Under the Dome premiered on CBS Monday night and pulled off an impressive 13.14 million viewers for its season opener as was recorded by Nielsen preliminary live plus same day ratings for June 24. The hype has been building for months and the expectations have been set high thanks to the big names that accompany the show. Based on Stephen King’s popular novel, the series rings true to King’s reputation as a connoisseur of horror, suspense, and drama. The story follows the science fiction plot of a town that becomes trapped under a mysterious, invisible dome, confining all inhabitants and literally cutting them off from the outside world. Since the story begins with Barbie Barbara (Mike Vogel) hiding the body of a man he has murdered, it is certain that this dome will become a home to lies, drama, and danger. This presumption is then solidified by the tense relationships that have already formed between characters, and the secrets that have begun to swell into plot twists. Without divulging anything specific about the first episode, it is safe to say that this dome will force its prisoners into life and death situations and jeopardize the morals of some small town folk.
The other impressive name tied to the series is Steven Spielberg. A name that immediately garners attention, Spielberg’s company, Amblin Entertainment, has teamed up with CBS Television Studios to produce Under the Dome. This is why it came as a bit of a disappointment that the production value leaves something to be desired. A riveting and creative story aside, the show induced talent whiplash, meaning that the combination of good and bad acting was truly jarring. A couple of the noteworthy performances included Rachelle Lefevre as Julia Shumway, who was engaging and convincing as an eager journalist, and Alexander Koch who was both creepy and alluring as Junior Rennie, the physiologically unsound and obsessed boyfriend type. On the other hand, Colin Ford’s performance as Joe McAlister was lackluster, and came across as inexperienced and forced.
In a time where technology is advanced, and post-production can so precisely conjure convincing imagery, Under the Dome falls slightly short of modern special effects standards and expectations. While the image of a giant truck smashing into an invisible wall is stunning and visually original, other moments lacked the realism that we have become accustomed to in a technologically savvy era. For example, a plane crash in the premier episode looked more like video game graphics than high quality small screen effects. That being said, perfection is always expected when a powerful name such as Spielberg is involved, and thus a critical eye will look for even the smallest of missteps. We will be on the edge of our seats waiting to see what fantastic spectacles this show has in store for us.
Only the episodes to come can reveal whether or not this summer series will sink or swim. With very little competition as a scripted drama in a summertime slot, Under the Dome may be capable of maintaining the attention of the 18-49 age demographic that it so successfully captured for its season premier. Additionally, despite some initial inconsistencies in production value, the “King-Spielberg” quality brand may just be enough to keep eyes locked on what’s to come in this drama filled epic.