Admittedly, I struggle with programs that I just don’t ‘get.’ I don’t mean that their meaning or plots or characters or themes escape me; rather, I don’t get how they uncover, hold, and reward an audience. I know that my tastes as I’ve grown older have changed quite a bit in what I’ll accept in weekly dosage of television viewing, but why is it I have trouble turning my brain off with some series while I don’t with others? In many cases, I tend to believe that, if the production qualities are high, then the writing, ideas, and characters should be equally compelling. As is the case with a little something called HAVEN, that may not be the case … but why shouldn’t it be?
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last three paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few modest hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
FBI Agent Audrey Parker (played by the lovely, fresh-faced Emily Rose) came to Haven for the view, but she quickly found herself drawn into the local mysteries involving all things supernatural. And why wouldn’t she? Where else are you going to find alien abductions, dogs turning into people, haunted houses, and time travel all serving as local diversions? As fate would have it, Parker is quick to learn that she might have vastly more to do with these local legends than anyone would’ve guessed!
HAVEN is exactly the kind of programming made for today’s Syfy Channel (where it airs in the U.S.). It’s filled with neato-keen ideas, acceptable TV-grade special effects, and actors who all look like underwear models. I say that not meaning any of it as a slight; rather, it just seems tailor-made to fit into a show designed to appeal to the much sought after youth demo who tend to be a bit more forgiving about what they’ll spend an hour (or 43 minutes without commercials) watching while happily germinating on the couch.
In the 1990s, TWIN PEAKS was all the rage … well, for a short while, at least. It tapped into some of the same underlying themes – i.e. small town life, local legends, nothing is quite what it seems, etc. – and, for the bulk of its two season run, it managed to eek out a fair share of stories bordering on cosmic coincidence and/or plain spookiness. HAVEN tramples on similar ground, albeit with much more expectable writing and less active posturing on the part of its players. Each hour presents a single mystery; tinkers with its various circumstances enough to maintain the viewers’ interest; and then most things are wrapped up within 60 minutes of TV time. Its writers have cleverly incorporated their own ongoing mythology, but methinks all of those questions won’t be answered until the series’ inevitable finale. After all, all good things do come to an end, kids.
The idea is based on the book by Stephen King published under the ‘Hard Case Crime’ imprint, and it was called “The Colorado King.” Here’s the dirty little secret: truth be told, King’s book wasn’t really all that good – it certainly wasn’t much of a mystery, not like the ‘Hard Case’ books that had come before, but that didn’t stop editors from blazing ahead with a King novel hoping his name would spur sales. “Kid” felt like a knock-off, and I’ve no doubt some might say the same about HAVEN.
Call it what you may, I found it passable entertainment. It didn’t tax me too much. It showed me some pretty actors up against some pretty scenery. And, after 60 minutes, I was free to go about my life looking for something with a bit more meat on its bones.
HAVEN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON is produced by Entertainment One, Big Motion Pictures, Piller / Segan / Shepherd, Universal Networks International, and CanWest Global Television Network. DVD distribution is being handled through Entertainment One (E One). As for the technical specifications, this hourly sci-fi-lite drama is smartly produced, so it’s full of flawless sight and sound. To its credit, this four-disc set comes loaded with special features, including audio commentaries, a documentary, cast interviews, a Comic Con appearance, bloopers, and even more: well done to all participants because this is what fans love to see.
RECOMMENDED. It may not be for me, but it’s fine for thee if that’s your tastes. For me, there was no better exploration of the eerie small town milieu than the oft-maligned and equally misunderstood TWIN PEAKS; still, HAVEN has some respectable if not predictable charm. Chalk that up to its good-looking cast, its saccharin writing, and its tween-ish romanticism. No, it may not be perfect, but it’s a Syfy program, after all, so that bar is aptly set low.
In the interests of fairness, I’m pleased to disclose that the fine folks at Entertainment One (E One) provided me with a DVD copy of HAVEN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON by request for the expressed purposes of completing this review.
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