Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Under the Dome Review: "Imperfect Circles" - Domes All the Way Down

Joe and Norrie "experiment" with the dome.

Shortly after Under the Dome’s pilot aired, I made the argument that the show should never explain the dome, concentrating instead on the people inside the dome and what happens to them.  I didn’t want this show to turn into Lost (or The Event or Flash Forward, though Lost was far better than those two), a show in which so much time was spent trying to decipher the mysteries that people often forgot to think about the characters, which were the best part of the show.  Likewise, with people wondering about the dome (and people who’d read the book complaining about the ending), I believed the show would be better off focusing more on the characters and less on the dome.

Unfortunately, it turns out that the characters in Under the Dome are almost universally dull and the plots so clichéd and worn (seriously, every plot so far this season, down to the early delivery, was used before on Jericho), that I was relieved to see somebody on the show actually caring about the dome and want to know more about it.  So I actually enjoyed the various ways Joe and Norrie tried to learn more about the dome.  Making out while touching the dome was cute, though I suspect Joe’s trigonometry skills are being exaggerated.  Either way, the two end up at the center of the dome, where they find a smaller dome holding what looks like a black egg.  I’m kind of hoping they keep exploring, though given the show’s renewal, I’m a little hesitant to think they’ll actually explain the dome this season.

The rest of the episode seems like it should have been eventful, but it is so filled with out-of-nowhere stories, predictable plots, and unexplainable scenarios that it’s impossible to care.  Obviously, the big story is Julia’s pregnant friend, whom we’ve never seen before, stopping by to borrow some yogurt just in time to hallucinate her deployed sailor husband, touch the dome, and go into labor.  Mightily convenient.  Since Alice is the only doctor in town, they obviously end up there, where she gives birth, Alice bonds psychically with the baby (yeah that happened), and then dies.  Why does she die?  The episode implies that it was due to her need for insulin, but that can’t be it since she just a got a new vial a day or two ago.  As I’ve said before, the problem with this show isn’t that people are dying.  The problem is that good horror doesn’t just randomly off people.  Good horror creates a scenario in which the characters have a reason to die at any moment, and then it kills one.  That is good horror.  This is not.

In predictable plot news, farmer Ollie makes a power play on Big Jim, which doesn’t go well for Ollie’s redshirt, assigned to guard the propane.  This was the story I expected out of Jim and Duke in the pilot, it’s just a shame that it’s taken half the season to finally get to it.  Also predictable is crazy Junior crazily shooting one of the Dundee brothers who tried to rape Angie.  Making him a deputy was probably the dumbest move on a show filled with dumb moves. 

And in unexplainable scenarios, somehow Rose’s body hasn’t been moved from the diner so Angie has to bury her with the help of Joe’s friend Ben.  There’s no explanation for why Angie or Barbie didn’t tell somebody about Rose.  Nor is there any reason given for why people aren’t trying to eat at the diner, given that they’ve been open this entire time and there’s apparently still food there that Rose felt the need to protect.  None of it really makes sense, except that it gets Angie and Ben together which, ultimately, leads Angie back to Joe for a heartfelt reunion.  I’m honestly finding the kids on Under the Dome much more interesting than the adults, which is something I never say about a show.

So, halfway through the first season of Under the Dome, where do we sit?  The show still has trouble being scary, the plots are mundane and well-worn, and there isn’t a single character I’m truly afraid for.  This show is pretty clearly a disaster procedural when it needs more serialization.  I think there is some promise moving forward, but I can’t honestly say that I expect that promise to be fulfilled.  Oh well.

So thoughts?  Comments?  Just want to tell me my blog sucks?  Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @TyTalksTV.

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