The cast and crew of Under the Dome, the latest in the seemingly endless slew of Stephen King adaptations, was on hand today to give fans a sneak peak at what the new CBS show has to offer. The story kicks off after the town of Chester’s Mill is inexplicably encased in an invisible and impenetrable dome. As an avid reader of King’s novels I have to admit that Under the Dome is not my favorite of his works, but the premise has great potential for episodic adaptation, particularly with “Y: The Last Man” and Lost scribe Brian K. Vaughan at the helm.
Under the Dome, which premieres June 24th on CBS, stars Rachelle Lefevre, Dean Norris, Mike Vogel, R. Keith Harris, and Britt Robertson. Hit the jump for highlights from the panel.
The panel kicked off with a brief preview of the show’s first episodes. While there wasn’t too much to see in the small amount of footage, it was clear that the show has a distinct visual style and a serious approach to the subject matter. We did see brief glimpses of a plane cut in half and the severed leg of a man, both bisected when the dome fell. Check out highlights from the rest of the presentation below:
- After the trailer, actors Lefevre, Norris, and Vaughan were joined by producers Neal Baer and Jack Bender to answer questions from both moderator and fans.
- Vaughan says that King has been very creatively generous, encouraging the writers to use the book as a jumping off point, taking the characters and plot in a new direction. He says that they took the best parts of the book and will take it unexpected places for fans of the book.
- The series is being produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television and marks the first King/Spielberg collaboration.
- Bender says that they consider the show a character piece with science fiction elements rather than the other way around.
- Vaughan and Baer were drawn to the idea of commenting on real life issues like dealing with limited resources and the nature of democracy in the context of science fiction, which allowed them to broach heavy socioeconomic issues without being preachy or heavy handed.
- Norris began shooting Under the Dome almost immediately after wrapping on Breaking Bad and was attracted to the role because his character Big Jim, the main antagonist of the show, is so different from his character on Breaking Bad.
- Bender considers the season to be broken up into thirds, which he calls the “Three Fs”: faith to fear to fascism.
- The panel was emphatic that the show is not a mini-series and that they have plans for it to continue long term. Since it takes about 36 hours for civilization to fall apart in the novel they will be diverging significantly from the source material.
- Vaughan says they have taken a very scientific approach to the concept of the dome with the help of Scott Gold, but when he presented their research to King he said, “You know you just make shit up, too?” They are now trying to balance science and making shit up.
- King sat in on the writer’s room for a session and has been super hands on.
- In a very meta moment, Vaughan, who is mentioned in the novel is now producing and writing for the series.
- Norris says Big Jim enjoys being trapped in the dome because it allows him to do things he could never get away with before and find his power.
- Neither Lefevre nor Norris has read the book as their characters in the novel are not the same as they are on the show. King said that it wasn’t necessary for them to read it.
- Vaughan thinks that deep down most people want the apocalypse in a primal way so that we don’t have to deal with things like emails and taxes.
- The show will finish shooting in July; it will be thirteen episodes that air all in a row.
- Vaughan says you can count on references and Easter eggs to other Stephen King novels. Lefevre begged him that it not be Pennywise.
- They have a roadmap of how they want the series to end, but they also want to have enough flexibility to allow for multiple seasons. The ending will be different from the book.
Under the Dome premieres June 24th on CBS.