Under the Dome is an American television drama that aired on CBS from June 24, 2013 to September 10, 2015.
The series was officially cancelled on August 31, 2015, after three seasons.
The Kinship is an alien species that can take over any living person and control its actions. Another species had sought to take over The Kinship's world, during an event known as "The Great Destruction". To survive, The Kinship abandoned their own world, hoping to live on another life-supporting planet. They used an egg inside a meteor to transport themselves across the galaxy, hoping the meteor would crash on another inhabited planet.
In 1980, The Kinship's meteor crashed in the center of Chester's Mill. Teenagers Melanie, Pauline, Sam and Lyle found the meteor in the middle of the woods. As they approached it, four hand prints glowed, one on each side of the meteor. Each of them placed his or her hand on the meteor, which triggered it to open, revealing a glowing pink egg. Attracted by the egg, Melanie picked it up. However, Lyle pushed her into the meteor, and she died.
Had she stayed alive longer, Melanie would have been infected by The Kinship, and a dome (a device that traps and protects life forms inside it) would have lowered over the town, while a mini-dome descended over the egg (an energy source), and Melanie and her friends, as the first life forms to have come into contact with the egg, would have been pulled underground, into a large cave which forms instantly. There, they would have been able to view the town from within a large "Queen-size" cocoon. But since she died, it didn't happen then. Panicking, Melanie's friends buried her and the alien egg, swearing never to talk about the incident again.
Now, in 2013, two archaeologists, Christine and Eva, search for an intact egg, which they believe to be located in Chester's Mill. They work for a large energy company called "Aktaion," which, in the past, studied other eggs that crashed to earth. The other eggs had broken when they'd crashed, so, when the eggs were touched, domes did not come down.
Christine and Eva find the intact egg. As Christine holds it, the infection process begins, and The Kinship beings transfer into her, as she screams in pain. Once the process is complete, a large pink explosion occurs, and the dome lowers around them, a mini-dome descending over the egg. Christine and Eva get sucked into a large underground cave, which appears below them, and get cocooned.
Over the next six weeks, many events happen within the dome. Joe and Norrie find the mini-dome and the egg within it. The Kinship chooses Joe, Norrie, James, and Angie to be "the four hands," people who protect the dome, the mini dome, and the egg and interact with them. Pink stars, a visible energy source, appear many times throughout the life of the dome, most noticeably on the egg.
Seasons 1 and 2 focus on the people inside the dome and on the nature of the mysterious dome itself. Season 3 provides answers to these mysteries.
In season 3, Christine uses Melanie, whom Christine resurrects, to lure the townspeople into the caves, so they can be cocooned and The Kinship can infect them. Halfway through the transfer process, Big Jim breaks the egg so the infection doesn't fully occur. (The only way to prevent The Kinship from taking control of one is to suppress it with pain and emotion.) Over time, the townspeople become absorbed by The Kinship, except for a few who fight the aliens and try to escape. These remnants of the townspeople are known as The Resistance: Julia, Big Jim, Joe, Norrie, Hunter, Barbie, and Lily, an employee of Aktaion.
After a while, the dome begins to deteriorate because the egg is being destroyed. As a result, The Kinship and The Resistance must work together to escape; otherwise, the dome will turn to stone, and everyone will suffocate and die. They work together, eventually bringing down the dome. However, The Resistance plans to capture and kill The Kinship. Once the dome comes down, the government enters Chester's Mill and imprisons everyone, letting the non-infected people (The Resistance) remain free.
All is well until a year later when The Resistance discover The Kinship's leader, Dawn, is still alive, posing as a schoolteacher and traveling with children to find another egg and bring down a new dome. She finds an intact egg and says, "We'll come back another time."
- Mike Vogel as Dale "Barbie" Barbara
- Rachelle Lefevre as Julia Shumway
- Natalie Martinez as Linda Esquivel (seasons 1–2)
- Britt Robertson as Angie McAlister (seasons 1–2)
- Alexander Koch as James "Junior" Rennie
- Nicholas Strong as Phil Bushey (seasons 1–2)
- Colin Ford as Joe McAlister
- Jolene Purdy as Dorothy "Dodee" Weaver (regular: season 1, guest: season 2)
- Aisha Hinds as Carolyn Hill (regular: season 1, recurring: seasons 2–3)
- Jeff Fahey as Howard "Duke" Perkins (season 1)
- Dean Norris as James "Big Jim" Rennie
- Mackenzie Lintz as Eleanor "Norrie" Calvert-Hill (recurring: season 1, regular: seasons 2–3)
- Eddie Cahill as Sam Verdreaux (seasons 2–3)
- Karla Crome as Rebecca Pine (season 2)
- Kylie Bunbury as Eva Sinclair (season 3)
- John Elvis as Ben Drake (seasons 1–3)
- Dale Raoul as Andrea Grinnell (seasons 1–2)
- R. Keith Harris as Peter Shumway (seasons 1–2)
- Megan Ketch as Harriet Arnold (seasons 1–3)
- Grace Victoria Cox as Melanie Cross (seasons 2–3)
- Brett Cullen as Don Barbara (seasons 2–3)
- Max Ehrich as Hunter May (seasons 2–3)
- Mike Whaley as Malick (seasons 2–3)
- Samantha Mathis as Dr. Alice Calvert
- Beth Broderick as Rose Twitchell
- Kevin Sizemore as Paul Randolph
- Josh Carter as Eric "Rusty" Denton
- Ned Bellamy as Reverend Lester Coggins
- Leon Rippy as Ollie Dinsmore
- Joe Knezevich as Freddy Denton
- Andrew Vogel as Carter Thibodeau
- Crystal Martinez as Nurse Adams
- Natalie Zea as Maxine Seagrave
- Mare Winningham as Agatha Seagrave
- Sherry Stringfield as Pauline Verdreaux Rennie
- Dwight Yoakam as Lyle Chumley
- Estes Tarver as Tom Tilden
- Marg Helgenberger as Christine Price
- Eriq La Salle as Hektor Martin
- Bess Rous as Abby DeWitt
- Andrew J. West as Pete Blackwell
- Frank Whaley as Dr. Marston
- Gia Mantegna as Lily Walters
- Vince Foster as Kyle Lee
Initial planning and announcement
The project was first announced in November 2009. Two years later, Brian K. Vaughan was hired to adapt the novel as a series, then set up at cable network Showtime.
