Science Fiction Film & Television

‘Alternate versions of the same reality’: adapting Under the Dome as an sf television series

Science Fiction Film & Television (2017), 10, (2), 267–283.

Abstract

This article examines the CBS adaptation of Stephen King’s 2009 novel Under the Dome as an example of a successful adaptation of a King text. It begins by considering the fact that King adaptations have often proved to be disappointing to either King or genre fans and contends that part of the problem is the difficulty of both defining and capturing what it is that makes King’s writing so popular, before arguing that the essential success of King’s texts lies in their focus upon character prior to elements of the supernatural being engaged. It then discusses Under the Dome as a King story adapted, with his input, into a long-format, multi-season, complex television drama as part of a deliberate strategy on the part of CBS to use sf to build a mainstream summer audience and draw cult television audiences back to the network. Finally, this article contends that it is precisely this marshalling of King’s story to fit the new paradigm of ‘complex television’ and to appeal to both mainstream and cult audiences that enables Under the Dome to capture, if not all the events, then certainly the spirit of King’s novel.

Access Token
£25.00
READ THIS ARTICLE
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. The Cult TV Book. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. The Cult TV Book Google Scholar

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. ‘“Never Give Up – Never Surrender!”: The Resilience of Cult Television’. The Cult TV Book. Ed. Stacey Abbot. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. 1–5. “Never Give Up – Never Surrender!”: The Resilience of Cult Television The Cult TV Book 1 5 Google Scholar

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. ‘How Lost Found its Audience: The Making of a Cult Blockbuster’. Reading Lost. Ed. Roberta Pearson. London: I.B. Tauris, 2000. 9–26. How Lost Found its Audience: The Making of a Cult Blockbuster Reading Lost 9 26 Google Scholar

Collings, Michael. The Films of Stephen King. Rockville: Wildside, 2006. The Films of Stephen King Google Scholar

Collings, Michael. The Many Facets of Stephen King. Mercer Island: Starmont, 1985. The Many Facets of Stephen King Google Scholar

Davis, Jonathan. P. Stephen King’s America. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State UP, 1984. Stephen King’s America Google Scholar

Edwards, Phil. ‘The Dead Zone’. Starburst 6:10 (Jun 1984): 40–1. The Dead Zone Starburst 6 40 1 Google Scholar

Gagne, Paul. ‘Stephen King’ Cinefantastique 10:1 (1980): 34. Stephen King Cinefantastique 10 34 Google Scholar

Geraghty, Lincoln. ‘Television Since 1980’. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint. London: Routledge, 2009. 144–52. Television Since 1980 The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction 144 52 Google Scholar

Hibberd, James. ‘Stephen King’s Under the Dome Gets CBS Series Order’. Entertainment Weekly (29 Nov 2012). http://ew.com/article/2012/11/29/under-the-dome-cbs/. Accessed 21 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

Indick, Ben 1985. ‘What Makes Him so Scary?’ Discovering Stephen King. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Mercer Island: Starmont, 1985. 9–14. What Makes Him so Scary? Discovering Stephen King 9 14 Google Scholar

Jones, Alan. ‘Firestarter’. Starburst 6:12 (Aug 1984): 8. Firestarter Starburst 6 8 Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Everest House, 1981. Danse Macabre Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Stephen King and Season 2. Under the Dome Season 2 featurette. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2014. DVD. Stephen King and Season 2. Under the Dome Season 2 Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Stephen King and Under the Dome featurette. Under the Dome. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD. Stephen King and Under the Dome featurette. Under the Dome Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Under the Dome. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2009. Under the Dome Google Scholar

McFarlane, Brian. Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation Google Scholar

Maximum Overdrive Original Movie Trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggWS4tTzs60. Accessed 23 May 2017. Google Scholar

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York UP, 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling Google Scholar

Mulkerris, Jane. ‘Stephen King: “We all Live Under the Dome”’. The Telegraph (19 Aug 2013). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10243246/Stephen-King-We-all-live-under-the-dome.html. Accessed 21 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

O’Connell, Michael. ‘Under the Dome Cancelled at CBS After 3 Seasons’. Hollywood Reporter (31 Aug 2015). http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/under-dome-canceled-at-cbs-819089. Accessed 26 Feb 2017. Google Scholar

Pezzotta, Eliza. Stanley Kubrick: Adapting the Sublime. Jackson: U of Mississippi P, 2013. Stanley Kubrick: Adapting the Sublime Google Scholar

Rodley, Chris. Ed. Cronenberg on Cronenberg. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 1992. Cronenberg on Cronenberg Google Scholar

Von Doviak, Scott. Stephen King Films FAQ. Milwaukee: Applause, 2014. Stephen King Films FAQ Google Scholar

Watkins, Tamara. ‘There’s no Place Like Dome’. Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror. Ed. Philip L. Simpson and Patrick McAleer. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015. 27–40. There’s no Place Like Dome Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror 27 40 Google Scholar

