"Under the Dome" is exactly what the title suggests. An enormous, invisible dome suddenly descends on the small town of Chester's Mill, causing immediate mayhem and trapping the residents and a few visitors inside.
It's very Stephen King-like, with all sorts of mysteries and dark undertones. But it is less dark than the novel.
Writer/executive producer Brian K. Vaughan said he's a "lifelong fan" of King who is an executive producer and consultant on the series. Vaughan said he was "inspired" by the book but not confined by it.
"I hope fans of Stephen King will love it and enjoy the changes as much as Stephen King has," he said. "He's been really supportive of us going to some new places with this.
"He's just been a dream of a collaborator. He's been so generous with us. He encouraged us. He said, 'Take it to places that I couldn't and do something new with it.' "
The book covers a few weeks; the producers of the TV series are hoping it will run for several seasons.
"You'll get a very satisfying story with a very satisfying conclusion [at the end of the 13-episode first season]," said Baer. "But it's definitely our intention that, if this does well, we'd like to come back to the dome for many seasons to come."
How, exactly, that will work, they're not saying. But one of the reasons they're diverging from the book is so there will be suspense.
"If it was exactly like the book, then you wouldn't be surprised every week," Vaughan said. "I've already seen the best 'Under the Dome' movie possible, which is the one that plays in my head as I'm reading the book. I feel like there would really be no point in doing a direct translation. I'd just send people to the source material and say, 'Read that.' "
This isn't the first time a novel has been adapted for TV. It isn't the first time that novel has undergone significant changes as it transitions to the small screen.
Baer, whose credits include "ER" and "Law & Order: SVU," compared "Under the Dome" to a certain successful series about zombies.
"I love the 'Walking Dead' comic book," he said. "And I'm so grateful that the TV show isn't just an exact adaptation that it feels like you get something new each week."
Which is what they're promising for "Under the Dome."
"I never would have deviated if Stephen King hadn't been really supportive of it," Vaughan said. "He even talked about how, if we're lucky enough to come back for a second season, he'd love to write an episode. It's never been him saying, 'Oh, you guys got this wrong' or 'That was never my intention in the book.' He's very much on board."
'Dome' on CBS
"Under the Dome" premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on CBS/Channel 2. It's scheduled to air on 13 consecutive Mondays through Sept. 16.