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Monday, August 12, 2013

Under The Dome: Why I Like The TV Show Better Than The Book



I like Under The Dome a lot.  I thought the book was fantastic; big, well written and nicely paced.  As much as I enjoyed the book, I think the television show actually has the upper hand.  I think it's a stronger story.  Of course, I say this not yet knowing how they have decided to resolve the mystery of what the Dome is.

The television show has several advantages over the book that lend to its strengths.  For instance, they didn't have to come up with an idea and characters, King did that for them.  What they were able to do was fine tune and play with the core elements, making it even better.  They also had the advantage of group think!  Of course, sometimes this doesn't work; but it seems that in the case of Under  The Dome, many minds at work have done the story good.

There are things I find strange in the television show.  Like how long it takes to travel across town while entire other scenes unfold.  And why didn't anyone think sooner to head to the Dome's center to look for its power source?  Having it covered with dirt was a good way not only to hide it, but be able to show it visually on television -- since the force-field dome is invisible.

Here's why I think the television show is a stronger story than the novel:
  • More mystery.  The book revolved around one central  mystery -- what is the Dome?   However, the television show keeps heaping mystery upon mystery!  With each newly introduced question, the viewer is drawn deeper into the mystery.  What is the little dome?  How did it rain?  What are the pink stars?  (that was int he book)  Is the Dome itself alive?  Does it have will?  What's up with Barbie?
  • Greater tension.  The book certainly had a lot of tension; but the television show heaps it on by giving Big Jim an enemy, Ollie Dinsmore.  It's strange how I actually find myself feeling sorry for poor big Jim!
  • More character depth.  Big Jim's relationship with his son is explored with more depth in the television show.  Also, Big Jim himself is a more multidimensional character; as is Barbie.
  • The plot is more tangled.  King gave us a story with a pretty massive plot, and taking its cue from the book, the television show gets even more complicated.
About the little Dome -- with the egg -- revealed in last weeks episode, Darren Franich at popwatch.ew.com hypothesizes:
Looks a little bit like pink stars, doesn’t it? Of course, they’re not falling…they’re rising. Was this somehow evidence that the Egg was absorbing the dying Alice’s life essence? Could it be that the little Egg is absorbing the souls/bio-electromagnetic field of everyone who dies inside of the Dome? Assuming that no one has died offscreen, the number of pink stars looks about right for our total body count so far: Three cops, one local diner attendant, a reverend, an out-of-town lesbian psychiatrist who vividly remembers all her med school training, and a couple murderous townies. Am I missing anyone? Could the Egg be absorbing Chester’s Mill life force in order to give birth to some new creature? Like, the Anti-Christ? Or the Alien Anti-Christ? Is the egg the source of the Dome’s power, as Joe implied, or is it a beneficiary of the Dome?

10 comments:

  1. The final thing that made the novel not work for me was the sense that things just weren't gelling for King, and as a result, his heart just wasn't ultimately in it as opposed to the quality of a work like Misery or the Body.

    "And why didn't anyone think sooner to head to the Dome's center to look for its power source?"

    I'm not sure the majority of characters had any way of even knowing whether they should look or not, how can they be expected to?

    That said, it is nice to see that it isn't just the kids who think to look, Phil has the same idea.

    As for Ollie Dinsmore, what I like here is that they take what is essentially a human punching bag (in the book he exists just so he can have his life taken away from him with little or no drama to it), and turn him into what Big Jim could have been if things had never worked out right, which might be one reason the two clash, Big Jim recognizes himself in Ollie.

    As for the Dome power source, all I ask is that the miniature Dome doesn't lift off to reveal...A hatch leading down somewhere, which means no one gets to go near it until the second season and the surprises are too convoluted to be believable and spoil a good start.

    ChrisC



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  2. Loved this post. You made a lot of great points and I tend to agree with you. It has been years since I read the book, but I am enjoying the show more I think.

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  3. I'm inclined to reserve judgment a bit until we see where the series ends up going. So far, I like the book better in some respects, and the series better in others.

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    1. that's about as noncommittal as you can get.

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    2. Well, until I have a better idea of the overall story the tv version is telling, I don't think I can do much better. Sorry! I'll try to be my normal brashly opinionated self again soon!

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    3. (: Actually, I hear you! This had better not be what they did with Lost. Lots of clues that fizzle and go no where.

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    4. Exactly. I thought "Lost" was awesome until the final season, where it became plain as day that nobody had any clue what any of the stuff they'd been doing meant. If this series turns out that way, then I'll be of the opinion that the novel -- which has flaws, but mostly works for me -- did it better. If, on the other hand, that turns out to not be the case...?

      Well, time well tell.

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  4. Oh dear! Give spoiler alerts. I almost read a response that said "The final thing ..." and immediately scrolled down. I'm reading the book for the first time.

    I am delighted when the book and show introduce different plot lines. My outbursts of "Great! That's not in the book!" are a bit distracting for my poor husband.

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