Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen series premiere of CBS' "Under the Dome."
Stephen King adaptations have had a checkered past, but if Monday night's "Under the Dome" pilot is any indication of how the rest of CBS' summer series is going to go, expect to be hooked.
"Under the Dome" is exactly what a summer TV show should be -- a well executed and addicting drama that doesn't waste any time. In the series premiere, the residents of Chester's Mill (a small town in Maine known for its "rich, fertile land and warm, inviting people") find themselves trapped under a transparent, impermeable dome.
What ensues is pretty much what you'd expect would happen (albeit with a few more special effects) when a small town is suddenly trapped under a huge bubble.
The show begins in true King fashion -- a man digs a grave and then buries a body in the mist-covered woods. We find out the gravedigger is Dale "Barbie" Barbara (Mike Vogel), but we don't find out until later who he has wrapped in a white sheet. Barbie arrived in Chester's Mill under unclear circumstances -- all we know is he has a pretty face and an affinity for the dead.
A good pilot is never easy: the creators have to introduce the plot as well as quickly lay down the most important characters. "Under the Dome" doesn't delay on character development. Within the first eight minutes, we get the lowdown on everyone worth knowing.
We are soon introduced to the sheriff, Duke (Jeff Fahey) and his deputy, Linda (Natalie Martinez). Both characters are likable, your average hometown heroes straight out of a Springsteen song. Less likable is Big Jim Rennie (Dean Norris), a local politician and used car dealer. Our first encounter with Jim has him paying off a waitress with a $100 bill for her vote (although apparently, Jim "always runs unopposed"). He quickly becomes the too-eager superman, clearly way too hungry for power and reveling in the town's tragedy.
Meanwhile, Junior (Alexander Koch) and Angie (Britt Robertson) are introduced in the bedroom, but we quickly learn they aren't your typical teenage couple. Junior is planning to ditch college in hopes to win Angie's love, but she isn't having it. Her refusal quickly leads to an altercation in his bedroom and Junior becomes the abusive, obsessed lover. More on that later.
Finally, we meet the "newspaper woman," Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre), the new editor for the local paper. This is Julia's big chance; the biggest news story is about to happen and she's the only journalist trapped inside the dome. Lucky her.
When the dome finally falls, Barbie is the first person to encounter it. The birds and cows begin to stir -- never a good sign -- and everything starts to shake. What seems like an earthquake instead cuts Chester's Mill off from the outside world, and causes a gruesome yet hilarious scene involving one very unlucky cow.
Overhead, a plane crashes directly into the dome, exploding into flames and nearly killing Joe (Colin Ford), a teenager we'll see more of, thanks to Barbie shoving him out of harm's way.
This small town quickly finds out there's no way to escape -- and no way in. Power lines are snapped, cars are smashed like pancakes into "thin air," and families are severed by way of the invisible force field.
Relationships will be tested. Deputy Linda's fiancé is trapped on the other side. Joe and his sister, Angie, are safe but their mother was having breakfast on the non-dome part of town and they're all alone. So far, the only way to communicate with the outside world is through a local radio station -- the only broadcast in working order.
The imagery of the dome is pretty spectacular in itself. There are homes completely split in two, like something out of a surrealist painting. There's a particularly scary scene where a semi truck smashes into the dome, and while terrifying, what results is oddly beautiful.
As expected, there's a good amount of gore but it never feels contrived or done for gore's sake. The falling-from-the-sky limbs and severed arms and mutilated cows actually make it more believable.
Amid the chaos, we're presented with two additional and important plotlines. First, Big Jim has also been stockpiling propane on the side. We don't know why, but as noted, it may be hard to swallow the fact that he and the sheriff were collecting so much propane right before the dome fell. Later, when it seems we may get a revelation about something from the sheriff, the dome causes his pacemaker to fail and he dies mid-confession. The timing is a bit contrived, but now, we're left wondering what all this gas was for and what they know. But hey, sure comes in handy now that energy is at a premium, eh?
The other key plotline is a little harder to accept. Remember Junior and Angie, the lover and the uninterested object of his affection? Well, Junior goes off the deep end pretty quickly at Angie's dismissal of his adoration, breaks into her house, knocks her unconscious, and locks her in his father's fallout shelter. Oh, and his father happens to be Big Jim. Surprise!
I have to admit, I can suspend disbelief that a dome has turned Chester's Mill into a living snow globe, but I had a hard time understanding Junior's hasty switch from attractive college kid to all-out psycho. But alas, we're left with poor nurse Angie trapped in a dank, dark dungeon. But really, is it any worse than being trapped outside of it?
At the end of the episode, we know that the town has lost 12 residents so far, a crazed Junior is claiming to be the "only person who understands what's going on around here," and Big Jim is determined to seize all the power he can from this catastrophe. Oh, and that dead guy Barbie casually tossed in a grave earlier? He happens to be the editor of the paper's husband and Barbie just so happens to be staying at her house during this hard time. That can't end well.
