Releasing today from Paramount Pictures and CBS DVD is The Complete Series of the television adaptation of Stephen King’s massive novel, Under the Dome. The series features both King and Steven Spielberg as executive producers with Brian K. Vaughan as showrunner.
Over the course of 38 episodes we get to know the folks of Chester’s Mill (a subtle nod to Grover’s Mill?) and the world they find themselves in as a seemingly impossible event occurs. A dome, large enough to encompass the entire town seals them off from the entire world.
As such it becomes a glimpse of the world in microcosm, and a variety of events play out in their trapped universe.
Much like the novel it is based on, there is a strong story here, but I did find that like the novel, the climax of the series feels anticlimactic.
That’s not to say it’s not enjoyable, but you find yourself wanting a little more from its ending, or at least I did. Just like when I read the book. It does end up being entertaining television as both the best and the worst of humanity are on display, and even having read the novel, I love delving into the mystery of the dome.
Compiling all three seasons in one slim collection, the thing that I must enjoyed is the massive amount of extras created for the series. This is how you put together extras for a home release! Featurettes, trailers, interviews, the extras on this collection are solid, informative and as entertaining as I found the series.
The series looks great, the special effects are solid, and makes me think how much we take them for granted. Even over the past decade visual effects for television has taken leaps and bounds, and draw closer to cinematic quality every day. This series benefits from some fantastic effects work.
It also has a solid cast, including Mike Vogel, Rachelle Lefevre, and Dean Norris. For the most part, the series sticks fairly close to the source material, adapting as needed, as well as expanding some where needed.
Of course there are going to be issues with it, even today network television can’t show all the things King wrote, and that’s part of the issue with the series. When you read a book you cast it in your head, you buy into the character motivations easier because you are given more information.
Still as King adaptations go, this one plays pretty well, and has the budget and creative forces behind it to keep it engaging. Sure it can be accused of playing up the soap opera melodramatic side of things, but you’ve got all these characters to deal with, a small town, and something strange going on, of course there’s going to be a bit of a melodrama feel to things.
A lot of King’s stories play better as the written word, but I actually come down on solidly enjoying most of this series. It has the same effect on me that the book does, I like everything about it until the conclusion, so I’m not going to let that dampen my enjoyment of it.
Everything else in the series works for me. I like the cast, I like the creative forces involved in it, and I enjoyed to a large degree the source material, so I dug in and enjoyed this one.
And as mentioned the wealth of extras really fires me up. I love all the glimpses behind the scenes and seeing how the series comes together, whether through table reads, learning about the visual effects. All of these launch the imagination, and make me appreciate the series all the more.
It’s not going to appeal to everyone, but King fans probably check it out, as well as sci-fi fans because under the melodrama, which to be clear is part and parcel of today’s network television, there are some interesting ideas, involving characters, and some curious payoffs.
Under The Dome: The Complete Series hits DVD from Paramount Pictures and CBS DVD, it’s affordable, watchable, and involves some great creative talent. Check it out.