'Under the Dome': Stephen King's adaptation cut straight through a cow and right to our hearts
Under the Dome premiered last night, which you're aware of because you're a human being who's been awake at some point this past month and absorbed marketing for this thing via a billboard, bus, TV, park bench or actual dome covering your town as a fun promotion. To not know it would air on June 24 at 10pm means you're a hermit or non-omnipotent space alien... both of which feature in Stephen King's bibliography. So really no one's got an excuse.
Unsurprisingly for a sci-fi(ey) show launching in the post-LOST landscape (and executive produced by one of that series' leading creative lights, Brian K. Vaughan), Dome seems to borrow a lot of elements from a certain show about damaged people on a magic island. To wit:
- A catalyzing, unexplained event that draws a diverse group of survivors together
- Repeated, unnerving expressions ("the stars are falling in lines") uttered by people in fugue states
- Frank Lapidus (aka Jeff Fahey)
- Kate's mom (aka Beth Broderick)
- A RADIO TOWER
- A plane crash
The plane crash is of course far less spectacular than the one that opened LOST almost ten years ago, but that's okay. They can't all be horrifying real-time descents from 32,000 feet!
And anyway, unlike the myriad of shows to crop up in the decade since LOST made its mark — from The Event to FlashForward to Revolution to whatever else — the material on display here feels mostly fresh and original. The small-town setting, for starters, offers a tighter focus than "the whole world's gone crazy" popularized in so many other shows. No flashbacks, at least not yet, which means we can focus on the far-more interesting present.
But far and away the best thing Dome has going for it right now, and I say this with complete seriousness, is playing the game "what crazy shit was conveniently placed and crushed right under the edge of the Dome?" And also the bonus game "what's going to fly/crash into this thing now?"
In just one glorious hour of television, we saw birds and planes and trucks and firefighters careen directly into the glass wall and respectively die or explode or crater or suffer a nose bleed. Cool! All of that, let's remember, happened after the Dome descended. On impact?
THE DOME SEVERED A COW IN HALF.
Forget the fact that, even alongside Game of Thrones, it's probably the grossest thing I've seen on television this year. No, what I love about the cow dissection is its cutting perfection. Right down the middle! Totally clean! Had the bovine been standing just six inches to the left or right, we would've gotten an asymmetrical cut. Who's to say if that would've compromised the integrity of the entire pilot...but no one's saying it wouldn't have, either. I think we as a country needed that perfect cow severing more than we'd like to admit.
Maybe 20 minutes after that scene the redhead journalist (Rachelle Lefevre) and a mysterious, dangerous guy named Barbie (Mike Vogel) encountered another grisly scene: a woman whose arm had been cut off by the Dome. On any other show you'd be a reminder of the frailty of life and some call to community togetherness but here, after the cow — you're just an also-ran Dome victim. That's how high the bar is set.
What are you gonna give us next week, Dome?