Haven, so far

[This review contains spoilers for the first three episodes of season one, "Welcome to Haven," "Butterfly," and "Harmony."]

Nathan: "Keep your hands where I can see them."
Audrey: "What am I gonna do, pull out another gun?"

The "quirky small town with a supernatural secret" has been done to death, and the SyFy channel is not known for consistency when it comes to the quality of their original series. But I have to say that I was more entertained by the first ten minutes of Haven than the first two full episodes (which were all I watched) of The Gates and Happy Town.

The female lead, FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), is particularly strong, and I like her a lot. Audrey grew up as an orphan with no past and discovered during this pilot episode that she may have a connection to Haven, a town that appears to be trying to kill her. So far, the situation with Audrey's possible mother in the old newspaper photo feels like an excuse to get her to stay in town, because otherwise, why would a talented, ambitious FBI agent stay in weird little tiny little Haven? But it's true that finding out about one's past is strong motivation, and of course, there are the mysterious "troubles." So okay.

And the other characters certainly didn't bore me. I like the town's detective, Nathan Wournos (Lucas Bryant), and his ideopathic neuropathy (loved the EMT telling him he would get his tenth MRI for free). The producers also get points for casting Eric Balfour (Six Feet Under) (okay, and the Buffy pilot) as Duke Crocker, which is just an exceptionally cool name for what might be a cool character. Nicole de Boer guest starred in the pilot, and I've always been fond of her, too. The producers of Haven also did The Dead Zone, so she's worked with them before.

Since this review is late (I had intended to post a review of the pilot, but other stuff got in the way), I can report that I liked the second episode ("Butterfly"), too, even though it wasn't quite as strong as the pilot. They get big points for the big metal ball. Loved the big metal ball. And the third episode ("Harmony") was a good one; Lucas Bryant got a chance to shine – or more accurately, to freak me out. You'd think never feeling pain would be a good thing, but there's something about his malady that is just super creepy. (Yes, I know, Stephen King, of course it's creepy.) Eric Balfour's Duke was fun in this one, too. I'm a bit confused about his history with Nathan, but I'm certain we'll learn more as the series progresses.

I particularly liked the ending of "Harmony" because about three quarters through, I was saying to Dan, "Wouldn't it be great if that nice couple could just go off on the boat and be together forever? And they could take those two catatonic guys with them." And son of a gun, it happened. If there can be a feel-good ending to a horror story, that was it.

Haven is just fun to watch. It strikes the right note between scary and ludicrous. (And again, points for the big metal ball.) I have no idea if the show will succeed, but I'm getting a charge out of it, and looking forward to it every week.

And I'll close with a quote from the pilot.

Audrey: "Santa Barbara?"
Marian: "Yes. Have you been there?"
Audrey: "Twice. Once for a pedophile, the other for a serial killer."
Ted: "Marian and I are thinking of moving there and buying a shop."
Audrey: "Oh, it's beautiful. It's... it's... beautiful. And a lot safer now."
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

4 comments:

R. Berger said...

Heck, with Eureka and Sanctuary (although that second one might be a bit of a stretch), "quirky small town with a supernatural secret" has been done to death by SyFy alone. SyFy channel seems to be fond of finding a horse that will carry them the distance, and then beating it to death. (See also: miniseries, Alice and Tin Man).

Which isn't to say that I'm not enjoying the heck out of this particular horse. Great review, and I'm totally with you -- Haven is shaping up to be a lot of fun. Also, big metal ball!

Patrick said...

To quote Nathan:

"It's a huge metal ball, who could resist that?"

olika said...

Haven is one of the new shows that i'm actually really enjoying, much much more than Persons Unknown. We have strong beautifull lead character, handsome guy to keep her company, no wait there are 2 of them, the mystery that has a right amount of creepyness. The reason why I could not watch Happy Town, it's coz despite my love for Amy Acker it was bordering on horror which i don't really like.

Great review, Billie! (as always)
Glad it cought your attention and I will look forward to your reviews whether it's every episode, every three of them or whatever else schedule you might have in mind :)

Anonymous said...

Inspired by your review, I watched all three episodes on demand and enjoyed them. I also like Emily Rose as the female lead -- there's a fun edginess to her and she seems like a more fully-realized female character than I am used to seeing in non-Joss Whedom shows. So far I am digging Nathan and Duke, too.

Stephen King has too often let me down in the past, so I began to avoid his work (cinematic masterpiece The Shawshank Redemption notwithstanding). I'm glad I gave Haven a try.

KAM