Admittedly, we didn’t get too far into CBS’ heavily hyped summer series Under the Dome before we recognized it as a stinking combination of overacting and bad writing. We left it alone, silently hoping audiences would give up like we did and no one would ever have to hear about it again. But that didn’t happen, ad CBS gave it a second season almost immediately. Now they’ve announced that season two will premiere on Monday, June 30. The network has also officially declared that Halle Berry’s astronaut mystery Extant will debut a few days later on Wednesday, July 2. I know which one I’m more excited about.
Season two of Under the Dome already sounds more interesting than the first, as Stephen King himself will pen the first episode. This is a strange turn of events, since this season moves beyond the events of his massive novel, but fitting enough. (It must be strange to return to a former project in such a different capacity.) Writer Brian K. Vaughan said King gave the writers ideas they’d never imagined, and talked about how the titular dome that seemed to be a trap was actually keeping them safe, and that we can expect to see the outside coming into Chester’s Mill. I wish they’d have gotten to this point midway through the first season. All that interpersonal drama needed something bigger going on around it.
CBS showed their Television Critics Association audience a promo for the upcoming season that teased two characters meeting their makers. Under the Dome has been pretty successful in getting rid of unneeded characters at a steady clip, so this isn’t too much of a surprise. And there are enough townspeople still in town to allow for any number of fatalities that would only slightly affect the cast dynamics set up in the first season. We know Barbie and Big Jim aren’t going to die, but what about Phil, the radio DJ who lost most of his importance in the transition from page to screen? He seems expendable at this point. Everyone will find out on June 30 in any case.
No surprise news for Extant, unfortunately, but the premise is exciting at face value. (The face is Steven Spielberg, who is executive producing through his Amblin Entertainment.) Berry stars as Molly, an astronaut who returns home after a year in space. While trying to reconnect with her family, she discovers her experiences could possibly affect the course of human history. Heavy stuff, right? It also stars Camryn Manheim (Harry’s Law) as her best friend, Hiroyuki Sanada (Helix), and Pierce Gagnon.
Regardless of how I feel about Dome or any of CBS’ primetime lineup, I give them all the credit in the world for being smart enough to test their high-concept sci-fi projects in the summer, when they’ll have the best shot of becoming a success. The more networks start adapting to the cable model, the more examples of these “event series” we’ll see, and I think that’ll bode really well for genre fiction.