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Under the Dome: Manhunt

Sam T. Cat: “Bondswoman, you are sighing. That is a human expression of discontent, yes?”

Josie: “Yeah, I’m worried about this show I have to review. In addition to consistently terrible dialogue, Under the Dome seems to only have three plots.”

Sam T. Cat: “Develop that point with more precision, making sure to use evidence to support your assertions.”

Josie: “Well, one plot involves men who turn crazy and lock up women.”

Sam T. Cat: “Surely that is not a repeated motif? How often, in three episodes, can male aggression and female imprisonment occur?”

Josie: “Twice, so far. Maybe the dome is making all the men want to be zookeepers?”

Sam T. Cat: “So there are lions?”

Josie: “No.”

Sam T. Cat: “Bah! I do not watch shows without felines. Or bears. But continue. Your exasperation amuses me, and I have already slept 22 hours today.”

Josie: “Well, the second plot is that people withhold personal information for no particular reason except to create false suspense, unless they're explaining a Key Life Moment in monologue form. For some reason nobody is nosy about the facts, but everybody loves to listen to the monologues. In real life, folks are nosy and easily bored.”

Sam T. Cat: “That is true. The tiny pudgy cat is always sniffing things.”

Duckling: “Meow! I’m standing right here.”

Sam T. Cat: “Idiot. [turns to his human] Bondswoman, please continue.”

Josie: “The third plot is harder to describe without using a penis metaphor.”

Sam T. Cat: “That is permitted. My penis is retractable, so I do not have issues with castration imagery, despite the pains you inflicted on me in my kittenhood.”

Josie: [aside] “You weren’t supposed to remember that. [To her feline overlord.] Anyway, castration isn’t a thing. At least, not yet. But all the men—both teenagers and grown-ups—seem to be involved in a penis-measuring contest.”

Sam T. Cat: “I would not take pleasure in watching such a contest.”

Josie: “You and I have a lot in common, cutie pie.”

Sam T. Cat: “Do not presume too much, human slave.”

Josie: “Please forgive me.”

Sam T. Cat: “I will consider it when it pleases me to do so. Would you prefer a punishment of the 'accidental' scratch, or the late-night head jump?”

Josie: “Late-night head jump, please. Luckily, all the penis measuring is counteracted by nurturing women: Julia talks Junior down, Norrie gets the high-school bully to leave, and Sheriff Linda is clearly a foil to Big Jim’s top-down management style. Even Rose the cafĂ© owner provides comfort, solace, and coffee.”

Sam T. Cat: “Rose is played by the actress who played Kate’s mom on Lost, yes? I did enjoy that show. They made effective use of the bear, and I admire Mr. Benjamin Linus and his scheming ways, although that Vincent character was not to my liking.”

Josie: “I liked it, too. It was way better than this.”

Duckling: “I didn’t get the ending of Lost. Were they all dead the whole time?”

Sam T. Cat: “So, human slave whom I keep around because you have thumbs and I like canned food, why do you continue to watch, if doing so only makes you sigh with boredom? Why do you not sleep more? Perhaps you wish to engage in a game of catch-the-yarn? I know that doing so gives you great pleasure.”

Josie: “I’m not sure why I keep watching. The characters continue to narrate their actions and motivations, which drives both me and David Mamet crazy. But the idea of a place exerting emotional pressure on a group of people is something I’m fascinated by. Any story with a strong sense of place usually gets me excited: Lost, The Wire, Friday Night Lights, Twin Peaks, LA Confidential, the book version of Under the Dome. This list could go on.”

Sam T. Cat: “Do not allow it to do so.”

Josie: “Whatever you say.”

Sam T. Cat: “So you watch this show because you like other shows? Your logic does not resemble our Earth logic.”

Josie: “Barbie is cute.”

Sam T. Cat: “I shall not dignify that with a response.”

Duckling: “I have dignity!”

Josie: “Maybe I keep watching because so little has happened. That makes me think that surely something will happen soon.”

Sam T. Cat: “Insane troll logic.”

Josie: “I know. You’re right. As always.”

Sam T. Cat: “That is the reason that I am in charge. Bondswoman, beloved servant, best of humans, I have made my decree: you will watch one more episode, but you will not commit to reviewing it. You will cease to trouble me with your plaintive sighs. And you shall now make a lap, so that I might serenade you with my purr, and then we will nap.”

Josie: “It’s so nice to have the decision taken out of my hands.”

Duckling: “No, really, could someone explain the end of Lost to me?”

Credit where credit is due: I stole the idea of "make a lap and I will [sing] to you" from Pixel, a Heinlein cat in The Number of the Beast.

Josie Kafka is a full-time cat servant and part-time rogue demon hunter. (What's a rogue demon?)


