June 25, 2015

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Under the Dome”


UNDER THE DOME:  Thursday 10PM on CBS

UNDER THE DOME has become increasingly dopey as it’s tried to justify its existence as a continuing drama after being launched as a limited series adaptation of Stephen King’s novel.  Tonight’s Season 3 premiere revealed some secrets, but with solutions that had apparently been hatched after the writing staff tucked in together to watch The Matrix.

Season 2 ended with most of our heroes in mysterious caves under the even more mysteriously domed-in town of Chester’s Mill, being beckoned into an all-purpose white light by Melanie (Grace Victoria Cox), who had seemingly risen from 20 years of death.  Tonight we saw that the all-white room (complete with white smoke and some squishy goo) was the entranceway to what at first appeared to be a future in which the dome lifted from Chester’s Mills and everyone got on with their lives.  But no!  Actually, once one succumbed to the white and the smoke and the goo, one was placed into a pod, where that happy existence was beamed into the brain, apparently by aliens, for reasons that are still to be revealed.  There the inhabitants interacted with each other in a glow of recovery, mostly unaware that the life they were living wasn’t real, any glitches eased by the soothing Christine (Marg Helgenberger) and Carolyn (Aisha Hinds)–friendlier representatives of the presiding authority than The Matrix‘s Agent Smith–all with the exception of Barbie (Mike Vogel), who had the nagging sense that something was wrong.  Meanwhile, in the real world, Julia (Rachelle Lefevre) trooped around always one step behind the truth, trusting Melanie almost to the bitter end, and Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris) was eternally accompanied by his rifle and his newly-acquired stray dog

Leave aside the fact that the Matrix twist has been everywhere in the last 15 years, its only competition for most overused “surprise” belonging to The Sixth SenseUnder the Dome presents it all in utterly tacky fashion, including sets that wouldn’t have been out of place in a Roger Corman movie circa 1978, and special effects that were barely worthy of YouTube.  The plotting was all so familiar that the 2-hour length of the premiere (Hour 1 written by Supervising Producer Adam Stein and directed by Peter Leto; Hour 2 written by Executive Proeucer Tim Schlattmann and directed by Peter Weller) felt nearly endless, with every supposed shock clearly visible long before it occurred. while viewers waited impatiently for the script to catch up.

Under the Dome started out as a phenomenon-level hit, then cooled off quite a bit in Season 2, but the economics of CBS’s deal with Amazon make the show profitable even at a medium level of ratings.  The show has moved on almost completely from King’s allegory about the nature of humanity, politics and religion, stretched into a saga that desperately reaches for any means to keep itself on the air.  What’s left is preserved under glass, airless and far removed from any recognizable reality.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."