Skip to main content

Stephen King's Thoughts On Under The Dome's TV Show Remain Hilarious (And Not Exactly Wrong)

stephen king amc history of horror

Even though Stephen King has nearly always been more than merely a "horror writer," he will forever be linked with the genre, since he's responsible for dozens of the most iconic horror novels in all of literature. Of course, part of the fun in being a King fan is witnessing the endless line of film and TV adaptations inspired by his long list of titles. Not that it's always fun, with more than a few King-based projects sharing very little of what made the source material special in the first place. And arguably the biggest offender on that front in recent years was CBS' Under the Dome series.

To be sure, Stephen King has expressed some of his feelings about Under the Dome in the past, with his reaction basically amounting to disapproving meh-ness. But because King actively embraces as much pop culture as he can experience, that disapproving meh-ness puts Under the Dome in limited company, and makes the author's biting criticisms all the more hilarious when they surface. (It's way harder to argue against his views than it is to argue against Under the Dome's rapid distancing from the vibes and plots of the novel after three seasons.)

In anticipation of CBS All Access' upcoming The Stand miniseries, King spoke with the New York Times about the long list of TV adaptations made from his works, and therein confirmed his mind definitely hasn't changed recently about Under the Dome.

The first few episodes were great. But the thing was, what CBS wanted was basically meatloaf — nothing too challenging, something to just fill some hours. It went off the rails [as it progressed, and] descended into complete mediocrity.

I'm giving his use of "great" a glimmer of side-eye, but I'll grant him the notion that at least the first episodes were somewhat surreal and pulpy as well as being schmaltzy, so it seemed like there were more exciting places to go. As opposed to realizing in hindsight that the series was already peaking at that point. Like the first bites of meatloaf are usually the best, before the meal cools off and becomes a protein sludge next to the butter-less mashed potatoes. Dammit, I think this metaphor has itself gone off the rails.

With his next words about Under the Dome, Stephen King laid out possibly the best working definition of passive disappointment I've ever heard.

It was a sad thing, but it didn’t bother me. I stopped watching after a while because I just didn’t give a [expletive].

Shall we take bets now on whether Stephen King ended that sentence with "shit" or "fuck?" Maybe he went off the beaten path and said he didn't give "half a woodchuck's dick" or something. This guessing game is arguably more sensical than a variety of different Under the Dome scenes involving the pink stars, so we're good.

Last year, Stephen King challenged Netflix to produce a reboot of Under the Dome, but one that gives viewers an adaptation that's at least partly faithful to the source material. If Disney+ ever got into the Stephen King business, I'm sure they'd order up at least 14 new TV shows and movies in an instant.

In the long run, Under the Dome likely isn't the worst live-action Stephen King adaptation, not in a world where The Tommyknockers and Maximum Overdrive exist without reboots. But make sure to check out The Stand on CBS All Access when it premieres on Thursday, December 17. And in the meantime, head to our Fall TV premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring 2021 TV guide to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon.

Nick Venable

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.