I was really set for this mini-series (this bit is important, but I’ll be back) looked promising, based on a book I really enjoyed. It’s a typical King Tale – small town, unusual circumstances, unimaginable terror, more terror from people who called themselves “neighbors”, FINALE!
I wasn’t crazy about how the book ended and the reason behind the dome (I won’t spoil it, but – really?) but like most Kind books, it’s the Journey, not the Destination. I keep telling myself that because I really do enjoy the ride.
Then, the mini-series for Under The Dome was announced, and I got excited – not too excited, because we’ve been here before, with less than exciting results – because after Rose Red and Storm of the Century, two stories that skipped book treatment and went right to pixels, I was ready for something I was familiar with.
During the first episodes when my husband would ask me – “did that happen in the book?” and me giving a despondent grunt, I realized this wasn’t really going to be what I expected. I understand composite characters and the need make things more concrete for television, but so much was different right off the bat, I stopped thinking “adaptation of” and more “based on an idea by some guy that sat next to a book by Stephen King once in a bus terminal”.
I’m still sighing about it. I would see it to the end, because I’m that kind of sucker, and I would do my best to get into the story. “After all,” I asked myself, “it’s only 13 episodes, so how badly could they screw it up?”
Around Episode 6 it was announced that it would be picked up for a second season.
Um … what? This is a mini-series. That doesn’t mean short seasons, it means it’ll wrap somewhere around 13 episodes. At least it used to. Now it seems to mean testing an audience to see if there’s interest and then trolling out more episodes. So the answer was, “they’re going mess this up badly, sister!”
Mr. King, you may approve of the changes, but then you also gave us Maximum Overdrive and while I enjoyed The Shining mini-series (see how that managed to stay a “mini-series”) you could hear the unspoken exposition in the long shots of Colorado and the Overlook. You may know from books, but when it comes to television, your track record is depressing and discouraging. Someone convinced to you dismember your own baby and reassemble it using parts of a slug, a ferret, and a rock. Whatever glue used isn’t holding and I fully expect the final season will be released to DVD directly in fragmented pieces and stick fingers. The sad part is only the most ardent of fans will care by that point, because this really isn’t the Under The Dome we were expecting. We were expecting a baby with meth and pollution and Saunders and all of the awesome that the book showed us. We got a baby drawn on a piece of paper with holes cut out at the bottom so the doctor can make it dance with his fingers. It’s not the same
In the hands of the right screenwriter and the right director, Under the Dome could have been something worth tuning in for over 13 finite weeks. The material is there for 13 finite weeks, not 39 and sure as heck not over three summers (Season 3 in 2015? Really?). Tangents were created, new characters are spun from whole cloth, and are we honestly treading the “Magical Children” waters again? If a “Magical Negro” shows up, we will fight. The book had so much already there, and here we are 13 hours in, and none of it is happening. Mysterious characters that just happened to be in Chester’s Mill show up out of the blue, characters run as if there’s someplace to go and hide in caves and mines and in a town of roughly 1,300, no one can find anyone. Any writer that tells you they can’t take a book that was almost 1,110 pages and create a 13-week miniseries is not only not trying but very lazy. We’ve probably reached a new low.
The material was there the deviations are so vast with this ridiculous “Monarch” storyline, and four magical kids (rolls eyes), and so much stupid, small farming towns all over the US feel a sudden pressure to build Starbucks and strip malls and distance themselves from the slack-jawed locals of Chester’s Mill, it was squandered.
There, I said it.
This isn’t The Walking Dead. This isn’t Sherlock. This isn’t American Horror Story. Under The Dome isn’t like any of those shows that leave fans slavering for the next episode and the next season, not because it’s not on cable, but because somewhere between hardcover and screen, someone tinkered the soul right out of it. I can’t say I’m giving up on all King adaptions going forward, but I certainly won’t look upon them with any great enthusiasm. You’d think I’d learn my lesson – Firestarter: Rekindled, Bag of Bones, The Tommyknockers. No one has learned anything since, well, ever, and a body gets tired of promises made and not kept.
So here’s your Rock-Slug-Ferret-Baby back. I don’t want to watch its sad dance anymore.