Apocalyptic tales are all the rage these days as AMC (The Walking Dead) and a newly resurgent NBC (Revolution) have discovered to their great satisfaction and now CBS is climbing aboard the end-of-the-world bandwagon with a 13-part serialised adaptation of Stephen King’s 2009 novel The Dome.
And the plot, about a small New England town inexplicably, and suddenly, sealed off from the rest of humanity by a seemingly unbreachable transparent dome whose sudden appearance plunges the community into a post apocalyptic nightmare, is a perfect fit for the newly popular genre of doom.
Harnessing Stephen King’s legendary storytelling ability – he will serve as an executive producer along with a number of others – is a sensible move for CBS (especially since The Dome is regarded as one of his best novels in years) but even more canny is the fact that Steven Spielberg will oversee the production of the series through his production company, Amblin Entertainment.
This is what Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment had to say about CBS’s move to join zombies and the power-deprived with their own take on the end of the world as we know it …
“This is a great novel coming to the television screen with outstanding auspices and in-season production values to create a summer programming event. We’re excited to transport audiences Under the Dome and into the extraordinary world that Stephen King has imagined.”
One of the most interesting aspects of CBS’s announcement is its decision to move it from its cable channel Showtime to the main broadcast channel itself.
This is an acknowledgement that genre TV, which has long been consigned to the nether regions of many channels’ programming with the notable exception of syfy, is now a cultural force to be reckoned with, and increasingly a viable proposition for mainstream entertainment.
Certainly the viewing figures for AMC’s smash hit, The Walking Dead, where it is consistently #1 in the key 18-49 viewing demographic, would indicate that genre television is being seen by many more people than was previously the case as drama that is not only worthwhile viewing in and of itself, but also one that speaks to the age we live in like few other types of shows can.
The hope by CBS is that The Dome, which Entertainment Weekly advises is being scripted by Brian K. Vaughan (Lost) as an ongoing serialised drama with a likely different ending to the book, will live on far beyond its initial episode run in the northern summer of 2013.
Given the pedigree of writing and producing talents involved – again Entertainment Weekly confirms that “Neal Baer, Stephen King, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stacey Snider will serve as executive producers along with Vaughan” – The Dome has every chance of being every bit as successful as its apocalyptic drama contemporaries and will give viewers of a network known more for its procedural police dramas, a chance to willingly quake in their boots and experience the end of the world from the safety of their couches, remotes in hand.
Until of course the zombies arrive, in a dark and sealed off world and it all begins for real.
But hey that’s another story completely …