Tonight, Syfy is rolling out two new premieres. And while we are excited to return to Eureka, we may cancel our next trip to Haven. While this little town's mysterious supernatural backstory shows promise, the intrigue is lost at sea.
Haven, is loosely based on Stephen King's The Colorado Kid, and loose is a bit of an understatement. This series should have been merely described as "inspired" by King's work, and left it at that. So what's different? Well instead of having the bulk of the series based around the engaging and endearing newspaper staff made up of funny old editors and a young intern in a small town, Syfy has swapped the intern for a hard-nosed FBI agent and demoted the lovely staff to a status similar to that of the Lone Gunmen from The X-Files.
The new main character, Audrey Parker, is a witty and observant FBI agent complete with lots of power suits and a lady detective hairstyle. She comes to the town of Haven on assignment looking for a man, and finds him dead. TWIST!
What follows is a sloppily threaded whodunnit — and by sloppy I mean it takes the characters no effort or brain-power whatsoever to find clues and connections to the murder. The suspect fell off a cliff, so let's go look at the top of the cliff - Oh look, a hat and a gun! Seriously, they find HAT and a GUN next to the murder scene, giving the actual mystery about as much weight as a comical murder mystery dinner party.
After quickly and easily solving the case FBI lady decides she should stay in the town and figure out why there's a picture of someone who looks Just Like Her in the town paper. Reading picture captions clearly not being an option. And there you have it, the premise. Farce-like mystery each week followed by casual digging into the FBI lady's past. Ah I forgot to mention, she's an orphan and lived in an orphanage, so that's why she knows. And she can't actually send said photograph back to the FBI, because then where would we be? Out of Haven, I guess.
But the murders and mayhem isn't where Haven gets the meat for its stories. Haven is special. And I will admit, the town and the townspeople in their cable knit sweaters and fishing boats are damn adorable. But beneath their charming antique stores, LL Bean vests and clam digging activities lies something more. It's already been revealed that Haven is a "haven" for strange persons with superpowers.
And FBI Agent lady is so smart, she gets this right away. Her first mystery leads to a character who can change the weather with her emotions. FBI lady is not fazed by this in the slightest. I'm pretty sure if I met someone who could change the weather, I would immediately point and scream "WITCH WITCH WITCH!" for at least an hour. Still, this lady FBI agent with the sharp jackets and bun hairstyle is totally cool with not telling the government that she's stumbled upon a person who could wipe out the Eastern Seaboard if she got PMS. No bigs.
And that is the problem with the pilot. Everything comes to the characters so easily. Even superpowered townspeople are treated as if we've all seen this before. In order to Haven for retain viewers they are really going to have to try and flesh out the city and the people that live in it. It's a city filled with people who are superpowered, that's cool. Ditch the super charm and go darker. Warehouse 13 and Eureka have the charm quota covered at Syfy, so feel free to explore the foggy J. Crew world that is Haven. Stop trying to riff off your own shows, the originals are better.
For now, though, Haven feels like Eureka and Stephen King had a baby, and then peed on it.*
What does work are the actual actors. The cliches that were heaped upon Lady FBI Agent wasn't really her fault. She's a good actress. Plus she has great chemistry with the local detective, who strangely can't feel any pain. Also, we like smarmy Eric Balfour as the good looking nogoodnik Duke Crocker. Sadly all we know of him right now is that he is smarmy and undresses women when they are passed out, which is creepy. Stop doing that, Balfour.
Clearly the pilot is rough. But if I've learned one thing about the Syfy audience is that it'll hang around long enough to let a show find its footing. Haven could be good — just don't be afraid to make the mysteries actually mysterious and the superpowers actually spooky. I'll tune in again, only because the whole pilot felt like a misstep, and I'm holding out for better superpowers and darker paths.
*Sidenote this isn't the first time I've heard this expression, but I really felt it fit n this review. But if anyone can tell me where it's from I'll be forever in their gratitude.