Join 3,375 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Under the Dumb
July 17, 2013 6:42 AM   Subscribe

Ken Levine's network notes for Under The Dome, perhaps not the best example of Stephen King's TV work.
posted by Artw (165 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
We watched three episodes of this and decided it was bad bad bad and we needed to stop. Come to think of it, the same thing happened with Terra Nova.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:48 AM on July 17, 2013


I haven't watched this week's yet as my interest is waning hardcore. The novel is one of King's better modern works, but the choice to make it an open-ended, ongoing series rather than a 13 part miniseries was really dumb. It's by definition a closed story in more ways than one, and knowing they're going to stretch it out as long as they can just makes me sure it will be cancelled before they do. It's like that recent Titanic miniseries that ended with the ship leaving port.
posted by yellowbinder at 6:51 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The same trope as The Simpsons Movie?? Watched a few episodes in disbelief.

Worst attempt at dystopian story telling ever! Talk about jumping the Sharknado.

(Actually enjoyed the videogame cutscene spliced movie from The Last of Us game posted here a few days ago... better acting, plot and sense making by a dome encased country mile)
posted by panaceanot at 6:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I ran a TV network, I'd have used this to launch an anthology show a la American Horror Story - Stephen King Presents would do a 13-episode miniseries based on a King novel each season, bringing back characters and probably working in larger themes/patterns (nods to the Dark Tower and lots of roses), but moving on to new stories each season.

It is possible that there's a reason I don't run a T V network.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [30 favorites]


It doesn't bode well when the item ranked 15th out of 27 on your list is described as "howlingly awful."
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2013


One of the main things in the book was exactly how quickly everything deteriorated, so I lost interest the moment they made it a TV show, pretty much. I am amused by how many of these concerns are, in fact, things that the book addresses directly. It's not my favorite book of all time by a long shot, but he made some real effort to deal with the logistics.
posted by Sequence at 6:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's by definition a closed story in more ways than one, and knowing they're going to stretch it out as long as they can just makes me sure it will be cancelled before they do. It's like that recent Titanic miniseries that ended with the ship leaving port.

Sounds like the last episode is pretty much padding.
posted by Artw at 6:57 AM on July 17, 2013


In the eight times that Jack Bauer’s daughter was kidnapped in 24 she never did that.

Well done. I made it through the pilot and about five minutes of the second episode before quitting. And of all the stupidity, it was the girl locked in the basement that did it for me. There's so much to mine from the show's premise, but instead they decided they needed subplots and action characters. If I wanted to watch SVU, I'd be watching that. I thought this was going to be about a dome.
posted by cribcage at 6:57 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Exactly cribcage.

Although you have to wonder if the audience for this show already has a mindset that they live in a comfy little dome where the local gossip about the goings on about the sherif and the son of the mayor or whatever, are vastly more important to them than the bigger questions about the impenetrable dome of ignorance they've found themselves in.
posted by panaceanot at 7:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I caught the opener (OK, if hokey), the second (are you kidding me?), missed the third because of a power outage, and forced myself to watch this week because I just don't have enough pain and confusion in my life. But yeah, not going back.

(Hey, if you want a story about a bunch of people locked up together, Orange is the New Black is a much, much better choice. Previously.)
posted by maudlin at 7:08 AM on July 17, 2013


cribcage, that's how I feel precisely. I've never read the book, but I would be really interested in a show about an average small town that is suddenly cut off from the world by a dome. But add in psychopathic teen, mysterious stranger, some kind of propane conspiracy and suddenly I just don't care at all. It feels like I'm seeing sort of thing more and more. I have a feeling the producers feel like "one intriguing thing is good, so six intriguing things will be awesome!" But they just dilute the only part I cared about, and I go watch something else.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:09 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


(But the whole hostage thing went beyond hokey, even in the first episode. They cannot even write the James character consistently. I've read book spoilers about him that attempt to expl;ain why Nice Guy flipped, but the same guy cannot be a nutso hostage taker and a terribly convincing populist who can talk a whole room of sick, terrified people out of leaving the clinic.)
posted by maudlin at 7:10 AM on July 17, 2013


Me and SK, we're not getting along like we used to. It sucks.

What's up with that Stevie? Wish we could crack open a beer and rap about the good ole' days. But hey, whatever floats your boat man. Good luck on the DT movie stuff, like that's ever going to happen, and hopefully this piddly stuff in the meantime doesn't go too badly. I wouldn't know 'cuz I know better than to watch it, let alone get vested in it.

Yo' dawg,
Roland
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


All those subplots are present in the book, it is very much one of King's sprawling small town epics where they all come crashing together by the end. Although like with much of his work the very ending is unsatisfying, he knows how to trigger a town to explode into itself. Not that I think the show is dealing with said subplots very well, mind.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tend to give adaptations the benefit of the doubt, but they diverged from the book almost immediately. This made it very difficult to watch without getting frustrated.
posted by Brocktoon at 7:13 AM on July 17, 2013


I liked it better in 1966.

Of course, this mess suffers from what I call King Syndrome—whatever looks intriguing and spooky and wonderfully promising in the first minutes will eventually turn out to be a magical clown light spider, a bunch of insane rambling nonsense, badly animated Pac Men eating evil Balki, or an excuse for Yeardley Smith to screech for an hour, among other inadvertent horrors.

It's a pity, because he can write a hell of a scary short story.

Watched about three episodes of Lost, said to my then-it's-complicated, "Oof, King Syndrome," and was gratified when I saw an interview with the creators saying they were heavily influenced by King (and man, the ending of that series did not disappoint my most cynical instincts).

I'd ask why people keep greenlighting these things, but people keep watching.

De gustibus non est disputandum, alas.
posted by sonascope at 7:14 AM on July 17, 2013 [12 favorites]


Two episodes in my wife took to calling it Under the Dumb. Last Monday's episode was our last, didn't bother this week. Poor acting, even worse writing. I wonder if the broadcast networks have even watched a single episode of all the Emmy-stealing shows the cable networks have launched. I will give this one credit, it was just a hair bit better than Revolution or Terra Nova.
posted by Ber at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I tend to give adaptations the benefit of the doubt, but they diverged from the book almost immediately.

With you 100%. That's is why I boycotted WWZ.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:15 AM on July 17, 2013


add in psychopathic teen, mysterious stranger, some kind of propane conspiracy

These are all in the book. But in the book, the bit with the psychopathic teen is brutal and scary and a very Kingian sort of subplot: when everyone's distracted, boogeymen gonna boogey. The propane conspiracy is important, and I suspect in the show it's going to be an unsatisfyingly-resolved mystery never spoken of again after it serves as a season cliffhanger. The mysterious stranger doesn't seem all that mysterious.

Honestly, they've taken almost every single good thing about the book and turned them into flaws.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:21 AM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]



I tend to give adaptations the benefit of the doubt, but they diverged from the book almost immediately.

With you 100%. That's is why I boycotted WWZ.


Of course, The Shining also diverged from the book pretty strongly.
posted by Going To Maine at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've happily ignored this show, since every commercial I've seen for it screams *BadBadBad*. Sounds like my spidey-sense was spot-on.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2013


Out of curiosity, did you get "Under the Dumb" from Tom Scharpling and Nathan Fielder on the Best Show? They were discussing the show the other week and were astonished that no critic had used the phrase until then (according to their on-air google fu). A few minutes later, they noticed that someone had titled a new blog post thusly.
posted by Beardman at 7:28 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like how by the second episode not one but TWO people have been turned psychic by epileptic fits.
posted by Artw at 7:29 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Out of curiosity, did you get "Under the Dumb" from Tom Scharpling and Nathan Fielder on the Best Show?

