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What is the difference between CBS writers and HBO writers? Very simple: one of those two groups is very good, the other one is nowhere near as good. Never has that been as obvious as in “Under The Dome”.

I do not mind the choices made about changing the original story, merging characters, making up new ones… that’s what you have to do when you move a story from one medium to another. My reservations are more basic: If 90 per cent of the actors involved are not first class, then you better have a script that accommodates this deficit and allows them to be clunky on purpose. If, on the other hand, you have the odd professional actor who would be able to handle a slightly grown-up conversation, then you must give him / her lines that do not make them look idiotic.

It comes down to: this is among the worst-written tv shows that I have ever had the misfortune to watch. The dialogues in particular are clunky and redundant (case in point in one of the last episodes: butterfly hitting a dome, creating black spots, actor: “look, the butterfly is hitting the dome leaving black spots”, same episode: all light gone after the dome turns black completely, actress on the walkie-talkie: “Hey Jim, the light has gone”… ). This was painful to watch, and many people wondered in the online forums why, if they think it’s so terrible, do they continue watching. Some argued along the “fascination of a car crash” lines, my own excuse is the “same reason why I hardly ever leave a movie screening before the end” line. A mixture of hope and the urge of completeness, the desire for closure, and maybe a bit of redemption for my past sins. Now that season 1 is done, I will not come back for season 2, the reason being that there is no indication of a story arch leading to a final point. This will go on as long as CBS decides there’s an audience, and when that audience is gone, they will wrap it up within three episodes. I will not be along for when that happens. But I am actually surprised by the large audience share the show got, is there something particularly appealing to a US audience about small town life hitting the fan? Or is it that network audiences are just so rarely exposed to proper modern television that they do not have the same feeling of this playing in a whole different universe than the Breaking Bads or Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empires? This is kind of weird…

At least the show confirms my suspicion that never will there be a high-quality adaptation of a Stephen King story for the tv screen. It happens rarely enough for the big screen, but tv… no need to keep up hopes.

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