Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Under the Dome 2.12: "Turn"

Luik . . . I cannae lie to yeh, laddie; ahm no gonnae be in a pairfect pasition tae revue thahs wake's aipisode o Onder the Dohm.  I dozed mah way thru a greht choonk oov it, ya ken?
  
Oops.  Sorry about that.  I watched two episode of Outlander today, as well as one Doctor Who (with the very Scottish Peter Capaldi as The Doctor), so about half of my thoughts since have been thought in a mental Scottish accent.  Whether that's more of a Groundskeeper Willie or a Sean Connery I leave to your imagination.  (Spoiler: it's neither.  It's Begbie from Trainspotting, ya doss cunt!)  
  
[Is that the first c-bomb in this blog's history?  I suspect so; I've got no aversion to being a potty-mouth, but I know that particular swear is a bridge too far for a lot of people.  I'm paraphrasing Begbie, though, so I figure it's permissible.  
  
  
 
  
Quick side note about the word "cunt": my mom would not let my dad take me to see Predator when it came out in 1987, so my dad bought me a copy of the novelization instead.  It contained many utterances of the word "cunt," which I had never seen.  I thought it was a Spanish word, and decided to ask one of my parents what it meant.  Happily for all concerned, some voice in the back of my mind spoke up and said, "DO NOT DO THAT!!!" in time to prevent me from following through on the question.]
  
Anyways, we're not here to talk about Begbie, or about any other Scottish concern; unless they are huge Under the Dome fans in the highlands.  
  
And well might they be for all I know; as I've indicated in weeks past, I've got my hands full just trying to figure out whether or not I'm a fan.  One way or the other, this much is sure: I probably only saw about two-thirds of it cumulatively.  I repeatedly kept finding myself drifting off for a bit, and all told, I bet I missed twenty minutes at a minimum.
  
Do I feel like a lesser fan for this?  Eh . . . not really.  Fact is, it wasn't the episode's fault: I was knackered from a night of all-too-little sleep, so I'd probably have dozed off during just about anything.  Many weeks, I'd conduct a rewatch for the sake of the blog, but that's just not going to happen tonight.
  
Instead, I'll give it a rewatch before next Monday's season finale, and any thoughts that seem like they simply have to be blogged shall be blogged at that time.
  
Tonight, then, what you're going to get is a bunch of dialect at the beginning, some especially naughty profanity, and then a personal reminiscence, followed by a few top-of-the-brain observations about what I saw of the episode.  I've already done the first three, so it must be time for a few observations:
  
(1)  This is a deeply silly show.  Some might even go so far as to call it a stupid show.  Some might even go so far as to call it a show produced by people who seem to feel their audience is composed of people who are not intelligent enough to know which is right and which is wrong: "a intruder" or "an intruder."  Morons, in other words.  Personally, I think that might be taking it a bit too far; but some might go there.  
  
But I'll say this about that: if a show or movie is competently made to a sufficient degree, then I will be willing and able to cut it some slack.  I wouldn't say "Turn" was a great episode in that regard, but it was paced and edited more compellingly than is often the case, and the actors seemed more engaged than usual.  The end result was that the episode had that sense of urgency that is all too often so lacking for this series.  Therefore, I enjoyed what I saw, even when I was rolling my eyes (or allowing them to drop closed for sixty seconds or so).

(2)  If the dome is contracting, we have to assume that it is retaining its essential shape, right?  Which would mean that each point of the dome would be moving inward equally.  Now, I'm no scientist; far, far from it.  On subjects scientific and mathematic, I, represented as a pizza, would consist of dried dough with nothing on it.  I just ain't got what it takes, y'all.  BUT, common sense indicates to me that if such a thing were happening to the dome, the amount of upheaval caused by it on the underside would have destroyed the entire town.  And I suspect it wouldn't have taken much time; because, if you can dig it, wouldn't all that earth have nowhere to go but up?  That being the case, wouldn't anything more than a very minor shift cause utter catastrophe?  Maybe I'm wrong.  But I don't think I am, and if I'm not, then what happened with the dome's alleged "contractions" this week would have to rank as the single dumbest thing ever done on this series.
  
