TV Review: UNDER THE DOME Season 1, Episode 5 'Blue on Blue'

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At last, a little dome action! Butterflies actually, but it's something happening, which makes a nice change. Butterflies flock to the side of the dome en masse, creating quite the spectacular sight for the suitably enraptured kids.

Butterflies aren't the only ones paying the dome a visit – friends and family on the outside also descend upon Chester's Mill in the hope of catching a glimpse of those within. Their happiness is short-lived though, as the military subsequently decide to experiment with the dome's powers by flinging a M.O.A.B at it. That's a Massive Ordnance Air Blast to you and I, by the way. I've managed to keep Simpsons references to a minimum so far, but it's hard not to recall Grampa Simpson and his 'epa' rants as the Reverend starts babbling about the coming of 'Moab'. Oops. Shame no one bothered to warn him about what Big Jim has planned for him by the episode's end...

As Big Jim shows his dark(er) side, Junior becomes a cop, Barbie's military past is revealed a little, and the bomb is lobbed at the dome, Under the Dome begins to show signs of recovery. It's not perfect, but it is a move back in the right direction. Barbie, the military hero! I have trouble seeing this Dale Barbara as a peer of Jack Reacher (Lee Child's creation was name-checked by King in the novel) but it makes him seem slightly less dull now. It's plausible, I suppose, that he could be a chum of the equally bland Tom Cruise iteration of the character. But maybe I'm just Reach(er)ing there.

Returning focus to the dome results in the best episode since The Fire. It's not right that it has to be this way – King's characters and writing were typically good enough that we didn't mind spending time with them – but it's preferable to the alternative. With butterflies and the promise of a bomb, Blue on Blue is instantly improved. Now imagine how good it could be with the casting and characters of, say, Lost, and you could have a classic on your hands. Alas, Junior remains a bore and the writing is as dumbed down as ever. There's actually a scene in which Barbie explains to Julia (and the audience) how the 24 hour clock works. It's little wonder the government consider them expendable enough to drop bombs on...

Sadly, it's predictably disappointing when it does arrive. There's some great preliminary stuff leading up to it – the townsfolk huddled underground, prepared to die, sympathetic cop Linda Everett revisiting an old haunt... even Junior gets a cuddle – but the explosion itself is as bathetic as it gets. The impact goes unseen (I had hoped for the book's skies of fire), the aftermath nothing but a crap smudge and some CGI scorched earth. This does nothing but make me dread the coming episodes in which the dome becomes covered in muck and grime, and begins to black out the sun.

Another thing which we should be looking forward to, but are left indifferent about, is Jim's rise to dictatorship. Here he commits his first murder – bye bye, weird preacher – but still never comes across as anything but a slightly thuggish car salesman. Where's the charisma? The sense of threat? Maybe it's because Hank of Breaking Bad is so fresh in my mind that I can't take Dean Norris seriously as Big Jim Rennie.

Blue on Blue is Under the Dome back on form. Alas, that form isn't much to write home about. It's an enjoyable, occasionally exciting episode, but by now, it's too bogged down in the series' flaws to feel entirely redeemed. Is Under the Dome too late to be saved? I'm not sure, but I do hope that they at least try.

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0 #1 Chris 2013-09-20 13:50
This show is awful...

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