Monday, September 22, 2014

Under the Dome 2.13: "Go Now"

Another season of Under the Dome has come and gone, and if you thought the second couldn't possibly be worse than the first, then you, sir, are a rank optimist.
stolen from:
Not only was the second season worse, it was worse by a considerable margin.  There were times this summer, over the course of these thirteen episodes, when the series showed glimmers of potential; but that potential was, by the end of tonight's episode, so utterly squandered that thinking about the amount of time I spent watching -- and then blogging about -- this second season makes me feel more than a bit embarrassed.  All told, we're looking at thirteen hours for the initial watches, and then close to another thirteen rewatching the episodes (I missed out on rewatching a few of them), plus -- let's be extremely conservative -- another thirteen or so writing the posts.

That's a minimum of thirty-six hours.  A day and a half of my life, gone; never to return, just . . . gone.
And, in and of itself, that's fine.  I'm devoted to the concept of being a Stephen King fan, and also of being a sort of amateur chronicler of the boundaries of that fandom.  So in that sense, it isn't wasted time.
It sure does feel like wasted time, though.
I don't have the heart to spend much more of it tonight, either; if I let myself do it, I could spend the next six hours enumerating the ways in which this specific episode assaulted me with its stupidity.  Illogical, ridiculous, ham-fisted dreck; nothing worthwhile happened the entire episode, apart from what could feasibly be said to be a few good moments of acting from Dean Norris.
The show's ratings declined during its second year, but unfortunately, they didn't decline enough to actually put the series in danger of being canceled.  I'm sure we'll all be back for a third year of the same old bullshit in 2015, and the idea just kind of makes my shoulders slump a bit.  I'm committed to my Stephen King fandom, and that is because it generally rewards me.  This "adaptation" of Under the Dome is dispiriting, though.  It depresses me a bit to think that there are millions of people potentially watching this and walking away from it thinking that it is actually indicative of Stephen King's work.  I recently reread Needful Things (about which I hope to have some posts in the near future), and while that is generally considered to be a somewhat weak King novel, it is, in terms of its quality, SO superior to the television version of Under the Dome that comparison seems ridiculous.  The one is competent and engaging storytelling at its worst; the other is mildly engaging shlock at its best.
But Under the Dome is rarely at its best.  More typically, it's at its worst, and at its worst it veers close to incompetence.  If nothing else, it is a textbook example of how to fuck up an adaptation.  Everyone involved in its creation and its ongoing planning should be ashamed of themselves.  I'm not exempting King himself from that; nor am I exempting executive producer Steven Spielberg.  The television track records of those two geniuses -- and I mean that designation literally, as King and Spielberg are arguably my two favorite storytellers of all -- is not a good one, and Under the Dome might well be a new low for each.  I tend to assume Spielberg has had no real involvement; if so, he ought to be embarrassed for his name to even appear on this turkey, and if he HAS had any involvement, then he should be embarrassed for the low quality of the end product.
King has written literally dozens of my all-time favorite novels.  He has nobody to apologize to for anything; certainly not to me, not even for this piece of shit of a show.  There might be one exception: I think he ought to apologize to himself.  It is seemingly his lack of good judgment in terms of how to control his movie/television rights that had led to foofaraw like Under the Dome.  When he permits something like this to happen -- and, worse, when he then publicly endorses it -- he does nothing but devalue his own image as a creator.  He's not being fair to himself; his worst novel (whatever you consider that to be) is still a competent piece of craft; his best is art that will endure for hundreds of years or more, and he's at his best with an astonishing regularity.  However, there are untold numbers of people who will only ever think of him as the guy whose name is on bullshit like Under the Dome.  That seems like a shame to me.
Also in for a major recommendation of head-hanging: Brian K. Vaughan.  His current comics Saga and The Private Eye approach being as good as that medium is capable of being, which is saying something.  So how can a guy as talented as Vaughan develop a series and have it end up as odorous as Under the Dome?  I want to assume it is all the fault of producer Neal Baer in some way, simply because I'm not a fan of his (whereas I am, and big-time, of King, Spielberg, and Vaughan) and therefore won't feel bad about telling him that he has done a piss-poor job.  Same goes for people like Jack Bender and Peter Leto, whose direction of the show has occasionally elevated the proceedings a wee bit, but more frequently has mired it in turgidity and directionlessness.
The actors probably shouldn't be blamed all that much.  They tried.  They were frequently awful, but how could they not be?  They're being asked to do the acting equivalent of juggling while both blindfolded and drunk; the mere fact that they occasionally succeeded ought to be cheered.
I've said nothing about this specific episode, and that's fine by me.  Pauline sacrifices herself because she thinks the dome wants her to; Rebecca helps her die, which causes Big Jim to flip out and murder her with a hammer; he then murders Andrea, and tries to murder Julia, just to -- literally -- piss the dome off.  Junior decides to kill him, so of course, he shoots him high in the shoulder and doesn't bother to finish him off.  The dome behaves cryptically; Joe continues to wear his stupid dog t-shirt; Carolyn puts in an appearance but is given almost literally nothing to do (why bother if that's the best you can do, writers?); some butterflies lead people to the correct place in the tunnel; Melanie shows up at the end and says something cryptic that is intended to serve as ac cliffhanger but serves much more capably as an eye-roller.
This is awful stuff in every way.  There will be people who will defend it, and I honestly don't know what to say to them.  "Good luck with your bad taste" might be a good option, although that makes me sound like an asshole.  Maybe I am an asshole, actually.  But if so, it's keeping me from being deluded enough to think that Under the Dome in television form is anything but hogwash.  There have been weeks when I wasn't asshole enough to vault over that bar, but this week...?  I've got that shit covered.
And yet, because I have to own all King-related things that I can get my hands on, I'll buy this cowflop on Blu-ray when it comes out.  As such, I must bear some portion of the guilt for the fact that the series has been financially viable enough to continue.
In other words, the fact that we keep getting deluged with this laughable nonsense is partially my fault.  For that, I, too, am embarrassed, and ashamed.
I apologize to you all.  Except you weirdos who have enjoyed it.
YOU are welcome.


