he spends his time looking mildly confused and growling in response to things that he doesn’t like. The role of “Big Jim” Rennie is far beneath the abilities that he displayed in Breaking Bad. Other actors fare no better, either in respect to their characters development or simply because their acting ability is limited. Colin Ford’s acting as Joe McAllister is truly terrible in this show. Considering his fairly decent minor roles in shows like Supernatural, I was expecting better things from him. His delivery of lines is stifled and so unbelievable.

Rachel Lefevre (playing Julia Shumway) and Mike Vogel (playing Dale ‘Barbie’ Barbara) redeem the show a little – the interactions between the two of them given the complicated history that the show has given them are interesting. Their acting is far more understated, particularly on the part of Vogel, and as a result of this I feel far more invested in their relationship that the soap opera dynamics of the other characters.

The only reason I’m still watching the show is because I dislike ending things prematurely. However, I find myself laughing at the ridiculous nature of the dialogue (“The pink stars are falling” is a particularly outstanding example) and I don’t even feel like the cast are convinced by their own delivery of the lines, so how could we as viewers possibly be convinced.

Under the Dome is interesting in theory, but in practice it falls far shorter that its source material and becomes a shadow of what it could have been.

3/10

Under the Dome is broadcast on Channel 5 on Mondays at 10:00pm. Previous episodes are available on Demand 5. 

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Studying for my PhD focusing on Eighteenth Century Pirate Literature. Writer 2011-2013, Culture Editor 2013-2014, Editor 2014-2015, Culture Exec 2015-2016, Writer 2016-2017. Longest serving Edgeling ever is a title I intend to hold forever.

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