‘Under The Dome’ Series Premiere Review

Published 2 years ago by

Natalie Martinez and Josh Carter in Under the Dome Under The Dome Series Premiere Review

Before it even aired a single episode, Under the Dome already had quite the head start, as the new CBS drama has the benefit of highly recognizable names built right into its DNA. For starters, the “event” series is based on the Stephen King novel of the same name (King also serves as a producer) and is being executive produced by Steven Spielberg.

That right there is enough pedigree to make any other series a little jealous in terms of marketability. But Under the Dome is also being shepherded by award-winning comic book and former Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan – which should please fans of genre storytelling and help to explain the Lost-y vibe that the show gives off during its gripping and well-crafted premiere.

For those unfamiliar with the novel on which it is based, the series depicts the residents of Chester’s Mill – a small, tranquil town in the Northeastern corner of the United States – who have the misfortune of being cut off from the rest of the world after an enormous, invisible and seemingly impenetrable barrier covers their little burg. Cars, barns, cows and people unlucky enough to have been straddling the perimeter wind up with chunks (or worse) on either side of the barrier. Birds fall from the sky with broken necks, while cars and planes violently crash into the invisible wall; even sound is unable to pass through the mysterious obstruction.

Dean Norris in Under the Dome Under The Dome Series Premiere Review

Written by Vaughan, the pilot manages to quickly set things in motion while still giving a cursory, but adequate glimpse at the major players in the series. It’s a wildly distinct group that features Mike Vogel (fresh off his stint on another Lost alum’s new series – Carlton Cuse’s Bates Motel ) as Dale “Barbie” Barbara, a shady former soldier who finds himself in Chester’s Mill on a business deal that looks to have gone south, as he’s introduced burying a body in the woods. There’s also Angie (Britt Robertson) a candy striper looking to get away from the small town, but finds herself even more desperate to be free of her unhinged boyfriend, Junior (Alexander Koch) – and then there is Rachel Lefevre (Twilight) as the town’s newspaper editor who was, until the dome appeared, woefully unaware of the potentially underhanded dealings going on in her own home.

Rounding out the expansive cast is Dean Norris of Breaking Bad – who will have the distinct pleasure of being on two networks at once come August – as the town’s hot-shot car dealer/councilman James “Big Jim” Rennie (think Buddy Garrity with a potentially homicidal edge), and two local radio DJs, Phil and Dodee (Nicholas Strong and Joelen Purdy, respectively). There’s also lesbian couple Carolyn (Aisha Hinds) and Alice (Samatha Mathis), who wind up stuck in Chester’s Mill while en route to dropping their troubled daughter Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) off at a specialized camp.

Jeff Fahey (another remnant of Lost) shows up as the town’s sheriff, and is joined by Linda (Natalie Martinez), his deputy who was recently engaged to a fire-fighter currently on the other side of the dome. And although it looks like he may not survive the pilot episode, the series first begins to prod the what, how and why of dome through Fahey’s character, while also intimating a compelling undercurrent examining the economic plight of small towns in the USA. It seems that in an effort to save the community he’s devoted his life to, the sheriff may have been complicit in a deal with the devil that literally sealed the fate of Chester’s Mill.

Mike Vogel in Under the Dome Under The Dome Series Premiere Review

That brief inkling of mystery illustrates Vaughan’s ability to set up and balance out the various elements that helped make the pilot a successful, swiftly-paced and entertaining episode. As for the viability of the series (and future seasons, should this summer series work out well for CBS), there’s plenty to keep the narrative moving beyond the larger mystery of the dome, who is behind it and why. There’s also a bizarre and vaguely supernatural aspect developing, as two teenagers experience seizures and begin uttering the cryptic phrase, “The stars are falling in lines.”

Perhaps most importantly, Under the Dome seems to be as interested in the brewing conflict inside the dome, amongst those trapped there, as it is in the larger conflict of the dome itself. Vaughn (and King, of course) have managed to draw up a host of interesting characters and interweaving story arcs that could potentially keep the wheels turning within the confines of the enclosure for some time to come.

In addition to the high-profile creators involved, the series has the likely benefit of premiering during the summer – a time when quality series are typically scarce on network television. With competition in short supply, Under the Dome may just find the audience it was hoping for and could prove to be a rare summertime hit for CBS.


Under the Dome continues next Monday with ‘Into the Fire’ @10pm on CBS. Check out a preview below:

Additionally, if you have read the book, we ask that you keep in mind viewers who have not, and please refrain from SPOILING specific events or the ending in the comments below. Thank you. 

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  1. I thought it blew to be honest.

