The town of Chester’s Mill is your average American town, local sheriffs, small town politics, troubled teenagers and a passing hit-man. Then an invisible, impenetrable force field appears around the town, completely cutting them off from the rest of the world.
I’d been looking forward to this show for a while. I like this kind of setup, taking a ‘normal’ group of people and putting them in exceptional circumstances. It’s an opportunity to explore characters and relationships, to show that regardless of circumstances there’s no such thing as normal. The show also has the bonus of a couple of big hitters backing it – Steven Spielberg is an exec producer and is joined by Stephen King on who’s novel it’s based (and who will apparently be writing the first episode of the second season).
What a shame then that my enthusiasm and optimism came to a crashing reality within 30 seconds of the start of the show. The pilot opens with a shot of a dome, but it pans out to show it is in fact an egg. A baby bird pushes its way through as the camera pans up to show another bird flying overhead. First problem, it’s hardly the most creative or original way to introduce the series – yeah we get it, breaking free, flying free blah blah blah. The bigger problem however was that the people who made the animatronic and cgi birds had clearly been shut in a basement too long and only really had birds described to them second hand. They were the most hilariously naff things I’ve seen in ages!
That pretty much set the tone for the show with my housemates and I. It was now a series to be mocked and analysed for flaws, not one to be enjoyed. We discussed everything from whether the half cow was anatomically correct, to doing estimates of how long the oxygen would last and whether the methane from the cows would combust. Our discussion lasted well beyond the end of the episode and was far more entertaining than anything on the screen.
Nothing about the show is credible. The characters are a collection of clichés and not very interesting ones at that. Teenagers dreaming of escaping small town life, the mysterious stranger just passing through but getting caught up in everything, the overly keen reporter, overly protective lesbian mums and their attitude consumed daughter, the sinister politician, the steadfast sheriff and his youthful deputy. There’s no one outstanding in either the characters of the cast and everyone was just tedious.
Other than its ability to prompt an interesting scientific discussion, there was absolutely nothing of value in this show. It wasn’t funny, it wasn’t beautiful, it wasn’t tense, it wasn’t scary and it sure as anything wasn’t entertaining. I won’t be back.