tek's rating: meh and a half

Under the Dome, CBS
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Caution: spoilers, at least for the first episode.

This show is based on a book by Stephen King, which I haven't read. It has a bunch of good actors, some of whom I know from other stuff and some I don't. Of the major characters, the one whose actor is most familiar to me is Angie McAlister, played by Britt Robertson (whom I know best from Life Unexpected). There's also a character named Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre), whom I want to mention right now just so that I can say the character is the first person I've ever heard of with the name 'Shumway' other than ALF.

Anyway, it's set in the town of Chester's Mill. One day a stranger, Dale 'Barbie' Barbara, comes to town. We first see him burying a body in the woods, a guy he presumably killed. One of the show's mysteries is exactly what these two guys were mixed up in, but it seems like it must have been illegal (even before the murder of one of them). I don't think Barbie was planning on staying in town, but he can't leave, because all of a sudden this invisible wall appears around the whole town... a wall which will turn out to actually be a dome. Anything that was in the way of the dome when it appeared was just sliced in two. And things like cars and a plane crash into the wall, being instantly wrecked. The wall is soundproof, and apparently no kind of signals can get through it. So there's no TV or internet, and the only radio anyone can receive is a station that's within the dome. Of course phones don't work either, so there's no communication between Chester's Mill and the outside world... though Dodee Weaver, who works at the radio station, is able to tap into some kind of signal from outside, intermittently. Of course, what the dome is and how it got there and, you know, what it's all about... is the show's biggest mystery. And while there are some discoveries throughout the season, they basically just create more questions, rather than answers.

Julia Shumway is the new editor of the local newspaper, and shortly before the dome came down, she was contacted by a woman who told her about mysterious shipments of propane to the town. Apparently the town council was stockpiling it for some reason, and that's another of the show's mysteries. But I should say that there was some kind of celebration going on, so a lot of people were involved in a parade that was happening... in a neighboring town, or something, I guess. This apparently included the mayor and most of the town council; the only person from the council who was in town when the dome appeared was 'Big Jim' Rennie, who's also a car salesman. So I guess the only other person who's aware of what the propane thing is all about is police chief Duke Perkins, who's been keeping quiet about it, though he's not happy about that. (So there'll be some tension between Rennie and Perkins.) Also, the chief has a pacemaker, which seems to give him some trouble. At the end of the first episode, he's about to admit the truth to his deputy, Linda Esquivel, though before he can, something goes very wrong with his pacemaker, and he dies. Oh, and Linda has a fiance who's a fireman, who's currently on the other side of the dome, since he was in the parade. Anyway... Julia meets Barbie, and begins investigating the mystery of the dome. And she invites him to stay at her place for the night, since all the motels are full. Her husband, a doctor, is missing, so she supposes he's on the other side of the dome. Though she also finds out he's been lying to her about some things, and it seems as if he could have been having an affair, though she doesn't believe that. When Barbie sees a picture of him, he realizes it's the guy he buried. (Of course, he doesn't tell Julia that.)

Angie McAlister is a candy striper. When we first see her, she's having sex with Junior Rennie (Big Jim's son). He tells her he loves her, a feeling she doesn't reciprocate. He says she's the only person who really knows him, and she says that's why she can't be with him. Which doesn't make sense at first, and it obviously upsets Junior. But before long it becomes obvious that he's mentally disturbed. He later sees Angie talking to Barbie, and assumes there's something going on between them, so he gets jealous. Eventually he threatens Barbie, but nothing comes of that right away. Later, he kidnaps Angie and locks her in his father's old fallout shelter. So... it becomes clear why she didn't want to be with him, though I can't help feeling she was both cruel and incredibly stupid to carry on a relationship with him as long as she did, if she knew he was capable of this sort of behavior. Not that that justifies his actions, of course.

Angie has a brother named Joe, who, along with Barbie, was one of the first people to discover the invisible wall. Later, he goes out to do some further investigation on his own, ends up suffering a seizure, and muttering some mysterious words. The same thing happened to a girl named Norrie Calvert-Hill, who was passing through town with her parents, Carolyn Hill and Alice Calvert. So it seems there's more to the dome than just being impenetrable, if it's causing seizures and stuff. And... there are lots of characters I haven't mentioned, of varying degrees of importance to the plot. But I don't want to divulge anything more that happens in the first season (which consists of 13 episodes).

This was originally announced as a limited series. But because the show did well in the ratings, it got a second season. But, while I thought the show was reasonably interesting at first, as the first season wore on, my interest diminished. The season ends on a cliffhanger, without any answers that I found remotely satisfying. So... I can't really call it a limited series. It ended up having three seasons, but I didn't watch past the first, so I have no idea whether the series had a satisfying conclusion or not.


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