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.
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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.