Assorted Stock Characters Lost In Search
of an Intelligent Story.

(US TV Show “Under The Dome” shows once again how to get “Lost”
in the maze of style over substance.)

Date: Tuesday the 27th of August, 2013

“So where was Homer Simpson?”  The thought flashed through my mind when catching a, brief, sight of the latest television import from the US:  “Under The Dome”.

Then I started giggling.

Here we were again in a soapy opera of twisted and stupid people, all nicely pretty or ruggedly tough, wandering around asking questions, mulling them over, getting involved in that great American pastime – angst.

Worried?  You could say so, a mystical “dome” suddenly appears to isolate part of small town America from the rest of the world of America and all anyone can do is wander around looking lost.

“Lost”, that was another series I managed to avoid like a badly written plague, endless wandering around, everyone looking pretty* and behaving weirdly and … nothing.

And there was Homer Simpson in the back of my mind, racing up to save this plastic, characterless and useless Springfield, full of Standard Stock Stereotype Characters, from the doom of the dome.

But why bother?  I’ve seen NOT “Lost” and enjoyed NOT the endless vacuous nonsense of a collection of assorted characters (sounds like the title of a play, Characters In Search of Something Sensible) wander around, stumbling at every opportunity and ignoring the gigantic glaring mystery – we’re in a parallel universe and there’s no way out!!!

And the Dome thingy is certainly in a universe of its own.  Cut off from the outside, except for the marvellously silent group of weirdly besuited military who do nothing but wave silly “instruments” around and look mystified.

There is a way to write a serious, intense, terrifying thriller of this kind.  “Under The Dome” isn’t it.  If you’ve ever seen “Village Of The Damned” (NOT the Hollywood remake) you’ll have an idea.  But why populate this Domed and doomed community with the widest range of stoned out idiots?

Doesn’t anyone realise the simple law of physics – domes are round, find the circle, find the centre, switch the thingy off?  I really can’t accept the idea that the military would stand around ignoring the good people of wherever and not mobilise them all to get searching for the cause. 

An hour and it’s done, dome is gone.

Ah, but we’re trying to drag it out, to stretch the moment of revelation to incredulity (Incredulity, a small street just around the corner from Homer’s home) and to squeeze the maximum benefit from all your production and advertising dollars.  For some reason I can imagine all the “Lost” people wandering in here and getting stuck, and for some reason I can’t stop laughing, and ignoring the entire farce.

Homer!  We need you!!

How to do it differently – “Doomed”

Looking for some suggestions?  Wondering if such a theme, sans Homer, could be produced more intelligently, more dramatically, more everything?  Try these pointers, and if you have enough money gimme and I’ll produce it…

  1. Make it in the style of “24”, call it 30 Hours to the End and cram all the drama and action into just thirty hours.
  2. A small group of scientists, or travellers from the future, or aliens, come to save a small town in America (and other locations around the world that aren’t part of Americaland and so aren’t really important) from a huge solar firestorm that’s going to bake the planet/nuclear attack/biowar weapon/alien invasion/whatever.
  3. They throw a dome up around one chosen town, with scores of strangers flocking into town just before the event, all warned and well-equipped for the impending disaster (think fleets of product placement vehicle opportunities).
  4. The government and townsfolk are desperate to investigate and solve the situation and all their resources are mobilised.
  5. The townsfolk wake up to the disaster and find they only have a day before the end of the world.
  6. OR they have just a few hours to find and deactivate the Dome Device.
  7. There’s a frantic search and both inside and outside the Doom Of Doom as everyone tries to find it’s size and centre, then rush into the centre of town.
  8. BUT they find the centre has been blocked, remember all those well-armed visitors?  Now the locals face a stand-off with the visitors defending the Dome Device in the hands of a handful of crazy scientists/helpful aliens/time travellers.
  9. BUT the plucky townsfolk know their town, its little back streets, avenues and sewers leading into the building holding the Dome Device.
  10. A frantic battle ensues as the clock ticks down, gas is released – Poison!  No!  It’s knockout gas!
  11. And the locals fail to switch it off, the world comes to a stop and…

And in season two?

  1. The Great disaster doesn’t happen.
  2. The aliens/time travellers/”mad” scientists (and their ever-attentive beautiful nubile assistants) are overcome.
  3. But they manage to slip away as the police, FBI, NSA, CIA, XYZ and Marines, swoop.
  4. Now the locals and the military have to discover What Really Happened.
  5. Investigators rush to the town along with teams of newsies and a freaks how of tourists.
  6. Everything dies down as the security forces keep most people away.
  7. The scientists try to discover what happened in those final hours as they piece together the story, with plenty of additional flashbacks, and uncover the equipment used in the dome.
  8. Putting the pieces back together carefully, they try to understand the weird technology.
  9. To no avail, until one beautiful nubile assistant in bed with her older mad scientist wonders if this really was the technology.
  10. They rush to the High School (there’s always a High School in these kind of things) to look at the pieces of recovered equipment and realise it really is nonsense – it was a DECOY!!!
  11. And then the real dome clicks on as the (insert Big Disaster) happens.

(* When I first saw the trailers for “Lost” I thought they were advertising some range of French perfume and beauty products, everyone was so well-lit, so pretty in that “rugged” way they do so well in TV adverts.)