(3)  Dwight Yoakam was great throughout.  I especially enjoyed that scene where he's standing in the high school tapping his foot, clearly excited for what's coming.  He's dressed in his goin'-to-meet-the-Lord clothes, too, and in retrospect, that's really creepy stuff.  Not force-fed fake creepiness, either; legitimate ooginess.  THIS is what Under the Dome should have been; I'm happy to get even a peek at it.  I'll miss Yoakam (assuming he's gone); he brought a very welcome energy to the series.
  
  
 
 
(4)  Speaking of welcome energy, how great was Dean Norris in that final scene?  He's strong during the whole episode, actually (what I saw of it); he gets to be almost entirely sympathetic, which helps.  Heck, even that brutal slaying of Lyle seems like it's fairly justified.
  
  
 
 
(5)  Mike Vogel was good, too.  He's been better these last few weeks than ever before on the series, and it's clear by now that what his character needs is to be continually pushed up against a wall.  Vogel doesn't excel at being interesting while he's just standing around doing nothing, but if you give him decent material, he does well with it.
  
  
 
 
(6)  Ben the skater put in an all-too-rare performance this week.  I'm not sure I understand what's going on there.  It seems like they need to either be using John Elvis consistently or they need to dump him entirely; two brief appearances in an entire season seems utterly pointless.
 
(7)  I have not been a fan of Karla Crome at all as Rebecca: she's not a bad actor at all, but I suspect she needs to be playing some type of role where her character isn't continually being called upon to look as though she just ate a lemon.  Tonight, Rebecca had some doubts set in as to whether her scientific method is all it's cracked up to be, and I thought Crome did fine with that stuff.  She went from making lemon-face to making sad-face, and her sad face is more interesting than her lemon face.  
  
  
 
  
But good lord, how badly have the writers bungled the faith-versus-science element of this season?  If you want to see that topic handled capably, watch Cosmos or Battlestar Galactica or Lost.  If you want to see it utterly bungled, watch Under the Dome.  I get the feeling this episode was intended to represent a victory of Faith over Science, but even that doesn't work.  
  
I'm reminded of a scene from Dead Man's Walk (a prequel to Lonesome Dove), in which a man has died and the survivors are trying to give him a funeral.  One character, Bigfoot Wallace, invites the dead man's friends to say a bit of scripture over the grave, and they all look around sheepishly, obviously not quite cultured enough to be up to the task.  One of them, Long Bill, eventually says, "There's that scripture about them green pastures."  
  
"So say it, then, Bill," prompts Bigfoot.  
  
"Well . . . there's them green pastures," says Bill.  "That's all I can recall," he says after a few seconds go by.
  
His compadres, figuring this is good enough and better by far than nothing, nod as sagely as if the dead man's grave had just been preached over by one of the apostles.  
  
The faith/science angle on Under the Dome is like that: it's like somebody said, "Hey, this season should have an undercurrent about the divide between faith and science, with the dome as a catalyst."  "Hey," said somebody else, "that's a great idea!"  They then looked around at the writers' room and said, "How do we do that?"
  
"Well," said one of the writers after an uncomfortable science, "there's faith versus science."  To which the other writers nodded sagely, and invented Rebecca Pine.
  
(8)  So I guess the show really does expect us to believe in the idea of Junior and Melanie as a couple?  Boy, speaking of poorly-handled subplots...
  
(9)  Raise your hand if you were surprised by the implication that Don Barbara has a boss whose intentions are even shadier than his own?  My hand is decidedly NOT up.  I'm being snarky, but I've got no problem with that; it's an obvious revelation, but a satisfying one.
  
That's all that comes to mind.  Like I said, I'll give it a rewatch next week and see if I missed anything vital.  If so, I'll report on it as part of my season-finale post.
  
See ya in seven!

22 comments:

  1. This episode was a definite improvement over last week, that's for sure. There were moments that left me all but screaming DEATH TO CHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSE! (I herby nominate that line as the most odd out of context phrase anyone can utter). Thankfully, those moments were brief enough and the plot kept moving. I think the reason for that is because a lot of the padding was more or less out of the way, and actual story could now more or less move forward. Does this make it a perfect episode? Well, for this series it probably makes it decent, but I know for a fact there are Twilight Zone episodes that are better than this. Still, the show deserves kudos for kicking back into gear.

    All last week, taking in mind the idea that the show may have to put up with needless amounts of padding in before the "real" story picks up wherever, I found myself wonder then, what does this mean for the show? What kind of show or viewing experience can the audience expect from a network that is willing to either hew to an unworkable, if not outmoded, format for a show that isn't designed for a network season? Also, what does it say if that network is devoted to pouring on the cheese as much as CBS seems to do? What does it say about the network, it's viewers, and how it may effect the show?