It is our local household name for it.
posted by Artw at 7:30 AM on July 17, 2013


I am so frustrated with the series because I really liked the book (except the very stupid ending) and they seem to be changing everything about it that was good. I don't know why they are doing the thing with Big Jim and Junior (are they really good guys?). In the book they are both super scary bad guys in different ways.

I also don't get the backstory with Barbie and the murder. It's the worst.

It seems like they are ignoring some of the best parts of the book and going for cheap plot twists.

I think it should be illegal for Stephen King to be involved in the film or TV productions of any of his stories or books.
posted by elvissa at 7:33 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I tend to give adaptations the benefit of the doubt, but they diverged from the book almost immediately.

With you 100%. That's is why I boycotted WWZ.


In this you are aligning yourself with the nerds and geeks then: people who have underdeveloped senses of aesthetics and cannot articulate why a drama is satisfying or unsatisfying, but can tell us that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings sucks because Tom Bombadil is not in it, QED. Blade Runner is a terribly unfaithful adaptation of DADoES; Kubrick's version of The Shining is remembered and argued over while the King-approved, more faithful one was quickly ignored and forgotten; Apocalypse Now is a very loose adaptation indeed of Heart of Darkness. Three unfaithful movie adaptations, three classics. World War Z the movie has only a modest acquaintance with World War Z the book, but on its own terms it was a passably entertaining flick. In the grand scale of zombie movies, a solid B+, in my view.

All that said, Under the Dome looks to be terrible from what I have seen of it. Making it open-ended is ludicrous -- these are dramatic characters who need to change for the story to progress, and traditional teevee shows require characters not to change, lest they lose (in both senses) viewers. It is good to see Dean Norris getting work, but that is all the praise I can give it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:37 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


The book is actually fairly good --in typical SK fashion it kinda doesn't know how to end. But SK doesn't make half of these mistakes. In the book Barbie lives in town, people can communicate with the outside (where there is actually a massive media circus happening), it's made plain that water and air can pass through (but more slowly), fires/smoke have permanent effects, the two-moms subplot is missing entirely, Junior is bad (worse) in other ways, etc, etc. The book is a stretch but if you accept the dome, most of the (first half's) consequences are fairly logical and well thought-through. The show, not so much...
posted by costas at 7:38 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


I love it.

The BF and I, who are about to be separated by about 3,000 miles, were looking for something to watch together and chat about. Of course it is dumb, and crazy, and risible: but! it is a summer drama on a network, and thus it provides a point of contact for me and my boo. Crap gotta crap, and for that I am thankful.
posted by psoas at 7:40 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the show is OK. Not great, not horrible. It gets 45 minutes of my week, streamed from Amazon. *shrug*
posted by andreaazure at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In this you are aligning yourself with the nerds and geeks then: people who have underdeveloped senses of aesthetics and cannot articulate why a drama is satisfying or unsatisfying, but can tell us that Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings sucks because Tom Bombadil is not in it, QED. Blade Runner is a terribly unfaithful adaptation of DADoES

I would argue - passionately - that Blade Runner is an "unfaithful" adaptation of DADoES but unquestionably draws a lot from it; that Jackson's LotR is awesome because it adapts the books into movies rather than treating the books as a script; it drops lots of things and keeps lots of things.

By contract, WWZ the movie has almost nothing in common other than "zombies" with the book, and that is its problem - it is not an adaptation, just a work in the same broad genre that happens to share its name.

To put it another way: If you filmed Blade Runner but called it "Deckard's Run" and didn't mention PKD, people would immediately point to the Voight-Kampf test and the replicants as obvious touchpoints that clearly link the two works. If you filmed WWZ and named it "Zompocalypse," nobody would really be talking about how it obviously ripped off Max Brooks' work.
posted by Tomorrowful at 7:43 AM on July 17, 2013 [13 favorites]


I really can't think of any artist who is both capable of such genre-defining heights and such bathetic lows as King is. I doubt any author will be as synonymous with horror as King, both for his inventiveness and output (to say nothing of his fantastic non-horror works).

But then there's the King that verges on self parody. I think Dome falls into this category.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:45 AM on July 17, 2013


In this you are aligning yourself with the nerds and geeks then

Because I'd prefer an adaptation of a thing from one form of media to another to actually resemble the source?

Uh ok, align me with the nerds or geeks I guess, as negative as that apparently is.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:47 AM on July 17, 2013


For conversation's sake, it can be interesting enough to compare the show to the book. But just personally as a television viewer, I kinda don't care. And neither should the network. CBS isn't producing a novel. They're making a television show that needs to be both episodic and aimed at renewal. And they certainly don't need to capitalize on Stephen King's audience; they need far more viewers than that.

"But sir, those subplots are in the book!" isn't a convincing rebuttal if I'm a network executive. What do I care? CBS didn't buy the rights to produce a true adaptation. They bought the rights because making a show about a dome is a cool idea, and Stephen King got there first. I guarantee you, the contract allows them to change all kinds of things about the plot and characters. [Not legal advice. CBS should seek legal counsel licensed in its jurisdiction.] It doesn't make sense to purchase the adaptation rights if you're going to straitjacket yourself to the novel.
posted by cribcage at 7:47 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never read the book, but I would be really interested in a show about an average small town that is suddenly cut off from the world by a dome.

How about cut off by a nuclear attack?

Jericho, which ran for one season and a half (they made a half season to wrap up a number of things at the demand of fans), was a fun little show that followed a small Kansas town trying to hold things together when it suddenly believes itself to be alone in an America that has been nuked.
posted by Atreides at 7:48 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or what tomorrowful said, spot on.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:49 AM on July 17, 2013


We love this show in our house. It's a hoot. They mention "the dome" roughly every other line.

"It's hard to make spaghetti...under the dome."
"This goddamn dome!!!"

Watch it before it's gone!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 7:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


I thought of all of my fellow MeFites when Junior tries to escape the dome through underground tunnels. It's turtles dome all the way down, kid.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:53 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I like the way they are merrily munching through their bacon without any resource concerns whatsoever.

The Dome IS water permeable though - ironically they set that up with a scene that I would have been sure was added in response to a network note.
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


If I were an alien or whatever* with the resources to make a Dome I'd probably go ahead and make it a sphere.

* pretty sure this will be unexplained or unimportant. Character drama!
posted by Artw at 7:55 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the show exists in a universe where The Simpsons doesn't exist, because otherwise, every single character under the age of 40 would have commented by now that this was a Simpsons gag first.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:56 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I liked the first episode well enough, but the other episodes were pretty crappy. I think the key is to only watch the episodes written by Brian K. Vaughan, and skip the rest. Next week's episode will be the test of my theory.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 7:57 AM on July 17, 2013


Would someone who has read the book be willing to share, maybe in ROT13, the big explanation/ending? Is it aliens, the government, evil corporation, what? We're watching the show and enjoying it for what it is, but I don't know how much longer we will stick with it ... and I have a backlog of thousand-page books that tell me I'm never going to get around to reading this one. (I'm also curious to what extent the show is deviating from the book.)

Also, one other thing my wife and I have noticed watching this show: It's amazing how important writing is when it comes to the performance of an actor. Compare Big Jim to Hank Shrader ... night and day difference, from the same actor. But this show makes it clear that you've got to give great actors great material to work with.
posted by jbickers at 7:57 AM on July 17, 2013


I liked it better in 1966.

Of course, this mess suffers from what I call King Syndrome—whatever looks intriguing and spooky and wonderfully promising in the first minutes will eventually turn out to be a magical clown light spider, a bunch of insane rambling nonsense, badly animated Pac Men eating evil Balki, or an excuse for Yeardley Smith to screech for an hour, among other inadvertent horrors.


