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TV Review: CBS' 'Under the Dome'

CBS premieres new Stephen King adaptation Under the Dome, about a town that suddenly becomes trapped inside an impenetrable bubble, on Monday at 10 p.m. The following are reviews from TV critics around the Web, compiled by B&C.

“You can say goodbye to your next two Monday nights, and possibly - if past for once is not precedent - the whole summer’s worth. Most welcome is that no one in Chester’s Mill, at least no one introduced in Part 1, is the type of stereotypical yokel who often turns up in such stories, including those by Mr. King.”

-Neil Genzlinger, New York Times

“Every pilot is burdened with establishing character, jump-starting the narrative and hooking the audience, but Under the Dome unnecessarily force-feeds us its first hour to its own detriment… I just hope the creators take a breath between Episodes 1 and 2 and remember that when you’re telling a scary story, it’s best to tell it slow.”

-Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“The pilot sets up these sorts of small-world scenarios-the stalkery jilted boyfriend, the preening local bigwig, the mistrusted outsider-and shows how they’re heightened by sudden captivity. That’s the biggest potential strength of Under the Dome. A weakness is that few of its characters are instantly memorable or distinctive; there’s a kind of generic, TV-commercial homogeneity to the Chester’s Mill we first see. But the opening glimpses of the first episode are intriguing enough for me to want to stick around and get to know these characters better.”

-James Poniewozik, TIME

“To anyone who has been around the block a few times with Stephen King miniseries, Under the Dome - which CBS is shrewdly scheduling as a summer fling - has all the familiar trappings and initial promise… CBS hasn’t ruled out future seasons, although the project would probably be more interesting if it promised one thing the Dome lacks,namely, a clearly marked exit.”

-Brian Lowry, Variety

“We could all use a good summer TV diversion around now, and if tonight’s entertaining, intriguing premiere turns out to be a fair guide, Dome could be just what we’ve needed. Eventually, viewers will expect an explanation for the dome’s appearance, but the series should be able to get along for some time without that, as long as the effects of the dome’s arrival continue to play out as well as they do in the premiere.”

-Robert Bianco, USA Today

“Executive producer Brian K. Vaughan - working in collaboration with showrunner Neal Baer (E.R.) - is a Lost writer and comic-book scribe whose masterful post-apocalyptic yarn Y: The Last Mangives me reason to believe he can pump the Dome with meaningful stories for as long as needed… If Vaughan can complexify the people and keep the show thematically incisive without becoming too pretentious, I’ll stand with the catastrophe-rocked residents of Chester’s Mill for seasons to come.”

-Jeff Jensen, Entertainment Weekly

“With its collection of mysterious characters and grand, overriding mystery, Under the Dome feels more like the early Lost than any of the scores of overcomplicated knockoffs that have followed that ABC series.”

-Tim Molloy,

“As usual, CBS shows a good eye for action drama, airs of vague mystery and psychological setups that upset the characters’ equilibrium… By those criteria, Under the Dome hits its marks. It’s not profound and it may take a while to reach terrifying, but as a campfire story, a fresh batch of characters in a time-tested tale, sure, why not?”

-David Hinckley, New York Daily News

“[T]he first hour is intriguing as hell and filled with a lot of storytelling promise.”

-Tim Goodman, The Hollywood Reporter

“There’s likely enough mythology here to keep viewers who enjoy theorizing satisfied all summer, while those looking for micro-level character-driven drama can find that in abundance as well… Under the Dome manages to be a domestic drama, a disaster film, and a horror-filled science-fiction tale rolled into one, with some romance, humor, and pathos thrown in for good measure.”

-Jace Lacob, The Daily Beast