[07/08/10 - 11:18 PM]
The Futon's First Look: "Haven" (Syfy)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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HAVEN (Syfy)
(Fridays at 10:00/9:00c beginning July 9)

The network's description: "New drama series Haven, based on the novella The Colorado Kid from renowned author Stephen King, follows FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who arrives in the small town of Haven, Maine to solve the murder of a local ex-con. Before long, her natural curiosity lands her in the epicenter of activity in this curious enclave, which turns out to be a longtime refuge for people with a remarkable range of supernatural abilities. Among the townspeople are local cop Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), who eventually becomes Audrey's partner, and the mysterious and charming Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour).

The impressive creative team behind Haven includes showrunner Scott Shepherd (Tru Calling, The Dead Zone) who is joined by his partners, Executive Producers Lloyd Segan and Shawn Piller (The Dead Zone, Wildfire, Greek), and E1 Entertainment's John Morayniss (Hung, Copper) Noreen Halpern (Hung, Copper), Laszlo Barna (The Bridge) and Michael Rosenberg (Hung, The Riches). The pilot is written by Sam Ernst (Shrek the Third, The Dead Zone) and Jim Dunn (Shrek the Third, The Dead Zone) who will also serve as executive producers on the series."

What did they leave out? It's not a straight adaptation of King's novella as it appears to be only a loose springboard. And while only a rough cut of the premiere was provided for review, it looks like subsequent episodes will air out of production order "Butterfly" (103 on July 16), "Harmony" (104 on July 23), "Consumed" (102 on July 30) and "Ball and Chain" (105 on August 6).

The plot in a nutshell: Perpetually traveling FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) has yet another case: reports have come in that Jonas Lester, a wanted fugitive, is heading to his hometown of Haven, Maine. And with that she heads to the New England hamlet where, after a car accident nearly takes her life, she befriends a local detective, Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant). It seems that they've found Lester - dead by the shore as if shot from a cannon on top of the bordering cliffs. And while the town's Chief of Police (Nicholas Campbell) - who just happens to be Nathan's father - says it's a waste of time, Audrey insists on looking into why Lester came back to town.

Together they turn up a pair of leads - a hat belonging to Conrad Brower (apologies as I didn't recognize the actor), a shifty war veteran, and a gun registered to Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), an unabashed smuggler - as well as a pair of overly invested shop owners (Nicole de Boer and another actor I didn't recognize). Before they can make any headway though, an unexpected fog descends on the town, almost killing Nathan in the ensuing confusion. It's the first of many bizarre weather-related happenings, each more deadly than the next. Ultimately it's not a question of what is causing said events, but rather who as the town's secrets begin to reveal themselves.

What works: I know it's an easy swipe but...

What doesn't: ...it's essentially a low-rent version of the far superior "Eureka." Painfully bland and humorless, not to mention almost uniformly non-descript, "Haven" just never seems to come to life. At every turn the show seems to purposely take the less interesting road: whether it's Audrey and Nathan's muted "Mulder/Scully" relationship when it comes to the town's supernatural occurrences (she believes! he doesn't!), its lackluster attempts to humanize them (Nathan's never good enough for his dad, and, due to a medical condition, literally can't feel pain! Audrey's a rough-and-tumble orphan that wants to save the world!) or the I-guess-they're-supposed-to-have-chemistry between Audrey and the rascally Duke, none of which ever really provides a spark.

Ever worse is the almost shrugworthy way the characters sleepwalk through the show's more fantastical revelations: things like seeing another person be able to hurl tornado like winds or discovering a picture of yourself dated 30 years ago in the local paper one assumes would elicit feelings of "holy shit" or "did that seriously just happen?" rather than the unblinking, roll-with-the-punches reaction provided here. It's as if each scene begins with an exasperated sigh and then slogs its way through to the next dreary act. I suppose somewhere in here, amongst its thesis that "Haven" is literally a haven to God's supernatural orphans, is a show, but for now...

The bottom line: ...this one is really rough.

  [march 2023]  


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