Here's the thing about King's long form fiction, I think. He examines the line between psychological horror and supernatural horror better than any other author I've encountered. His books have a slippery quality of plausibility even when they deal with concepts that seem, from the exterior, to be ridiculous, because he's mining our deepest and most childish fears. And this is one of the reason he writes children so well--he understands that to the protagonist of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon real monsters and bears are equally preposterous and terrifying, that children haven't learned the rules yet. Danny Torrance does not know that it's not normal to talk to a spirit like Anthony. Maybe this is something that all people do. Maybe this is what "imaginary friends" means. And King knows that we carry some of this into adulthood, though we bury it deep under a veneer of rationality. He knows that physical isolation, terror, and psychological trauma can bring it out again. He takes our fears seriously, even those that are most ridiculous.

His writing is also often right on the line of cliche, but he's usually deconstructing those cliches as he's using them, stripping them down to their most basic elements of truth. His people look like caricatures at first, until you get to know them better. And then you realize that what's common about them is not that you've seen them in fiction but in life.

But it's hard to have this translate well to film. Get off tone by just a degree and it all looks ridiculous: trite, corny, and pretty embarrassing. This is why, even though I agree with King that what was compelling about The Shining was Jack's relative normalcy and alcoholism, that the casting for the film is bad, it works better than most adaptations: the terror comes from the fundamental reality of the setting and how closely we're aligned with Danny's POV. This is what a big scary hotel looks like through the eyes of a kid, and here's that kid's worst nightmare about this place.

But there's none of that in Under the Dome, though I see how there easily could be. Junior could seem like a normal boyfriend until the tensions of the dome make it apparent that he's not, for example. He's just this weird, trite, muddled mess of serial killer cliches. It becomes unscary and instead laughable. What is this town? None that I've ever seen. I don't know the people who live here, and King very much depends on that sense of the familiar and the real to work.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [21 favorites]


Apparently, the show exists in a universe where The Simpsons doesn't exist, because otherwise, every single character under the age of 40 would have commented by now that this was a Simpsons gag first.

Simpsons did it! I believe there is a nod to this in the first episode where you can hear a bit of audio from the Simpsons movie.
posted by yellowbinder at 7:59 AM on July 17, 2013


Semi-related: Dean (Big Jim, Hank Schrader) Norris on Fresh Air last year. The best part is his explanation for why he gets cast in authoritarian roles so often: "Well, you know, if you stop in any doughnut shop, and you see three cops eating doughnuts, one of them is gonna look like me. I don't know why that is ... but I guess you have a certain look, it's kind of an authoritative law enforcement-type look, and that look is certainly the first thing that people cast you with before you get a chance to do some acting."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:00 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Big Jim will always be Dick Hank to me. It's probably a bad sign that all the characters have names like that to me - Shit Andy Samberg, Meth Priest, Psychic Kid 1, Psychic Kid 2, etc...
posted by Artw at 8:01 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a while, there was a burst of shows which came up in the wake of Lost and were clearly trying to emulate its success with no particular idea of what made it work* - trying to create mystery porn without Abrams' ability to create a mood or actors with any charisma or compelling characters (I didn't even hate Kate at first - that took a little while). Instead, producers just set up a central mystery to a show and then figured, what the hell, people will watch. Like FlashForward, or Surface, or The Nine, or Persons Unknown, or Invasion, or Day Break, or whatever. Or Happy Town, I think it was?

In a way it's kind of reassuring to know that they're still trying to make that particular lightning strike twice. I'll bet anything that someone took a look at the novel and decided they could adapt it into an ongoing series and basically have another Lost. So it's kind of sad the show apparently sucks, because it'd be nice to have another show that works for me the way Lost did.

*I know, I know: here there will be a chorus of people preparing to inform the world that actually it did not work because it was very bad and the ending sucked and to those people I say, yes, we can take as read that not everyone liked the show, it is okay
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 8:03 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


So glad Fringe had an okayish ending.
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I can't agree with Storm of the Century being anywhere near the top of that list. The actors all butchered the down-east accent so terribly that I had to stop watching after 15 minutes.
posted by usonian at 8:04 AM on July 17, 2013


Artw: "So glad Fringe had an okayish ending."

No kidding. Some of the buildup the end had me worried, but the final episode, they really did okay by us on that one.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:10 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I'm sorry Under the Dome is the major suck. I noticed it was on Amazon Prime for streaming and was thinking about watching it as summer diversion. I was willing to watch it if it was only vaguely dumb but at least tried to be decent -- I mean, I watched the whole first season of Continuum on Netflix recently -- but it sounds like it's way beyond that. Too bad.

My favorite thing was King fans in the linked page's comment thread wondering how it could be so bad if Stephen King was an executive producer, apparently unaware of some of the drivel SK has been directly responsible for, and that that title is often (usually?) given to bigshots who mainly want to draw a big paycheck from a project.

Talk about jumping the Sharknado.

God, I hope this phrasing becomes a thing!
posted by aught at 8:10 AM on July 17, 2013


This thread is really fun to read through. I also hated it, and quit about one minute from the end of the house fire scene. The writing is just horrifically dumb, and I say this as someone who is still watching Pretty Little Liars.
posted by something something at 8:12 AM on July 17, 2013


Would someone who has read the book be willing to share, maybe in ROT13, the big explanation/ending? Is it aliens, the government, evil corporation, what?

This comment prompted me to check Wikipedia. And boy, if you folks who have read the book honestly think it's that good, then one of you should take a crack at rewriting that synopsis because it sure sounds every bit as dumb as the show.

Anyway, the answer's on Wikipedia. I won't spoil in-thread for anybody still watching.
posted by cribcage at 8:15 AM on July 17, 2013 [8 favorites]


I've never been a fan of Stephen King. Also: Simpsons did it!
posted by Mooseli at 8:22 AM on July 17, 2013


For a while, there was a burst of shows which came up in the wake of Lost and were clearly trying to emulate its success with no particular idea of what made it work* - trying to create mystery porn without Abrams' ability to create a mood or actors with any charisma or compelling characters (I didn't even hate Kate at first - that took a little while). Instead, producers just set up a central mystery to a show and then figured, what the hell, people will watch. Like FlashForward, or Surface, or The Nine, or Persons Unknown, or Invasion, or Day Break, or whatever. Or Happy Town, I think it was?

The major difference for me in the shows that fly and the ones that fail terribly has largely been in the acting. For example, the US Life on Mars had a rushed and cornball ending, but the actors (aside from Jason O'Mara, who is Just a Dude) were solid and therefore believable. Ditto, Fringe. Early Lost wasn't terribly well-written but the acting was really really good, and compelling, and it made you want to believe in the world and it gave me faith, however misplaced, that the writers were going somewhere.

Why big budget network TV people don't seem to understand that acting matters, I don't know. Maybe they think that because this stuff is SF campy and bad is okay? It really isn't, though, not anymore. We started watching Defiance around the same time as Under the Dome and even though there's some cheesy, tropey stuff, Alan Curran and Jaime Murray make the whole shebang worth it. There's no one as compelling or well-crafted in Under the Dome and I think that's mostly because the acting is as wooden as a toilet seat.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:27 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I know, right, Cribcage? This is self-parody I was talking about above. It's like he gets these ideas--I wonder what would happen if a small town in modern-day America is shut off from the rest of the world?--that are well and good, but then, having summoned the idea demon, he can't control it. Oh god, here it comes: ok, they're trapped under a dome, but the dome is a sphere and at the bottom of the sphere is a giant vampire worm that is using the dome to summon an ancient force related to bees, which is why all the bees are dying in Europe, and there's also some awkward sex scenes or something, but in the end a mysterious boy who no one recognizes, but happens to be under the dome, too, saves the day with a message of tolerance and also his ESP.

Oh, and then the follow up book is about the idea demon.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:28 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


The idea demon is actually a toilet worm.
posted by Artw at 8:30 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Because I'd prefer an adaptation of a thing from one form of media to another to actually resemble the source?

There are resemblances and there are resemblances.

