This is a great time for genre TV. Not only is Game of Thrones back for its third season, The Walking Dead also had a triumphant return, not to mention Bates Motel and Hannibal have also been getting good reviews as well.
In addition to all this, Under the Dome hits CBS on June 24. Back in 1979, Salem’s Lot was the breakthrough horror TV mini-series because Stephen King’s novels were becoming too lengthy to adapt into two-hour features.
Now he’s got his own series with Under the Dome, and again, with so much terrific genre shows on TV, now’s a great time for Dome to make its debut.
The show was discussed at a panel at the WonderCon convention, and as The Hollywood Reporter tells us, Dome’s showrunners have promised it will be “cinematic,” and “big as possible,” but also an intimate character study as well. As we’ve seen with one of King’s greatest masterpieces, The Stand, he’s great at big ensemble stories where we see a number of different characters dealing with a major crisis, like the end of the world, or an enormous dome surrounding a small town.
The first season of Dome will have thirteen episodes, which Neal Baer, one of the showrunners, said will be in three parts: Faith, fear and fascism. This reminds me a bit of a Twilight Zone style scenario, like The Monsters Are Due on Maple Drive, where paranoia drives everyone to suspect and attack everyone else because they can’t get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
Brian K. Vaughn (Lost), who created the show, said that bringing King’s novel to TV with Steven Spielberg producing via Amblin Television is a great yin and yang mix. “Steven Spielberg is the world’s ultimate optimist and Stephen King is the world’s ultimate pessimist, but they’re both humanists – they both love their characters and it was easy to wed those two people since they both like writing about people.”
King has reportedly been very involved with the small screen version of Dome, but he has also given the creative forces of the show the freedom they need to make the it the way they want, even if it strays from the novel. King’s always been aware that his books will always be his creations the fans can read at any time, and the adaptations of his work can’t make it to the big or small screen verbatim.
While Dome could prove a great launching pad for many great adventures beyond the book, you don’t get the impression the team behind the show will go that far out, where the source material winds up unrecognizable. And it’s been quite some time since we’ve had a truly great King adaptation, so here’s hoping that Dome will bring his epic storytelling to life in a great new way that can continue for years to come.