So, about that Under The Dome show...

This image is super important for about five minutes and is then completely forgotten. It is also a terrible painting.

This image is super important for about five minutes and is then completely forgotten. It is also a terrible painting.

We're almost through the first two (of three) seasons of Under The Dome on Amazon and for the life of me, I can't figure out why we keep watching. I've now invested something around 25 hours in this show and I feel like I need to talk about it. If you're not familiar with it, it's a Brian K. Vaughn-created series based on a Stephen King novel and it stars Dean Norris, so it could have been pretty interesting or even, you know, good. It is not. It is the other thing, the opposite of good.

It's tough to do a dramatic show based on a novel.  You can follow the novel's arc, which means you have a built-in endpoint for your show. You can just set your show in the novel's "world," and use it as a framing device for other stories. Or, you can do what Under the Dome does: Just make it up as you go along without any idea of where it's going*. It's not just that the plot meanders and switches back and doesn't make any sense; the characters form and break alliances over the course of hours. Characters can go from murderous fiends to trusted friends and back over the course of a single episode. Have you ever played that storytelling game where you only see the final sentence of someone else's paragraph and have to pick it up from there, and then the next person only sees the last sentence of your paragraph, and so on? That's Under The Dome.

Even worse, characters seem unable to pick on obviously hints that someone is lying to them. Norris' character tries to convince the townspeople that Character A shot Character B, even though Character breaks Character A out of jail in front of everybody, which is a pretty strong hint that Norris is lying, but no one even thinks to question it. It's like that, week after week, for the entire hour.

I'll give Norris this: His character is the only consistent one on the entire show. Unfortunately, that means that he's descended into self-parody. If I hear him say "Everything I do, I do for this town/family/my son/whatever" one more time, my eyes may roll out of my head. It will certainly happen five minutes in to the next episode.

It could have been a good show. I'd even go so far as to say it should have been a good show. If they'd had a clear idea of when and how it would end, then the stories leading up to that conclusion might have had a direction or at least a point. As an open-ended story, though, it fails except as unintentional comedy or cautionary tale. I'd wager that this is not what the writers had in mind, but, with one season to go, I don't have any idea what they did have in mind. 

 

* AKA the "Lost" method.