June 30, 2013

Under the Dome: "Pilot" Review

To be completely honest, the primary reason I watched the pilot episode of Under the Dome was this trailer:

Not that the promo indicated that the acting would be particularly good, or that the effects would be anything extraordinary. No, you see, I'm a just a really big fan of Bob Dylan, and the Devlin/Ed Sheeran cover of "All Along the Watchtower" reeled me in.

I reject the assertion that another trailer for the show made - that Chester's Mill is a classic American small town. In fact, it seems it was a bit off its rocker even before the title "dome"/force field/upside-down fishbowl descended. Remember, this series is based on a novel by Stephen King. So the fact that the dome slices a cow grotesquely in two shouldn't seem that strange. I mean, have you read Carrie?

But back to Chester's Mill: Let's start with the fact that the episode opens with a body being buried in the woods by a mysterious out-of-towner. So we've got crime. We soon learn that Sheriff Perkins and Councilman Rennie are in on something dubious, because they've been stockpiling propane for some time. So we've got corruption. Then there's the young dating couple - Councilman Rennie's son, Junior, and diner waitress Angie. But he's not so much dating her as he is kidnapping her and locking her in his father's abandoned fallout shelter. So we've got psychosis.  (For the record, I don't have sympathy for either one of these characters. Junior is serial-killer crazy, but Angie just seems like a jerk.)

Source: pinterest.com/cbstvstudios
The only characters I can feel sympathy for are the ones with familiar faces. Out-of-towner Dale "Barbie" Barbara is played by Mike Vogel. I was a big fan of the big budget, quickly cancelled ABC show Pan Am, in which Vogel played young pilot Dean. But you might also recognize him from Bates Motel or The Help. Barbie is the most intriguing character on Under the Dome to me so far. Maybe it's because his acting is best, or maybe it's just because his character seems to have the most to lose by being stuck in the town that is the scene of his crime.

Then there's Jeff Fahey, who plays Sheriff Perkins. He also played a pilot - Lost's Frank Lapidus. And speaking of Lost, that show is exactly what kept coming to mind as I watched this first episode of Under the Dome. When the sheriff walked into the diner, I could practically hear him say, "If we can't live together, we're gonna die alone." (Side note: Remember how great Lost was? That show rocked. For a few seasons, anyway.) The large cast of oddly interconnected characters and inexplicable physical phenomena also contribute to the Lost feel.

So it's a creepy small town now literally surrounded by a mystery. Is it coincidence? Punishment? The government? I think those are the questions the creators of Under the Dome want me to be asking, and they want me to keep watching to learn the answers. I'll keep watching. Partially because I'm curious, but mostly because I still can't get All Along the Watchtower out of my head. 

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