Thoughts on Under the Dome

As the show starts off we are introduced in the first episode to a regular little town where everything is seemingly peaceful and idyllic.  Then one day, a giant dome lands upon their town, encapsulating them from the rest of the world.  Some people are cut off from loved ones, others are killed, and for a while – chaos ensues.  Things calm down eventually with the help of the sheriff and Big Jim Reddy, the town politician and soon people are working together to keep a sense of normalcy present. Thus begins a season of paranoia, distrust, brotherhood, friendship and hatred and many other things as is wont to do when people are trapped like rats in a cage.

Based on the book by Stephen King, it is an intriguing look at the human condition when placed under extreme circumstances – in this case a giant dome.  He takes people from all walks off life and explores their personalities when placed in such duress.  Some people rise to the challenge and others resort to lawlessness.  Everyone does what they think they have to do and it makes the show much more compelling not knowing just what anyone will do at any moment.

Developed by Brian K. Vaughn, author of Saga and many other fine things, it only helps the show to have a steady hand to guide the ship.  Overall it seemed to have worked.  The show was a ratings winner and a lot of people watched.  It was a show that had people anticipating the next episode as much as one does Dexter or Breaking Bad – and for a network show in this day and age, is saying something about just how good it is.  Some things were a little over the top, like Big Jim’s killing rampage – how did no one notice anything? – and the fact that Angie was missing for so long with no one questioning it.  But on the whole, the show worked and it worked very well.

Linda is probably the worst character of the show.  She starts off as a deputy, but becomes sheriff when the old one gets killed.  And she seems pretty smart, taking charge and keeping the peace.  But as the show goes on, especially the last couple of episodes, the writers make her exceptionally dumb.  She spouts ridiculous lines in every situation and her stupidity is literally apparent upon her face.  Natalie Martinez is a good actor to pull off the role that was given to her, and hopefully her character will become more competent as time goes on.  There was not another character on the show that had such a fall from grace, which is funny as it was not through action, but through writing that brought her down.

She is not the only character to go through changes in the show though, as Big Jim who starts out a normal politician appoints himself the town’s defacto leader both political and spiritual.  Junior starts out loving his father, then hates his father, loves his father, hates his father, loves his father and so on.  The general townsfolk themselves who once were friends and neighbours now turn on each other with alarming regularity.  Most character changes can be attributed to being trapped within the dome, in some cases, specifically Linda; it is unknown why she was written the way she was.
Dean Norris as Big Jim is the standout character on the show.  His portrayal of small town yokel hiding big secrets is spot on.  And as the show progresses and Big Jim slowly goes off the rails, Norris brings it home with the same intensity and passion that he brought to his character Hank in Breaking Bad.  Britt Robertson is good as well as the focus of Junior’s obsession.  Playing the vulnerable, yet strong-willed Angie, it looks like Robertson finally has something to sink her teeth into after the cancellation of her previous show, Secret Circle.

It will be fascinating to see what happens during Season 2 and what changes will be in store for the lot of the and just where they can take it.  The premise while not wholly original as it is akin to a lot of prison dramas except on a much larger scale, did not seem like it could last more than a single season.  Readers of the book will obviously know what is going to happen, but for those who have not, hopefully it will be as intense and exciting as it has been this first year.

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