Wednesday, 10 July 2013

UNDER THE DOME, 1.3 – 'Manhunt'

written by Adam Stein |
directed by Paul Edwards

I'm not done watching Under the Dome yet, but the third episode confirmed my suspicions that weekly reviews would be both tedious and fruitless.

When you have a great concept like UtD's (a small town finds itself trapped under an impenetrable bubble), the joy as a viewer is seeing something so extraordinary given life in a credible way. I haven't read the Stephen King novel, but if the television series is a fair reflection then UtD isn't doing a very good job. Nobody behaves as you'd imagine any sane person would. Why is nobody already thinking ahead about air supply, fuel, food, and water? I know this is only episode 3, but those are the big things any sensible person would be asking questions about. And why is there no sense of mass panic? If nothing else, the fact the people on the outside of the dome are ignoring the trapped townsfolk would be a very frightening thing. It suggests guilt and a cover-up. But nobody seems to mind too much on this show. People are still eating at the local diner, skateboarding, walking their dogs, etc. It's madness.

So I can't really invest in UtD as science fiction, which leaves the characters and the human drama under the dome itself. And that's nothing to get excited about yet. There's a weird teenager who's been living in his father's shadow for so long he's gone nuts, a geek who's become flavour of the month because his family have a generator his friends can use to recharge their phones (yawn), a macho councilman with delusions of grandeur, an escaped police officer (who's at least the only one perturbed by the dome), a plucky red-haired journalist, and a handsome stranger keeping secrets. It's not that any of these things are outright terrible, but it's all delivered in a worryingly flat way.

I'm very surprised Under the Dome's so poor considering writer-producer Brian K. Vaughan is part of the team making it; as he's created some wonderfully imaginative comic books in recent years, and he's working from a brilliant idea Stephen King thought up. It's all very depressing when the most memorable thing that happened in "Manhunt" was a shout-out to The Simpsons Movie (which famously used the exact same idea of a town being contained by a giant dome structure).

So far, this is a big summer disappointment. I'll keep watching it, for awhile, but mainly because it happens to fill a gap for me every Tuesday. I'm sure something could happen to turn things around, but I have a suspicion Under the Dome will continue to wilt as the novelty thins.

8 July 2013 | CBS
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