Stephen King's adapted television series has finally made it to the British Isles: how was it received by early critics?
Under The Dome, the premise is simple: the residents of small American town Chester's Mill find themselves separated from the rest of the world by a giant physical barrier, known as 'the dome.' No one knows why the mysterious, semi-permeable dome has appeared but the Chester's Mill denizens must find a way to maintain order, survive, and ultimately escape.
The show is based on master horror writer Stephen King's 2009 novel of the same name and the author also wrote the first episode of the CBS series. Set for 8 episodes, the series is billed as the "mini-series of the summer" and has been widely praised by US critics, having been one of the six series chosen for the 'Critics' Choice Television Award for Most Exciting New Series,' and attracting a whopping nearly 18 million viewers to its pilot episode on 24th June.
Watch The Under The Dome Trailer:
The series, which has already been commissioned for a second, 13-part run in 2014, premiered on UK television on Monday 19th August. Originally intended to be a standalone, summer event, Under The Dome has received enough praise to warrant more dome-based action from Steven Spielberg and Dreamworks. But are UK reviewers as excited?
After Monday's pilot, The Telegraph sneers at what is a rather original idea (King claims not to have been influenced by The Simpsons Movie), remarking that the plot was chosen for budgetary reasons and drawing similarities between the Under The Dome's entire concept and the so-called "bottle-episodes" where TV series shoot an entire episode from one confined space. The show is described as "even more claustrophobic than Lost which at least had sea views."
The Guardian is hardly any more positive, describing the first glimpses of the thriller storyline as "ineffably stupid joy" and adding "it's difficult to convey just how dazzlingly moronic this 13-part adaptation of Stephen King's 2009 sci-fi novel is," with plenty of eye-rolling at cows getting sliced in half, the inability of the residents to grab spades and try to dig under the dome, and the over-emphasised dramatic moments.
King has addressed the similarity after stills from Under The Dome were released showing a distinct similarity to the animated cartoon. Speaking via his own website, King wrote Several Internet writers have speculated on a perceived similarity between Under the Dome and The Simpsons Movie [...] I can't speak personally to this, because I have never seen the movie, and the similarity came as a complete surprise to me [...] I was thinking dome and isolation long before Homer, Marge, and their amusing brood came on the scene."
He has also responded to concerns that the TV show is too far removed from the novel to share any of its effectiveness, in a letter assuring fans of his approval "If you loved the book when you first read it, it's still there for your perusal. But that doesn't mean the TV series is bad, because it's not. In fact, it's very good. And, if you look closely, you'll see that most of my characters are still there," reports BBC News.
Here in the UK, we've been dazzled by waves of gripping American exports such as Breaking Bad, and although they share Dean Norris, it seems as though Under The Dome won't enjoy half the status and excitement of the drug drama. Maybe they should abandon ship and present English viewers with something they can get their heads round better: Under The Gnome perhaps?