  1. After giving it some thought, and waying this episode within the season as a whole, I find it useful to explain one abortion by quoting from another. With that in mind, these words from The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie sum up my thoughts nicely:....Well that was tedious.

    I was able to weigh the pros and cons of this episode and came up with the following:

    Pros: One...Just one...I was given several King references.

    Cons: I asked once before what kind of show viewers could expect from CBS, and concluded that it would be one that was going to require a lot of patience on the part of the audience. What I realized as the season wrapped was that all the brief moments of inspiration can't swim in a sea of mediocrity. I also don't think it help if you drag a story like this out too long, yet that's what the network seems happy to do. The problem is, if you drag a story like this on for too long, you stretch credulity, even if patience still remains. If I ever needed some show to demonstrate why the sitcom or superhero comic format doesn't work for every story, the two series of this story would do perfectly.

    The only similar circumstances I can compare this series to is Frozen.


    I came away liking only one thing from that movie; that being Elsa, and I remember thinking, she's an interesting character (when she isn't being dumbed down), it's a shame she wasn't given a more interesting premise to be a part of. That would have to be my overall reaction to Under the Dome. So far, it's just been an idea that no one seems to be able to make anything from. There's not even an Elsa to make one wonder what could have been (unless, perhaps, you count Dwight Yoakum and that one guy from the first season, I forget his name, but he owned those water tanks?).

    Anyway, I can't say I'm optimistic about next season (if there even is one).


    1. I can't endorse your disdain for "Frozen" (which is in my opinion one of the better animated films from Disney in the past two decades), but otherwise, I agree totally.

      I honestly don't think I even understand this series. By which I mean that I don't understand why the producers are making any of the decisions they are making. My only guess is an incredibly cynical one: that the producers and network are thinking ONLY of how to drag the series on for as long as it is profitable to do so, and are putting almost literally no thought and energy into finding an artful means of doing so.

      It's either that, or the writers have simply failed at their jobs nine times out of ten. I mean, things like that DO happen. You do to a drive-through X number of times, you're going to receive an incomplete order on occasion due to the employees' failure(s). But even the worst fast-food joint I've ever frequented has a higher hit-to-miss ratio than the "Under the Dome" writers' room. Given a similar failure rate, these people couldn't last a week at Burger King.

      I'm not sure I actually noticed any King connections. Did I miss something?

    2. The King references were just a handful of reminders that pointed to the old trope of dysfunctional father figures in It, The Shining, and 11/22/63 with Dean Norris and that other guy. That was pretty much it, it was a very minor thing. Just something I noticed.

      On the whole, this season was a sad wake up look at how to botch an idea.


    3. Also, you mention not being able to understand this series. I'm wondering if that might be because the producers don't understand the premise and are just looking to make any old thing out of it.

      I will say this, watching this show doesn't give me great hopes for the Stand adapt. I've said before that I think it should be a three to four season TV series. This show has just convinced me it should air on one of the major Cable networks rather than on any of the big three. With that in mind, I'm just stuck worrying whether or not all the let down for this show is going to find a variant for the Stand.

      On the plus side, and bringing up your thoughts on Larry Underwood, do you think the actor playing Phil would, given a better script, make a better candidate? I don't know how that sounds, just tossing it out there.


    4. He WOULD sort of look the part, but I don't think he's a very good actor. I certainly didn't see any evidence of it on "Under the Dome," at least.

      Regarding "The Stand," it all comes down to whether the people working on it behind the scenes have a clue what they are doing or not. And I think you're probably right that the producers of "Under the Dome" essentially have no clue what the show's about anymore. It's really baffling.

  2. I thought the first season was bad but I for the most part enjoyed the second season. I felt King's involvement had steered them away into a different path and some of the stuff such as going outside the Dome interested me. The finale was pretty mediocre though.

    1. I enjoyed all of the outside-the-dome stuff, too, and I thought that if they kept exploring those ideas they could have made the series into something. Instead, they abandoned the concept almost immediately.

      Glad you mostly enjoyed the season, though! I wish I had.

  3. Your exasperation comes through loud and clear.

    This Recording, a site I haven't looked at with any regularity for any time but has a lot of quality material published, used to run Game of Thrones reviews by "Dick Cheney." I thought that was a fun way to engage with the material, even if GoT doesn't need any bells and whistles and can be engaged on its own merit. Just an idea, though - if UtD is making you feel the sting of lost time, maybe adopt a persona for reviews to keep yourself engaged. Not that you need this or anything, just thinking out loud. (Phil from The Book reviews Phil from The Series, etc. Who knows?)

    "Joe continues to wear his stupid dog t-shirt" cracked me up. Man, that kid...!

    1. Hah! That's a good idea. Once upon a time, I used write reviews of "Chuck" from the perspective of Sloth from "The Goonies." I called it "Sloth Loves Chuck." It was pretty retarded, but always fun to write.

      Hmm...we may be onto something here...

      "M-O-O-N, that spells Under the Dome, laws yes!"


      Oh, I like that...