Writing something meant to be read is very different from writing something meant to be performed. There are really different rules in terms of what will and won't translate from one form to another. Some people really don't get that, though, and they may be upset that the Movie adaptation of Book X didn't include Element Y, when the reason that the movie didn't include Element Y was because it simply wasn't something you can stage effectively and have the audience understand it. The best such example I can think of off the top of my head was the movie adaptation of Cloud Atlas, which switched the book's matryoshka-doll structure for a more conventional jumping-from-one-timeline-to-another-which-were-all-going-in-sequence structure; different from the book, yes, but the matryoshka-doll structure would have been confusing as all fuck to audiences because they'd have ended up sitting through six totally separate endings in a row, spaced a half hour apart, and would have totally forgotten some story threads and it would have been a mess.

That said, though, there are also degrees of faithfulness - or unfaithfulness - to a given work, even if you take the dramaturgy into account. It's one thing to cut out Tom Bombadil because it made the story drag and it didn't really contribute as much to the overall arc of the story, or to add Arwen into The Two Towers more than she was because you had a contract and hey, you could totally do it by including some stuff from the LOTR appendices; it's another thing entirely to make Aragorn fall for Eowyn instead.

Unfortunately, there is always some disagreement whether an alteration to a text is an example of "it's something they had to do to adapt it" or an example of "they changed it way too much". So whether someone complaining about a change is a "geek" or not is inconclusive.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


And boy, if you folks who have read the book honestly think it's that good, then one of you should take a crack at rewriting that synopsis because it sure sounds every bit as dumb as the show.

It's like a thousand plus page book, so the high level plot points aren't what you are reading most of the time.
posted by smackfu at 8:43 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meh. Some of these complaints are weaksauce and are explained in the show. It's similtaneously depressing and somewhat comforting that Dome has all the flaws of a Made for TV mini-series from 20 years ago, except it's 2013, premium TV is the expectation and surely Dome has a budget and why the heck is this not a mini-series with a set end?

I'm surprised the article didn't call out the idiotic scene where everybody is wowwed that Whizkid Magee can do simple geometry to calculate the center of the dome. Frickin' A, in the first episode even that dumb skater kid said he was studying trig.

Can anyone even remember the jargon that Whizkid Magee spouted to explain how he was calculating the center of the Dome? It was so awful that it needs to be memorialized.
posted by Skwirl at 8:44 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched the first two episodes and found the idea interesting but the execution so boring and cheesy. I think what bugs me the most is that there's absolutely no interest in making the characters anything other than stock types. It's like they think that if they stick a Tough Female Cop and a Young Jealous Psycopath and a Criminal With a Mysterious Past (and so on) together, the result will be a reasonable facsimile of plot and character, but it doesn't work.

So then I, too, gave in and read the Wikipedia page and ... what?! I literally cannot believe how dumb it sounds. I have to think SK made it work somehow but it really just sounds so unbelieveably bad.
posted by lunasol at 8:45 AM on July 17, 2013


I like the way they are merrily munching through their bacon without any resource concerns whatsoever.

Well... The Dome is bacon-permeable, you see.
posted by Iosephus at 8:47 AM on July 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


ricochet biscuit: "In this you are aligning yourself with the nerds and geeks then: people who have underdeveloped senses of aesthetics and cannot articulate why a drama is satisfying or unsatisfying"

(Apply Ice-9 to the burn.)
posted by boo_radley at 8:50 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it should be illegal for Stephen King to be involved in the film or TV productions of any of his stories or books.

Author, Dreamweaver, Visionary. Plus Actor.

He has the benefit of being the only author who's written more books than he's read.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:51 AM on July 17, 2013 [18 favorites]


Eh, that feels like a pretty unfair charge against him. He's prolific, yeah, but his work is in a clear dialogue with other horror works, particularly the Cthulhu mythos. I mean, James Patterson, maybe, I'd give you that. But of course, Patterson doesn't even write many of "his" books.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought that was Garth Marenghi, Slap*Happy, no?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 8:56 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


To put it another way: If you filmed Blade Runner but called it "Deckard's Run" and didn't mention PKD, people would immediately point to the Voight-Kampf test and the replicants as obvious touchpoints that clearly link the two works. If you filmed WWZ and named it "Zompocalypse," nobody would really be talking about how it obviously ripped off Max Brooks' work.

Technically true, but orthogonal to relevant discussion. The Voight-Kampf test and replicants (so named) appear in one book and one film. Zombies appear in slightly more.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:57 AM on July 17, 2013


Me and SK, we're not getting along like we used to. It sucks.

What's up with that Stevie?


This sort of started for me when I hit adulthood ... but it was rammed home big time by his mini-series version of The Shining. What a mis-read! What a mess! I've found it hard to take the guy seriously ever since.
posted by philip-random at 9:00 AM on July 17, 2013


Well... The Dome is bacon-permeable, you see.

/Scientist presses bacon on to side of dome with stick.
/Character licks done.

"It's salty!"
posted by Artw at 9:01 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Steven Kings latest book of novellas, Full Dark, No Stars, is about as strong as anything he's ever written so I don't really buy the inevitable decay theory.
posted by Artw at 9:06 AM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Why big budget network TV people don't seem to understand that acting matters, I don't know.

Well, but it's "big budget" by TV standards, not by movie standards, no?

'Cause somewhere (I wanna say it was in one of William Goldman's non-fiction books) I saw a really good explanation for why some actors do well on TV but never really break into film work. And it's because TV has such time and budget constraints that they need actors who can give an *acceptable* performance right now - two or three takes and move on.

When the actors try to move to film work, where there's at least theoretically more time & money available to get a more nuanced performance, it turns out that their ability to produce said performance has either atrophied or never developed in the first place.

I guess what I'm saying is, it's still TV, so there're still gonna be a bunch of times when a director or producer has to say, "Close enough, move on to the next scene." And often "close enough" just ain't all that great.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:07 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am a fan of Stephen King, a pretty big fan, though I haven't read anything in years. The Carrie, Cujo, Christine, Salem's Lot, Shining, Dead Zone, Stand, Thinner books immediately jump to mind as rather formative reads. I also found his "On Writing" book to be valuable.

I also watch plenty of TV, but I am amazed that I don't think I've seen a single one of these TV productions. I have seen a bunch of the movies (probably liked Dead Zone best), but they aren't the greatest.

If I wanted to watch SVU, I'd be watching that. I thought this was going to be about a dome.

I recommend "The Dome" by Steven Millhauser (here read by Alec Baldwin).

It's like a 15-page short story and even Baldwin's version only takes 20 minutes. Far more economical than King's 1,000 pages of backstories. ;)
posted by mrgrimm at 9:10 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In this you are aligning yourself with the nerds and geeks then

Because I'd prefer an adaptation of a thing from one form of media to another to actually resemble the source?


If you had read the rest of the sentence, you would likely have seen that using faithfulness as the only criterion is what I am talking about. If The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time were adapted as a rom-com or a post-modern slasher flick, I would be disappoint. If the central character's name were changed from Christopher John Francis Boone to Christopher Alexander Boone, I would likely not notice.

In adapting a story from one medium to another, you cannot be absolutely faithful: this is a fool's errand. However, the adaptation usually does well to be faithful to the theme. As I said above, Apocalypse Now is a terrible adaptation of Heart of Darkness if you want every detail to be the same. However, it seems to me Conrad's principal theme was that of ambitious enterprises going astray and foundering on human vanities and errors of emotion, so transplanting the story to the Vietnam war makes sense and is far more accessible to a 1979 audience than a tale of Belgian mismanagement of its adventurism in the Congo basin.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


using faithfulness as the only criterion is what I am talking about.

