A slight interruption on what I planned yesterday, as instead of reviewing this summer’s trip to America (which I’m probably not in the mood for anyway…I’ll just do it tomorrow instead) on the blog today, I’m going to talk about the television series of Under The Dome. The pilot was last night (I know it premiered a few months back in America, but we had to wait a bit for it to arrive on these shores) and I watched a recording of it this afternoon. And it was, uh…well, I’ll get to that shortly.
First of all, as a way of defending the gripes I’m about to share with you, I’d like to state that I wasn’t expecting the television series to be an exact replica of the novel. I was well aware that there would be changes, as there was no feasible way they could copy King’s in its entirety (it would be too long, for one; Lost would look tame in comparison). Though it is a thoroughly enjoyable read (link to my passionate review), the book simply wouldn’t work as a television show if they didn’t streamline it a little. I’m not so naive to think that there wouldn’t be any amendments at all. It’s inevitable, isn’t it?
HOWEVER, despite my acceptance that it was bound to happen, there were a lot of things they did in the pilot (and ultimately, the series) different from the book, that even now, I can’t understand. Changes that just seem unnecessary. I won’t go through all of them (i.e I’ll not mention the more spoiler orientated ones; the changes that surely must affect the plot) but here’s a brief list of what I noticed this afternoon:
- Barbie’s personality: The main protagonist is seen burying a body (not a spoiler, it happens in the first minute), and driving a dodgy car. But in the book, Barbie’s a good guy! What is with dead man? Not impressed.
- The Police Chief is involved somehow, in a bad way: I won’t add to this (mostly because I don’t know how far it goes) but this version is a shifty character. In the book, he’s a good guy too.
- Joe (one of the teenagers has no mother under the dome, but has gained a sister: …what?
- Julia the journalist has a husband: Again…what?
- No Andy Sanders: Main character, vital character, but doesn’t appear to exist. Umm, okay.
- Rusty, one of the main characters, is on the outside of the dome: Well, unlike Andy, he does exist. Still not happy. He’s also a fireman instead of a physician’s assistant.
- The church radio station is now a rock radio station: I won’t explain this (I’m tagging it with a spoiler) but it doesn’t work with one of the huge themes in the book. *sigh*
Now, I understand that they’ve probably reduced the character number out of necessity (they’d probably use up their entire budget on wages if they used all the names in the book), and by doing so, they’ve been forced to change some of the backgrounds (one girl, for example plays two characters) too. But still, the above changes don’t make sense to me. Chopping out some of the less important characters, I understand, but not the main ones. And to make Barbie a completely different guy is somewhat confusing too. As for the plot amendments…well, I’ll reserve making a complete judgement for now.
So, all in all, I wasn’t impressed. But hey, maybe it’ll get better from here on out (can anyone who has watched the series confirm this? Wikipedia tells me it was well received initially, but later episodes were criticized). Maybe I’m being overly harsh picking on it now. After all, it wasn’t a bad pilot. I can see why a lot of people enjoyed it (despite my complaints, I suppose I did too).
The problem is, of course, regardless of how good the television version of Under The Dome is, or turns out to be, it’s never going to compare favourably to the book in my mind. The question is can I enjoy it knowing what I know? If I think about it from a neutral perspective (what would Vanna say?), I can’t deny that the pilot was, at the very least, interesting; I am genuinely curious about what they have in mind for the various characters now that they’ve deviated from the novel. Whether the next few episodes can hook me, and persuade me to ignore the issues that I currently have with it (even if I hadn’t read the book, I don’t think Under The Dome would have instantly captivated me like Lost, or The Walking Dead, did)…well, that remains to be seen. But I’ll give it a chance, because that’s just the kind of guy I am.
On the plus side (to show I’m not fully against it), I was impressed with the visual effects, and more importantly, the casting (which can often go wrong when you’ve read the source material). The biggest name is actor Dean Norris, a name Breaking Bad fans should recognize as the man who plays Hank Schrader, who is perfectly cast as Big Jim Rennie. I wasn’t sure when I initially saw him, but I think he’s probably the right guy. The actor playing Barbie looks all right too, and there is a nice reference to my childhood through the actress playing Rose, owner of the Sweetbriar Rose, who used to be Zelda, from Sabrina The Teenage Witch. Ahh…memories.
So, uh, yeah, there are some positives. I’ll see how it goes, and update you on my thoughts next week.
And that’s about it. But before I finish this, I would like to mention something else that came to my attention today (I had seen trailers for it previously, but clearly my brain thought it best I forgot all about it); the Carrie reboot.
…Why? Just, why? I’m not against reboots, but this one is stupid. The 1976 film was great, and still works today. There is no need for a new one. Especially not with the cast they’ve chosen. The girl from Kickass, really? She’s the vulnerable yet dangerous Carrie? No. Just no. And Julianne Moore is a good actress, but she can’t work as the crazy mother. She’s too nice for that. I just can’t see it.
Urgh. Why can’t they reboot IT instead? Unlike Carrie, the original IT wasn’t that great. They could improve on it. But Carrie…no. Could you imagine them doing the same with The Shining? No Stanley Kubrick insanity, no Jack Nicholson? It doesn’t bear thinking about. And what if they dipped into the Kickass pot again, and used Nick Cage as Jack’s replacement? *shudder* Like I said, don’t even think about it…it isn’t worth it (especially not the producers out there reading this…I don’t want to be blamed for that abomination).
Oh Hollywood. When will you ever learn?