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July 13, 2010

Haven: Yeah, I'll stay.

TV: Haven

Wow. I really did not expect much from Syfy's new show Haven. Isolated small town with quirky people! An outsider comes in and feels oddly connected! Mysterious happenings! We've seen all that before, most recently with the late, unlamented Happy Town. But the pilot of Haven, at least, made it seem as though the show had a decent chance of overcoming those cliches.

The first shock of Haven was that most of the characters are actually interesting and not all that quirky. Hallelujah. The heroine is Emily Rose as Audrey Parker, a young FBI agent who reads vampire novels in her spare time. Totally believable. She's immediately thrown up against/together with Lucas Bryant as a small-town Maine cop. Bryant plays a certain kind of laconic and steady New Englander absolutely perfectly, and his literal inability to feel physical pain would have tipped most characters into "too quirky" territory, but he pulls it off by underplaying it. Audrey's other potential romantic interest is Eric Balfour as a charming smuggler with some sort of unfortunate and not-yet-defined history with the cop. The supporting cast of townfolk are somewhat weird, as you'd expect in a supernatural show, but not annoying about it, at least not yet.

And the plot? Oh, yeah, it was fine. It's being compared to The X-Files, but I haven't seen enough X-Files to know if these comparisons are correct. Mysterious happenings! People controlling the weather with their emotions! Roads randomly giving way! An FBI boss who is not what he seems! Plus the main character has a mysterious past, and was attacked by someone and I'm not sure if we're supposed to think that was the villain of the mystery-of-the-week or what. There's definitely enough going on to sustain the plot for a while, although at some point, we're going to get into that "Why does this random town have so much supernatural activity?" territory, and I hope they have some sort of explanation for that. (I'm not very picky about these explanations, as long as they exist. Hellmouth? Sure. Comet? Whatever. Just let me know you made an effort.)

What really got me about Haven, though, was the setting. They film in Nova Scotia, but it's supposed to be Maine, and for once, New England actually looks like New England. I will readily admit that I love Maine, so I was predisposed to like this if it was done well, but it's way too easy for locations you actually know to just come across as fake on TV or in movies. I can't think of a show that felt this New Englandy, offhand. Even Gilmore Girls - much as I love it - never really convinced me that it was actually set in Connecticut. (No, wait. The elder Gilmores were very Connecticut [albeit not very Hartford]. Stars Hollow was not.) But Haven looked like Maine and, more importantly, felt like Maine. The people came across as Mainers. And, of course, the scenery was gorgeous. I already can't wait for my next visit to Haven.

Posted by Kat at July 13, 2010 01:00 PM
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