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DVD Review: Under the Dome: The Complete Series

June 26, 2017

By John Corrado

Loosely based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, the TV series Under the Dome takes place in the small town of Chester’s Mill, and follows the residents after a mysterious translucent dome appears out of nowhere, cutting them off from the rest of the world and forcing the imprisoned inhabitants to both work together and turn on each other.

The power hungry councilman James “Big Jim” Rennie (Dean Norris) tries to cement himself as the natural leader, but it’s questionable if he really has the town’s best interests at heart, and he comes to clash with the mysterious ex-military officer Dale “Barbie” Barbara (Mike Vogel) who happens to be in town when the dome comes down, and local reporter Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre) who is trying to do the right thing.

The show also focuses on younger characters who share some mysterious connections to the dome, including Rennie’s deeply conflicted young adult son Junior (Alexander Koch), along with the nerdy teenager Joe McAllister (Colin Ford), his sister Angie (Britt Robertson), and the jaded Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz) who is passing through town on “dome day.”  As resources start to dwindle around town, and erratic events start to happen, they desperately seek a way out, but this just leads to more questions.

Running for three seasons from 2013 to 2015, and executive produced by Steven Spielberg, Under the Dome provides an often entertaining if somewhat rocky mix of character drama, mystery and science-fiction, as more connections between the characters are revealed throughout the 38 episodes.  The show is undeniably at its best in the first season when exploring how quickly hierarchies and dictatorships can form in an enclosed environment, with some of the residents seeking to exploit the situation to further their own power over the community, and many others looking for leaders to put their faith in.

These social, political and religious metaphors are what make the series interesting to watch at first, with the residents coming to question if the dome has any sentience, and if it is trying to communicate with them or send some sort of message.  Now I do have to say that some of the plotlines and characters are more well rounded than others, as is the case with most shows like this, and there are some more frustrating turns along the way.  The series also deviates wildly from Stephen King’s source material, and it does start to unravel a bit as more outside subplots are added partway through the second season, with the show ultimately over staying its welcome in the needless and overly convoluted third season.

But even though it’s by no means a perfect series, and likely would have done better with fewer episodes, Under the Dome moves forward at a breakneck pace and is often a lot of fun to watch.  The show mixes allegorical storytelling with elements of mystery and fantasy to entertaining and highly watchable effect, drumming up suspense and heightened character drama as more elements of the plot come to be revealed, with a sense of danger stemming from the amount of characters who get killed off along the way.  The ensemble cast does good if slightly uneven work overall, with an intense turn by Dean Norris at the centre of it, and the special effects are pretty decent for what they are.

As a whole, Under the Dome is often better than expected for a network show of this scope, offering enough intriguing elements and cliffhangers between episodes to keep us watching, if only to see how all of the various plotlines come together throughout the three seasons.  This set comes recommend to both fans of the show and those curious to watch through it for the first time.

The 12-disc DVD set also includes deleted and extended scenes on some of the episodes, interviews with Stephen King, and multiple featurettes on the show’s production spread across the discs.

Under the Dome: The Complete Series is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release. It has a total running time of 27 hours and is rated 14A.

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