It is not really a banner year for sci-fi/hero flicks so far this year. After the complete disappointments of Man of Steel, Star Trek Into Darkness, and Pacific Rim, there are not a lot more chances for the genre to redeem itself. OK, I really did like Kick Ass 2 and Gravity looks like despite being Speed in Space that it might be decent, so it isn’t hopeless. TV-wise, the Stephen King vehicle Under The Dome should have been able to keep my attention based on the interesting premise of the story, but I ended up watching it to the end as a way of leveraging my investment rather than maximizing my pleasure. Perhaps the fact that Spielberg was involved should have been a warning that the character development would be minimal to say the least (and his track record was seriously damaged by the complete fuckup of Terra Nova last year) because despite the first episode being rather interesting and fun, the rest of the episodes were a morass of stereotypes, poor scripts, and unbelievable dialogs. I was a bit agast that despite his incredible performance on Breaking Bad as the (late) Hank Schrader (RIP Hank!), he was horrible in this show. I know that an actor can only do so much with the role that he is given, but it was obvious that Big Jim was an asshole and was going to become the bad guy in the show. After a while, I didn’t even care about his silly propane scheme – I got tired of hearing about it. His psycho son goes dark with the kidnapping of his girlfriend Angie a little too early in the show (E02 I believe) and then we don’t ever quite build sympathy or empathy for him. I just thought he was a sick dick and that was about it. The ditzy redhead Julia is sort of interesting, but is given the role traditionally done to the blond – eye candy with misguided curiosity…and who predictably falls for the Barbie character who was also hard to get behind because it also seemed obvious that he was going to be the scapegoat (the outsider and all). I liked the cameo of Jolene Purdy as Dodee (she was the chick that Jesse traded meth for gas with in S02 of Breaking Bad), but felt it was entirely unnecessary and stupid to kill her off in E12. I think the worst character was the priest played by Ned Bellamy who jumps the shark bigtime in E02 when he escapes from a burning house and the show just went downhill from there. Phil the DJ could have been a great character if he actually had a brain but unfortunately, he lets Big Jim and poor Linda tell him what to do (and steal his car) all the time. Linda also could have been interesting if she hadn’t been painted as such an insecure acolyte of Big Jim and the late Duke. And then there is the Dome itself and the MiniDome. They are characters here as well but both one-dimensional being both pretty fickle and moody. Once again, this COULD have been a good story if all the characters weren’t made of cardboard and the dialog was a bit more developed. I nearly forgot to mention the sexiest character on the show, the sultry Nathalie Zea from Justified and House of Lies, who was totally one-dimensional here and basically just a total bitch. I actually wasn’t even sad to see her bite the dust in, what was it E10 perhaps? which surprised me because she is normally both sexy and an interesting character to watch. Not this time, Maxine didn’t deserve to last more than 2 or 3 episodes.
This is the ONLY show I watched from the classic networks (all the other ones are AMC, HBO, Netflix, Showtime, Starz, and Sundance) and honestly, I missed the rawness and uncensored quality of those other networks. It kind of undermines the plot and makes it far less realistic. I mean c’mon, Dean Norris doesn’t get off a single “shit” or “fuck” during 9h of screentime? I ain’t buying that (particularly since he got the f-bomb honors for all of Season 5 of Breaking Bad during the AWESOME Ozymandias episode). It is unfortunate that a show with such an obviously huge budget flops so hard on its face. I guess there are those who disagree with me because the show got renewed for next summer with Stephen King returning as the writer and Brian K. Vaughn as showrunner again. I don’t think I’ll be crawling under the covers with my iPad to watch this one next year.
- Dean Norris, Breaking Out Of That Good-Guy Mold (wnyc.org)
- TV Review: ‘Under the Dome’ Finale (variety.com)
- UK Gets Stephen King’s ‘Under The Dome,’ Tonight (contactmusic.com)
- ‘Under the Dome’ Producer Talks Departing From Novel, Season Finale’s Big Twist (thewrap.com)
- ‘Under the Dome’ Flying Under the Radar (superdps.com)
- Under the Dome Postmortem: Neal Baer Defends Finale, Teases Season 2 (seattlepi.com)