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Under the Dome’ gets off to a creepy start

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Stephen King returns to the small screen with Under the Dome.

Three and a half stars

Under the Dome Mondays, 10 p.m., CBS.

Summer shows on CBS are generally knock-off crime procedurals or throwaway reality shows, so it’s a pleasant surprise to see the ambitious and complex Under the Dome on the network’s summer schedule. Originally developed for Showtime, Dome has the feel of a cable drama, with its large ensemble cast, dark subject matter and serialized storytelling. It’s based on a 2009 novel by Stephen King, whose works have been adapted for TV with mixed results in the past. But Dome is more like Game of Thrones, with an entire 13-episode season devoted to bringing King’s 1,000-plus-page book to life.

The pilot sets up the simple concept: An entire small town is cut off from the outside world by a giant invisible dome. Tensions rise as residents try to cope with the isolation, along with the dark secrets that various townspeople are hiding. It’s hard to say from just one episode—mostly devoted to setting the plot in motion—whether Dome will be a satisfying experience all the way through, but there’s plenty of effective creepiness and suspense, and the cast is filled with talented TV veterans. The rest of the season will determine whether Dome ends up as the next Twin Peaks—or the next Happy Town.

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