Rich Heldenfels
Beacon Journal popular culture writer

Last summer’s hit Under the Dome begins a second season at 10 p.m. Monday with help from Stephen King.

The series about a small town trapped under a dome of mysterious origin is based on a King novel, but fans of the writer were well aware of big differences between the book and the TV drama.

It may be more King-like in the coming year, since the man himself wrote the season premiere. In a CBS video, he says that doing so puts his own “Good Housekeeping seal of approval” on the show. And by doing the season premiere, “I can kind of guide the course of the season.” Which, he says, will include big surprises, bigger challenges for the characters and — make of this what you will — “a few more teeth.”

You can also spot King in the premiere.

Among the issues in the new season: a suddenly magnetized dome and, in a later episode, a declining food supply for the town.

CBS also premieres the drama Reckless at 9 tonight. It’s a self-described “sultry legal drama,” meaning that any talk about briefs may not involve just legal cases. Anna Wood stars as Jamie Sawyer, a Chicago defense lawyer moved south, where she is at odds with Charleston, S.C., city attorney Roy Rayder (Cam Gigandet). Of course, there are also sparks between the two.

Following Reckless at 10 p.m. on CBS is the third-season premiere of Unforgettable, the police drama starring Poppy Montgomery.

Also at 10 tonight is The Leftovers, HBO’s series adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s novel of the same name. The book and the film deal with events after 2 percent of the world population has disappeared without explanation. Some people want to believe it’s the Rapture, others are more skeptical. Some try to act as if life can go on. Others take up new lives, including in a couple of cults. But everyone is faced with a world where some or all of their loved ones have gone, and it’s by no means clear what this means for those left behind.

The series, created by Perrotta and Lost’s Damon Lindelof, makes some changes in story and tone from the book — and is even grimmer and more heart-wrenching in the three episodes I have seen. The despair runs deep, punctuated by moments of desperation and extreme fear.

The ensemble cast includes Copley’s own Carrie Coon (see my interview with her in today’s Life section of the Beacon Journal), Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston and Liv Tyler.

Turner Classic movies will pay tribute to the late Eli Wallach on Monday with five films featuring the beloved character actor. The lineup is Kisses for My President (9 a.m.), Act One (11 a.m.), How the West Was Won (1 p.m.), The Misfits (3:45 p.m.) and Baby Doll (6 p.m.). That said, if you want to see Wallach at his most entertaining, get a copy of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Sergio Leone’s western epic, in which Wallach was “the ugly” to Clint Eastwood’s good and Lee Van Cleef’s bad.

Other viewing of note: Nick News with Linda Ellerbee looks at the issue of animal rights at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Nickelodeon. NBC, having smacked ABC’s Rising Star with an extra episode of America’s Got Talent, will try it again tonight with a special Last Comic Standing telecast. But if you saw the first Rising Star, you don’t need another network to give you a reason to skip the show.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and Ohio.com, including the HeldenFiles Online blog, www.ohio.com/blogs/heldenfiles. He is also on Twitter and on Facebook, including his new page Rich Heldenfels, Pop Culture Guy. You can contact him at 330-996-3582 or rheldenfels@thebeaconjournal.com.