It would have been nice if you'd said that in the first place, instead of phrasing it as if you believe that any objection to how well a work is adapted to a different medium is rooted in some hurf-durf-trainspotter-nerdity of "ZOMG THE WIZARD IS LEVEL 8 NOT LEVEL 6 TEH MOVIE SUUUUUUCKS!!!!!"
posted by soundguy99 at 9:21 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


soundguy99: "It would have been nice if you'd said that in the first place, instead of phrasing it as if you believe that any objection to how well a work is adapted to a different medium is rooted in some hurf-durf-trainspotter-nerdity of "ZOMG THE WIZARD IS LEVEL 8 NOT LEVEL 6 TEH MOVIE SUUUUUUCKS!!!!!""

That's not what rb wrote. Perhaps comprehension is also a factor in the problem.
posted by boo_radley at 9:24 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


One thing that's plain from the successes and failures of Superhero adaptations over the years is that if you get the spirit of the thing right the specifics don't matter too much.

Is the spirit of Under the Dome that everyone in town starts out really, really stupid?
posted by Artw at 9:35 AM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


When the very first thing my husband and I both thought was, "Why don't they try to dig under the dome?" and it wasn't addressed in the first five minutes of the episode after the dome dropped, I knew I wouldn't be watching any more of it. Which reminds me that I need to delete it from my DVR queue.

I get that it was evidently addressed later, but it's just not plausible that it would take anyone in the town DAYS to come up with the idea of digging under a dome that had just recently dropped out of the sky. As ridiculous as it may be, that's where I couldn't suspend my disbelief. It was a sign that the rest of the show was going to be poorly written, inconsistencies weren't going to be adequately addressed, and that I'd spend more time grumbling at those issues than enjoying the show. Looks like I was probably right.
posted by jennaratrix at 9:36 AM on July 17, 2013


...the choice to make it an open-ended, ongoing series rather than a 13 part miniseries was really dumb.

My prediction for the big reveal at the end of season one:
The townsfolk discover it's not a giant invisible dome after all, but rather a giant invisible bowl that's been turned upside down!
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:42 AM on July 17, 2013


i saw Firestarter when it came out in 1984, and i've never since been even remotely tempted to see a film or tv adaption of an SK work. i've enjoyed his books immensely and repeatedly and simply cannot stand still for the dumbed down dreck turned out by the vidiot industry.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 9:46 AM on July 17, 2013


it's just not plausible that it would take anyone in the town DAYS to come up with the idea of digging under a dome that had just recently dropped out of the sky

Agreed. I'm a firm believer in suspension of disbelief, but there's an unwritten pact between a TV show and its viewers. It operates very much like trust between people. Trust is a pact: I'll agree to trust you, and you'll agree not to make me trust you unnecessarily.

When you call in sick to work, your employer trusts that you're sick and not at the racetrack. Your end of the pact is that you don't call in sick every Friday in August. Likewise, you don't spend every single weeknight "working late" without explanation, and your wife trusts the explanation isn't your coworker Sally. And when I agree to suspend my disbelief about the invisible dome you've dropped on a fictional town, your end is to actually write the rest of the show and not just assume I'll fill in the gaps at home.
posted by cribcage at 9:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's bad. But it could've been good.

When is Breaking Bad back, again?
posted by flippant at 9:59 AM on July 17, 2013


I really don't understand why these things are so difficult. Why can the BBC do it (short, well crafted stories in 2-8 episodes), but no one in America? Get a good story, hire some decent actors, and then make your show. If it's popular, make another 8 episode story arc.

Also, I hate you LOST for the way you ended it.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:00 AM on July 17, 2013


A little o/t, but I watched the first episode at a friend's house, and then thought I'd watch the rest online. CBS redirects you to Amazon (or asks for proof that you have cable).

So, can't watch it, but sounds like I'm not missing much.

For anyone who has seen The Bubble, and for those who have read The Dome, do me the giant, kindly favor of MeFi Mailing me the full-spoiler ending. Please. I want to not care, but I care, out of curiosity.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:02 AM on July 17, 2013


In adapting a story from one medium to another, you cannot be absolutely faithful: this is a fool's errand.

Cue strawman. Saying you are not interested in an adaptation/translation of a thing-one-enjoys because it's not really all that similar*, in this case in your own words bearing only a"only a modest acquaintance", is leagues apart from saying you don't like it because it's not "absolutely faithful** (whatever that means... an audiobook reading complete with noise of the pages being flipped or a BBC narrative drama perhaps?).

...which, on preview, is what soundguy said.

*what I did.

**what you are trying to say that I meant. Dunno why.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:07 AM on July 17, 2013


I love this show because saying the word Dome just gets funnier the more you do it. Also it means blowjobs.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:20 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Dome just gets funnier the more you do it. Also it means blowjobs.

I just didn't believe you, but I'll never doubt you again.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:22 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Skwirl: "why the heck is this not a mini-series with a set end?"

Early word was that it would be. They seem to have backtracked now, which is frustrating.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:25 AM on July 17, 2013


This show is also proof of the direct relationship between the cost of a special effect and how often they show it: i.e., the cowsplit and the the plane and truck crash, every week.
posted by gottabefunky at 10:29 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm assuming that's it for effects for the rest of the show, bar the odd bit of glow when someone touches the dome.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on July 17, 2013


Tried, quit last week. I will put up with a lot in exchange for screen time of Rachel Lefevre's hair, but only so much.
posted by bartleby at 10:38 AM on July 17, 2013


*Rachelle
posted by bartleby at 10:45 AM on July 17, 2013


I'm hooked...it's just too cheesy and too tempting a target of ridicule to resist. And Junior's voice sounds eerily like Paul Dinello's.
posted by malocchio at 10:48 AM on July 17, 2013


The split cow effect drives me insane because where's all the blood that should be left on the dome's inner and outer surfaces when the cow parts fall away? It can't even be explained away by saying something like, "Well blood doesn't stick to the dome." because that guy leaves a handprint of cow's blood on the dome surface not 45 seconds later in the same scene. Aggggh! Stupid show.
posted by jamaro at 11:03 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


DEAR MR KING, A PLEA:

Hi! My book club is currently reading 11/22/63! You know, the one you wrote that people have Talked About recently! (Still happens, who knew?) If you ever sell film rights to it, I grandly suggest you dispense with the first 200 pages in a 30-second montage or a screen-crawl or something, because holy crap I know 900 pages is nbd to you but to those of us who have to read it, the setup is a baaaad time to bore the audience with overspecification.

YRS TRULY,
psoas

Eh, that feels like a pretty unfair charge against him. He's prolific, yeah, but his work is in a clear dialogue with other horror works...

Including his own. MR KING, you do not need to recap the plot of IT in your other novels. It's lazy and self-aggrandizing and dorky. Thx.

posted by psoas at 11:08 AM on July 17, 2013


PENNYWISE LIVES
posted by Artw at 11:11 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


i saw Firestarter when it came out in 1984, and i've never since been even remotely tempted to see a film or tv adaption of an SK work.

Oh, come on.

Stand By Me (1986)
Misery, (1990)
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The Green Mile (1999) if you feel like it
and I'd be tempted to add The Mist (2007) also

The TV adaptations are hard to defend, mind you.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:15 AM on July 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


Author, Dreamweaver, Visionary. Plus Actor.

I'm still waiting to see if he's talked himself into a playing bit part in Under The Dome like he did in The Stand.

I didn't like the novel Under The Dome much and most of what I remember of it is that it was unrelentingly "people are shits, amirite?" bleak. I was wondering how it would be possible to to translate that to TV without turning people off.

Turns out it's easier to abandon it and recast the setup as soapy froth.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:23 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently, the show exists in a universe where The Simpsons doesn't exist, because otherwise, every single character under the age of 40 would have commented by now that this was a Simpsons gag first.

The Asian stoner teen references it explicitly in the second episode.

