Small Town on the Maine Coast? Check. Strange Doings? Check. Welcome to Haven!

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Much has been said already, about Syfy’s new series, Haven [Fridays, 10/9C], which premieres this evening. It’s based, loosely, on a short novel by Stephen King – The Colorado King – that featured an unsolved mystery in a town filled with very unusual people.

Into this small town comes FBI Agent Audrey Parker [Emily Rose], who has been assigned to find a local escaped convict. The convict, naturally, has died in what would normally look like an accident if it weren’t for a couple of annoyingly frustrating details. On her way into town, Parker is almost killed when the road in front of here crumbles away, but is saved by Nathan Wuornos [Lucas Bryant], a local detective – a favor that will be returned by the end of the first act.

Parker, who is an orphan, finds more than just a mysterious death when she is presented with a front page photo harkening back to the unsolved Colorado Kid murder, decades before. The front-page story includes a photo of a woman who looks exactly like her.

Add to the mix a reputed smuggler and generally cool wiseacre named Duke Crocker [Eric Balfour], an easily ticked of police chief [Nicholas Campbell] – who happens to be Detective Wuornos’ father, a lovely shopkeeper [Nicole de Boer] and her fiance´, and a handyman who seems to be a bit more than he appears [with a close tie to the shopkeeper], and the result a first episode that is way too earnest, but sets up a situation that is filled with potential.

Besides the con’s murder, there are several bursts of inexplicable weather, those crumbly roads, a sweet bit of grifting, and Parker’s boss [Maurice Dean Wint] – who knows something he’s not telling her.

The script, by The Dead Zone’s Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, gets the not-quite-right atmosphere of a Stephen King town right, but throw far too much material into the pilot to allow it to flow smoothly [something they usually got right on The Dead Zone]. The meet cute [with a potentially fatal twist] between Wuornos and Parker is cool enough, but they fall immediately into rhythms that are way too familiar to any viewer of The X-Files [unbeliever/skeptic], or any opposites attract TV relationship.

Rose and Bryant make Parker and Wuornos believable more through force of will than believable banter, but Balfour isn’t the guy you want to mysterious/enigmatic – though he does charming really well. Generally speaking, the supporting cast is solid, though Campbell is perhaps typecast as the gruff police chief.

The idea is that Parker will discover that many of Haven’s inhabitants are possessed of unique, supernatural abilities, so future eps promise to be interesting. I’m sure that completed effects will add to the premiere, as well.

I’ll be following the series because the concepts and cast work for me. In the meantime, though, the first ep of Haven is entertaining, but definitely a work in progress.

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