What we know about the dome:
What still isn't clear about the dome:
"Under the Dome" airs Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS.
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: Starring J.K. Simmons and Kyle Bornheimer, "Family Tools" centers on a guy who returns home to take over his dad's hardware business when he finds himself jobless.
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<em>Series premieres Wed., May 1 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: Hosted by Kal Penn, this reality competition show will give contestants 30 minutes to solve a daunting engineering challenge.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 2 at 10:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> The series follows Zach (Bo Burnham), who hires a camera crew to film him throughout his daily life as a part of his quest to become an overnight celebrity – even though he possesses no real talent. From Zach’s attempts to become a celebrity chef or a ring-tone recording artist to purposefully going missing, he’ll try any avenue to get noticed and stop at nothing until he reaches fame.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 2 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> For the legions who can't say goodbye to "Jersey Shore" just yet, the legacy continues as we follow GTLer Vinny into his sure-to-be-scintillating home life. The premise has random "celebrities" dropping by his house for impromptu interviews -- and Vinny going to visit their homes, too.
<em>Series premieres Mon., May 6 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Bravo's new eight-episode docu-series follows four newlywed couples and their most personal moments, from their wedding day to their first anniversary. There's bi-coastal Christian couple Kimberly and Alaska; domestic partners Jeff and Blair, who are 16 years apart; Indian pop star Tina and her modeled-turned-tech-geek husband Tarz; and suburbanites Kathryn and John.
<em>Season 2 premieres Wed., May 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Because we're all so fascinated by real estate that we could never realistically afford, this show is returning for a second season. C'mon, it's fun to live vicariously.
<em>Season 6 premieres Thurs., May 9 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> With Season 5 episodes titled "Hillbilly Wipeout," "Gorillas In Our Midst" and "Hotties vs. Nerds 2.0," there can only be more magic in store for Season 6. Viewers of all stripes love watching people hurt themselves in new and remarkable ways.
<em>Series premieres Sun., May 12 at 10:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> "Bridesmaids" funnyman Chris O'Dowd stars in Christopher Guest's ("Best in Show") new documentary-style series about a hapless thirtysomething trying to find meaning in his life by tracing his heritage.
<em>Season 4 premieres Sun., May 12 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> We were hoping that those nails and that hair would be around for another season -- and our wish came true! Theresa Caputo is back, communicating with the dead, for at least another 30 episodes.
<em>Season 2 premieres Sun., May 12 at10 p.m. ET .</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Speculation and accusations about the show’s “reality” aside, “Breaking Amish” was a hit for TLC. Now, the five Amish and Mennonite rebels, who moved to New York City in the show’s first season, are headed south to Florida ... but trouble seems to follow them wherever they go.
<em>Season 2 premieres Thurs., May 9 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> In Season 1, we met the owners and employees of JJK Security in small-town Ringgold, Georgia, and Season 2 will offer more insight into the unscripted lives of this unusual group, including Dennis' ongoing journey in his gender transition from female to male.
<em>Season 10 premieres Tues., May 14 at 8 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> After a season of intense competition, Eliana Girard and Chehon Wespi-Tschopp took home first place wins, both for ballet, while Tiffany Maher was the female runner-up for jazz and Cyrus Spencer was the male runner-up for popping/animation.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 23 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Billed as a unique, original approach to the typical cop drama, "Motive" operates backwards. Each episode starts off showing the victim, and then works its way towards finding the perpetrator and his/her motivations by the end of the episode.
<em>Series premieres Mon., May 20 at 8:30 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know: </strong> The Fox comedy centers on estranged siblings Henry (Scott Foley), Chloe (Becki Newton) and Jimmy (T.J. Miller) as they attempt to "rediscover their lives" with the money their father left them.
<em>Season 4 premieres Wed., May 22 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The home cook competition crowned its third consecutive female winner last season, Christine Ha. Cool fact: She is legally blind. No telling what twists they'll have this season.
<em>Season 4 premieres Thurs., May 23 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The last time we saw the cops at 15 Division, they were all in the midst of making some serious decisions about their lives -- including career calls, a possible transfer and, for Andy, a major emotional choice.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., May 23 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> After a near-death experience, Beth (Anne Heche) is revived only to realize she now has a direct line to God. Of course, her husband Tom (Michael Landes) is skeptical and dismissive -- but when inexplicable things begin to happen, everyone’s beliefs are tested.
<em>Season 9 premieres Mon., May 20 at 9 p.m ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Emily Maynard of North Carolina thought she'd finally found love in Jef Holm, but after only being engaged for a short time, they broke up. Here's to hoping "Bachelor" contestant Desiree Hartsock has better luck!
