Under the Dome made its debut on Monday at 10/9c (CBS) — did it capture your attention?
Based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the summer drama takes place in Chester’s Mill, a sleepy rural town that is suddenly encompassed by a gigantic, transparent dome. There’s no explanation for the new enclosure, but it’s causing disaster left and right — including a plane crash that leaves no survivors.
Despite Chester’s Mill’s seemingly harmless atmosphere — after all, the town’s biggest concern is a newly constructed Denny’s stealing business from the local diner — we quickly learn that its inhabitants are hiding secrets of their own.
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Among the colorful characters are Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Bates Motel’s Mike Vogel), a mysterious former Army Captain who we learn is responsible for a murder, despite his trustworthy nature; Sheriff Perkins (Lost’s Jeff Fahey), the town’s not-so-faithful leader whose pacemaker is as deceitful as he is; James “Big Jim” Rennie (Breaking Bad’s Dean Norris), a charismatic used car salesman who suspects the truth about what’s really going on in Chester’s Mill; and his misguided son, Junior (newcomer Alexander Koch), whose love for grade-school-crush-turned-girlfriend Angie (Life Unexpected‘s Britt Robertson) quickly turns dangerously possessive.
But the story goes beyond our core players. It unfolds in the town’s paranormal moments, when teenagers are suddenly plagued by seizures and premonitions (“The stars are falling in lines”). It’s told in the secrets that come through the chinks in Chester’s Mill’s armor — namely, why has the town been stockpiling propane? The final shot of the episode — a bird’s eye view of the dome’s size and scope — makes one thing clear: Things are going to get much worse before they get better.
All told, Under the Dome seems to require patience and concentration from viewers — but it’s well worth the price of admission.
Now, here’s what you can expect from life under the dome moving forward, courtesy of executive producers Neal Baer and Brian K. Vaughan.
NOTHING ‘MINI’ ABOUT IT | “This is not a miniseries,” Baer clarified, referencing early reports. “It’s a 13-episode series.” Continued Vaughan, “Stephen King’s book takes place over a relatively short period of time. But when we first started talking about [to him], he said, ‘When I came up with this idea, I envisioned a town being trapped for years at a time. That’s something that you guys could get to do that I didn’t, and that might necessitate a different ending.” That means fans of the novel can look forward to a completely different conclusion to the saga. “We pitched Stephen a far-out, big-swing [ending] for if we’re lucky enough for this to go several years, and he was so excited about it,” revealed Vaughan.
SEEING IS NOT BELIEVING | Things are not quite what they seem under the dome. “The characters are complicated,” Baer noted. “The people you think are bad may not be so bad, and the ones you think are good may not be so good. Don’t believe everything you see in the beginning.”
ONE MOMENT IN TIME | Baer shared that each episode — of Season 1, at least — will amount to one day. “That seems to have worked for us in this first [batch of] episodes.”
OUTSIDE THE DOME | Life on the outside will be explored “very, very rarely,” Vaughan teased. “I really like the feeling that we are trapped in here with these characters. Our POV, for the most part, will remain inside Chester’s Mill.” The EP added, “We didn’t want to do lots of flashbacks to the characters’ past, and we won’t be cutting to [other times] just to shake things up a bit. We wanted to challenge ourselves by setting up in this one location.”
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER | Might some of the Chester’s Mill townsfolk actually be in on the mystery that is the dome? “That’s a strange thought,” Vaughan laughed. “So, that’s our answer.”
BURNING QUESTIONS ANSWERED | Why is the dome causing such a physical reaction in teenagers? Why did the doctor die? Each of these questions and more will be addressed sooner rather than later. “This first season, you’ll get lots of answers from things in the pilot,” promised Vaughan. “We’ve made a conscious decision that if we present a mystery, we will solve it for you before we start introducing new ones.”
WHY NOT GO, WELL, UNDER THE DOME? | Any chance these people can just dig their way out of the dome? “We promise you that is answered in Episode 2,” Baer assured.
That’s what we think, but what’s your take? Grade Under the Dome via the poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!