    • I’m with you. It may be because I read the book and dislike all the changes they made but I felt it was sloppy and uninteresting. The actor playing Junior was particularly bad in my opinion. But maybe its just because I can’t separate this show from the book. The “supposed” main guy Barbie is already a completely different individual than the book. I’ll give this season the benefit of the doubt but watching the first episode was hard for me. I would have loved a true to the book gritty dark HBO version of Under the Dome.

    • Agreed!

    • Big time, that show sucked a$$. I loved the book

  2. Great rundown and thanks for the heads-up. Kevin.
    I will watch this. A new series in summer seems unusual.
    This is the time of year I spend catching up with British shows.

  3. I fell asleep…will try to watch again on demand.

  4. I haven’t read the book so my comment is based on just the Pilot…
    I thought it was OK. But it’s just the pilot which is often the oddest episodes for any series so I’ll give it a few more episodes before I fully judge.
    One thing that has sort of surprised me is that since watching the episode I’ve read that it was directed by the same director who made the original Dragon Tattoo movies. Really???
    If I had to list a complaint it would be that the direction was pretty lacking. Otherwise I thought it was an OK start.

    • Niels Arden Oplev? Now that seems out of left field, doesn’t it?
      Fascinating detail, Kevin. I just watched his Dead Man Down
      and found it surprisingly entertaining for what it was.

      • I’ve been looking forward to seeing Dead Man Down mostly because it was directed by Oplev (thanks for the reminder) even though I have heard it’s just ok.
        So like I said I was surprised to learn he directed this pilot. While watching the episode it seemed like your standard TV show. There was nothing unique visually or ascetically that one would think a director like Oplev would add to the show.

        • Dead Man Down I would say is better than OK. Good, not great.
          It does have a grand climax which redeems the weaknesses.
          Naomi And Farrel were excellent. Brooding Colin works.

          • ^Noomi ^Farrell

          • Thanks for the heads up…
            I’m waiting for it to hit Amazon or Blu-ray.

            • I caught a cheap matinee which was the theater’s only showing.
              Not sure if this is still in release. Probably the very tail end.
              Think of it as a summer movie. On that level it works.

  5. The Simpson Movie was more exciting.

    • You got that right

  6. I watched this. I think what you found “most important” I found to be the worst part of the show. I thought the four, or so, different “brewing conflicts” were unbelievable but, more importantly, unnecessary.

    The concept of a town trapped inside of a bubble, cut off from the outside world, is extremely interesting. I’d be curious to see how the characters react, devolve, evolve, deal with the normal conflicts that arise. It could be a very interesting take on humanity and the predicament of a trapped society. Instead, it seems to be taking the extreme route of setting up needless plot lines (kidnapping, murder, affairs, intrigue, oh my!).

    I have hope for this show. But reel it in a bit. Let things happen subtly, naturally, and we could have a winner. Doesn’t look like that will happen though.

    • @ Tyler
      + 1

      I agree. Of course we have to have other stories that aren’t linked directly to the dome. It’s TV & Movies 101 but I thought that they felt shoehorned into the pilot when they didn’t need to be.
      Having an invisible dome cover an entire town is a pretty crazy thing to happen don’t ya think? :)
      So just seeing these people deal with that would have been enough drama and tension for the pilot.

  7. Let me guess, the dome appeared after Homer over-polluted Lake Springfield? D’OH!

    • No after the aliens kids wanted to watch Big Brother

  8. Having read the book, I thought it stayed pretty true to the narrative. I read that the series is going to make some changes and uses the book as inspiration. I’m recording the series and will probably hold off viewing more til I have a number of episodes. But the pilot left me hopeful that it will be something worth watching.

    • really, the the book Barbie killed a guy and bury him in the woods and that guy turns out to be Julia husband. and when did Julia become a teenager in the book she is like 40 something. this is nothing like the book, a groundhog gets cut in half not a cow

    • Are you kidding? You definately didn’t read the SAME book that I did!!!
      There is very little even similar to the book. It is the worst adaptation of a Stephen King book that I have ever seen. I’m really disappointed that he allowed CBS to stray so far from his writing.

  9. I enjoyed it and will be watching.

    My only issue was with the kid who trapped his “girlfriend” in the bomb shelter. It felt very forced and contrived just to add another thread to the narrative.

    • The premise of a town completely enclosed and shut off from the rest of the world is interesting enough without having to create 4 subplots for the sake of just creating more unwarranted and unneeded drama. I’ll give this series a try, it caught my attention.

      • Exactly.

