10:35am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Under the Dome' EP Teases Season of 'Transformation,' Big Deaths, New Characters
Under the Dome stars and producers previewed its upcoming sophomore season -- which will include the death of at least two beloved characters -- as well as reaffirmed that the series could continue well beyond its second run on Monday during CBS' Summer Press Day.
After CBS Television Studios president David Stapf gushed about the series' ratings performance last summer -- Dome ranks as the most-watched new series on broadcast television last year and is one of the three most-watched dramas in the world, joining CSI and NCIS -- exec producer Neal Baer dubbed season two the season of "transformation."
"Last year was a season of secrets, this is the year where we will find out what they're truly made of," Baer said. As part of that, at least two beloved characters will meet their maker -- but that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't resurface. "Anything is possible under the dome," Baer teased.
Baer stressed that season two will explore science vs. faith in a way that the series hasn't tackled before thanks to the addition of newcomer Karla Crome, who will portray Rebecca, a science teacher who approaches the mysterious dome opposite the faith-approach that Rachelle Lefevre's Julia takes. (Dean Norris' Big Jim, meanwhile, will be caught in the middle between the two.)
As for how long Dome will run, Baer reiterated that the series -- initially billed as a limited "event" show -- can last for 15 seasons. (That would put it on par with Baer's ER.) The show, he noted, is already beyond Stephen King's best-selling book on which the series is based. "We're way past the book," Baer said. "The book is about the first week and we're already two weeks in. This season will be going two more weeks. If we lasted 15 years, that would only be a year under the dome. It's certainly possible to keep going. We have so many stories to tell."
To that note, King will pen the first episode and, as Baer said, certify his involvement with the sci-fi drama. "Stephen King is sending us off into a place we're proud of and we really love and [these are some of] his ideas to go beyond the book," Baer stressed.
Baer noted that the addition of new characters under the dome will help take the territory into new directions and further explore many of the existing characters. Among them: ER favorite Sherry Stringfield, who will play Pauline, Big Jim's wife. (Fun fact: Baer said ER alum Eriq La Salle will direct episode 10 of season two, setting the stage for a fun reunion for the trio.)
Other newcomers for season two include Eddie Cahill, Grace Victoria Cox, Dwight Yoakam and more.
Dome returns Monday, June 30 at 10 p.m. on CBS.