Under the Dome

7.5 / 10
41 min
Science-Fiction
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" gives "Under the Dome - Pilot" a 8."
Written by on 14 July 2013.
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Under the Dome - Pilot

Under the Dome’ is one of those series that has been the talk of the town for ages and has been looked forward to. The series is a television adaption of the eponymous book by Stephen King. And because I wanted to give my review an extra layer by comparing the book and series, I ordered the book about three weeks ago and started reading. Even though the book is very much enjoyable and interesting, I will have to admit that I didn’t manage to finish reading the book before the first episode. It’s not a book you can read in a couple of days for it has about 1.000 pages. I, however, got further into the story that Dome Day (the day the people of Chester’s Mill were trapped under the dome) and I can already tell you that they have changed the story a lot. The series turns out to have merely been ‘based on’ the book. Which is a pity because the book is amazing and very detailed. This is a very stereotypical ‘don’t judge the book by its movie’, or in this case ‘series’, but that does not distract me from the fact that the series is very good on itself too.

The first episode starts out with Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Mike Vogel, ‘Bates Motel’), who’s a mysterious character that is burying a body in the first couple of seconds of the episode. Why did he kill him and what other secrets is he bringing to the town with him? The first questions have been raised in the viewers’ minds. They convey the happenings and special effects very properly in this series, by the way. The viewers don’t have to wait very long for the series to get to the main subject of the series: on Barbie’s way back, he ends up on the side of the road and then we get a montage of several characters responding to a minor “earthquake” of some sorts or what might seem as a prelude to a hurricane. Then you hear a loud thump and it seems like a massive glass wall has fallen down to the earth. It splits a cow in half and birds fly right into it, just like this aeroplane that crashes into the “dome”. The whole city is now trapped under some large glass “dome”. You can’t get in. You can’t get out. And this applies to sound and materials too. There are a couple of questions you’ll have as a viewer. What is it? Where did it come from? Who are involved? And how do we get rid of it?

Besides Barbie, there are several other regulars. Several actors have my favour over others, but all characters are being played very well nonetheless. There’s Joe McClatchey (Colin Ford, ‘Supernatural’), a smart and young lad. There’s Julia Shumway, (Rachelle Levefre, ‘Off the Map’), the owner of a local newspaper and her storyline revolves mainly around Barbie. James “Big Jim” Rennie (played by the man with many fans; Dean Norris, ‘Breaking Bad’) who’s one of the councilmen of the village and has his own little secrets and a complete and utterly mental son, Junior Rennie, but he’s completely unaware of how mad his son is. Junior (Alexander Koch) is in love with one of the other regulars, Angie McAlister (Britt Robertson, ‘The Secret Circle’). Carolyn Hill (Aisha Hinds, ‘Detroit 1-8-7’) is a lesbian woman who’s trapped under the dome with her girlfriend and her daughter. Even though I would rather had them stick to the storylines in the book, I like how they played with our modern society. Carolyn and her girlfriend are obviously based on the two nurses from the book that drive into the dome. However, in the book, they weren’t in a relationship, didn’t have any children, and they were outside of The Dome (now they’re inside and they’re not nurses). If you’re thinking that there is no use in watching the series because you’ve read the book and you now know what is going to happen: you don’t know!

I would love to discuss all the differences between the series and the book, but I could just as well write a book myself then. Though I would like to discuss a few differences that stood out. In the book, Barbie is a cook at the Sweetbriar Rose and on Dome Day he’s going to somewhere outside of Chester’s Mill. Besides, everyone knows who he is. But in the series, it seems like no one knows who he is and he’s not a cook. Angie is very much alive, too. In the book, she’s brutally murdered by Junior on Dome Day. And Dodee Sanders (Jolene Purdy, ‘Do Not Disturb’) is also murdered. In the series, they are regulars. Another big difference is the dome. In the book, people are able to talk with one another from either side of the dome and now inside the dome is mute to the outside and vice versa. Linda (Natalie Martinez, ‘Detroit 1-8-7’) and Rusty are both on other sides of the dome while in the book they’re on the inside together. The first eight or ten episodes are based on the book and then the show will continue on its own. Will the entire mystery have been solved by then or are they going to stretch out the entire story? I’m curious what will happen. Rumour has it that Stephen King might even write an episode.

The series is fast-paced, unlike the book. They create so many questions that you WILL want to see the next episode. Another striking thing is that several characters have an “epileptic” seizure during the first episode and they all murmur the same sentence: ‘The pink stars are falling in lines’. The writers manage to raise many new questions here, too. What do they mean and why do they all say the same sentence over and over again during these “epileptic” seizures?

Even though the series differs from the book a lot, the writers manage to keep it interesting and exciting for both the people who have read the book and for the people who haven’t. ‘Under the Dome’ is fun to watch and the character portrayal is executed well. Regardless of the fact that the series emphasises on some characters more than others in terms of who might know about the origin of The Dome, one might also think that this is a writers’ trick to put us on the wrong track. I, for one, am really curious how the rest of the series will unfold and will finish the book like a good girl.
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