Monday, August 08, 2011

43 minutes 37 seconds

It's time for another occasional foray into the world of the greatest television show ever made. It's time for your Haven round up!

I'm now a third of the way through season two and for a second there I actually believed this show was improving; which, paradoxically would have led me to dropping it from my watching list.

Let's recap, because I'm sure a lot of you haven't been paying attention. Haven is a fictional seaside town in Maine (although the series is filmed on Nova Scotia in Canada) which is plagued by ancient 'troubles' of the supernatural kind - not just ghosts, but all manner of X Files-esque weirdness. FBI agent Audrey Parker comes to the town to solve a case involving something that has long since escaped me and ends up asking to stay because a) the place is a bit weird and she's into weird and b) 20 years ago something happened in the town, which for some reason involves Audrey, because the woman in a photograph from the era looks just like her - her mother perhaps?

In the opening series, Audrey is allowed to second to the local Haven PD to aid them in solving the mystery of the growing number of 'troubles' related phenomena and you learn that there is a link between her FBI boss and the town sheriff. Audrey is teamed up with Nathan Wournos, the son of said sheriff, who just happens to suffer from a disease that means he can't feel anything - physically. The two hit it off as a double act and are soon uncovering mysteries faster than Scooby Doo. We meet a shadowy character called Duke Crocker, who is attracted to Audrey, is an old friend of Nathan's but the two dislike each other now because they sit on either side of the law. There are also other supporting characters with reoccurring roles; the local pathologist who seems to know the secret of Audrey, but dies just before she can tell her and an assortment of women that pop up, have a fling with Nathan and then disappear with flimsy excuses.

As I've said many times before, if you looked at the bare facts behind the series you'd think it was pretty good, especially the first season finale which had a second Audrey Parker turn up, with exactly the same memories as Audrey (1) and is an FBI agent, but, it isn't. It really isn't.

As previously mentioned; the scripts are as tight as a prolapsed arse; each episode sets up one character as the main threat and then either kills them off or incapacitates them so they cannot possibly them. Each episode hints and teases suggestions that we're going to find out some of the countless mysteries that have been built up; yet whenever Audrey confronts someone with information about her 'mother' or The Colorado Kid something stops her and that's it, she never bothers to go back and ask again. Not a lot makes sense; Audrey and Nathan behave like policemen written by a 12-year-old; whatever procedure they have there obviously isn't the same as anywhere else in the world. You get the impression by the disdain expressed by a lot of residents that the police are just an annoyance and if you protest enough they will go away and leave you alone. Amazingly, this appears to be what happens.

The plots are always pretty odd, but not in a good way and often stuff happens that you get no explanation for and everyone seems to forget about it within a few minutes. Much of the continuity is out of whack; some scenes are filmed in the spring and are cut into others filmed in the winter and whenever something is introduced into the series you are left wondering after several episodes why; especially when they peter out into another red herring. the thing is the show is a huge red herring, so even if something seemingly important happens, you know that it's going to end up being just another open-ended subplot, one which the writer doesn't appear to know where he's going. If, however, the show was well made and had a budget and actors, you might be prepared to put up with this cod-Lost like bollocks; but largely none of the subplots are interesting enough and are soon forgotten by the next dead end walking onto the set.

The acting is quite extraordinary. Only Eric Balfour is known to me and while he is probably the best actor in the show, he hams it up like a camp old thesp. Emily Rose is apparently known for her work on US daytime TV and she is a quirky character and would make the perfect Buffy as a 30 year old. She can't emote for toffee. Lucas Bryant would be perfect if he was cast as Roland in the Dark Tower, however, he acts like he's taking a crap all the time and has as much screen presence as soap.

The Colorado Kid, the Stephen King novella set in Haven about a mysterious body that washes up in the estuary is the 'inspiration' for this series. The only similarity between King's story and the series is that the words 'The Colorado Kid' are bandied around without much explanation and the two brothers who run the newspaper are the same guys from the show. Yeah, there's the sheriff and the FBI, but everywhere has them in the USA.

Right... I won't do that again.

When we last came here, Audrey 1 and Audrey 2 had decided not to tell Audrey 2's real FBI boss about everything that had been going on. Neither women seemed that freaked out that they had virtually all of each other's memories. Duke Crocker had to suffer the arrival of the latest bit of dead end, when his ex-wife reappears acting like a kind of Raffles crossed with Beyonce - a con woman who seems to think she's in a comedy rather than a drama series. Every time this woman walks on screen you just want her inevitable end to happen sooner rather than later; you know she's nothing more than a diversion. Nathan is now chief of police now that his father has exploded into a thousand pieces of rock and is being kept in a cooler box and again, if you were reading this cold you'd think 'there's a new Twin Peaks on the block'.

Twin Peaks appeared to be the template for episodes 2 and 3, with the plot still going round in circles, but now at a blistering pace, leaving you feeling that something was going to be uncovered - just a teaser maybe, but you felt that something was going to happen. It did.

Audrey 2 was packed off with amnesia suffered looking for something the girls' were warned about. The end of episode 3 really invested you with the feeling that things were getting very dark and weird and that's where the problem lay; if it started to make some sense it would just be a badly made TV series rather than this fantastic example of crap cult TV.

Then episode four aired and guess what? No mention of Audrey 2; no following up of all the strange teasers dropped in the opening 3 episodes; we were back with a formulaic tale of the troubles and one that I think was designed to be the 'humour' episode that many of these SF shows like to do. The trouble revolved around a man whose curse was to be loved by anyone who looked at him and another resident of Haven who had an electrifying personality - it was always going to end badly; yet sticking out in the story was the fact that Audrey was immune to the affects of the love charm and it was even mentioned in the script and yet she brushed over it like it wasn't important. just another prime example why this Audrey Parker learnt her FBI skills off the back of a cornflake packet.

The second story in the fourth episode involved Duke trying to uncover the secret of the prophesy that stated he would die at the hands of a tattooed man. This, in itself, is a load of hokum because in the first season when he learned of his death, all the prophecies given were mooted by the death of the key player in said story. Duke goes through an elaborate sub-sub Indiana Jones series of puzzles to uncover a box (which shows his name when exposed to UV light - spooky!) which he believes has nothing to do with solving his mystery; so he shags his ex-wife instead - which, since she's been in the series, appeared to be the one thing he was never going to do again.

The laugh-out-loud count was three; the jaw-droppingly ridiculous count was one. How low has Jason Priestley's career fallen? He's sort of introduced as a potential love interest for Audrey, but it was like the scriptwriter got bored with him by the end of the episode, so I doubt we'll see his character again and his existence and memory will be forever wiped from Nathan and Audrey's memories.

It's wonderful stuff and the good news is you don't have to watch it. I'll do that for you. I'll suffer the 43 minutes and 37 second average length every week for 13 weeks and irregularly keep you updated on events.

My belief is that Audrey is the cause of the troubles. It's been revealed that she might be the woman in the picture from 20 years before and normally I'd want a suitably feasible explanation if this was the case, but with Haven, I want it to be something unbelievably ridiculous and implausible. I want to bellow my amazement at the TV or I'll feel cheated.

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