It looks like CBS has tapped into one hell of a profitable cash-cow with Under The Dome. The summer season is notoriously considered to be the wasteland of the television year, but thanks to HBO and the rest of the cable channels, that hasn’t exactly been the case in recent years. That’s where CBS cleverly swooped in with its ambitious drama project that could have easily fit into its fall lineup. They’re obviously already reaping the rewards as the pilot’s premiere posted huge Nielsen ratings. Now those numbers are all well and good, but is the pilot any good?
The short answer: yes. Under The Dome gets a lot of things right, although it has its glaring flaws that need to be rectified if the show ever intends on morphing into must-see television. The first 20 minutes did a terrific job of setting up the show’s premise and unleashing hell on the little town of Chester’s Mill. The dome’s destructive arrival resulted in a plane crash, decimated vehicles, a sliced cow (a gruesome yet pretty iconic image), and birds with snapped necks. However, the second half of the hour lost quite a bit of focus and dumped a whole bunch of useless subplots that didn’t seem all that related to the issue at hand (you know, that ENORMOUS thing hanging over town!). Yes, I’m talking about the atrocious Angie storyline in which she got kidnapped by her boyfriend who turned psycho on her in the span of a day. It was utterly preposterous, not helped by two of the worst performances I’ve seen on network television in quite a while. Britt Robertson ruined The Secret Circle for me (I could barely make it through the pilot) but Alexander Koch was downright laughable as the supposedly-creepy Junior. The twirling blade, the deep glares -it was beyond painful to watch.
Thankfully Mike Vogel’s “Barbie” seems like a dependable enough lead (although the name is going to get some getting used to), and he has a pretty engaging subplot with Julia (the investigative reporter) as its soon revealed that the man he was burying was is none other than her husband. Now that they’re both living under the same roof, things are bound to get interesting.
Under The Dome also laid the foundation for some mythology in its pilot which is always a welcome approach. Two characters in the episode’s opening hour have a seizure, and end up babbling about “stars falling in line”. It’s all kind of cheesy, but intriguing enough to arouse my curiosity. We’ve also got our corrupt town official played by Dean Norris, who’s hellbent on seizing control of the town (via some propane related plot), and Jeff Fahey as the police department chief who’s mercilessly killed off in the episode’s end moments. I actually loved the episode’s final moment with his heart exploding and that gorgeous pan-out as Linda’s screams were drowned out of the dome and we witnessed the commotion outside. It definitely succeeded in pumping me up for the show’s second outing.
Quotes From The Dome
Joe: What if the government built this thing?
Barbie: I doubt it.
Barbie: Because it works.
While it’s got its flaws, Under The Dome‘s pilot is an ambitious enough production that has my attention for now. Let’s hope the premise’s inherent potential (and Stephen King’s pedigree) don’t go to waste.