  1. Hilarious review, Josie. It's usually a sign that I've lost interest in a show when I read the review before I've watched the episode, but Under the Dome is there already. I'm not sure I want to watch any more. Of course, if Duckling and Sam T. Cat were in it, I'd be all over it.

    Somebody must have written a book on why Stephen King's stories rarely turn out well. A small percentage seem to shine, but the majority absolutely stink. Why is that? His books are the exact opposite. What's going wrong in translation to the small/big screen?

  2. I really don't know why, Paul. King does a lot of free indirect discourse. That might make us connect with his characters more. Something like Under the Dome has to have strong characters, or at least characters who aren't interchangeable, since the point is to put a bunch of people in a confined environment and see how they interact.

    The writers of UtD don't seem to be willing to trust us to understand that actions can be motivated by unspoken thoughts. In this episode, Julia looks out a window and sees Junior walking. She says, "Hey, where's Junior going in such a hurry?" and then "He's the councilman's son. If anyone has information, he will." So she runs outside and asks him for info.

    Her dialogue is not needed. She could look out the window and--if any words are needed at all--say something like, "Hey, I'll be right back--Junior Rennie is right outside." Then, when she asks him what's up, we will understand why she was interested in speaking to him. Because we are not idiots.

  3. Best. Review. Of a crappy show. EVER!

    Thanks, Josie! After watching las night's episode, I needed a good laugh...

    I really hope the ratings tank soon so that the network understands not to bring this show back. I also hope it doesn't all of a sudden get good at the end because then I might feel obligated to catch up and I really don't want to watch any more of these.

    It's too bad, but I do have a ton of books to catch up on :)

  4. This is going on my list of Favorite Josie Reviews Ever.

  5. This was, indeed, a very funny Josie review. It even works for folks who don't watch the show!

    I was particularly amused by the Lost references, because just a month ago --- no joke --- the show came up in conversation with some people I didn't know very well, and both of them said they didn't like the ending because they thought it meant everyone was dead the whole time. And so I ended up explaining the whole thing to them (with numerous acknowledgements that, yes, I was rather an obsessive freak when it came to Lost). I'm not sure what it says about a show when you have to be ultra engaged with it to understand what's going on, but I sure did enjoy it.

    Of course, it sounds like I would not enjoy Under the Dome at all, so I will continue to give it a pass. The "show I watch but only somewhat enjoy" slot is currently filled by Falling Skies.

  6. Great review, Josie! Better writing than the show itself...

  7. What a fantastic review! One of the all time greats.

    The shows numbers appear to be dipping week to week, but are still relatively strong. Maybe it's because there is so little else to watch at this time of year.

    I am currently reading the book and enjoying it much more than I am the show. I agree with Josie's point that we are given far too much exposition and information. Not to mention that several of the actors can't act. Never a good thing.

  8. Wonderfully entertaining review, Josie. I have yet to watch the series (because, well, I haven't made the effort) and it seems like I might hold off a little bit longer. Hopefully, it'll have a turning point and find its footing or just plummet into obscurity in the near future instead of teetering on the brink of "okay" forever.

    Back to the important part of the review--the cats. I imagine a sort of MST3K scenario going on here, but instead of Joel and the bots, you have Josie and the (Pussy)cats.
    Can this become a real show? I would enjoy this series very much. Duckling is sure to be a fan favorite and it would take Youtube by storm.

    EDIT: My comment was formatted strangely when I posted it and I tried to edit, but could not .. and then deleted it to re-enter it and it left that ugly "This comment has been removed by the author" stamp. I'm sorry for mucking up your comment section due to my lack of familiarity with Blogger!

  9. No worries, Daniel -- I fixed it. Blogger can be weird. Last week it put one of my comments in the spam folder, and it's my freaking site. :)

  10. My favorite tweeter (after Sunbunny and the other Doux Reviews twitterati) is Tim Carvell. He's been posting great tweets about Under the Dome. It should ring alarm bells for producers when their property is so easily ridiculed, shouldn't it?


    "Under the Dome" is the terrifying story of a whole town trapped under a dome with a very loud, insistent offscreen orchestra.

    This week on "Under the Dome": An ill-conceived Fourth of July fireworks display ends badly.

    For ants, I bet an "Under the Dome"-type scenario breaks out every single time someone puts up a yurt.


  11. I've done the same thing as Paul. I ain't watching this show until I get at least some indicator that the quality will pick up at least a bit. Preferably after Truman the dog shoves Junior into a well where he will never be heard from again.

    Great review though Josie. I often engage in one-sided banter with my dog.

  12. One-sided banter with your dog, Freeman? That's why you should get a cat. :-)

    Daniel, you'll have to speak to Sam T. Cat's agent about any possible spin-off podcast. He's camera-shy.