I'm perversely fascinated by the series. From a structural point of view, it seems impossible to maintain to me. In the book (spoiler), pretty much everybody is dead within days. It seems untenable to try and make it an open-ended series. And people actually are dropping like flies in the show -- they killed two characters last week, and one more this week.

How to maintain it? They have a ton of electricity, thanks to what I assume was a convenient generator store and massive amounts of propane thanks to Big Jim's evil propane scheme. And despite the fact that they theoretically have had their water pipes severed, they seem to have unlimited amounts of water (perhaps there is an aquifer or something under the town.) But they are going to run out of food and medicine soon enough, and what then?

Additionally, they have two choices with their weekly kills. They can either regularly kill the main characters, which means eventually we will have a show in which the extras must be upgraded to main characters, or they will introduce a new minor character, who we have never seen before, only to have them die at the end of the episode, as they did this week. Or they will start killing extras, which might be satisfying if you're a second AD but doesn't really work otherwise.

Also, secrets must come out. So far, there are three big secrets in the show, none of which I really care about (although Big Jim's evil propane scheme is supposed to end explosively, and I can't see how it will).

Apparently, Steven Spielberg was interested in the show as an ongoing concern because he wanted to explore how democracy can form -- which I actually suspect might be the theme of next season's The Walking Dead. But Under the Dome isn't about society reforming itself in adversity. Its a sort of "what would happen if Peyton Place was set on the island from Lord of the Flies," where everything breaks down into competing tribes that can't help but destroy each other over limited resources and divergent leadership and ideology, and if it turns into a Swiss Family Robinson, where everybody become gentleman farmers and build lovely little huts powered by methane or whatever, it will stop being a horror story, and then why watch it?

It's not very well done, so I expect the show to completely break down when it has to address this. And I can't wait. It's fascinating.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:27 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


some kind of propane conspiracy

Thatherton!

posted by MrBadExample at 11:44 AM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I do not want to watch this or read the book. So the Dome goes underground...does it go all the way, in fact making it a sphere?

Wouldn't the outside world attempt to dig down as far as necessary to find that out/try to get the people out?

The air and water thing was my other question, thanks for clearing that up.
posted by emjaybee at 11:45 AM on July 17, 2013


It's a sphere. They tried to find the underneath, and there ain't no underneath, at the cost of a bunch of matches that they could ILL AFFORD TO BURN UP.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:48 AM on July 17, 2013


PhoBWanKenobi: His books have a slippery quality of plausibility even when they deal with concepts that seem, from the exterior, to be ridiculous, because he's mining our deepest and most childish fears. And this is one of the reason he writes children so well--he understands that to the protagonist of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon real monsters and bears are equally preposterous and terrifying, that children haven't learned the rules yet.

I feel like the first half of IT also touches on this: the kids are individually having experiences which are terrifying and real to them, but also so implausible that they know they will not be believed by adults.

In this case it's not so much that the kids don't know the rules -- they know what's normal and what's not -- more that they're less bound by the rules than adults, more willing to trust their own experiences over their rational expectations.

It's that slow build of dread isolation that makes the book scary for me; much more so than the showdown and reveal (and other weird nonsense) of the second half.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:49 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


They tried to find the underneath, and there ain't no underneath, at the cost of a bunch of matches that they could ILL AFFORD TO BURN UP.

I loved this. They're making this big deal about goddammit, there aren't a lot of matches and whoa, it's dark, and then they start talking because one of them has a stray thought about something and they both stand there working things out as the match slowly burns. It's like watching people holding a grenade and trying to pick out an orange at the supermarket or something.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:53 AM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


I guess what I'm saying is, it's not just stupid, it's defiantly stupid.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:54 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a sphere. They tried to find the underneath, and there ain't no underneath, at the cost of a bunch of matches that they could ILL AFFORD TO BURN UP.

They probably needed, like, four of them but had to chat along the way.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on July 17, 2013


(wot Llama said)
posted by Artw at 11:56 AM on July 17, 2013


Probably the smartest thing would have been to set fire to junior and then just follow him out of the old caves, but the preacher has demonstrated that people under the dome don't burn.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was trying to figure out why I hadn't heard of this show since King and the premise seems right up my alley. Then I realized it was on CBS and the only broadcast network shows I watch are on Hulu. Pretty much if I can't watch it on my Apple TV I don't watch it.

The awfulness reminds me on how I was hate watching The Event a while back. I found parts so dumb but kept watching anyway. NBC cancelled it or didn't renew it or something and we never found out what the damn event was. Terra Nova didn't make it to hate watch status. There is a newer show where the power goes out I started to watch but they didn't explain why people didn't ride bikes so I quit.
posted by birdherder at 11:58 AM on July 17, 2013


And why does the cement factory have an elaborate maze of tunnels underneath it anyway?
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, has anybody else noticed that the preacher is Doctor Tom, the chiropractor from Ed Wood?

Let's hear you call Boris Karloff a cocksucker.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:02 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


There is a newer show where the power goes out I started to watch but they didn't explain why people didn't ride bikes so I quit.

That'd be Revolution and you were wise; I stuck it out and it did not get any better.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:03 PM on July 17, 2013


There is a newer show where the power goes out I started to watch but they didn't explain why people didn't ride bikes so I quit.

Guns don't work either on that show, so I imagine it's the same ridiculous deal.
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on July 17, 2013


Horses are much more photogenic than bikes.

(Also, the season finale of Revolution had so much "I hate you but I love you too bro" tension between the hero and antihero that I kept expecting them to drop their swords and make out.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:09 PM on July 17, 2013


Never much had any opinion about Stephen King one way or another, other than maybe neutral bordering on mild disdain, till I read On Writing. Seriously, great book (not so much the advice on writing as the memoir part). Doesn't sound like he much followed his own advice for this one though.
posted by blucevalo at 12:13 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


It doesn't seem that simple to adapt a long book into this long of a miniseries. Even if you do have a fixed end-point, the hour breaks aren't going to fall at interesting points, and each hour doesn't really have a reliable story arc or even anything worth watching. So it's a situation where a faithful adaption may be pretty terrible.
posted by smackfu at 12:31 PM on July 17, 2013


And why does the cement factory have an elaborate maze of tunnels underneath it anyway?

Because the story needed a factory with lots of tunnels underneath it.
Duh...
posted by Jalliah at 12:46 PM on July 17, 2013


Stephen King Adaptation-related: "Ten Reasons the Dark Tower Adaptation Will Probably Never Happen", or SHOULD Never Happen.
posted by oneswellfoop at 12:50 PM on July 17, 2013


Forget The Dark Tower, I'm still waiting for the adaptation of The Talisman they promised me when I was 13.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is Hollywood's discomfort with nerdiness is ruining it's adapations?

Forget The Dark Tower, I'm still waiting for the adaptation of The Talisman they promised me when I was 13.

That would be really, really great. It seems much more doable than the DT material, that's for sure.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:58 PM on July 17, 2013


There is a newer show where the power goes out I started to watch but they didn't explain why people didn't ride bikes so I quit.

Actually, I think in Atlanta, did show bike riding (they also showed steam driven buses, too!). In reality, unless you want to ride a bike for pleasure, it's less energy/work and probably more comfortable to just ride a horse due to the erosion of paved services.

And guns do work in it. Quite effectively. It's just that there's limited supply of ammunition and working firearms, and the industrial base is apparently only adequate enough to produce muzzle loading firearms, thus a ready dependence on edged weapons. For those with access, M4s are blasting quite lethally away.

And yah, it's a bit of a crazy show, but I love it. It embraces the WTF in a lovely manner at times. It's also wonderful cross pollination that happens when you have the creator of Supernatural as one of the producers and Kashmir suddenly pops up in one of the episodes and plays at length.

