I hadn’t read Stephen King’s Under the Dome before the show premiered on CBS last summer — I still haven’t — so I have no clue how faithful/unfaithful an adaptation it is. In fact, I didn’t know much about it at all, aside from a lingering impression that the concept didn’t sound like it had the narrative legs to expand to an ongoing television series. Pretty much the only reason I eventually sat down and watched Under the Dome’s first season a few weeks back was the involvement of writer Brian K. Vaughan, who has given us some of the best comics of the past decade, as well as having written for Lost. So now that I’ve learned that Vaughan has parted ways with Under the Dome, my interest in the show just folded like triple-jointed origami expert.
Vaughan revealed his departure from Under the Dome, which is due to return to CBS for a second season this summer, during a lengthy interview with Bleeding Cool (which is worth reading in its entirety if you’re at all a Vaughan fan). In lieu of an official announcement, he just dropped it casually when asked what his role in the show this season will be. Vaughan said:
Yeah, I don’t think this has been reported anywhere, but I actually left my position at Under the Dome a few months ago. It was the great thrill of my life to help adapt one of the best book’s ever from my all-time hero, but I’ve got two very young kids at home who I never got to see last season, so I’m enormously grateful to CBS and Amblin for letting me out of my contract a little early. I’m already missing the cast and crew, but the show remains in the excellent hands of our veteran showrunner Neal Baer, and we were lucky enough to hire some heavy hitting new writers for this season, including none other than Mr. King himself. His first episode is easily the best of the series so far, and helps set the tone for a fucking crazy new direction, so I look forward to getting to watch as a fan with everyone else.
I can’t say I’m upset to see him go, but that says far more about Under the Dome than it does about Vaughan. As talented as he is, the show was a brain-hammering mess, and I only made it through the finale out of a mix of masochism and stupefied curiosity. Maybe it was just that they weren’t quite sure what to do with the material, maybe it’s just that Vaughan is better at telling stories on the page than the screen, but I’d much rather have him focused on giving us more comic stories like Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, and Saga than trying to come up with ways to extend a storyline where the most interesting character is an inanimate dome.
Still, I’ll probably tune back into Under the Dome simply out of a sense of reluctant duty to stay informed on current genre shows, assuming I can get somebody to tie me to a chair and pin my eyes open, Clockwork Orange style.
In the meantime, it seems Under the Dome is now Neal Baer’s problem. His biggest prior credits are on E.R. and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and if a pair of medical/cop procedurals doesn’t prepare one for shepherding a story about a magic dome filled with idiots, I don’t know what does.
Under the Dome’s second season premieres June 30 on CBS. Here’s a trailer.