The CBS television network has renewed Under the Dome for a second season, according to Deadline. Stephen King, whose 2009 novel serves as source material for the series, will write the first episode of Season 2.
The first five episodes have demonstrated amply that things can go from bad to worse rather quickly in broadcast television. King's sprawling novel postulated that a huge, transparent dome of unknown origin cut off a small town in New England from the outside world, allowing good to battle evil for more than a thousand pages. In November 2012, CBS ordered 13 episodes of the series and announced plans to make it a summer television event. The network has not featured original content during this time period in the past, so it was seen as a grand experiment.
Ratings have been very good for the series since its debut on June 24, actually increasing from week to week. The problem is that, so far, the show features insipid characters and a narrative that goes absolutely nowhere, wasting the potentially fascinating premise. As I tweeted at the time:
UNDER THE DOME S1 E1: Modest expectations smashed into smithereens. Horrid; formulaic to nth degree. Was the book this bad?— Peter A. Martin (@peteramartin) June 29, 2013
Things got worse from there, a steep decline, first into mediocrity, then into outright stupidity. The only reward I've had from watching the show is reading the brilliant, incisive recaps by the great Grady Hendrix at Tor.com. His latest review captured my frustration:
We all start out full of optimism, thinking that this episode is finally going to be the one that changes things, and then suddenly the credits are rolling and nothing has changed at all.
There are some people who try crack once or twice and realize that it's whack and they never go back. There are others who stick with it no matter how bad it gets. They're addicted, which is how I'm starting to feel. But not "addicted" in the "This-crack-is-so-great-I-can't-wait-to-get-more" positive sense of the word, but more in the "Oh-god-I-can't-stop-because-I-keep-getting-promised-this-is-going-to-get-better" sense of the word. The mechanism of Under the Dome addiction is easy to understand: at the end of each episode there's a "Scenes from Next Week" clip that promises a lot of stuff is going to go down next time. Look, it's raining inside the dome! People are rioting over food like they should have been doing three episodes ago! Dean Norris is making Intensity Face! But we should all know by now that while those things will happen in the most clichéd and meaningless manner possible, none of them will actually change anything.
This also explains how the series, touted as a summer experiment, the network's version of "Must See Event TV," can be returning for another season, and another after that, and another, ad infinitum.
So, hate-watchers rejoice! We did it! There will be more to hate next summer, if we live that long. In the meantime, the series continues to torture us every Monday evening on CBS, and then again every Friday on Amazon Prime, until the end of time and/or this season's run.