Writer/executive producer Brian K. Vaughn is exiting "Under the Dome," the show he helped adapt from Stephen King's massive novel about what happens when a small town is trapped, y'know, under a really big dome.
Why does one writer leaving CBS's sophomore series matter? Well, for one thing, Vaughn has been with "Under the Dome" since 2011, when he was selected to adapt King's novel (at that point, for Showtime).
And Vaughn's involvement with "Under the Dome" was (prior to its premiere) a major selling point for the show, because Vaughn's, frankly, really good. His comics work, which includes "Y the Last Man" and "Saga," is some of the best the medium has ever seen. And his joining the writing staff of "Lost" was one of the major reasons why that show was able to recover from a bad year's worth of episode (beginning in its second season and stretching into its third).
Then again, one of the other major reasons that "Lost" recovered (at least a little bit) from the dismal stalling of Seasons 2 and 3 was a deal struck with ABC to set up a plan for the rest of the series's run -- three more seasons, with 18 episodes each. "Lost," in short, knew when it was going to end, and could plan accordingly.
But that's a luxury not afforded to "Under the Dome." The series might have played perfectly as a spooky summer miniseries (a format that's become popular with audiences and awards voters, as seen with "Fargo" and "American Horror Story"). Instead, thanks to a financing deal with Amazon that makes the show super-cheap for CBS to produce, it was renewed for a second season mid-way through its first. Now, those poor people could be trapped under that dome for two seasons, maybe even more. And they have got to be out of bacon and bourbon by now.
"Under the Dome," like "Lost" and other high concept "trapped" series stretching all the way back to "Gilligan's Island," desperately needs a plan for its ending. And while Vaughn was involved in developing Season 2 before his departure, that lack of certainty about when the show might actually end is undoubtedly a tougher obstacle to conquer than a magic hemisphere.