    I'm starting to suspect this show will "teeter on the brink of okay forever." I think that maybe this is what quality TV looks like, according to CBS standards.

  13. Josie -- perhaps. Except, this is the network that brought us Person of Interest and Elementary. They can get it right.

  14. I'm starting to think Person of Interest is a fluke. (I still haven't watched Elementary past the pilot.)

    The thing is: if I don't blame CBS, I don't know who to blame. I can't blame Stephen King. I can't blame Steven Spielberg. I can't blame Brian K. Vaughn. I can't blame Jack Bender. They've all shown themselves to be better than this.

    I would say Person of Interest succeeds, for the most part, within a one-and-done structure. What's marvelous is how it transcends that structure, letting us superfans find connections where the "Let's see what's on the tube tonight, honey" crowd might miss them.

    But Under the Dome is struggling with the balancing act between a big, conceptual arc and the one-and-done structure. I think that's why there's so much awkward exposition: I imagine someone saying, "Okay, but what if a new watcher lands on this show in episode three--how can we clue them in to the vital relationships?" And the result is dialogue like Julia's.

    Did Elementary stop being creepily sexist? Or was that just my imagination to begin with?

  15. I didn't ever think Elementary was creepily sexist. Or sexist at all, really. It's not perfect, but I do enjoy it. Person of Interest is weird. If I didn't know it was on CBS, I never would guess it was on CBS. CBS seems to succeed due to its shows' broad appeal and not the quality of those shows. There's little on the network that is rip-your-eyes-out-of-your-sockets-bad (except Two Broke Girls), but nothing really amazing (except the aforementioned outlier PoI).

    It's like it's the opposite of HBO and Showtime, many of whose shows were geared to rather niche-y audiences but which are almost always done beautifully.

  16. I couldn't get over Lucy Liu deciding to stay with a man who took pleasure in ruining hers because she was paying off a past mistake. The penance felt gendered.

  17. I never thought about it like that. You have a point. You should watch the last few episodes of the season. I'd be curious to hear what you think.

    I also think Liu's Watson is smarter and gets to do a lot more than Martin Freeman's Watson, which feels like a deliberate choice. That said, she is generally cast in a caretaker role. We've seen that dynamic in Sherlock Holmes before, but having a woman as Watson necessarily genders Watson's maternal duties.

  18. Will the last few episodes make sense if I don't watch the earlier part of the season?

  19. I *think* you should be fine if you watch "M." (1.12) and then the last four.

  20. Ahhh, but Josie, I never said who was doing the talking in these conversations. I'm fairly certain I would drink arsenic if I thought my dog wanted me to do it. He sometimes even determines when it's time for me to go to sleep.

    This show would need some kinda overhaul if it wants to start being good. Like those stockpiled propane tanks need to explode, causing them to lose some precious resources, making the situation become more desperate. Then maybe you won't have people just casually going about their daily lives and worrying about who's sleeping with whom.

  21. I like Elementary too, which really surprised me because I love Sherlock and thought that Elementary would just be a horrible knockoff. I have never thought about Sherlock's behavior toward Liu's Watson as sexist. It could be, I guess, but it always seemed like he treated her the way he did because of her role (I.e. as his sober companion which he felt like he didn't need or later as his mentee) as opposed to because she was a woman. He treats everyone with some disdain. I think sunbunny lays out a good plan of episodes to watch and then I'd love to hear what you thought of them...

  22. Hi, long time reader/lurker here. Just want to chime in that I am very taken with Elementary, and find it a very unique procedural , in that most shows like these would keep the character developing stuff to a minimal and are more interested in moving the plot of the week forward. However, Elementary is a procedural that has a serialized character development and relationship core, and an especially adept one at that. Each week, without fail, the relationship between characters and the character development would stay at A- to A levels, while the case-of-the-week stuff vary, usually from B- to B+, with occasional C+ or A- (though later in the season it geared more towards A- level stuff, and even reached A for me a few times). So I would love for you to continue with it. The premise might give off sexist vibe, but the actual characters and their developing relationship are anything but, and the actors pull it off tremendously. In fact, the most incredible thing is how it bucks the usual trend of this kind of procedural duo, keeping the relationship strictly and touchingly platonic.

  23. Okay, you all have convinced me to give it a shot. I'll start with the episodes Sunbunny mentioned. I'll commit to watching two episodes.

    But if I don't like it, then it's back to cheating on the Buffy re-watch! :-)

  24. Sign # 324 that a show is bad: Half way through the comments section of your favorite TV review site all of the comments start refering to shows other than the one being reviewed.

  25. The thread really does take a hard turn halfway through, doesn't it?

  26. That was.. wonderful. Sam T. Cat is now my favorite philosopher.

    Thank you Kafka. Thank you. :_)


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