        There’s nothing wrong with subplots (because the guy who killed and burying that one person then getting trapped IN the town I loved) but 4 sub plots was at least 1 too many.

        The other thing is, they didn’t HAVE to introduce all those at the beginning, we could have found out about some of them over time (like this propane stockpile thing)

    • i thought the pilot was pretty good that part with the gf in the bomb shelter just annoyed me. Hope they don’t drag that part on

    • He didn’t trap her, in the book he kills her and lock her in a pantry and have sex with the corpse.

  10. Okay… no spoilers… promise… no one in the entire town has a shovel to dig a tunnel out of the dome?

    • im sure that will be explored at some point.
      i think they really should have made it a 2 hour premier. the acting seemed ok. junior was getting on my nerves right off the bat. he is a typical King character; obsessive, unhinged significent other; will probably meet a gruesome death near the end of the show’s run. (i have not read the book btw, but i have read most of his books, so this is just an educated guess)overall i thought it was pretty good, for a (yet another) tv adaption of one of his books. i tried to get into haven, and it was just not for me.

    • Agree … the opening scene stars with a man digging a big whole, so the concept of shovels must exist.

  11. I thought the pilot was ok, one too many unnecessary plotlines, but still an ok pilot. I just wanted to say that I loved the Friday Night Lights reference.

  12. Personally speak if you already read the book you can’t very well spoil the steaming pile of crap because it doesn’t seem to have followed the story at all. Brian Vaughan apparently didn’t read the novel. And dean Norris as big Jim? He’ s supposed to be a BiG tall fat guy, not short and stout and not even close to intimidating. Bad casting, bad writing, and bad special effects equal just another cheap sci-fi channel movie. Nuff said.

    • Enough of the negativity already! What’s the matter with you people?
      What do you want, anyway? I personally thought the pilot was great, and plan to continue watching. If you didn’t like it, don’t watch it. Please don’t spoil it for others.
      Man, some of you negative people need to get a life!

      • People who liked it also should “get a life” and not argue with those who didn’t like it. Agree to disagree and move on.

      • It sucked


  13. This show was awful. The acting was terrible and the music playing on scenes made it seem even worse. Will not be watching this show again.

  14. well, as a stand alone, the show was okay, but I was so looking forward to seeing the the story as told in the book, not changed up from the very opening minutes, with the characters not even associated in the same way. Frankly, I was disappointed.

    • Cat, right on. Complete disappointment with the character changes. Barbi a hitman? Shumway married? Junior only a kidnapper? As usual, terrible job by TV telling the STORY. The book is about the secrets and faults of people in ANY smalltown community and what happens when those secrets are put under a microscope (dome). Can’t wait to see how they explain the dome vs how the book did…….should be real creative LOL. Major bummer, especially given the hype and the fact that SK produced.

      • I totally agree. KC must have read a different book than I did. It didn’t follow the story line or the characters AT ALL! You’re right about Barbie, and Julia. Also, Rusty, the “doc,” was under the dome along with his wife, Linda, the cop. AND they start it off with Barbie burying a body!!! I knew it would be changed somewhat, but EVERYTHING has changed. I wish I could watch the series unbiased, but it’s impossible; and I waited so long to see it…even rushed to finish the book before the series came out. Stephen King, I am so disappointed that you let others do this to your book!!!

        • I agree with everyone that read the book and was disappointed. I also read the book and was looking forward to the series. I figured on some changes, but they seem to only be using the book for a few ideas. That said, I will continue to watch with an open mind. It could prove interesting.

  15. I read the book and loved it, when I saw the first episode, I was like, this crap stinks and didn’t watch the 2nd or 3rd episode and will not watch it until it makes it way onto Netflix if that ever happens. If not, I don’t care to see that crap. And the worst part, Stephen King is writing the series and he changed all the characters. So he has no one to blame for this mess but himself like he did with The Shining.

  16. Up to season 4 and nothing is the same as the book. I am unimpressed at all of the changes i have seen so far. The book is far better

  17. Up to the 4th episode and nothing is the same as the book. The military is already leaving and there is a meningitis outbreak???? They could have stuck a little bit closer to the book. I am unimpressed at all of the changes i have seen so far.

  18. Having read the book I too was looking forward to this series. So disappointed to find its not the story as written. Miss the Barbie and Julia King created. Just have to view it as a series. Not based on the novel.

  19. This show is nothing like the book and rather disappointing. Usually movies based on Stephen King novels are almost spot on. The only thing the same are the names and the fact they are “under the dome”. I’m curious to see how they play out the rest of it and see if keep the same reason why they trapped.