    That's a lot of questions, and I don't have the answers to all of them. What I do think I can say with some assurance is this: if this show continues, it is going to be one that will literally DEMAND patience on the part of it's audience. The reason being that it is so beholden to various network standards and strictures (DEATH TO CHEEEEEEEEESE!) that the audience will either literally have to acclimate itself to the network's way of handling the material, or else just change the channel.

    I will say that I agree Dwight Yoakum does show the way the show should have been. Maybe on some other level of the Tower, perhaps.

    ChrisC

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    1. I don't think there's much doubt that there will be a season three. The ratings went down this season, but they're still decent. I suspect that most people who are watching at this point actually enjoy it. Because really, other than weirdos like me, why else would you still be watching?

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    2. Wither that or I'm just desperate to salvage something from so much empty pages with writing on them. I sometimes wonder what some creative wit with a Photoshop editing software could do to the series by cutting out the dross.

      The only other thoughts I had about this whole season was the wish that the shows developers, writers and producers would just up and release an official statement of some kind about the nature of the ending of the whole series. Neal Baer said before that the show is working toward a definitive goal, and so I thought, alright, then would you just tell us a bit more about it,, perhaps? At least some of us can have some stable base to keep in mind while the show is going on, otherwise it's like careening around on an out of control bumper car that actually works half the time.

      The problem with that is, the network could always mandate changes that would null anything they tried to pass off as official. That led me to my final thought. Who exactly are the audiences for CBS. No offense, but i can remember a time when they didn't the need to turn everything into a hallmark moment. This was back in the 80s, when shows like Cheers were at their height. Now i don't know. I've seen this phenomenon once before, like i said, with the series Jericho. It was good, but there would alwayc be that creeping hallmark element. It gets mind-numbing after awhile (of course, this is from someone who always seems to have found such sentiments phony, so don't go by me).

      Still, i wonder who CBS aims their shows at. The sad truth is, my thoughts about that always tend to go back toward the opening nursing home scenes from Green Mile (again, don't go by me).

      ChrisC

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    3. I think the primary audience for CBS is people 35 and over, and that most of them lean toward the far end of the scale. Hence the fact that so many of their shows tend to be the television equivalent of oatmeal.

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  2. Awright man...aye yer Scottish accent is so guid ye should get a vote on Thursday....which, by the way I don't...even though I am Scottish, born, bred and lived there for 35, moved to the states 2 years ago...and I don't get a vote but a foreign student who lives there for 6 months does! Awful.

    Anyway, talking of awful...I have given up on this show...decided a few weeks ago I just can't sit through 5 more seasons of this fuckwittery. Why didn't they just make 1 or 2 seasons and follow the book..that would have been good. Do you honestly believe they will actually give this 5 more seasons though? It must get canceled, surely?

    Just watched Peter Davison's last DW story, the caves of androzani...now that was an absolutely stunning episode and rightly voted number 1 DW story ever! Although I think the new P-Cap episode, listen, May run it close in future polls..awesome from start to finish, great work from start to finish. Capaldi just IS the doctor now!

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    1. oh and the pub where begbie throws the glass over his shoulder used to be my local!

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    2. No kidding? That's awesome. I hope people aren't constantly chucking mugs over their shoulders to commemorate being there...although I'd kind of be disappointed if it didn't happen once i a while.

      I have not yet seen "Listen," actually. I was so put off by "Deep Breath" that I fell behind on the series, so I've only just now gotten around to "Into the Dalek." I liked it a lot, though, and I intend to catch up this week. You're right about Capaldi: he IS the Doctor.

      I like Peter Davison -- I like ALL of the Doctor so far -- but he'd rank sort of near the bottom of my personal list, along with Baker 2.0 and McCoy. "The Caves of Androzani" is pretty splendid, though, from what I remember.

      As for "Under the Dome," I feel your pain. I will never give up on it, because I am (A) a King completionist and (B) I'm writing about it for my blog. Take those two elements out of contention and I'd have been gone after the second episode.

      I still find things to enjoy here and there, though. I agree that the superior way to go would have been to simply adapt the novel over the course of two or maybe even three seasons. Keep the characters more or less the same, keep the tone the same; expand events out a bit if necessary, but retain the essence of what was already there.

