When I was shopping for a new scanner at Best Buy the other day my eye strayed to a DVD package, the entire four disc complete first season of “Under the Dome”. I had seen the pilot episode and parts of a couple of others, enough to pique my interest, so I decided to throw it in the basket along with the scanner and a new pair of earbuds for my sweetie. I have been watching the episodes over the last few days and witnessed what started out as a promising adaptation of the King novel transmogrify into an overworked, sometimes downright silly mess, with none of the manic meth-driven madness and badass edge of the novel. And they’re doing another season of this catastrophe? I can only see it getting worse. Maybe it will get to the point of unintentional humor, then I might watch it again.
The internet can be a humbling experience. You think you have made a great leap of genius regarding some trivial entertainment connection or coined a new phrase or slogan for a bumper sticker, only to find it posted all over the great information highway, on every rest stop bathroom wall, laughing back at you.
But on the other hand, said Captain Optimist, “Great minds think alike!”
Here’s how it went. My flash of insight was this. “Hey, Stephen King’s Under the Dome and The Simpsons Movie, have almost identical plots.”
Both involve a society which is forced to suffer the effects of being arbitrarily cut off from the outside world by a hemispherical barrier. In both instances society breaks down, there are serious environmental concerns, lots of really bad things happen, all hope is lost, but an unlikely set of anti-heroes saves the day.
When I googled Under the Dome and Simpsons Movie, I saw immediately that there are quite a few more geniuses, lots of folks quicker on the useless trivia uptake than moi.
Enough people came to this conclusion that the King himself weighed in on the topic.He maintained that he’d thought of the premise and used it ages ago in a short piece of fiction (by his standards) entitled The Cannibals. I have no doubt that this is true. What aggrieved me in his response was the dismissive manner he displayed with this comment, “…I was thinking dome and isolation long before Homer, Marge, and their amusing brood came on the scene.”
Like I said, “Great minds think alike.” I’ll wager someone geekier than myself could come up with an “Outer Limits” plot, or a Ray Bradbury story, that might predate Professor King’s “dome and isolation” theme. But that’s not the point. Great minds can spin a metaphor into their own special kind of cotton candy. The death and degradation are definitely more realistic in King’s Dome. But I think the Simpson’s have more believable characters and their dialogue is way better. Both make me laugh a lot.
I have long admired Mr. King (though not a true completist I’ve read more King pages than I’d like to admit), Mr. Groening, Mr. J.L. Brooks and Company (what a dream team that is!). I hope that they can just get along and treat each other as equals. Only the Rolling Stones and a very short list of other performers have such an enduring track record for providing consistently marvelous entertainment. Rock on, Stephen and Homer!
PS- Does anybody know if SK has ever done a guest shot on The Simpsons regular series?
And the survey says, yes. Both Stephen King and J.K. Rowling are world-renowned authors (that have appeared in Simpsons episodes). Though King has dabbled in acting before, it was a first for Rowling. Rowling was just one of many English notables that the Simpsons meet in a vacation to London. King also played himself in the episode “Insane Clown Poppy.”
I wonder if he’s ever been on Sesame Street?