Okay, it’s summer (well, summer in TV Land, anyway), which means that there’s nothing on TV except reruns and reality shows. Let’s face it, TV’s basically boring as hell until the season starts again in the fall.
But! This summer, we get a treat — a summer series based on Stephen King’s novel Under the Dome, also called…Under the Dome. And I, your intrepid sci-fi geek, will recap the series for you (and possibly with you) weekly. The premiere episode aired on Monday, June 24, in the U.S. and Canada. Which means that if you haven’t yet watched the series premiere, you may want to skip this post until after you’ve seen it. Because there will be spoilers. You’ve been warned.
Overall, this show is creepy as hell. I’m not really sure why I’m surprised, because it’s based on a book by Stephen King. You know, the guy who wrote Carrie. And The Shining. And The Stand. But, creepy not withstanding, the first episode was really quite fascinating. (Maybe because I haven’t read the book? I should get on that…)
The episode opens with some guy — who we later learn goes by the name Barbie (seriously, what?) — digging a grave in the woods somewhere. I was immediately drawn in, because some dude digging a perfectly formed, rectangular grave by himself with his bare hands and a shovel deserves to be noticed. I’m just saying. We get a flash of the dead guy’s face before the tarp gets dropped into the grave. Which, I don’t know about you, made me ask a bunch of questions (which kind of annoyed my husband, come to think of it): Who is the dead guy? Why did Barbie kill him? What does Barbie do, exactly, that requires killing people in the middle of the woods outside of tiny towns? And why does Barbie go by the name Barbie and not by his first name, the perfectly respectable name of Dale?
Anyway. We’re then introduced to some other town residents, none of whom I could really keep straight in my head. (Honestly, in my notes I have “Who are these people?!“)
And THEN. There’s this earthquake thing and then the dome drops over the town, making a noise like someone dropping a glass into a bowl of water. Or possibly the sound of a wet-dry vacuum sucking up that container of juice your kids knocked over because they were running around the kitchen when they weren’t supposed to. Ahem.
And then we see the cow. The poor, harmless, bisected cow. We’re treated to a few closeups of it — possibly a few too many — which was gross and yet strangely fascinating at the same time. Also, why didn’t the cow have bones? (Or at least, I didn’t see any; maybe I just wasn’t paying attention since I was looking at the INSIDE OF A COW. A cow that happened to be in TWO PIECES.)
The centerpieces/antagonist of this show is The Dome. So what do we know about it?
- It’s high: A plane crashes into it and and explodes, leaving only a purse and a leg as evidence that it had people on board. (The purse would’ve sufficed when making that point, really.)
- It’s soundproof. Firefighters and Chester’s Mill police are trying to talk to each other through the dome but end up looking like mimes in uniform. The miming reporters are even more entertaining.
- It’s electrified and sends off electrical signals that disrupt things that rely on electricity. But it might not be electrified and may not injure/maim/kill you if you keep touching it and/or throwing yourselves at it. (Go on, keep trying. I dare you.) Or, if you’re the police chief, you keep touching the dome over and over and over, even though you know it fucks up your pacemaker. And then your pacemaker launches out of your chest like something out of Aliens. (Can pacemakers do that?) BUT KEEP TOUCHING IT.
- It’s strong like transparent titanium. We see a plane crash into it. We also see a truck smash into it head-on; afterward, the truck only had a cargo section left since the cab was completely obliterated. It can cut buildings in half. It can cut people in half. And, as we so plainly see, it can cut cows in half. Basically, this is not a thing you want to hit under any circumstances.
- You can’t see it from the inside, but (based on the closing shot), you can actually see it from the outside. Well, you can see the outline of it, at least.
Now that the dome is in place, it’s like a giant fishbowl (so says Angie, one of the characters). Only the fish are human. So what do we know about the residents of Chester’s Mill?
- For a small town, there are a lot of residents I can’t keep track of.
- The councilman (Big Jim) looks sort of like the dude off The Commish, but actually turns out to be the dude off Breaking Bad.
- Big Jim has Weird Tension with the police chief (he of the launching pacemaker). What IS the story behind the propane? Hmm…
- The vampire lady off Twilight is now a reporter/editor. She is married to a doctor, who seems to have disappeared. Only he really hasn’t, because remember the dead guy in the opening scene? Yeah. (And the plot thickens…)
- Big Jim’s son is Junior (Angie’s boyfriend/bed buddy), who seems like a total psychopath. So basically, this family’s just completely fucked up. In a really creepy way.
The show sounds interesting already, right? I mean, just the characters alone are pretty compelling. Throw in a giant, see-through, electrified dome and I am hooked. What was even more interesting (to me, anyway) was that whenever someone had a seizure (and it’s not established if these characters have a history of seizures), they would say, “The stars are falling in lines.” The stars are falling in lines? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? Maybe this guy was right all along, and it all comes back to aliens!
Or, I don’t know. It’s based on a Stephen King novel, after all.
So, I have to say, this show looks interesting. I mean, it’s creepy to begin with, and with everyone cut off from the outside world, people are bound to get creepier. Or Junior will completely lose his shit and kill everyone in town. I don’t know, it’s hard to say.
Is Under the Dome a science fiction-y show? No, not really. Honestly, it almost seems like a character study to me.
But on the other hand, it also strikes me as a great (albeit fictional) case study for a post-apocalyptic situation. Okay, so a giant dome isn’t really an apocalypse, but for the people of Chester’s Mill, it could be. They’re cut off from the rest of the world, they can’t get in or out, they can’t get supplies into the town, people will start panicking pretty soon (probably), a psychopath is running around the same town as a guy named Barbie (who kills people in the woods)… Sounds pretty post-apocalyptic to me.
Personally, I’m curious to see where this will go.
Stay tuned for next week’s recap!