Showtime entertainment president David Nevins felt that the series was not right for the network and suggested to Nina Tassler (his CBS counterpart) that she take on the project. Tassler was interested and picked up the series along with attaching veteran television producer Neal Baer, who was under contract at CBS, as the showrunner.
In November of 2012, it was announced that CBS had bypassed ordering a pilot and given "Under the Dome", a 13-episode straight-to-series commitment.
"This is a great novel coming to the television screen with outstanding auspices and in-season production values to create a summer programming event," commented Tassler in the official CBS press release.
In January 2013, CBS released its summer 2013 schedule, which revealed that Under the Dome would premiere on June 24, 2013.
A teaser trailer was created specially for the 2013 Super Bowl.
Instead of showing footage, the teaser directed viewers to the show's official website, where they could enter their street address and postal code to view photos of what their homes and neighborhood would look like "under the dome".
In the show's first season, Brian K. Vaughan and Stephen King served as executive producers along with Baer, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Jack Bender, Steven Spielberg, and Stacey Snider. Danish director Niels Arden Oplev produced and directed the pilot. Baer served as the showrunner for the series.
Vaughan exited the series before the premiere of season two, citing personal reasons. However, he had helped plan the second season with Baer and King before he left.
Tim Schlattmann joined the series as an executive producer for season three.
Days before the series premiere aired on U.S. television, the cast and executive producers of Under the Dome met in Wilmington, North Carolina, on June 20, 2013, for an advance screening of the pilot episode.
During the presentation event, the city's mayor, Bill Saffo, declared Monday, June 24, 2013, as "Dome Day", and awarded Stephen King a key to the city.
On June 24, 2013, the night of the series premiere, entertainment website Vulture published an article about the economics of the show to bring the expensive production (an estimated $3 million per episode) to life, CBS had struck a deal with Amazon Video that would bring new episodes to the platform four days after they debuted on CBS.
That deal, estimated at $750,000 for each episode, covered one-quarter of each episode's estimated production cost.
Additionally, the article says that foreign markets also played an important role in the financing, bringing in about $1.9 million, and with the North Carolina state tax credits the show earned for filming in the state, an estimated $400,000, meant CBS had already earned back the money they paid for each episode before the episodes even aired on TV.
CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves described the deals: "Combining Amazon with the international syndication deal makes Under the Dome profitable immediately".
On July 29, 2013, the series was renewed for a 13-episode second season, with executive producer and "Under the Dome" novel writer Stephen King announced to be writing the second-season premiere episode.
The second season premiered on June 30, 2014, with King making a cameo appearance in the episode, as a customer in the Sweetbriar Rose diner. The second season ended on September 22, 2014.
On October 9, 2014, the series was renewed for a third season.
During a CBS press briefing in May 2015, showrunner and executive producer Neal Baer promised answers in the new season.
"We will tell you why the dome came down and what it's about", with new executive producer Tim Schlattman adding, "You'll see how these puzzle pieces form a puzzle that may be different from what you thought it would be".
A month later, Baer provided some insight on the series as a whole, saying that each season has "an overarching philosophy".
According to Baer, "The first year was faith, fear and fascism. The second year was faith vs. science. This year, it's the individual vs. the group, with the theme being the enemy within."
The third season premiered on June 25, 2015
Following information from CBS entertainment chairman Nina Tassler in August that "The Dome is coming down at the end of this season", speculation started that the third season would also be the final season, which CBS confirmed at the end of the month.
In an interview after the series finale aired on September 10, 2015, Neal Baer said he was "very happy with this ending. I feel very satisfied. We made it so there could be another [season]… but it wasn't necessary."
Baer had previously stated in an interview in October 2013 that he knew what the ending of the show would be, and that five seasons of 13 episodes would be an ideal length.