      This? I don't know WHAT this is.

      Best of luck on the vote, Aaron. I don't know how you feel about it, but I hope whichever way it goes works out for everyone.

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  3. I'm a yes man for this vote...we have to go for it

    As for trainspotting, whilst the film was set in Edinburgh it was pretty much all filmed in Glasgow. The pub is called the crosskeys. For want of a better word it is very very sketchy...still, did go in for a few pints on more than one occasion! And yes we always tried to get the same seat...never did throw the glass though!

    Think you'll love Listen when you get to it. As for me I'm moving on to the twin dilemma...which is regarded as one of, it not, the worst episode ever!

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    1. Hehehe...and a late winner today just made my day!

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    2. At one point in my life, I was always the lone Rangers fan surrounded by Celtic supporters, wherever I went. The tide turned somewhere over the past few years - now I meet way more Rangers fans. As it should be!

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    3. What's your take on Colin Baker, Aaron? I've only seen a few of his episodes; I liked none of them, but I thought he himself was a perfectly acceptable Doctor. Not inspired, maybe; but basically fine.

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    4. Its been a while since i have seen many of his episodes...i';m about to embark on a complete run through his tenure..so i'll let you know in a few weeks....i'm looking forward to the Two Doctor's mostly for Troughton mind you. From what i remember Baker was good, but the stories not so good.

      The producer at the time, John Nathan Turner seemed more interested in getting "big name" guest stars in to bolster ratings, rather than good story lines...so we had a long line of guest actors who were somewhat famous in the U, but for other things...comedians, children's TV presenters, boy band singers...and none of them very good actors..

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    5. I don't remember the name of this story, and am too lazy to research it, but I've seen the one with Sil the slug alien, and that would rank high on my list of Worst Things Ever. Repellant.

      Just finished watching "Robot of Sherwood" and "Listen." The former was delightful from beginning to end. The latter...

      ...needs some processing. I think I think it was genius, but the implications for the whole of the series seem awfully large, so I'm going to need to let that one sit for a bit.

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    6. Sil...yeah forgot about him...he was in vengeance on varos and again in mindwarp during the trial of a timelord series...looking forward to that whole arc mind you...I remember some good moments....I doubt sil will ever make a comeback in the new series...although you never know!

      listen for me was amazing..need to watch it again but I think it May just be the best episode ever...


      I just thought last night....that so far in this season, we've had appearances by doctors 11, war, 1 (as a child) and possibly 2....if you count the clip of troughton as robin good they showed during robots.....or does that mean the actor himself is now part of the official canon?? That's a confusing thought actually....

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    7. Yeah, that'll bend your brain a bit.

      I hadn't thought of it until you mentioned it, but yeah, they are using a lot of appearances by previous Doctors. I wonder if that will continue over the course of the season? I'd love for them to find a way to squeeze some more McGann in there. Or, even better, Eccleston (although I guess that's never going to happen at this point).

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    8. Back on topic....getting 2 tickets for SKs revival book tour..hitting DC on November 12...and I also got my wife tickets for ghost brothers on Nov 15 as a surprise for her birthday...so that will be quite the King-centric week!

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    9. That's fantastic! Jealousy is beneath me, but...I'm pretty fuckin' jealous.

      Have fun!

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  4. It took some adjustment moving from New England (at least my foul-mouthed corner of it) to the Midwest. Telling someone "Meh, f**k off, ya c**t" where I'm from isn't the end of the world; it's almost warm, i.e. "You and I are cool, so we say these things to one another. If we weren't cool, I'd choose entirely different expressions."

    Out here, tho? Not so much. As I learned on a few occasions.

    When in doubt - on profanity and o so many things - I defer to Scotland.

    I'm with Aaron - and would have preferred a straight-up adaptation. That's how you get the Bryan McMillan vote!

    I like the McMurtry bit. And I can EASILY picture its UTD writers-room real-world equivalent.

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    1. "When in doubt - on profanity and o so many things - I defer to Scotland."

      Words to live by.

      I tried to find a YouTube video of that bit from "Dead Man's Walk" to embed, but nobody seems to have excerpted that bit. I thought about doing it myself, but got lazy. It's quality stuff, though; the two major players in the scene are Keith Carradine and Ray McKinnon, who are both fine actors (and also both "Deadwood" alumni).

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