  20. Nothing personal, but I’d enjoy the series better if I didn’t have to watch two women lovers (hated it).

  21. I read the book and loved it. I wasn’t happy about what they did to barbie, but all in all I really like this series. I look forward to seeing it every week even with the changes. I have rarely seen a book turned into a TV series or a movie that followed the book. I have read many books and watched many of them put on the screen. So relax and just enjoy it, if not that’s fine too. As far as it being crap I would like to see any of you do better.

  22. When i was reading the book a few years ago, i thought at the time that it would make an excellent TV series. The book starts off with the supernatural event of the dome appearing, and so a good deal of action, which would constitute a lengthy pilot in a TV adaptation. Then when things calm down we are then taken into the individual character stories of Chester’s Mill which could easily fill a few engrossing seasons on TV. Of all of Kings books to be adapted this is the easiest. The whole book is episodic. Its as if the writers changed masses of it to simply justify being employed on it. All the older characters now seem younger and all the younger ones seem a little older and the casting in general is terrible. Like its already been mention Big Jim was a massive John Goodman, hulk of a man with a bad heart.

  23. I read the book and will not give anything away. Another King story ruined because of some lousy screenwriters who cannot seem to find what it is King is trying to say. And, yeah, thanks CBS for dragging this story into what??? Two summers???? You expect people to remember what happened 9 months before???? One word really describes this show. DISAPPOINTING. I will not be watching next year.

  24. This show is a pile of crap. I had all of season 1 downloaded. I watched the first 3 episodes and they were mildly interesting.. though overacted. I found a number fo the actors extremely irritating (junior and that other female actor with the oversized dome like head… the one who keeps touching the other twit and then the two of them faint, twitch and rant…)

    Didn’t have the patience to sit through the rest of the episodes so I so skimmed through them on fast forward. It’s just such an unbearably silly show. Painful to watch, so I can’t imagine what it felt like to produce or act in! I won’t bother with season 2.

  25. I only heard about the show while sitting in a restaurant having a wonderful meal (Giordano’s for those that are wondering). My friend and I are sitting there trying to figure out our GPS and where we need to go because we aren’t from Chicago and she sees my book sitting on the table and starts talking about the show. I had no idea there was a show when I picked up the book and started reading so I decided to take a look once I got back home from our road trip.

    So what do I think about it? IT SUCKS! I’ve watched about an episode and a half and this is my interpretation so far after reading the books:

    1. Barbie is casted as a completely different person (he never killed anyone). He was WALKING out of town when the dome came down (or up). He left his dog tags in a pair of socks in the room he was renting above a shop and he was the cook at the local greasy spoon.

    2. Junior is casted wrong. He has a brain tumor and he’s a very violent and angry young man who killed Angie (who was dating Frankie, whom I never even seen in the little I watched). Then he killed Dodee and stored them both in a pantry and was actually enjoying sleeping with them. While he did have a cell phone he hated the thing and deliberately left it in the room and was contacted by Cox through Shumway on HER phone.

    3. In the books Shumway was never married (thus this part of the plot could have never happened.)

    4. Big Jim was casted wrong as he is the SECOND selectman and Andy is the FIRST, however, because of his demeanor (his stature of being big, tall and fat) he didn’t come off as personable but he did run the show and had everyone else under his thumb.

    5. Duke wasn’t just riding around with Linda. He left his house where he was gardening in order to go out and see what was going on after kissing his wife, Brenda, goodbye. When he got to close to the dome the very first chapters his pace maker exploded at that point. He was also making a list of things that Big Jim was doing wrong (the meth lab and so forth) and trying to bring a case up against him.

    Just those few factors alone make me want to not watch the rest of this series. It may be based on the book but let’s just say it’s VERY LOOSELY based on it. I’m very disappointed!

  26. I just wanna say that I really like watching under the dome but making me wait so long between shows is so ridiculous I will not watch it when it comes back June 30th or 31stI like Stephen King I like a lot of his booksand I know this is not his faultI just don’t think you should leave people hanging on the line waiting for a show for so longthank you for letting me vent

  27. Oh my gosh-I couldn’t wait for last season to be over and now here it is again. This is one of the worst shows I have seen in a long time, and I really like Stephen King – he’s been off his game lately.

  28. I was looking forward to season two. One of the things I enjoyed about season one was the fact everyone looked like they were “real” people…fat, skinny, tall, short, black, white, etc. When season two opened to all of the “real” people replaced with young, pretty, Hollywood types…I was done with the show. I am tired of seeing “pretty,” Hollywood people on television who cannot act their way out of a plastic bag. British tv seems to have one up on us. They value quality acting over “pretty” faces.