Amazon Prime Instant Video has Under the Dome available for streaming a few days after airing, and I'd considered watching it...but now I'm feeling I may just pass.
posted by Atreides at 1:03 PM on July 17, 2013


As an aside, I remember a book-reading where the author Edna Buchanan spoke about the film adaptation of her book: The Corpse Had a Familiar Face. One of the screenplay writers told her they didn't want to read the book, it would constrain his imagination. She was invited out to the filming and the only person she could find who read it was the clerk at her hotel.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The beginning of The Midwich Cuckoos (where an invisible two-mile wide hemisphere encapsulates a small village, rendering its inhabitants unconscious for a full day while military scientists perform experiments from the outside to determine the dome's properties) has always been one of my favourite scenarios, so I thought I'd give Under The Dome a try.

I read the first few chapters, but stopped when I heard about the TV adaptation. I'd heard mixed reports about the book, so I figured I'd rather watch the show unspoiled, in case it turned out to great. Four episodes in, it's clear that's not going to be the case.

BUT! I am still going to watch the hell out of this stupid show. It's crap, but it's still the best show on TV about people trapped within an invisible dome. (See also: my rationale for continuing to watch The Walking Dead.)

Here are a few of my own 'network notes':

- When the dome descends in the first episode, it penetrates the ground with a huge WHUMP and jettisons a load of topsoil in the air. Later we see that the circumference of the dome crosses the coastline and includes a portion of the sea. I know the dome’s not very thick, but presumably it goes (at least) all the way down to the seafloor—so wouldn't it have displaced quite a bit of water and caused a super-big wave?

- When Junior shoots his warning shot into the ceiling of the ER waiting room, isn’t he actually shooting through several floors of the hospital building and possibly into the bodies of patients and/or staff?

- Even aside from the complete lack of curiosity about the dome itself—and concern about their dwindling finite resources—people are still lackadaisically pouring fresh milk out of cartons. Where’s the milk coming from?

- Worst pretend seizures ever.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 2:41 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


The milk is coming from the co... Oh.
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In the book, the dome is completely on land, and I think someone actually walks the whole perimeter. So any tidal waves not existing is the fault of the adaptation, and I would guess they just wanted the cool visual and not any other effects.
posted by smackfu at 3:00 PM on July 17, 2013


I can tell you that watching UtD whilst rewatching Breaking Bad is a bit discombobulating
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:06 PM on July 17, 2013


Sorry, my mistake. I just checked, and when Scarecrow Joe employs the power of trigonometry to draw the estimated circumference on a map, he says 'So far it looks like it's ten miles across—it covers the entire Mill, including some of Lake Eastbourne'. So: lake, not sea. Apols.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 3:13 PM on July 17, 2013


It makes me sad to see Dean Norris in this.
posted by jjwiseman at 3:43 PM on July 17, 2013


Show your working.
posted by Artw at 3:49 PM on July 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


> It makes me sad to see Dean Norris in this.

Still not as bad as seeing Giancarlo Esposito in Revolution.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 4:09 PM on July 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


This was ruined for me when the local network decided to promote it heavily DURING The Simpsons Movie. So the Simpsons would do a gag about a bird splattering on the dome and then an ad for Under The Dome would play that same moment up as a huge dramatic thing.

'course, this is the one show that airs a day after the US screenings. not GoT or Breaking Bad but this. might dig it... i like King. there's a 70s movie with the same premise... can't remember it. anyone seen Haven? big King tribute
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:16 PM on July 17, 2013


Y'all should check on that Siberia show on opposite it on NBC or whatever. Not great, but as a horror show about reality contestants, way more plausible.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:23 PM on July 17, 2013


The milk is coming from the co... Oh.

It's Half and Half.

I had to stop watching this show because it actually caused me to fall asleep with a glass of wine in my hand (which went all over my pants leg). Something so soporific as to make me forget wine is another class of tedium entirely.
posted by Sparx at 8:57 PM on July 17, 2013 [6 favorites]


Having checked Siberia now, I hope there's some mutant, cast-devouring, Tunguska bears involved or I'm going to be seriously dissapointed. I could settle for mutant, cast-devouring, Tunguska wolves I suppose, but winter seems pretty far off in the timeline.
posted by Iosephus at 9:20 PM on July 17, 2013


I read his notes and was annoyed by most of them, so I closed the tab and did something else. But I couldn't stop thinking about how they annoyed me. So...

How do people breathe encased in a dome?
In the first or second episode, the miliary(?) is shown spraying water on the outside the dome. A kid on the inside notices that some water is getting through. If water can get through, it seems reasonable that to think that gases would too.

Wouldn’t it get a little hot under the dome?
Fair point. But this dome is huge, and it's only been three or four days. It may take longer to notice the greenhouse effect.

Since the dome is invisible can’t the town communicate with the outside world by just holding up notes? And the outside world could brief them the same way.
Some people did spray paint messages on the inside of the dome. But, the only people outside were the military (and, immediately after it appeared, some other people), communicating with the people on the inside probably wasn't a priority for them.

"Junior" is afraid his girlfriend, Angie is going to break up with him so his solution is to kidnap her and chain her to a bed in a fallout shelter. First off, they’re under a dome. It’s not like she can leave town. Secondly, that’s your best plan?
Because this kid seems so sane and rational otherwise, right?

[H]ow does she go to the bathroom? She’s chained to a bed for three days.
It's a fallout shelter; it probably has a little, portable toilet (like this or this). The show doesn't mention or show anyone else's bathroom activities, why should it have to with hers?

[I]sn’t anyone in the town concerned that she’s missing?
Her parents are outside the dome. Her brother does ask about her. Everyone else is concerned with all the other craziness to notice that they haven't seen a particular teenage girl in a few days.

[I]f you’re being held captive by a psycho, the best way to disarm him might not be to lie and say you fucked some other guy and loved it.
People have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions.

[T]he crazy cop who accidentally shoots his partner when the bullet ricochets off the dome (oops on that one), but breaks out of jail and flees. To where? What’s he thinking? Even in the forest there’s only so much real estate.
Watch the show and find out? Also, people, especially "crazy" people, have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions.

There’s no mass panic? You've just been sealed in by something unknown for an unknown period of time. Just one rogue cop finds this disturbing? There’s no looting or runs on grocery stores? Even the diner stays open. People sit at the counter and sip their coffee and enjoy their pie just like it’s just another sleepy Thursday.
I'm pretty sure people were panicking at first. But after a bit, what are you going it? It's a sleepy small town, and everyone seems to know each other. It's different than if this has happened in NYC. And even then, the only person who "finds it disturbing" is also (per the previous note) "crazy". It seems reasonable that mentally stable folks will just try to make the best.

Two townsfolk are in the diner when the African-American woman looking for her white daughter shows them a picture. The redneck says condescendingly, “How can that be?” The woman explains she and another woman are the parents. He’s very bemused and dismissive. Did anyone notice that his buddy sitting next to him is also African-American? And might that gentleman react?
I don't get this note. The redneck first made that comment because a black woman was looking for her daughter, who is white, not black as he would have expected. And then he was "bemused and dismissive" because she's a lesbian and he's a small-minded redneck. What does that have to do with the skin color of his buddy?

Wouldn’t this dome be sort of a national story? Wouldn’t it be just an absolute circus outside the dome with news and camera crews reporting constantly?
How do you know it isn't? After it happened, the outside of the dome was swarmed by military. They likely would have set up roadblocks. (Look at the train explosion in Lac-Megantic: The media wasn't allowed in for ten days.)

There’s a big house fire. Smoke seen for miles. A day after the fire is put out the smoke is completely gone. Wouldn’t it be trapped in the dome and the whole town would be smoky?
We don't know how high it goes. Also, gases can probably pass through. Yeah, I dunno.

Would someone in town, even one person, realize that they’re in for a calamitous water shortage since rain from the sky would bounce off the top of the dome?
Either water can pass through the dome, or all of water they use will remain within it. There are probably lakes/rivers/streams/reservoirs/water towers under the dome. They don't have an infinite supply, but they never did. Beside, I doubt anyone is considering that the dome with be there long-term.

