Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Under the Dome Review: "Thicker than Water" - That's Not a Monarch!

I still like the kids the most on "Under the Dome"

So I’ve been struggling all day with this review not really in what to say, but in why I’m saying it at all.  A critic whose name escapes me once wrote that it’s easy to write about good shows and it’s easy to write about bad shows, but the real challenge comes in writing about the mediocre shows.  And Under the Dome is aggressively mediocre.  There’s nothing particularly bad about the show and this week’s episode was actually one of the better ones.  Out of the eight episodes aired so far, I’d put only last week’s and the pilot ahead of it.  But while there hasn’t been anything glaringly wrong with the last couple of episodes, even the things they do right are problematic.  Last night’s episode was a perfect example, as the water boiled over on a number of confrontations the show should have spent half a season building toward.  But because there hasn’t been any real narrative direction in this show, I don’t have any real reason to care about the conflicts that happen, and they’re wrapped up so quickly, that there’s no real reason to care moving forward.

A constant theme of my reviews from the season so far has been the startling lack of urgency from any of the characters trapped in the dome.  It took a week and a nuclear bomb for anybody to realize just how serious trouble they are in is.  The power struggle from the pilot quickly disappeared when Sheriff Duke died and Big Jim seems to be okay just sticking with the status quo.  It wasn’t until last week that Ollie became a big threat and now he too is quickly dispatched just a week later.  Now Barbie seems to be the one stepping up to Big Jim, but what exactly is he stepping up to?  Sure they had differing opinions as to how to end Ollie’s reign, but neither one has been a particularly active force in Chester’s Mill thus far.  Big Jim has been a bit of a menace to people with knowledge of his drug operation, but he’s been pretty passive when it comes to policing the town.  And Barbie’s been more than happy just popping up when he’s needed and fading into the background otherwise.  This seems like the obvious matchup, but I just can’t help thinking, “what exactly are they going to fight over?” 

As with last week, now that Angie’s freed from captivity, I’m largely enjoying the children’s stories more than the adults' (Junior excepted).  This week we get the fallout from Alice’s death as Norrie first blames Joe and then herself for her mother’s death.  This is basically Mackenzie Lintz’s first real acting role and, while she’s not blowing me away by any means, her performance has really been very good.  I completely bought the deflection of her anger on to Joe and her eventual break down as she blamed herself.  I think I enjoy the kids’ scenes most because Joe and Norrie have probably spent more screen time together than anybody else (at least screen time that didn’t involve the disaster of the week) and so I’ve gotten a good sense of that relationship.  Bringing Angie in to the equation has only made the dynamic that much better.  Maybe they could get their own web series spinoff that just involves them exploring the woods, having meaningful conversations, and smashing things into the dome while all the crazy town stuff happens in the background.  I’d watch that show.

In other, less interesting news, the dome plot stalls this week as Joe take Julia to the egg and she has a vision of Joe saying “The monarch will be crowned.”  We’re lead to believe this refers to Angie since we get a nice close-up of her butterfly tattoo, which is decidedly NOT A MONARCH.  Seriously?  How does that make any sense?

Small issues aside, if this is what Under the Dome was every week, it would be a perfectly fine summer show.  I don’t know that I’d have room for it during the season, but at this level of quality it’s a perfectly acceptable show, if just incredibly average.

A couple spare thoughts –
Junior still sucks, no matter whose side he’s on or pretending to be on.

Supply shortages are definitely causing problems now, so I fully expect there to be a magic supply drop next week to completely solve that issue.

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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