Under the Dome of Doping

Steph King books and cycling? In one blog? How is this going to work? I love Stephen King books. I have been reading and enjoying each story as it arrives for most of my life. I hate movies based on Stephen King books. I have been looking forward to them for most of my life and then been bitterly disappointed in the outcome for just as long.

I can remember attending one of my first sleep away camps. I was staying at a college and each camper had their own dorm room. I was 12 or 13 and I was just starting to read the book It. It wasn’t the first Stephen King book I read, but it was the first of the really scary ones. I had read The Tommyknockers before that and it was engrossing but not all that scary. It was much more science fiction than horror although it was plenty scary in its’ own way. It was completely different in that it was true horror. A psychotic clown monster that hid in the drains and fed on your fears as well as bullies and adults that wouldn’t listen or believe the main characters were just the start of the terror. Reading it at night I truly scared myself awake. There were nights when I had to sleep with the lights on and the doors open if I could sleep at all.

What made the book so scary; and really what makes Stephen King’s entire scope of work so scary; is that I can identify with the main characters so easily and completely. In It the main characters are outcast children. They are all different and “uncool” so they are on the outside of their peer groups. One is fat, another stutters, another is a tomboy, another is a nerd. They end up coming together because no one else will be friends with them. Even if you were accepted as a kid you probably didn’t feel that way all the time. It is easy to find yourself in one or more of the characters. Their peril becomes your own. Even through the terror, the book quickly became one of my favorites. It lead me to read most of Stephen King’s books as soon as I could find them in the library.

Most people dismiss his work as cheap horror but I have always learned something. I either learn something about myself through identifying with the characters and their actions, or I learn something about people in general. King paints his characters so completely and accurately that I am never surprised when I don’t identify with something until years later when I have had an experience that helps me get to that character’s level. Once I became a parent I understood how accurately he portrayed the love between father and son in Cell and From a Buick 8. The books, like all great works of literature, became a part of the fabric of my life.

All of this makes me imagine that Mr. King must suffer from epic rage and frustration each time a movie or television show is drawn from one of his books. Only The Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me have been close. Every other movie or television show has been a rough translation at best. It has gotten to the point that I have stopped watching most of them so I am sure that people will be able to think of one or two that they enjoy to dispute this point but watch the television miniseries It and I will rest my case. Every time there is a new movie or television show I realize that it will always be this way. Each time a new project is announced I find myself looking forward to watching, believing that this time it will be better. This time it will carry the theme of the book or even the major plot points to the screen without bungling. Each time I am wrong. At least the show Haven admits that it is just inspired by the story instead of trying to be anything more than that.

The latest project is Under the Dome and it is rough to be kind. The first episode not only left out what were major plot points in the book but also changed the main character from a sympathetic good guy to a murderer. That completely changed the whole tone of the book and if the show shares the climax there is no way it will have the same impact. It’s almost as if the producer and director decided that Stephen King’s name was enough to secure viewers, there was no need to stay true to the source material. King is listed as an executive producer but I have a feeling that is more of a contract stipulation than a creative position.

And yet I watched. And I watched the second episode. And the third is on my DVR waiting for me to watch that as well. I keep watching because I keep thinking it will get better. That this time it will all make sense and the producers will bring it back around. I believe even when there is evidence that tells me I shouldn’t.

How does this tie into doping? The 100th edition of the Tour de France is currently underway. The organizers have said that this will be a clean tour. The riders have all sworn that they are riding clean and that there is no way that doping will be a deciding factor in this years’ Tour. I hope so. I have watched each stage and thoroughly enjoyed them all. Each stage has offered up its share of drama and suspense. There have been surprise winners in the team time trial, there have been amazing sprint stages, and the first day in the mountains was stunning. There was an amazing attack with the favorite to win the Tour, Chris Froome, storming his way up the mountain to the finish.

Within days there was an article (http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/biking/Analysing-Froomes-Performance.html) that analyzed his efforts against what his body should have been able to accomplish and left it up to the reader to decide if Froome might have doped to attain his win. I am no sports scientist but the article is worth the read.

I am struck that I have the same feelings for the Tour de France that I have for each new Stephen King inspired movie. I watch desperately hoping that this time there will be a different outcome. This time the movie will be good. This time there will be no specter of doping hanging over the riders. This time the television show will be the story faithfully envisioned. This time there will be a hero emerging from the Peleton that will ride bravely and cleanly. Under the Dome has already disappointed me but I am hoping for better from the Tour. There are so many great stories and amazing riders that I am really wishing that we can get through July and the months after without a breaking story of which riders doped and who will be losing stage or Tour victories.

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One Response to Under the Dome of Doping

  1. Julia says:

    I’ve also always considered myself a Stephen King fan, though I was actively reading his work back in high school, and not much since. Never too late to pick back up. IT was one of my favorites, both the television movie (that, at the time, I watched because I was a Jonathan Brandis fan) and the book. I never thought about WHY it was one of my favorites though: You hit on it. As an outcast myself, I connected with that story for all the reasons implied.

    As with most book-and-movie duos, seems like they can never truly match up with each other. Indeed, that must be unfulfilling for any author. But, I bet someone as prolific as Mr. King is used to that sensation. (I had a class in high school where we read the book and watched the movie, that even when it proved exactly what you are saying, was still pretty interesting.)

    I haven’t read Under the Dome yet, but had been wondering about the series, as in, how true to the book they were able, or had tried, to make it. So, interesting to hear that its a fail. I might still read the book at some point.

    Haven! One of my favorite shows. I also appreciate that they, from the beginning, made it clear that his work was just a jumping off point. I think of it as visual fan fiction.

    Seems to me that with history/anything, it all comes back around again, meaning there is bound to be some honest riders in the future (if not now), who have the clarity and strength to never even entertain thoughts of utilizing enhancers. Even if you end up disappointed with the current Tour, I think you should hold on to the believe (i’m assuming you believe this) that this very thing will happen with your beloved sport.

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