June 25th, 2013
03:00 PM ET
CBS' adaptation of Stephen King's "Under the Dome" performed phenomenally for the network on Monday night.
According to CBS, the series pulled in 13.14 million viewers with its first episode, making it the most-watched summer drama premiere on any network since 1992.
The series, created by "Lost's" Brian K. Vaughn and produced by King, will stretch the story of a town cut off from the world by a mysterious dome-shaped force field across 13 episodes.
"It’s a potentially interesting way of dramatizing and heightening the state of small-town claustrophobia," says Time's TV critic James Poniewozik. "What if this little place, which seemed like the whole world, suddenly essentially became the entire world? Would your community become self-supporting or stifling? Would it be uplifting or a nightmare?"
But given King's mastery of storytelling, adapting his work is historically hit-or-miss. Even with the creator of the book involved, the premiere of "Under the Dome" suggested that the serialized version won't quite rise to the level of King's best-seller - yet that's not to say it doesn't still have plenty of redeeming qualities.
The first episode, says New York Magazine's Matt Zoller Seitz, seems to get King's style "on a primal level" - it's not "too artful" while maintaining an "air of menace," giving us a "promising" summer series.
USA Today's Robert Bianco agrees that the "claustrophobic tension" established at the start is "the main thing working in 'Dome's' favor ... 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."
The Los Angeles Times' Mary McNamara wasn't as impressed with "Dome's" pacing, as she reminds viewers that the best scary stories allow the suspense to build. In "Dome's" case, we get right to its existence and the townspeople's understanding that they're trapped all before the second episode.
"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. What made King the master of his genre was patience and attention to detail ... order begins unraveling here at such a break-neck pace that it's swiftly predictable," she says.
Yet in the end, "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," says the Daily Beast. "The show’s producers have wisely created a drama which functions on multiple levels ... '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."
If you were one of the 13 million who tuned in to "Under the Dome" last night, what'd you think?
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