<em>Season 4 premieres Mon., May 26 at 12:01 a.m. PT.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> The Bluths are finally back, but there's no telling where and how we'll actually find them. One thing we do know: Each of the nine main characters will have their own episode in this season's 15-episode order, chronicling what they've been up to the last seven years. Some may cross over, but they'll all be complementary -- and they're all meant to set up an eventual "AD" movie. Considering the season will all be available the day it premieres, it sounds pretty perfect for a marathon viewing.
<em>Season 4 premieres Mon., May 27 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> In the Season 3 finale, Jim (Matt Passmore) proposed to Callie (Kiele Sanchez), even though she passed her board exam and may move to Atlanta. But she didn't respond yet ...
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., May 27 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Did Walt Longmire murder his wife's killer? Season 1 saw flashbacks of the Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming, that would support the theory, but when the FBI asked him in the Season 1 finale, he simply said, "No."
<em>Season 3 premieres Tues., May 28 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> As in the seasons before it, "Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition" will center on a group of people losing large amounts of weight over the course of a year through diet and exercise.
<em>Series premieres Tues., May 28 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: The six-part series takes viewers behind the scenes of the Brooklyn District Attorney's office. ADA Kathleen Collins (pictured) is just one of the profiled attorneys. "When you’re on trial, there’s never a day that you really go home and don’t feel stressed," she said.
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 29 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Based on a popular British reality competition, this new Jeff Foxworthy-hosted show features 10 home cooks vying for the title of best amateur baker in America, as well as a contract to publish their own cookbook and a $250,000 grand prize. Not bad for a couple of pies work, huh?
<em>Season 3 premieres Wed., May 29 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Joe married Russian businesswoman Elena, but then she received a call that prompted her to fly back to Russia to testify for one of her innocent colleagues. The Season 2 finale ended with Mel -- who officiated the wedding -- and Joe toasting to the next "Mrs. Longo," wherever she may be.
<em>Season 2 premieres Wed., March 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Ben and Riley's friend Katie faced some major drama when they found themselves in bed together after a night of partying. The only problem with their little tryst was that Katie was supposed to get married (to someone else) the next day. Luckily, they soon find out that nothing happened, and Riley and Ben share a romantic dance.
<em>Series premieres Wed., May 29 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know: </strong> The half-hour comedy clip show, hosted by "Baby Daddy" star Melissa Peterman, features the funniest, most outrageous and memorable dances caught on camera. The dancers from the top two clips of the week compete on stage for a chance to win $10,000.
<em>Season 3 premieres Sun., June 2 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Season 2 ended with Rosie Larsen's Aunt Terry being arrested for her murder. Detectives Linden (Mireille Enos) and Holder (Joel Kinnaman) got a call about a new case, but Linden wanted no part of it. Season 3 picks up a year later, with Holder searching for a runaway girl and discovering a string of murders connected to one of Linden's old cases. Though Linden is no longer a detective, she inevitably gets pulled back in.
<em>Season 5 premieres Sun., June 2 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong> Where We Left Off</strong>: The "Housewives" were fractured -- to say the least -- but the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy brings new beginnings for the first ladies of the Garden State. Of course things could certainly go sour yet again.
<em>Series premieres Sun., June 2 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know</strong>: The reality series follows six college-educated women from affluent areas of Long Island who are still living with their families.
<em>Season 8 premieres Sun., May 20 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Kim and Kanye’s relationship was just breaking the Internet, and now we’ll see it all on screen -- including their baby drama. Khloe’s fertility issues continue, but new “castmember” Brody Jenner -- Bruce’s son from a previous marriage who is no stranger to reality TV -- looks to be this season’s biggest diva.
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Soapy drama "Mistresses" stars Alyssa Milano, Yunjin Kim, Rochelle Aytes and Jes Macallan as four friends all struggling with different issues in their love lives, with men (including Jason George) and other women complicating matters. And as the title suggests, some of them are flirting with disaster and becoming mistresses themselves.
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 3 at 9 p.m. ET. </em> <strong>What To Know: </strong>This new one-hour drama from executive producer Jennifer Lopez follows a multi-ethnic, blended family, being raised by two working moms, as they welcome another troubled child into their home.
<em>Season 3 premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> At the end of last season, Allison broke up with Scott, Peter warned Isaac and Derek that a new pack made up entirely of Alpha werewolves was coming, and said Alphas trapped Boyd and Erica in the woods, leaving viewers uncertain of their fate. Season 3 will pick up four months later, and focus on the introduction of the Alpha pack and the havoc they wreak.
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., June 3 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Throughout Sesaon 1 we got to know Auti, Mia, Tiphany and Chelsie, four women living in Hollywood who also happen to all be in wheelchairs. Season 2 will follow the foursome's new loves and new adventures, including 21-year-old Chelsie's decision to move out of her parents' home.
