Sunday, June 23, 2013

Steven King's Under The Dome Worth Catching

CBS goes way off its usual summer fare of reruns with the premiere of the Steven King mini-series Under The Dome.
The first episode  (of 13) which is a must see premieres on Global (and CBS) Monday night at 10.
I'm used to the spectacular way King revs up a story line and this one is really spooky.
It starts deep in an American forest near dawn as a young man is glimpsed burying a man's corpse --presumably the man is the killer but in "Kingland" nothing is ever certain.
The mab's name we subsequently learn is "Barbie" and Mitch Vogel of Bates Motel compelling plays the lead.
But is it "Barbie" as in Klaus Barbie or Barbie the doll or what?
And then in the next scene a gigantic see through wall plops down from the sky sealing in the various denizens of the small New England hamlet of Chester's Mill.
They cannot get out and people on the other side cannot get in. They can't even hear each other talking.
The dome simply plops down cutting a cow in two and demolishing a forest and even bisecting farm houses. It's invisible but hot like a poker to the human touch.
Turns out the town councillor has been ordering tons of propane fuel to de deposited deep in the forest. But why?
The way the dome affects various members of the community forms the creepy and deeply disturbing line of the first hour.
King stories always start this way. As long as the author doesn't have to explain away the premise I'll be watching.
There are hints of some kind of vast government conspiracy which is par for the course in American horror stories.
One candy striper at the local hospital even figures the towns folk are like the goldfish she used to keep in a bowl. And then one day the big gold fish ate the smaller one.
Other familiar faces include Dean Norris as the used car salesman turned town councillor Jim Rennie.
Then there's Natalie Martinez (CSI: New York) as Deputy cop Linda, Britt Robertson (The Secret Circle) as candy stripper Angie McAlister, Alexander Koch (The Ghosts)  as her teen lover named "Junior", Canadian Rachelle Lefebre (A Gifted Man)as newspaper editor Julia Shumway.
So far everything worked for me. Special effects were nicely done but tended not to dominate the story. The cast seemed duly confused and chilled out, the same way I was feeling.
With the premise in place there has got to be some kind of let down with time.
It's also no coincidence executive producer Brian K. Vaughan and director Jack Bender both hail from Lost. Because the set up does remind me of Lost in its slow, deliberate unearthing of quirky details.
Be aware author King approved a different ending for the TV series over the 2009 book. So go ahead and read the novel but that mwon't help you solve the ending.
The serial also gets a boost from the ongoing real life flap over the U.S. federal government's telephone surveillance of average U.S. Citizens. Nobody trusts the government these days anyhow.
When the ordinary folk peer through the barricades all they can see are U.S. army soldiers who are there for what?
CBS hints if the story scores with viewers there could be a second season.
MY RATING: ****.

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