Haven: Welcome to Haven

Hello, Everyone! This is my first review of my first series. I’ve been hanging around the Billie-verse for a while but have finally gotten up the courage and found the time to become a reviewer myself. Considering the calibre of the reviews on this site, you will not be surprised that I am just a bit intimidated (well, more than just a bit). So here goes - the first episode of Haven, a Showcase series based on an obscure Stephen King novel The Colorado Kid. (I am a huge Stephen King fan – I can’t really admit this to my more “learned” friends.)

The set-up for this show is a mess of bits and pieces of shows already running, shows past, and several cliches. We have a plucky blonde FBI agent - Audrey - investigating weird stuff (Fringe anyone?) We have a good guy - Nathan - a handsome, clean-cut Haven police officer, and a bad boy - Duke - a handsome, shifty but charming smuggler. This sets up a classic triangle (always good in melodrama - even weird stuff melodrama). You might get the impression from this paragraph that I think Haven is just a hack job, boring, and predictable, but you would be wrong. Haven does what all Stephen King’s work does. It takes the standard stories, sometimes outright stealing them, and gives them depth and a twist. It uses cliches in new and interesting ways and it brings us a cast of characters, good and bad, that we want to get to know and love and/or hate.

Let’s take Audrey, the plucky blonde FBI agent who is an orphan, by the way (or as she says “a free agent”). I love this character. One of the first things that happens in the episode is she is driven off the road because a huge crack appears. There she is teetering in her car over a cliff above the ocean. Playing on the radio is “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tenille. Audrey reaches forward, risking a plummet to her death, to turn off the radio saying “I’m not going to die to this!”

Nathan, the good, handsome Haven police officer comes to her rescue, but when Audrey sees a gun on his belt she pulls hers out and they face each other in a stand-off, gun to gun. She goes for her badge and when Nathan tells her to keep it slow she quips - “What am I going to do? Pull out another gun?” (Hint for later reviews - remember this quote)

At another point in the episode she emerges from Duke’s bedroom on his boat after almost drowning. This handsome guy has saved her life, done her laundry and made her coffee. He has even replaced her phone. Does she swoon into his arms with gratitude? No. She wants to know if he has an alibi and sarcastically comments that he’s given her “a princess phone”.

Now, a little bit about our two-sides-of-a-coin leading men. Nathan is a Haven native and has lived there all his life. He has idiopathic neuropathy, which means he can’t feel anything, including Audrey shutting his hand in the door, getting hit by a truck in a crazy, psychic fog, and anything else you can think of. Duke comes into the episode a little later. He and Nathan grew up together but don’t like each other much. Duke is the bad guy smuggler that Nathan is always trying to arrest. But in standard, weird-stuff melodramatic style, he’s a bad guy who does good things, like saving Audrey from drowning when she gets hit by freak psychic lightening.

In great Stephen King style there is also a cast of quirky characters. Nathan’s dad, “The Chief,” is a crusty old police captain, who denigrates his son and Audrey equally. David Teagues and his brother Vince publish the Haven Herald and get around town on a yellow tandem bike. Conrad is a troubled Vietnam vet who instructs people to “maintain the perimeter” when they get too close to him, and Marion owns the local antique store and, by the way, can control the weather (although she isn’t aware of this until the end of the episode).

There seem to be two plots running simultaneously in this episode. A deeper continuous mystery (where have I heard this before?) and a single episode mystery. The single episode mystery is fairly interesting, with some twists and turns that were predictable but enlivened with what most of us would see as crazy weather--but which the locals just accept as what to expect in New England. The deeper mystery just gets an initial set-up. Audrey is shown an old newspaper with a picture of a woman who looks remarkably like her and a headline - “Who Killed the Colorado Kid?” Is it her mother? An aunt? Audrey decides to take some vacation time to find out more. At the end of the episode, she is telling her boss (a mysterious African American man - seriously - Fringe anyone?), that she is going to take some vacation time, and we see that he is actually watching her from just outside the town. He then calls an unknown person to let them know that Audrey is staying and can maybe help them with their troubles. Obviously, something weirdly melodramatic is going on.

Finally, a word about the setting. The scenery is breathtaking and is enough to get me to watch the show. Nice to know that it is actually filmed in Nova Scotia (yes I am a proud Canadian) which has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.

Bits and Pieces

There is only one person in the whole show who actually has a New England accent: Conrad.

Nathan likes pancakes – not lobster – pancakes. This is not unusual. I remember a friend from the Maritimes telling me that when they were growing up only the poor kids brought lobster sandwiches to school. The well-off kids brought bologna.

Eric Balfour who plays Duke had a small part as Jesse in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Quotes

The Chief: “Keep looking all you want, he’s pretty dead. Tends not to change much.”

Audrey: "Is this Santa Barbara?"
Marion: "Yes, have you been there?"
Audrey: "Twice, once for a pedophile and the other for a serial killer."

Audrey: “A princess phone, seriously?”
Duke: "You really need to work on your thank-yous."

Audrey: “He’s not all bad. He saved my life and then he served me coffee.”

The Chief: “Oh your meds just kicked in, did they.”

All in all I enjoyed this episode, even with the cliches and standard plots. Three out of four troubles.

7 comments:

Billie Doux said...

Welcome to Haven (reviews), Sandy! I'm so glad you're taking on this show. I've gotten very fond of it. And believe me, you're not the only Stephen King fan here.

TVNerd said...

Welcome to the site!

I wanted to say first that I like your style, and you captured the quirky feel of the series.

I wasn't sure i liked Haven until the end of the first season, but it was intriguing enough that I kept watching. Its really great that it is not only getting a second season, but it's being carried here as well!

Thank you for the review. I look forward to reading your views on the rest of the season!

Sooze said...

drnanamom - I assume you are all three of those...and now a reviewer on Billie Doux! Welcome! I got hooked on this show right away, due to the 3 main characters...by the end of the season I was absolutely hooked. As a long time reader and occassional commenter, I cannot wait for the rest of your reviews. And don't be intimidated - your first one was great!

Paul Kelly said...

I fully intend to catch up with Haven over the summer, so I'm glad you're reviewing it, Sandy. I'll have someone to hold my hand. (Metaphorically speaking, that is... though if you live nearby then, sure, why not) ;o)

And I like Stephen King, too. Love him in fact. Some of his stuff's a bit hit and miss, but I still have a place in my reading schedule for him.

Dimitri A.C. Ly said...

Great review, Dr Nanamom! I love that you put so much emphasis on the characters, since they are what got me watching. Haven is like The X-Files but with interpersonal warmth.

Docnaz said...

Hi! I was just wondering why the reviews for season one stopped with this episode?

Josie Kafka said...

Docnaz, they actually stop at the fourth episode of this season: http://www.douxreviews.com/2000/01/haven.html

...but you're right: the entire season isn't complete, and I'm not sure the reviewer plans to return to Season One.