TV Review: UNDER THE DOME, Season 1, Episode 3 "Manhunt"

PrintE-mail Written by Joel Harley

Following last week's fire, Chester's Mill has another disaster on its hands when melodramatic panicking cop Paul escapes from police custody and goes on the run. The town's vilifying of poor Paul seems a little over the top when one considers the death he caused was an accident, but tensions have been exacerbated by that giant inexplicable dome.

What seems like a disaster for the town is rather fortuitous for Big Jim Rennie, who gets to use the drama to undermine the police department and make himself look like the town's big cheese. Dean Norris is doing a fine job as Jim, but his portrayal does lack the charisma one might expect from a man capable of turning a whole town into a frothing mob, ready to believe his every word. Hopefully, as the series continues we'll get to see Norris given more room to flex his acting chops and become a villain we can love to hate. At the moment, I can't see it. There's a move in the right direction though, with Jim's reveal to Barbie how he came to be known as 'Big Jim.' He's not quite the One Who Knocks – maybe a mild tap, at best.

Just as we can't see the dome. I know it's invisible, but this TV show called Under the Dome has been remarkably stingy so far with actual dome. The best moments of these first few episodes have been those set directly around it – the plane explosion, legless picnic man, spray paint and exploding hearts. This week, we get a petulant Junior punching the dome, like the annoying sulky teenager he is. Wrongly, the series assumes that we're as interested in the characters as in the dome, so we get plenty of bonding time with Jim and Barbie, and Julia and Junior. It's good to get to know them all some more, although it does highlight how miscast Mike Vogel and Alexander Koch are. I am enjoying seeing Zelda of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in it, though, playing diner hostess Rose. Give us Romeo Burpee, not a gang of annoying teenagers charging their iPhones. Better still, give us the dome.

With The Fire, I suggested that the series might be on an upward trajectory, improving as The Walking Dead and Supernatural did after their first few episodes. Well, Manhunt is another dive, spent with the obnoxious Junior, boring Barbie and not-so Big Jim. The denizens of Chester's Mill may all be living Under the Dome, but so far, you'd barely know it.

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