Sunday, December 8, 2013

Under the Dome by Stephen King (TV series and book)

Under the Dome
TV series
2 stars - barf

ALR Green - a cow gets cut in half and moos when the dome comes down (and the producers were so enamored with that special effect they show it EVERY time the credits run). One doggie runs around and sniffs out stuff and sometimes barks.

Here's the setup. One day, a big dome comes down over a small town in Maine. Residents are trapped inside, stuff happens.

You know how sometimes you're watching a TV show or movie and there are some inconsistencies but you overlook them because the story is so darn good? Well, not this time, so let's begin with those, shall we?

  1. Check out the artwork above. Aw, the doggie is outside the dome and wants his master. Except that in the series, that doggie is INSIDE the dome. Sheesh. At least get a different actor dog.
  2. Whisper quiet, indoor friendly generators. I want one of those! All the generators I've ever seen make a racket and if you don't run them outside, the exhaust will kill you.
  3. Regenerating landscape. The government tries to nuke the dome. Dome is intact but everything outside of it turns into a charred landscape. Well, for about one episode, then the outside scenery is all green and lush and beautiful again.
  4. Wonder woman Angie running the diner on her own. Yup, she's cook, bottle washer, and hostess all in one. Food in front of everybody, diner is spotless, and she does all of that while spending most of her time at the counter jabbering with the locals and making goo goo eyes.
  5. Lights on, folks, burn that propane! Who cares if the power is out, leave the lights burning 24x7.
  6. A drug kingpin who shoots somebody at point blank range and doesn't kill them? Um, hello?
  7. Love the short wave radio (or whatever) where all you have to do is spin the dial and you'll stumble across the right transmissions at the right time. And why spin the dial anyway? Is the government changing their frequencies that often?
Lazy, lazy, lazy. No excuse for that sort of thing and none of it adds to the plot.

Well, I could go on and on, but let's get to the "story." The longer I watched the more I thought "that Stephen King is losing it." Smarmy, stupid, tripe. It started out OK. You've got Big Jim Rennie going all power hungry and preying on people's fear to get them to turn on one another. Yup.

But what's up with the baby born named Alice when conveniently politically correct lesbian Alice dies? Oh, big circle of life, I suppose. Stupid egg. Stupid teenagers saving the town by making out when the bomb hits. Stupid Angie, like really incredibly stupid Angie. Blerg.

Then I realized about 2/3 of the way through that this was going into another season. NOOOOOO!

So I checked the book out of the library.

Under the Dome
by Stephen King
5 stars - Booyah!

ALR Yellow - kind of dark yellow. Nothing happens to any animals that doesn't happen to humans and in fact the animals are all spared the more gruesome stuff, but this is Stephen King, after all. There are three doggie characters. Only two survive.

Except for the fact of the dome, the names of the characters, and Big Jim as the bad guy, there is NO resemblance here to the TV series. NONE, I mean it! Because this, my friends, is a wicked good book. No kidding.

Uh oh, here comes the dome. Trapped like rats. Now what? Now what indeed? This is a plausible dome. You can talk through it, electronic communications work, but no escape. Oh goodie. Now for some of Stephen King's observations about human nature. Very real, very scary.

The scariest thing in the book is how quickly people start acting like cattle and follow the voice that speaks the loudest. It isn't long before Big Jim has the majority of people supporting him and woe be to anybody that questions his decisions. He's no fool. He creates a new police department populated by the most dangerous species on the face of the earth - teenage boys. EEEEEE!

The story is something of a call to arms as well. When you see something bad going down, you have to find the courage to fight it. And that doesn't mean you are going to get a parade down main street. It means you might die, but if nobody stands up, if nobody is willing to say "this is wrong" then we all go down the crapper together. Too many sheep being herded along by the fear peddlers in the good old USA for my taste these days.

I was relieved to see that all of the stupid stuff in the TV series just plain didn't happen in the book. Characters, plot lines, gone. There is no benevolent higher power talking to the kids. Bad people are really bad. People don't always die pretty. And it being Maine, you don't have the requisite politically correct mix of people. You have Maine people. Not a bad sort, but fairly homogeneous.

Don't want to say too much. You might read the book, right? Don't be put off by the size of it (over 1000 pages). You'll find it engrossing. Don't be too scared by the bad stuff. It's real and it's scary, but there is a lot of good stuff too. Heroes, bad guys, and everything in between.

All books end at some point and the more I like a book the more it is impossible for the author to stop in a way that satisfies me. The ending here was good enough. I was sorry it was over, but out of all the ways to finish, Mr. King selected one that was palatable. Poor old Stephen King tells us in a postscript that the book was actually trimmed down quite a bit. I would have read the expanded version. It's all good.

Now then, for you animal lovers out there. Here's the low down. Some stuff happens and animals get frightened and they die and that was hard for me to read. As I said above, there are three doggies, two of them die. But all the doggies are good sorts, well loved by their humans, and the two that die have a swift and painless death.


  1. Hmm I haven't picked up any Stephen King since he lost me partway through "Bag of Bones", but perhaps it's time to give him another try. I do love his older stuff so! TV almost always messes up his stories when they do miniseries. I'm looking at YOU, "Tommyknockers" and "Salem's Lot"!

  2. I liked this book but was a little disappointed in the ending. I agree the TV series was very ordinary and I admit I dropped out half way through watching it. There has been many Stephen King books we have all loved. Carrie, fabo book and great movie, although why they have felt the need to make a new version we'll never know. Needful Things was another I really loved. The Stand, an all time favourite but the TV series was woeful. Wish they would make a decent movie out of that one. Oh and The Shining, great book, movie pretty good but different ending!
    No worries, and love, Carol
    P.S. Have you read any Robert Fulgham and if so what do think of his books. (I haven't read any yet).

  3. I actually have this book sitting around here. I bought it as a Christmas gift for a friend, but he bought it for himself before Christmas. So here it sits. I watched the series and then got sick and missed the last twenty minutes! Gah!

  4. I find Stephen King a little dark. I too started watching the series, and found it implausible. Still, with the dearth of TV in the summer time, I had little choice. I have been meaning to find the book; maybe after Christmas I'll get to it, especially given your review. You've never steered me wrong.