TV preview: Under The Dome

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A year ago, Channel 5 brought us one of the most enjoyably bonkers fantasy sagas of the year.

Based on the novel by Stephen King, Under the Dome was one of those glorious ‘What if?’-style dramas popularised in The Twilight Zone.

In this case, the ‘what if?’ being: a hemispherical force field. It appeared out of nowhere and trapped the residents of small American town Chester’s Mill.

Once comparisons with The Simpsons Movie faded, UDT became must-see viewing for viewers who don’t take their fantasy TV too seriously.

It didn’t just raise questions such as ‘What created the dome’, or ‘Was it impassable?’, but ‘Would rain pass through the force field?’ and ‘What happened when the food and resources ran out?’

It didn’t hurt that there was eye candy for both sexes, from hunky, shady ex-soldier Barbie (Mike Vogel) to flame-haired investigative reporter Julia Shumway (Rachelle Lefevre).

And as every good drama needs a larger-than-life villain, Breaking Bad veteran Dean Norris proved perfect as politician/used car dealer ‘Big Jim’ Rennie.

Okay, some Stephen King purists may have argued that it’s not as good as the 2009 source novel, but given the fact most King-inspired TV strands have been a let down, it proved more compelling than most.

Series one of Under the Dome was bursting with memorable moments, from a cow sliced in half when the hemisphere first appeared, to the man whose pacemaker exploded in his chest.

It was the show where anything could, and probably would happen.

It picks up directly from where the first series left off.

Chester’s Mill is now bathed in a blinding white light as the Dome starts to change. It becomes opaque, and starts emitting a regular electromagnetic pulse.

Pink stars have fallen in lines as a result of Julia throwing the egg into the lake, and Barbie is awaiting execution on the scaffold after Big Jim accused him of murder.

Of course the ongoing success of this series has meant Mike Vogel’s own star is definitely on the rise.

“What I love about this show, it’s very real characters reacting to a very unreal event,” he explains.

Mike is no stranger to working in Blighty, having made a film with Jamie Murray called The Deaths of Ian Stone. If UDT’s schedule allows, he’d love to return to the UK for a new project.

“I love England and I love English actors,” he explains. “There is a richness and a tradition in the craft that you get with English actors that I don’t see a lot with my American counterparts. It’s always refreshing to me.”

New ‘Dome’ cast additions should help make this second run equally refreshing.

Look out for former ER star Sherry Stringfield as Big Jim’s ‘late’ wife Pauline, while country music superstar Dwight Yoakam plays the delightfully named town barber, Lyle Chumley.

Victoria on ITV.

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