Under the Dome: Stretching Stephen King to the Limit

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Under the Dome: Stretching Stephen King to the Limit

After binge watching the Stephen King adaptation of Under the Dome in an effort to catch up to the second season, it is becoming apparent that the show’s producers are trying to stretch the horror master’s book to the absolute limit. Fans of the novel have probably stopped watching the CBS series quite some time ago as it does deviate a good bit from its source material.

Having said that, it is also obvious that making the story into a weekly series works for a great many folks who tune into the show. Looking at the IMDb entry for the series reveals a 7.2 rating from around 50,000 users. This high regard for a show based upon a King novel, is rare.

The story itself is a good one. a small town in Maine with a somewhat controlling and self aggrandizing set of leaders becomes isolated from the rest of the world by a giant dome. The story follows what happens in small town America when outside intervention disappears and also includes some insights on the human psyche under these circumstances.

A lot of what made the book work so well, was the interaction between the leaders of the town. One is a pain riddled prescription drug addict, another a zealous, and slightly mad, preacher and a used car salesman with illusions of grandeur and a very illegal sideline in making and distributing drugs.

One of the main players in the book was the sheriff’s wife who, after her husband dies when he touches the dome, learns a great many things about “Big Jim” Rennie and his illegal activities. She becomes Rennie’s nemesis, along with the newspaper woman and Dale “Barbie” Barbara, and is completely missing in the television show.

This omission is just one of the things that Under the Dome producers opted to change in the Stephen King science fiction story that has been stretched to the limit. Another huge change has taken place with the character of the madly murderous Junior Rennie.

In the book, Junior kills Angie, who managed to stay alive throughout the entire first season of the series. Junior is actually a good guy, in the show, and doesn’t keep the dead body of his victims in a deserted house where he can do unnatural things with their bodies.

These are just two changes, of the many, made by the show’s creators. King himself has declared the series a winner, even going so far as to do a cameo at the beginning of season two. To be far, if one takes away the premise of the entire book, it is a good show. Just not a very faithful adaptation of the story by King.

Thus far, in season two, the characters have found a hidden tunnel under the high school which leads out of the dome and to a city called Zenith. Here all manner of people never mentioned in the book are introduced and have become part of the plot. A plot that left its roots long ago.

Incredibly, this departure from Stephen King’s source material for Under the Dome has not resulted in widespread condemnation. Despite stretching the storyline way past the author imposed limits of Chester’s Mill denizens and their story of isolation, the series remains popular. Presumably this is because regardless of the original storyline, the actors, especially the brilliant Dean Norris, deliver in spades each week and the story, however convoluted, still entertains. Under the Dome is on CBS each Monday, stop by and see if it really deserves that IMDb high rating.

By Michael Smith