<em>Season 8 premieres Tues., June 4 at 9 p.m. ET</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Last season, traveling dog act Olate Dogs was crowned the winner. This year, a new crop of performers will compete for the $1 million prize. Spice Girl Mel B. and Heidi Klum join the judging panel with Howie Mandel and Howard Stern.
<em>Season 7 premieres Thursday, June 6 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> In an effort to get more information on Riley, Michael sent Bly to tail her to a meeting with the cartel kingpin, but a cartel member disguised as security blew up Bly's car, killing him and destroying the evidence they collected on Riley. Michael later incapacitated Riley and got her to agree to confess. Then, Fiona, Madeline, Sam and Jesse were released from their prison cells. Michael explained he "did what [he] had to do," but Fiona corrected him, saying, "You did what you wanted to do."
<em>"Graceland" premieres Thurs., June 6 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> This cop drama, starring Daniel Sunjata and Aaron Tveit, follows a special group of law enforcement agents from the FBI, the DEA and U.S. Customs who all live under the same roof in sunny Southern California. Like frat guys (and girls), but with badges.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., June 6 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson is producing this competition series to test the strength, courage and integrity of a diverse group of nine individuals. Each week, the contestants will be challenged physically, mentally and morally as they try to prove that they truly deserve the title of "The Hero" and the life-changing grand prize that goes with it.
<em>Series premieres Thurs., June 6 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Contestants on this "Survivor"-esque reality show are dropped into the wilderness with only a bottle of water and a GPS device on a mission to find a briefcase filled with $100,000.
<em>Season 2 premieres Fri., June 7 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> According to series lead Rachel Nichols, Season 2 is all about responsibility. Kiera, Alec and even the terrorists at Liber8 all have to make intense choices that could change the very fabric of their worlds.
<em>Season 8 premieres Sun., June 30 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off: </strong> Deb finally learned the truth about Dexter's dark secret, and took a page out of her step-brother's book in the shocking season finale. Can she live with what she did? And can Dexter escape the series without being brought to justice in this final season?
<em>Season 5 premieres Sat., June 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Our favorite supernatural threesome is back from across the pond for their fifth and final season where they'll finally confront the Devil, once and for all. No biggie.
<em>Series premiere Sat., June 8 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> The 12-episode British series follows the epic sea journey of the flawed hero Sinbad (Elliot Knight), who embarks on a quest to rid himself of a curse and embrace his destiny. Look for "Lost" alum Naveen Andrews as Lord Akbari.
<em>Series premieres Sat., June 8 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong> What To Know</strong>: The 13-episode first season follows a team of animal experts and scientists that investigate paranormal events.
<em>Season 3 premieres Sun., June 9 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Last season ended with the arrival of a new species of alien, and Anne became pregnant with Tom's child. Season 3 will explore whether the new alien is on the side of the humans or has another dark purpose in mind. We'll also learn what happened to Hal while he was unconscious, and what that might mean for the rebellion.
<em>Season 2 summer premiere Mon., June 10 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: "Switched At Birth" left on a big cliffhanger: Daphne struggled to keep the Carlton School for the Deaf open, John's campaign for office came to a startling halt and Emmett told Bay about Daphne and Noah's kiss.
<em>Season 2 premieres Mon., June 10 at 9 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off</strong>: Rusty became a ward of the state to the delight of everybody, and Captain Raydor continued to gain the trust and respect of the Major Crimes unit.
<em>Series premieres Mon., June 10 at 10 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>What To Know:</strong> Based on author David Baldacci’s bestselling private eye series, Rebecca Romijn and Jon Tenney star as the titular former Secret Service agents now working as private investigators who aren’t always by-the-books.
<em>Season 4 premieres Tues., June 11 at 8 p.m. ET.</em> <strong>Where We Left Off:</strong> Red Coat, who looked a whole lot like Ali, saved Emily, Aria, Hanna and Mona from a fire, while Spencer looked on in shock. The first episode of Season 4 is titled "A Is For A-L-I-V-E" and <a href="http://www.eonline.com/news/394204/spoiler-chat-scoop-on-pretty-little-liars-once-upon-a-time-revolution-new-girl-and-more" target="_hplink">E! News reports that viewers will meet Marion, Toby's mother</a>, who was <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jaimie-etkin/pretty-little-liars-recap_b_2673316.html" target="_hplink">revealed to be dead in Season 3, Episode 18, "Dead To Me."</a> "All of the questions fans have will be answered," <a href="http://www.wetpaint.com/pretty-little-liars/articles/pretty-little-liars-star-sasha-pieterse-dishes-on-season-4-questions-will-be-answered-exclusive" target="_hplink">star Sasha Pieterse told Wetpaint Entertainment recently</a> of Season 4.