Ken Levine continues to tell the truth about TV. And we continue to love him for it:
My network notes for UNDER THE DOME
by Ken Levine
I don’t get it. Every time we’ve done a series we’ve gotten a shit-ton of network notes. And usually they were very specific.“Where’s the cat? Wouldn’t the cat be in the bedroom at night?”“Is there something healthier than cookies she can pack in her kids’ lunch boxes?”“Did they eat the pizza? They had that big fight in Shakeys but no one ate the pizza they ordered.” (We once got that actual note)
We’d get twenty of these an episode. For a pilot I once had a network guy open an on-set refrigerator to approve the contents.
But, as they say, “that’s the business we chose.” It’s part of the process, and we deal with it.
And then I started watching UNDER THE DOME. Holy shit! This is the most absurd thing I’ve ever seen. This is all okay with everybody? No notes? Well, as someone who had to substitute an apple for cookies and stick a cat in the bedroom, please allow me to give UNDER THE DOME some notes the network apparently felt were too minor to mention.
How do people breathe encased in a dome?
Wouldn’t it get a little hot under the dome? “Big Jim” wears that 1978 brown leather jacket he got at Monkey Wards all day long.
Since the dome is invisible can’t the town communicate with the outside world by just holding up notes? And the outside world could brief them the same way. Chester Mill doesn’t have to use a scratchy ham radio to get info. You’d think they were tracking Amelia Earhart.
“Junior” is afraid his girlfriend, Angie is going to break up with him so his solution is to kidnap her and chain her to a bed in a fallout shelter. First off, they’re under a dome. It’s not like she can leave town. Secondly, that’syour best plan?
And third – how does she go to the bathroom? She’s chained to a bed for three days.
Okay, fourth – isn’t anyone in the town concerned that she’s missing?
Wait – fifth – if you’re being held captive by a psycho, the best way to disarm him might not be to lie and say you fucked some other guy and loved it. In the eight times that Jack Bauer’s daughter was kidnapped in 24 she never did that.
Along those lines, the crazy cop who accidentally shoots his partner when the bullet ricochets off the dome (oops on that one), but breaks out of jail and flees. To where? What’s he thinking? Even in the forest there’s only so much real estate. It’s easier to get lost in the BIG BROTHER backyard.
There’s no mass panic? You’ve just been sealed in by something unknown for an unknown period of time. Just one rogue cop finds this disturbing? There’s no looting or runs on grocery stores? Even the diner stays open. People sit at the counter and sip their coffee and enjoy their pie just like it’s just another sleepy Thursday. Order thatspecial of the day now because when they’re out of it they are OUT of it.
Two townsfolk are in the diner when the African-American woman looking for her white daughter shows them a picture. The redneck says condescendingly, “How can that be?” The woman explains she and another woman are the parents. He’s very bemused and dismissive. Did anyone notice that his buddy sitting next to him is also African-American? And might that gentleman react?
Does every DJ on CBS have to look like Venus Fly Trap?
Wouldn’t this dome be sort of a national story? Wouldn’t it be just an absolute circus outside the dome with news and camera crews reporting constantly? 12,000 TV trucks converge on the Zimmerman trial but not one is outside a giant dome that has enclosed an entire town?
There’s a big house fire. Smoke seen for miles. A day after the fire is put out the smoke is completely gone. Wouldn’t it be trapped in the dome and the whole town would be smoky?
Would someone in town, even one person, realize that they’re in for a calamitous water shortage since rain from the sky would bounce off the top of the dome?