Winter, Douglas. The Art of Darkness: The Life and Fiction of the Master of the Macabre: Stephen King. London: New English Library, 1989. The Art of Darkness: The Life and Fiction of the Master of the Macabre: Stephen King Google Scholar

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. The Cult TV Book. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. The Cult TV Book Google Scholar

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. ‘“Never Give Up – Never Surrender!”: The Resilience of Cult Television’. The Cult TV Book. Ed. Stacey Abbot. London: I.B. Tauris, 2010. 1–5. “Never Give Up – Never Surrender!”: The Resilience of Cult Television The Cult TV Book 1 5 Google Scholar

Abbott, Stacey. Ed. ‘How Lost Found its Audience: The Making of a Cult Blockbuster’. Reading Lost. Ed. Roberta Pearson. London: I.B. Tauris, 2000. 9–26. How Lost Found its Audience: The Making of a Cult Blockbuster Reading Lost 9 26 Google Scholar

Collings, Michael. The Films of Stephen King. Rockville: Wildside, 2006. The Films of Stephen King Google Scholar

Collings, Michael. The Many Facets of Stephen King. Mercer Island: Starmont, 1985. The Many Facets of Stephen King Google Scholar

Davis, Jonathan. P. Stephen King’s America. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State UP, 1984. Stephen King’s America Google Scholar

Edwards, Phil. ‘The Dead Zone’. Starburst 6:10 (Jun 1984): 40–1. The Dead Zone Starburst 6 40 1 Google Scholar

Gagne, Paul. ‘Stephen King’ Cinefantastique 10:1 (1980): 34. Stephen King Cinefantastique 10 34 Google Scholar

Geraghty, Lincoln. ‘Television Since 1980’. The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction. Ed. Mark Bould, Andrew M. Butler, Adam Roberts and Sherryl Vint. London: Routledge, 2009. 144–52. Television Since 1980 The Routledge Companion to Science Fiction 144 52 Google Scholar

Hibberd, James. ‘Stephen King’s Under the Dome Gets CBS Series Order’. Entertainment Weekly (29 Nov 2012). http://ew.com/article/2012/11/29/under-the-dome-cbs/. Accessed 21 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

Indick, Ben 1985. ‘What Makes Him so Scary?’ Discovering Stephen King. Ed. Darrell Schweitzer. Mercer Island: Starmont, 1985. 9–14. What Makes Him so Scary? Discovering Stephen King 9 14 Google Scholar

Jones, Alan. ‘Firestarter’. Starburst 6:12 (Aug 1984): 8. Firestarter Starburst 6 8 Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Danse Macabre. New York: Everest House, 1981. Danse Macabre Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Stephen King and Season 2. Under the Dome Season 2 featurette. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2014. DVD. Stephen King and Season 2. Under the Dome Season 2 Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Stephen King and Under the Dome featurette. Under the Dome. Paramount Home Entertainment, 2013. DVD. Stephen King and Under the Dome featurette. Under the Dome Google Scholar

King, Stephen. Under the Dome. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2009. Under the Dome Google Scholar

McFarlane, Brian. Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996. Novel to Film: An Introduction to the Theory of Adaptation Google Scholar

Maximum Overdrive Original Movie Trailer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggWS4tTzs60. Accessed 23 May 2017. Google Scholar

Mittell, Jason. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling. New York: New York UP, 2015. Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling Google Scholar

Mulkerris, Jane. ‘Stephen King: “We all Live Under the Dome”’. The Telegraph (19 Aug 2013). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/10243246/Stephen-King-We-all-live-under-the-dome.html. Accessed 21 Jan 2017. Google Scholar

O’Connell, Michael. ‘Under the Dome Cancelled at CBS After 3 Seasons’. Hollywood Reporter (31 Aug 2015). http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/live-feed/under-dome-canceled-at-cbs-819089. Accessed 26 Feb 2017. Google Scholar

Pezzotta, Eliza. Stanley Kubrick: Adapting the Sublime. Jackson: U of Mississippi P, 2013. Stanley Kubrick: Adapting the Sublime Google Scholar

Rodley, Chris. Ed. Cronenberg on Cronenberg. Toronto: Knopf Canada, 1992. Cronenberg on Cronenberg Google Scholar

Von Doviak, Scott. Stephen King Films FAQ. Milwaukee: Applause, 2014. Stephen King Films FAQ Google Scholar

Watkins, Tamara. ‘There’s no Place Like Dome’. Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror. Ed. Philip L. Simpson and Patrick McAleer. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2015. 27–40. There’s no Place Like Dome Stephen King’s Contemporary Classics: Reflections on the Modern Master of Horror 27 40 Google Scholar

Winter, Douglas. The Art of Darkness: The Life and Fiction of the Master of the Macabre: Stephen King. London: New English Library, 1989. The Art of Darkness: The Life and Fiction of the Master of the Macabre: Stephen King Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here

Details

Author details

Brown, Simon