Under The Dome episode 3 review: Manhunt

Review Frances Roberts 9 Jul 2013 - 15:00

Under the Dome risks losing us if it keeps using its main attraction as a backdrop. Here’s Frances’ review of episode three…

This review contains spoilers.

1.3 Manhunt

It took twenty-two minutes this week for Under the Dome’s titular cloche to make it on screen, and there’s the rub.

Like Monica Geller singing Delta Dawn in a see-through blouse and thinking the crowd was going crazy for her voice, Under the Dome is labouring under the misapprehension that we’ve come to spend time with its characters. We haven’t. We’re here, to a person, for the cow-slicing, pacemaker-exploding, enigmatic dome. It’s the sci-fi see-through blouse of this summer’s schedule, if you will.

The more the dome is relegated to the role of wallpaper for a series of One Tree Hill-ish teen rivalries and a low-rent version of Rambo, the faster we’re going to lose interest. 

Even when the town’s mysterious lid did finally show up this week, it was only as a punching bag for Junior Rennie (isn’t that a brand of children’s antacid tablets?), who tried to work out his daddy issues by thumping it and shouting “I hate you”. That’ll work, kid. Why not give it the stink-eye next week to see if it runs off bawling ‘I only wanted (sniff) to be friends. You don’t understand how lonely it is being a mysterious otherworldly barrier.’

It’ll be even lonelier being an Under the Dome viewer if the focus doesn’t swing back to the sci-fi sharpish. When we weren’t watching teens charge their iPods this week (realistic perhaps, but hardly a scintillating plot point), we were generically traipsing through the woods in search of a rogue cop who’d lost his mind less than a day after the dome’s arrival.

At least the wannabe-Rambo’s reaction roughly corresponded to the gravity of the situation. The rest of Chester’s Mill couldn’t give a fig about being trapped inside a magical fishbowl. Big Jim and the crooked vicar are more concerned about covering up the tracks of their drug deal, L.A. brat Norrie just wants to listen to her like, music and give nerdy Joe funny feelings in his tummy, and the rest of them are pootling along like the cast of King of the Hill, sipping on beers, nodding, and saying “Yep” every so often.

Dean Norris’ character Big Jim, by dint of being played by Dean Norris, remains the most watchable Chester's Mill resident. Even his scenes this week though - threatening Reverend Coggins, naming Linda the Sheriff, belittling James ‘don’t call me Junior’ Rennie via the medium of milk, and telling Barbie his short-man football origin story – were hackneyed. On the subject of cliche, oy, skater teen Benny's dialogue... There aren't enough meta The Simpsons Movie references in the world to balance that out in the scales of awfulness.

“We all have secrets”, said journalist Julia the journalistic journalist (she asks questions about things, because she’s a journalist). You might well do, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have the slightest interest in finding out what they are.

Read Frances’ review of the previous episode, The Fire, here.

Please, if you can, buy our charity horror stories ebook, Den Of Eek!, raising money for Geeks Vs Cancer. Details here.

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