Friday, September 4, 2015

In Which I Review Under the Dome (3x12)

For those who haven't heard (maybe you've been living under a dome this past week?) CBS officially cancelled 'Under the Dome.' So whatever plans the show runners and writers were laying in terms of Queen Bee, Baby! Queen, and the big looming threat will all come to naught as we slog our way through the final two episodes ever. I can't say that I'm terribly upset that CBS has called it quits and is going to dismantle Chester's Mill. The show took a sharp turn for the worse right around episode 2 of season one and never fully (or really ever) recovered, becoming sillier and more stupid with every passing moment. While I have enjoyed (no, really!) snarking at this show for three summers now (wow, that long?) pointing out the illogical drivel and gibberish and coming up with nicknames for everyone, it's time to move on (drink!) and find a way to go on without the Dome. This week's episode "Incandescence" was more or less par for the course here in the final run of Under the Dome: lots of meaningless talking meant to fill up time; lots of stupid drivel about umbilical cords and DNA; and a seriously stupid ending that caused my ribs to burst from laughing so hard. Folks, we've got one more to watch so grab a ratty blond wig and let's go. 

Do not adjust the color on your computer screens; yes, you are in fact looking at a purple and glowing Queen Bee. She must be a flying purple people eater as well. The penultimate episode was really designed to leave the fates of all our major characters in the balance as we prepare for the Dome to fall (literally in universe and out of universe) and so this episode was about setting up where we go from here. Joe has the proper equipment to take down the Dome (finally); Benton is dead because his Messiah Complex could not compete with Big Jim's ego trip; Uhura is still pointless and but being pointless with Hunter so that's a bonus; Jorrie are still gooey eyed teens; Barlie are still having the same damn argument they've been having about Barbie's mortality and Julia unwillingness to see sense; and Little Crazypants became even more crazy (if that's possible) by suggesting and carrying through with mass murder of the old people in the Borg Collective of Chester's Mill. As we enter the final hour of Under the Dome the question is not "is the Dome going to come down?" but rather after one month trapped inside a giant Goldfish Bowl, did the residents of Chester's Mill learn anything about themselves, each other, and the world at large in a meaningful way that will shape their destinies to come? My answer, for the most part, is no. They may have learned about themselves more, to an extent, but it was not for their own personal betterment. Barbie has a hero complex but it's still rooted in a thuggish nature that would delight in giving Queen Bee a slow and painful death and beating Junior to a pulp. Julia is still an overly hopeful and optimistic do-gooder who can't see past the end of her own nose and recognize that she has some truly bad taste in men. Big Jim is still a terrible, terrible, terrible man. While there may have been one moment of clarity for Jim (last weeks mostly overwrought conversation with Junior) he is still a self-serving, egotistical, politician who wants his crimes erased, who will commit murder, and who wants to rule his little corner (whatever corner it is) of the world with an iron fist and broken promises.

After three years on the air, countless crisis-of-the-week and the ever looming threat of a giant invisible Dome, there has been almost zero character development for anyone. It could almost be read as deliberate on the part of the writers, though that's giving them too much credit. I could take it as a metaphor that the people inside the Dome are unable to develop emotionally because they are literally trapped in one place except that is totally antithetical to the major theme of the show: what kind of naval gazing and other community based self reflection can be had when you're living in a (literal) goldfish bowl. So, no, Under the Dome. You don't get a pass on this one. Your total lack of character development comes down to one thing: Bad Writing. It's why, in order to push the characters in any direction, you have to bring in random people from the outside instead of letting it be introspective and coming from a place of self actualization. Case in point? Max No-Last-Name, Science Teacher Pine, Singer Lyle, Papa Q, and Benton. All of those random, nickname-tastic characters were designed to push our core cast to new plot points and new plot point only, but along the way development on an emotional, philosophical, or mental level came to a standstill while the major characters danced like puppets on strings whenever new people showed up. Big Jim treated Benton the same as he did Max-No-Last-Name. At no point did he stop to think that maybe murder is wrong because he has learned something from past experiences. This remains Under the Dome's biggest and most egregious problem; the writing is so concerned with its 1980s style science fiction, which was always pure gibberish and stank of mumbo jumbo hand-waving, that it never took the time to inspect its characters. For Julia to go from realizing, while drunk, that she has bad taste in men with Peter and Barbie to fighting for and kissing Barbie back to health, shows that her character didn't grow or develop but rather keeps forgetting any hint of growth and development from one episode to the next! These characters are truly terrible people and not in a tragic-feel-bad-for-them sort of way, but in a way that you don't care if they live or die. That Dome could calcify (gibberish!) in the next 24 hours and kill Barbie, Julia, Junior, Joe, Jim, and Norrie and I wouldn't care. I'd laugh and think that they got what was coming to them.

Alright, that was more or less my down and dirty rant against Under the Dome. I don't know how next week is going to go. It's possible that next week, the final episode ever, is going to be one large snark fest so let me say one final thing. I started off watching (and blogging) Under the Dome because I thought it looked and sounded interesting. I've kept up with it because it continues to be ludercrious enough to laugh at but let's call a spade a spade: this is bad TV. This isn't even TV that was good at one point and then went downhill rapid fire fast like others tend to do (no name drops here but *cough* we know what I'm talking about). This was TV that was bad from start to finish and might be a lesson in why summer shows tend not to work. If you are going to make a blockbuster style summer TV show, then make it short, snappy, concise, and to the point. The worst thing that could have happened to Under the Dome was getting a second season when the first season was successful. I know, I know. Money drives the TV-As- Business aspect, but because it got renewed, the story that was only ever a novella by Stephen King, became a three season long slog that never actually got anywhere. Will we get questions answered? Who know but more to the point...who cares? I don't anymore. By stretching the story to comical proportions, Under the Dome shot itself in the foot a long time ago. It could have been a decent summer show with a clear beginning, middle and end with some fairly decent character development because living inside confinement does things to people. Instead it became...well, it became this show that I've been blogging for three summers. This isn't a race to the finish line. This is a crawl that stops, starts, stops, starts, and then finally just stops and sits by the side of the road waiting for the finish line to come to it.

So. One more to to go. Then we move on.

Miscellaneous Notes on Incandescence

--Why on earth was this episode call 'Incandescence?'

--The new Queen is Eva in a really fake looking blonde wig, wearing tight pants, boots, and a belly shirt. Ladies and gentlemen, Under the Dome. (no really, look at that picture and try not to laugh your butt off).

--'Time is the one thing we don't have." Truer words have never been spoken, Big Jim.

--How did Benton and Uhura bring a drone inside the Dome? Did I miss that?

--Norrie runs inside the paper mill, out of breath, in a panic and explains that the Dome is calcifying and that the worst thing they could do is use up the oxygen inside faster by running around and panicking. Everyone proceeds to spend the rest of the episode running around panicking.  

--"Everyone under this Dome is innocent." Um. NO. Please go watch season 1 and 2 (or read my above three paragraphs) for why this statement is flat out false.

--RIP Benton. RIP DNA Expert Lady. RIP Queen Bee. RIP LOTS AND LOTS OF OLD PEOPLE. Man, how many geezers did Sam and Little Crazypants kill at the Lake? 

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