by Jef Burnham
Series premiere: Friday, July 9 at 10/9c only on Syfy.
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In the tradition of American Gothic and Twin Peaks comes Syfy’s newest original series, Haven, based on the novel by Stephen King about a small seaside town with more than its share of supernatural secrets. The series follows Aubrey Parker (Emily Rose), an ambitious FBI Agent whose superiors have deemed her almost carelessly open-minded. But when an assignment finds her in Haven, Maine, her open-mindedness will prove to be her greatest asset.
Filling out the cast of Haven is Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under) as one of the town’s more mysterious residents; Lucas Bryant as Nathan Wournos, the detective who feels no pain; and, most exciting for me, Nicholas Campbell (DaVinci’s Inquest, Cinderella Man) as Nathan’s father and Haven’s Chief of Police. The series’ characters are not wholly unlike that quirky bunch that inhabited David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, but they are admittedly far less interesting in the pilot than were Lynch’s menagerie of weirdos in the epic Twin Peaks opener; but the atmosphere is more akin to that of American Gothic is enhanced by a really terrific score.
My impression from the pilot is that Aubrey could very well develop into a fascinating character. But at first glance she is the token everywoman and rather bland when compared to Twin Peaks’ Special Agent Dale Cooper. However, she’s probably on par with American Gothic’s Dr. Matt Crower, when simply comparing pilots (it may seem unfair to endlessly compare Haven to these two series, but it is impossible to watch this pilot without constantly being reminded of them). Balfour’s Duke Crocker has a wonderful duality to him in that he could very well become the series’ main villain, but is just as likely to be an enormous asset to Aubrey’s investigation. It’s too early to tell. And Det. Wournos is cool simply because he cannot feel pain, which could provide the writers with the opportunity for some pretty amazing moments later on, though it’s responsibly used as a throw-away device in the pilot. As for Nicholas Campbell: he is tragically underused in the pilot. Hopefully this will be rectified in later installments.
Now, I have to admit that even though this show is obviously meant to be a supernatural series and is, after all, a Syfy original, I couldn’t wholly buy into the key supernatural element in the pilot. I felt that some skepticism from the characters was probably in order prior to the conclusion, but it was only after the fact that anyone really showed any doubts. Still, the rules of the series must be established! But I think that Haven’s pilot is a solid effort that will pay off later in the season. Whether or not it will hook viewers is debatable. I have my doubts. I think, at most, it might peak some viewers’ interest in seeing a second installment, but it’ll be hard for anyone to make any judgment calls on the pilot alone. Still, I do think that those who enjoy a bit of the supernatural, but especially fans of the two series previously referenced ad nauseum should definitely give Haven a shot.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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