Stephen King is coming back to broadcast TV. CBS is giving the author’s Under the Dome a 13-episode series order.
Based on King’s bestselling novel, Under the Dome is the story of a small New England town that’s suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by an enormous transparent dome. The town’s residents need to survive the deteriorating post-apocalyptic conditions while searching for answers to what this barrier is, where it came from, and how to make it go away.
“This is a great novel coming to the television screen with outstanding auspices and in-season production values to create a summer programming event,” said Nina Tassler, President of CBS Entertainment. “We’re excited to transport audiences Under the Dome and into the extraordinary world that Stephen King has imagined.”
The series version was originally developed at Showtime. But in an unusual move, the ambitious project jumped from a cable network’s slate to the major broadcaster (more on that below). It’s also a rather unique title for CBS, since the network has been traditionally more wary about betting on serialized dramas than its rivals. But with AMC’s The Walking Dead and NBC’s Revolution, apocalyptic serialized dramas have been delivering large numbers lately.
Fans of the novel shouldn’t expect an exact retelling of the same story. Last we heard, writer Brian K. Vaughan’s (Lost) script for Dome was wisely using the novel’s setup as a launch pad for its own TV-format-friendly version of the story and might even lay the groundwork for a different outcome than the novel’s ending. Also, the CBS version is definitely a series, not a mini-series, with a finale episode that will leave the story open for more seasons.
Dome’s development is an example of synergy at work. The project was developed at Showtime, owned by CBS Corp., but the network’s president David Nevins decided it wasn’t really right for the cable channel. He recommended it to Tassler, who was looking for summer programming and loved the concept. Also, Dome is based on the novel published by Simon & Schuster, which is a CBS company too. The development swap is a reverse of what happened with The Tudors, which was shepherded at CBS before moving to Showtime.
Under the Dome will air this summer. CBS Television Studios will produce the series in association with Amblin Television. There’s no cast in place yet, but Neal Baer, Stephen King, Justin Falvey, Darryl Frank, Stacey Snider will serve as executive producers along with Vaughan.