WILMINGTON, N.C. — The fictional Maine town of Chester's Mill is "Under the Dome" for a second season, and author Stephen King, on whose novel the popular show is based, has written the first episode for this summer's run.
The CBS miniseries that led the ratings much of last summer returns for another 13 episodes beginning Monday (10 p.m. EDT), with King telling viewers that no one in Chester's Mill is assured of making it through the season alive.
"It's an interesting challenge" picking up a plot after other writers have taken it in new directions, King said during a March interview on the set.
"I went back and looked at the last episode twice and I looked at the last scene about 15 times," he said. "Here is where Joe and the other teenagers are outside the church. Here is Barbie on the scaffold with Big Jim and Junior. What is going to happen to these people?"
Working with other writers is different from writing a book that you do yourself, King said. "It's a really collaborative effort and you have to be willing to give up some of your ideas for the other ideas and try to get something everyone is happy with."
In "Under the Dome," a dome suddenly encapsulates a small Maine town, cutting off its residents — and in the show's opening, cutting a cow in half — from the rest of the country, leaving them to their own resources to survive.
King has touched on the theme of isolation in the past, from early novels such as "The Shining" to his 1999 TV miniseries, "Storm of the Century."
"People underestimate the power of nature and overestimate the organization and infrastructure of the world," he said. "Those things fascinate me. We live in a fragile society and the infrastructure that holds a lot of it up is very fragile."
He mentioned the ice and snowstorm that paralyzed Atlanta last January, trapping motorists in their cars, some for hours, as thousands of vehicles clogged the highways. Some people abandoned their vehicles and sought refuge in private homes, fire stations, shelters and supermarkets.
"That is an under-the-dome situation, and you are thrown on your own resources and may have to be 18 or 19 hours inside the cab of a semi-truck," King said. "I like to see how people react when they are put into a situation — not necessarily a survival situation — but where you don't have the resources of the government and the outside world."
King sees the mystery as part of the attraction of "Under the Dome."
Who lowered the dome? Aliens? Or was it some type of government experiment that went awry?
And there's the isolation from the rest of the world.
"I think people like to watch something like 'Under the Dome' and imagine how they would react," King said.