Despite this, when the series ended in 2015 after only three seasons, Baer said a potential fourth season would've been a "real challenge", as the third-season finale left the show in a situation where he questioned ""Then what?" Would we do the same thing again?"
On August 10, 2015, CBS affiliate WRAL-TV reported that tours around the show sets in the EUE/Screen Gems studio would be wrapping early, because the sets no longer used for the series were going to be torn down.
On August 25, 2015, the show's props reportedly would be sold between August 27 and 29, 2015.
Filming for "Under the Dome" officially began in Southport and Wilmington, both in North Carolina, on February 28, 2013. Additional filming took place in Burgaw.
It was confirmed on October 9, 2014 that even after extensive cuts to the state tax credits, filming would remain in the Wilmington area for the show's third season.
On June 27, 2013, Stephen King acknowledged that "the TV version of Under the Dome varies considerably from the book version" and called the series "very good" while commenting on some of those differences, saying:
"[If] you look closely, you'll see that most of my characters are still there, although some have been combined and others have changed jobs. That's also true of the big stuff, like the supermarket riot, the reason for all that propane storage, and the book's thematic concerns with diminishing resources. Many of the changes wrought by Brian K. Vaughan and his team of writers have been of necessity, and I approved of them wholeheartedly. Some have been occasioned by their plan to keep the dome in place over Chester's Mill for months instead of little more than a week, as is the case in the book. Other story modifications are slotting into place because the writers have completely reimagined the source of the dome."
Season 1 The first season of "Under the Dome" has a score of 72/100 (based on 35 reviews) on review aggregator website Metacritic.
The season has a score of 81%, based on 47 reviews, on film and TV review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes; the site's critical consensus for the season reads: "Under the Dome is an effective and engrossing horror/mystery with airtight plotting and great special effects."
Positive reviews included Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter, who wrote that "the intriguing Stephen King adaption is filled with storytelling promise."
Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald, who wrote that "based on the pilot episode — with its taut script, strong performances and special effects that are impressive without being overwhelming — there's hope that Under The Dome might measure up to its unsettling print progenitor."
Verne Gay of Newsday, wrote that the show "looks like a summer winner".
A negative review came from Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe, who wrote that "so much is working against Under the Dome, it's hard to get genuinely excited. While the arrival of the dome is intriguing, the characters are not".
Season 2 The show's second season has a score of 52/100 (based on nine reviews) on Metacritic.
The season has a score of 57%, based on 14 reviews, on film and TV review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes; the site's critical consensus for the season reads: "Though it reins in some of the first season's absurdity and shows potential for improvement, Under the Dome's second season still feels like a ride with no closure."
Negative reviews included Hank Stuever of The Washington Post, who wrote that "I just don't buy Under the Dome, on any level. I think the story is a shambles and the concept is dumb."
Verne Gay of Newsday described it as "Under the dumb".
However, other critics were more positive; Mark Dawidziak of The Plain Dealer wrote that "If not top-tier TV terror fare, Under the Dome certainly is solid second-level stuff. And given the state of horror on television these days, that's a bloody good compliment. Even while acknowledging the occasional misstep, give Under the Dome credit for getting a lot of things right."
Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe wrote that "there are glimmers of hope for season two". Season 3 In a June 2015 interview with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss season three, Neal Baer commented on the "less-than-favorable" critical reception to previous episodes.
Baer said, "I always feel like critics ... if they could do it better, they'd be writing the show. So bring it on! ... It's really easy to criticize, and it's really hard to develop a show."
He also stated, "I think criticism is important, because it brings context to shows. It gives insight. ... But criticism has changed so much in the past several years because of the Internet. There are so many places, so many voices. Sometimes it feels like there's a bandwagon of sorts!"
Jokingly, Baer did note that "fortunately, the audience has been pretty critic-proof in many ways."
The third season received mixed reviews.
Positive reviews included Ken Tucker of Yahoo!, who wrote that "Under the Dome is certainly broadcast television's most enjoyable science-fiction/fantasy series, a summer treat that, while sometimes silly and over-the-top, is never less than energetically imaginative and aware of the history of its genre."
Scott Von Doviak of The A.V. Club, who wrote that "this show is always more fun when it leans into its sci-fi elements."
Paul Dailly of TV Fanatic, who wrote that "All things considered, this was a solid, if unspectacular return for the show".
Negative reviews included Kevin Yeoman of ScreenRant, who wrote that "There is a certain joy that comes from watching something as consistently moronic as Under the Dome."
Tim Surette of TV.com, who wrote that "it takes balls to think your audience is so dumb and brain dead that you feel the need to explain the big twist in the episode that's about to happen before the episode even begins".
The series premiere of "Under the Dome" aired June 24, 2013, and established new records.
It was the highest-rated CBS summer premiere since "Big Brother"'s 2000 season, the most-watched drama summer premiere on any television network since 1992, and the second highest rated premiere of the 2012–13 United States network television schedule after "The Following".
With DVR viewership figures added, the series premiere was viewed by a total of 17.76 million viewers.