Lost in yesterday’s exciting Blackhawks comeback win (at least here in Chicago) was the premiere of CBS’s Under the Dome adaptation, which debuted to solid ratings despite stiff competition from the Stanley Cup finals. The pilot, which received glowing reviews from most media outlets, may have spawned a bona fide hit for CBS’s summer schedule.
For those unfamiliar with Under the Dome, it is a 13-part mini-series adapting Stephen King’s oversized tome of the same name, brought to television by Brian K. Vaughan (of Lost and Y: The Last Man fame). The story follows the struggles of a small town in Maine (of course) after they are sealed off from the world by a mysterious clear dome.
It has been awhile since I read King’s book, but it seemed like most of his story was intact when I watched the pilot. Overall, I found it to be a solid hour of television. It was nice to see Dean Norris getting some work fresh off his run on Breaking Bad and I will always endorse putting Jeff Fahey in anything that requires a grizzled veteran character who has “seen too much” in his time on the force/as a pilot/as president/etc.
With a high concept premise like this, Under the Dome was certainly hit or miss territory (as all of King’s stories seem to be when making the jump to screen), but it seems like they did a good job with the pilot and have roped in enough viewers to keep them around for the other twelve episodes of the story’s arch.
With more than a few comparisons to Lost (developer Vaughan and pilot director Jack Bender both come from Lost backgrounds) already being made, the true test for Vaughan, King and company will be to keep up the momentum of the pilot without getting bogged down in too many conspiratorial elements. Sure, the mystery of the dome will keep people watching, but if they neglect the characters in favor of lofting a load of dead end mysteries and cheap thrills at the audience (a pitfall that certainly befell Lost at points), you may have the recipe for a ratings dip and a quality decline.