Scene & Heard

Pat Clark: More train-wreck TV “Under the Dome”

pclark@modbee.comJuly 3, 2014 

Stephen King or not, I wasn’t particularly pleased with the prospect of going into Monday night’s Season 2 debut of the TV summer series “Under the Dome.”

Mainly because there should never have been a Season 2.

Last year’s CBS show, an adaptation not written by King, was planned as a one-time miniseries that followed King’s 2009 novel – a beginning and an end, just like the book on which it was (loosely, very loosely, obnoxiously loosely) based.

Then it caught ratings fire and what was supposed to be a series finale turned into a cliffhanger tease for a new summer of episodes.

Bait and switch.

My son – who has not read the book – was intrigued by last summer’s “miniseries.” I – who had read the book – was irked big time from the get-go because the TV show did not model King’s narrative. Most of the characters were there, but they didn’t do what they did in the book, didn’t act the way they did in the book, nor exit the way they did in the book.

Still, I stuck with it, because what mom misses the chance to bond with her teenager over anything, even if it is a pretty bad TV show? It also became sort of passive-aggressive fun to mock the ridiculously poor representation of a solidly good (not King’s best, but good) book.

And so it goes. Episode 1 of the new season was just as silly as any of the previous first-season episodes – despite being written by none other than Stephen King himself.

That King wrote this first episode at least gave it some promise. And there were moments that felt like my favorite modern author had penned them – moments far more King-esque creepy and attention grabbing than anything in the first season.

Still, one of the longstanding problems with King’s many great books being adapted into either movies or television is that dialogue that sings on his pages – words that reel you into his fantastical worlds and make you feel like his characters (well, the good guys, anyway) are your friends, people you want to root for and actually miss hanging out with when you finish reading – doesn’t generally translate well when actors actually speak it out loud.

It’s confounding, but true. On the page, King’s dialogues sing. On screen, they can come off flat and oftentimes downright goofy.

That remained true with Monday’s episode. But a funny thing happened with my irritation associated with this show and the fact that it should not exist at all: It went away. Season 2 veers completely into uncharted territory with a totally different story line, and thus, released me from the frustration of watching Season 1 as it almost mockingly failed to follow the book. Now, there is no book to follow anymore.

So, with my son, I actually managed to enjoy it – in a weird kind of way.

Was it award-winning drama? Oh, gosh no, not even close. It’s still confusing, corny and nonsensical, just like last season. I rolled my eyes, just like last year, wondered who the heck all the new characters were and blanched at some of King’s dialogue.

But at least I wasn’t angry. What “Under the Dome” is and always has been is proverbial train-wreck TV – so bad you can’t look away.

It didn’t hurt that, finally, (spoiler alert if you have the show waiting on DVR!) Angie is dead. This obnoxious character died early in the book, but confoundedly was a major part of the first season of the TV show.

And she went out in classic King fashion, albeit nothing like she did in his novel.

Now I can watch “Under the Dome,” roll my eyes, laugh at the bad acting and silly writing, but at least – insert relieved sigh here – my blood pressure will remain normal.

“Top Chef” alums in S.F.

Two former “Top Chef” contestants – two favorites, in fact – have opened new restaurants in the Bay Area, according to the Contra Costa Times.

Casey Thompson, from Season 3 of the best competition/reality show on television (take that, Gordon Ramsay), has renovated a Theater District spot on Geary Street in the Warwick San Francisco hotel and called it Aveline, where she offers a small, upscale menu, the Times reports.

Across the Bay, “Top Chef” season four competitor Jen Biesty has paired with pastry chef Tim Nugent (and “Top Chef: Just Desserts” veteran) to open Shakewell Bar & Kitchen. Their Spanish-Mediterranean eatery will open this month in Oakland’s Lakeshore District for dinner, adding weekday lunch and weekend brunch later this summer, according to the Times story. Biesty was formerly executive chef for Scala’s Bistro in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco, where Nugent also has worked.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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