Monday, July 12, 2010

Pilot Review: Haven

Haven (Syfy)
Premiered July 9 at 10pm

Without a doubt, any show that features a supernatural mystery of the week is going to end up being compared to “The X-Files.” It wasn’t necessarily the first show of its kind, but it was a long-running, successful series that featured the same two leads each week (at least until its later seasons) encountering unexplained phenomena and the occasional alien/government conspiracy. Of course Mulder and Scully weren’t the Mulder and Scully we came to know and love from the start, but that series did boast an extraordinarily strong pilot. While comparing this show only to “The X-Files” isn’t fair, it’s a good launching point. I haven’t taken too much of an immediate liking to either of the protagonists, Audrey and Nathan, yet there’s something marvelously refreshing about how they work together reasonably well instead of clashing over who gets to flash their badge and take credit for the case. “The X-Files” had two regular cast members and a couple of recurring faces over the course of the series, and this show has the advantage of not depending solely on its two leads, relying also on law enforcement higher-ups and Nathan’s good buddy Duke, played by serial series killer Eric Balfour. Even if the pilot of this show isn’t exceptional, there’s something truly intriguing about the way that Audrey is forced to believe and question everything after witnessing the impossible with her very own eyes. It’s reminiscent of Mulder and also the Jack-Locke debacle on “Lost,” and that’s a really great thing. The local journalists finding Audrey’s picture in a decades-old newspaper is also the kind of thing I love to see in a show. Regarding the pilot specifically, anyone who has control over the weather can get me to sit down and watch an episode of television right away. The apparent duplicity of Emily’s boss makes the notion of keeping up with this show even more intriguing, and as long as it doesn’t become too convoluted, it should work pretty well. I’m not sure what kind of role Duke has to play in the series as a whole (maybe similar to that of Julius on “The Good Guys”), but producers should beware the misfortune Balfour seems to bring with him when it comes to any show. Nevertheless, this is a perfectly obnoxious role for Balfour to play, and he should do well with it. I’m still not sure how I feel about Audrey and Nathan, but I’ll make up my mind eventually if this show proves interesting enough in its second installment to warrant sticking around for a while.

How will it work as a series? There are two routes for the show to go, and they’re not mutually exclusive. Much like the aforementioned “X-Files,” this show can focus on a case of the week while simultaneously exploring Audrey’s back story and her boss’ involvement with the town of Haven. That should work well as long as it doesn’t lose its already loose grip on reality.
How long will it last? Syfy has generally been kind to its show, granting (somewhat) long life to “Sanctuary,” “Eureka,” and “Battlestar Galactica.” For each of those, however, there’s a “Painkiller Jane” or “The Dresden Files.” I think this one fits exactly with what the newly rebranded Syfy is trying to accomplish, and pairing it with “Eureka” (which I have never seen) seems like a smart move. I think second two could definitely happen.

Pilot grade: B

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