TONY SQUIRES – SMH COLUMN

Sky’s the limit for King’s dome drama

There’s plenty of weird stuff going on in the cosy little American town of Chester’s Mill even before Stephen King dumps a dome on it. So, you can imagine how the tensions ratchet up a couple of notches when birds and planes start dropping from the sky, having slammed into the invisible prison wall.

King’s novel was a juicy 1097 pages long – easy to read but a bugger to cart around. Reading the massive hardback was a combination of leisure and gym workout.

Reading the massive hardback was a combination of leisure and gym workout.

Now, Under The Dome (Channel Ten, 8.30pm) becomes a television series with enormous potential.

The idea of watching a society evolve, fester and disintegrate through forced isolation is nothing new – Lord of the Flies did it pretty well, as did Lost.

Even King himself gave us the genius of The Shining, with a family snowed in while the dad turns into a crazy Jack Nicholson.

The tricky bit of why the dome slams down on the town will be revealed in time. For now, in the opening episode, it’s all about the impact.

When the wall comes down, half the law enforcement population is outside of town, a stranger is thwarted in his apparent attempt to flee, husbands are separated from their wives and, in what will be the most talked about scene, for one resident the separation is far more personal. If you like your steak on the tartare side of rare, you should be OK.

The one-hour introduction goes at a cracking pace (we’ve got 1097 pages to get through, no time for dawdling). In fact, it’s over too soon. I wanted the old school movie-length first episode.

The 13-part series is being fast-tracked from the US, so we will see it on the same day as its American screening.

Two endings have been shot for Celebrity Apprentice (Nine, 8.30pm), so even the winner won’t really know if they’ve escaped Mark Bouris’ firing squad until the rest of us. Does that mean they had to shoot two lots of celebrations? So many forced smiles, so much pretend bonhomie.

The four celebrities rolling into the finale are Jeff Fenech and John Steffensen, who love each other, and Roxy Jacenko and Stephanie Rice, who loathe each other. The final challenge involves Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets, so perhaps we’ll see more positive teamwork and less rug pulling.

Jacenko goes in as favourite to win, if not the favourite person. She has been dubbed the ”perfumed steamroller” by Bouris, who may have forgotten that’s a title worn by many strong women, including Jana Wendt, who had to put up with it for looking good while kneecapping heavy hitters in TV interviews.

If Fenech wins, look out for another ”I love youse all”.

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