Barbie is maybe ominous and scary, is it a good idea to still let him stay in your house?
People have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions.

You think he might hide the map a little better?
People have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions.

Instead of the thousand-and-one places he could have said, he picks the bathroom in her house where she could easily catch him on his lie.
People have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions. Sometimes they aren't good at lying, either.

So all the teens decide to go to the one kid’s house with a generator so they could party?
Yeah? This seems like the most plausible thing in the entire show. About on par with the grass being green.

And is one of the kids just a tad too stupid when he thinks he can squeeze through the dome because it’s water-soluble and we’re all 70% water?
So, Levine did notice that water passed through, and yet still thinks it is completely air-tight? Anyway, kids are dumb. I don't remember him saying that, but is it possible he was just being silly/stupid, as kids do?

Since the Chief of Police knew his pacemaker fluttered when he even got near the dome, why did he touch it? Of course it exploded.
People have flaws and don't always make the completely correct decisions.

This show is mediocre, but it's much better than most shows on the over-the-air channels.
posted by Maladroid at 9:51 PM on July 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not King's dome
posted by samelborp at 12:18 AM on July 18, 2013


Of course, this mess suffers from what I call King Syndrome—whatever looks intriguing and spooky and wonderfully promising in the first minutes will eventually turn out to be a magical clown light spider, a bunch of insane rambling nonsense, badly animated Pac Men eating evil Balki, or an excuse for Yeardley Smith to screech for an hour, among other inadvertent horrors.
It's a pity, because he can write a hell of a scary short story.

Thank you, you have perfectly summed up my reflections on King's TV legacy.
It should be noted that The Raft was adapted for CreepShow 2, and it scared the crap out of me as a kid.
posted by Theta States at 11:54 AM on July 18, 2013


Such a huge gap in quality between reading and watching The Raft.
posted by Artw at 12:37 PM on July 18, 2013


Especially since the creature in the story takes hours to pull Deke through the raft. It's grueling.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:39 PM on July 18, 2013


Creepshow 2 probably isn't the worst King movie, there's at least eight Children of the Corn flicks ahead of it I'm sure, but I think an argument could be made for "most disapointing".
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on July 18, 2013


And you haven't even mentioned The Mangler. Available in full on YouTube!
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:14 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Mangler is a relatively fun and faithful adaption of a not-amazing-but-not-harmful short story that looks like Fellini compared with The Mangler 2.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on July 18, 2013


I'm going to nominate The Lawnmower Man* as least-well-aged, because people were into it in 1992 and that's just bizarre now.

* King contributed the title and that's about it.
posted by Artw at 1:28 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Mangler is a relatively fun and faithful adaption of a not-amazing-but-not-harmful short story that looks like Fellini compared with The Mangler 2.

I also made the mistake of seeing this on the assumption that it would feature The Mangler again, or perhaps a different possessed Mangler, or at the very least would contain some good mangling. Nope.

On the other hand, it was set at Royal Collegiate College. The college that's known for being really... college-ey.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:03 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really it should have been about the evil refrigerator.
posted by Artw at 2:09 PM on July 18, 2013


I recognize that "Maximum Overdrive" is a terrible film but I will always have a soft spot for it - somehow it slipped through my overprotective parents' radar and it became the only R-rated VHS tape in our house, so I kinda wore it out. Also, the soundtrack is an AC/DC greatest hits album, the title track of which is still the greatest AC/DC song ever. I wore that sucker out too.
posted by jbickers at 2:20 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Did anyone watch the Nightmares and Dreamscapes series that doubled Melbourne for Maine? It had some okay episodes, like The End of the Whole Mess. The Hell of a Band episode sucked, though.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:28 PM on July 18, 2013


The list in Artw's 2nd link rates it reasonably highly: "a couple of stinkers, one very fine episode, and a bona fide masterpiece".

I vaguely remember it but don't think I watched them all. Battleground was the first episode and was good ("masterpiece" sounds like a stretch too far). I don't remember much after that; probably bailed after one too many stinkers.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:18 PM on July 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the Hell of a Band episode wimped out by not adding a bloody mess of Kurt Cobain to the story
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:19 PM on July 18, 2013


Suicide Watch in the Delta Green collection "Dark Theatres" has by far the best Horror versions of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, if you can track it down.
posted by Artw at 5:28 PM on July 18, 2013


> Did anyone watch the Nightmares and Dreamscapes series that doubled Melbourne for Maine? It had some okay episodes, like The End of the Whole Mess. The Hell of a Band episode sucked, though.

Oh yeah, Crouch End, where Crouch End looks inexplicably like Clifton Hill*

(Which reminds me, I promised myself that this Summer I'd visit the creepy Green Man sculpture near the disused Crouch End train platform on Parkland Walk that inspired King to write that story...)

* At least it's always looked a bit like Clifton Hill to me.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 8:24 PM on July 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Mangler is a relatively fun and faithful adaption of a not-amazing-but-not-harmful short story that looks like Fellini compared with The Mangler 2.

If there is a Mangler 2..... I'm gonna get angry.

(Chuck me in a corner with the UTD TV series haters. It could have been such a tight mini series, ending and all, but no........_
posted by Mezentian at 11:20 AM on July 19, 2013


Heh...

Joanne 'Jo' Newton, a girl desperate for attention from her workaholic father, ends up going to an upper class private boarding school after a break in at her dad's computer company. The school is getting ready to install a new security system. Jo and several others students are to remain behind while the others leave for Spring Break, as punishment from the school's Dean, Headmaster Bradeen (Lance Henriksen). However, Jo, with her knowledge of computers, has hacked into the school's mainframe and unleashed a super virus called "Mangler 2.0" in the security system.

posted by Artw at 11:32 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


and unleashed a super virus called "Mangler 2.0" in the security system.

Mangler 3.0: Lawnmowerman 3.

Make it so, Hollywood.
posted by Mezentian at 11:36 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


ManglIIIr
posted by Artw at 12:25 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm awaiting the pr0n version Under The DDomes... coz there'd be two domes like two enormous... well you get the idea
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 2:04 PM on July 19, 2013


Shock ending: The DDomes is actually a butt.
posted by Artw at 2:27 PM on July 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


/fade to black, Sir Mix a Lot plays over end credits.
posted by Artw at 2:28 PM on July 19, 2013


Artw: "If I were an alien or whatever* with the resources to make a Dome I'd probably go ahead and make it a sphere."

ObSF: Vernor Vinge, The Peace War.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:25 PM on July 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bobbling is sort of different though - there's no time on the interior, and they're completly opaque.

(Marooned in Realtime is the better story featuring them. )
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on July 24, 2013


Yeah, agreed, it just reminded me of them.

Eh, MiR probably really is the better story, but I read TPW in my Golden Age of science fiction, and I wore that sucker out.
posted by Chrysostom at 1:49 PM on July 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


IIRC there's some short stories of variable quality as well.
posted by Artw at 2:04 PM on July 24, 2013


Holy crap, a second season, and they are changing the origin of the dome itself. Thank you, CBS, for not allowing me to watch this on your website or on hulu, and for charging a $1.99 per-episode fee at Amazon. You saved me a great deal of time and frustration.
posted by MoxieProxy at 10:28 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was free on Amazon Prime Video though.
posted by smackfu at 11:32 AM on July 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


This captures the beauty of Under the Dome perfectly. A must read for fans!!!
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:35 AM on August 7, 2013


Well, I guess someone is still watching it: Under the Dome has become Lost, and guess what? I love it.
posted by Artw at 6:57 AM on August 14, 2013


« Older The Mighty T is a super cute animated short film d...  |  Darius McCollum was recently a... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments