This past weekend, fans attending WonderCon in California were treated to the first footage of the CBS series adaptation of Stephen King's novel Under the Dome, premiering on the network this summer. Now that video is online for your viewing pleasure.
The new series is produced by Steven Spielberg and his Amblin Television banner with Stephen King as an executive producer and will start with a short 13-episode first season. But just because King is involved, don't expect the series to be a slave to the 1,000+ page novel.
For those who aren't familiar with the bestselling 2009 novel, here's the official synopsis from Stephen King’s website:
On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when — or if — it will go away.
Dale Barbara, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens – the town newspaper owner, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing to hold on to the reins of power, and his son. Because time isn't just short… It's running out.
The short teaser up top offers interviews with cast and crew along with the first footage from the series, much of it focusing on the confusion that ensues after the force field appears and shows cars crashing into seemingly nothing, body parts suddenly getting cut off, planes crashing and couples separating. And while King's book serves as the source material, the author was happy to see writer and series creator Brian K. Vaughn using his work as more of a jumping off point.
Series showrunner Neal Baer says, "That gives us a guideline to dig into these stories and helps us root for characters, hate some of them and love characters and be passionate about them." Under the Dome won't be a limited series just because King's book has an ending after the event in question lasts only a couple days. Baer indicates that the characters will be stuck for much longer, explaining that the first season will progress through faith that those under the dome will be saved, fear that they might actually be stuck for a long time, and fascism, when it's time to hunker down and figure out how to survive with only what's left inside of the dome.
One of the series producers, Jack Bender, used to work on the hit TV series Lost, and Vaughn hopes to take plenty of cues from that show, but without necessarily actively trying surpass its greatness and shortcomings. Vaughn told EW, "All I know is that [after] Lost, there were a lot of shows that came on that were like, 'Here's what we'e going to do that’s better than Lost. We’re not ending up like Lost.' And those shows are all gone. So what I hope to do is rip off from lost as much as possible."
But perhaps sensing the need to differentiate himself from his previous work and also one of the more influential and popular series of the past decade, Bender notes, "The plan is for us to be us and to do a different show," even if Jeff Fahey from Lost does have a role in Under the Dome.
Baer adds to the focus on characters telling The Hollywood Reporter:
"When you're under those intense circumstances, people's good or evil hearts may come out more than in everyday life. That intensity under that magnifying glass gives us the opportunity to explore what people would really do.
It's a parable for our times: can the sun shine through the dome? Can it rain? Those sound like climate issues and we can really explore that without being preachy," he said. "It's fun for us to think about what happens when you run out of Tide soap, what do you use? Who rises? Do you really need a banker under the dome? But farmers? Maybe you do."
Our first glimpse Under the Dome doesn't give us much to go on, but at the very least, the concept is intriguing, and expanding the characters and story outside of the book means that even fans of the novel won't know what to expect at every turn.
Under the Dome stars Mike Vogel, Dean Norris, Britt Robertson, Jeff Fahey, Rachelle Lefevre and more with a pilot directed by Niels Arden Oplev of the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. CBS premieres the series this summer on June 24th at 10/9c. Stay tuned for more.