A review of reviews

Tonight, I watched the first episode of Under the Dome. If you haven’t heard about it – it’s a new TV series based on the novel by Stephen King, exploring the reactions of citizens of a small town who suddenly find themselves trapped by a mysterious invisible wall. I love sci-fi, so the previews that had been aired got me really excited. Then I made the mistake of doing some research online.

It seemed like a good idea at the time – I have never read the novel, so I thought maybe I’d see if I could find out more about what I’d be in for. What I learned almost put me off watching altogether. Reviewers described brutal murders, graphic depictions of gore, townspeople panicking and turning on one another…not at all what the previews had suggested, and certainly not the kind of thing I enjoy watching. I was on the verge of deciding not to bother with it…

Then I thought about all the times I’ve disagreed with reviewers and critics in the past. How often has a stuffy critic who prefers ‘high art’ films panned a romantic comedy that I’ve absolutely loved? How many times have I regretted seeing a ‘critically acclaimed’ film, because I learned too late about the ‘brutally honest’ depictions of tragic circumstances that were just not enjoyable to watch? How many times have I struggled to get through a book that critics described as a masterpiece, but breezed through a tacky romance or mystery?

So I watched Under the Dome, perhaps with a little more trepidation than I had expected, and I was pleasantly surprised. The scenes described as particularly gory were, in my opinion, slightly cartoonish, and less offensive than some of the injuries you’d see in ‘medical emergency’ type reality shows. Early on one of the main characters is seen burying a dead body, but there was nothing brutal about it. So far the townspeople seem too shocked to start panicking. I am going to remain open-minded about the possibility of these things occurring in later episodes, but so far I have seen nothing that shocked me as much as the reviews told me it would.

I was reminded today that personal taste is something that varies between individuals. Just because you find something funny, offensive, sweet, sappy, boring, gory etc, doesn’t mean that it is. Well, perhaps it is to you, but it may not be to others. On reflection, I felt that in this case, it was only fair to find out for myself, not THE truth, but MY truth. From now on, although I’ll continue to read reviews, I’ll be much more careful about believing them!

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