The dome — over Elkin?

By Stephen Harris

March 10, 2014

I see where they started work last Monday on the upcoming season of the dome TV show. With an average of 10 million viewers of each of the 13 episodes last summer, the show can’t get back on the air fast enough for the network honchos, I suspect.

Good for the Wilmington area, the Hollywood of North Carolina, where the show is produced and where the money flows when the show’s in town. For instance, the hanging scene in last season’s conclusion was staged in front of the Pender County Courthouse in Burgaw this side of Wilmington.

The second season will air starting June 30 on CBS.

I didn’t particularly care for the dome TV show. I stopped watching after a few episodes. Not my cup of tea.

But the idea of the TV drama is intriguing enough. A mysterious, impenetrable, clear dome suddenly springs up around and over a small town, trapping townsfolk and visitors inside, blocking contact with the outside world and leading to all kinds of storylines.

I can’t help but take the idea and wonder a bit what would happen with Elkin under a dome.

And please, no wisecracks about whether anyone in our sleepy little town would notice.

First of all, since so many of us, including yours truly, work out of town, an Elkin dome would make going to work out of the question. So we could ditch that daily grind. Yea!

But next, folks like me would have to start looking for other work here in the hometown. I have no special insights on the local job market, but I expect there would not be nearly enough jobs here to go around.

An Elkin dome would send a strong message to the economic development folks about the need for more and better jobs.

But think of the benefits of not having to drive every work day to Wilkesboro, Mount Airy or even the Triad or the Charlotte area. Think of the economic toll all of that driving takes, the effects of burning all that gas. Think of the physical toll, the psychological toll.

We might not like giving up our far-away jobs, but then again if forced to do it we just might be surprised.

Also, an Elkin dome just might force us to work together more often.

I can remember a time, just barely, when folks in the community would be called on by our neighbor tobacco farmers to come and help bring in the harvest starting in August. A lot of bonding went on among all the folks gathered at the tobacco barns and around the tobacco sleds.

Folks pitching in and working the schools’ concession stands on football Friday nights is nice, as well as at clean-up day once or twice a year on the church grounds.

But I expect we’d get along a whole lot better if more of us worked shoulder to shoulder a whole lot more.

There’s no TV available under the TV show’s dome. No internet, either. There’s just the town’s radio station.

Nothing against WIFM, but under a dome hearing 40-year-old oldies all the time would drive me batty.

But think of life under a dome without all of those other media distractions. Folks just might get out and about again.

I like to think that an Elkin dome would black out all video games. So kids just might have to start playing outside again and getting in that 60 minutes of physical activity every day that the NFL football players talk about.

Folks just might start sitting out on their porches again. And they just might start taking walks and seeing other folks out on their porches who are just waiting for a friendly face and voice to come along.

I expect they’d have to open up downtown again on Friday nights the way they did before TV and the other distractions took such firm hold. Folks with nothing better to do would walk around window shopping again.

Also, Sundays could become Sundays again. They used to call Sunday a day of rest but not anymore, what with hustling to church and then hustling to a restaurant for Sunday dinner and then hustling to the TV for ball games.

As a kid I grew impatient with the inactivity we used to have on Sundays as I was looking for action. But we older folks now long for the days when you can just sit on the porch or lay on the couch and unwind on the Sabbath.

A scene from the old Mayberry TV show - the antithesis of the dome TV show - sticks in my mind. The scene has Andy and Barney sitting on the porch after a big Sunday dinner and in the peace and quiet of the day sleepily mumbling about a lot of nothing. How bucolic. How enviable.

That raises a question. Did the Mayberry TV show have a dome?

The modern dome TV show features conflict and suspicion and violence, and I guess that’s what writer Stephen King and the producers want. That’s part of the reason I quit watching.

I would hope for better under an Elkin dome, for closer brotherhood and better relations with neighbors, for a reassessment of some priorities. Hey, how about a TV show like that?

Stephen Harris returned home to live in State Road.