Although SyFy would have you believe its latest original series is based on Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid, rest assured that Haven is simply another Twin Peaks wannabe about an FBI agent investigating supernatural doings in a quaint but creepy small town. Maybe there’s still some life left in that premise, but if so, there’s no sign of it here.
Judging from its premiere episode, Haven has very little in common with King’s novel, aside from the coastal Maine setting and a couple of minor characters who may yet emerge as the major players they were in The Colorado Kid. That novel (one of King’s shortest) revolved around a pair of veteran newspapermen and their spunky young intern attempting to solve a decades-old mystery. Here the intern has been replaced by FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who is assigned to track down an escaped convict who may be hiding out in his hometown of Haven, Maine.
After nearly driving off a cliff when the road mysteriously cracks open in front of her rental car, Audrey finds the convict already dead, presumably as a result of a fall. She gets a mixed reception from the local law enforcement: Crusty Chief Wournos (Nicholas Campbell) wants nothing to do with Audrey, but his son, Deputy Nathan Wournos (Lucas Bryant), partners up with her to investigate what she believes to be a murder. While Nathan fixates on old rival and possible smuggler Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour) as a suspect, Audrey zeroes in on a powerful pair of locals, one with super-strength and one who can apparently control the weather.
Like current hits Justified and Burn Notice, Haven attempts to balance weekly standalone stories with a serialized element, as Audrey joins the Haven police department to continue her investigation into the town’s mysteries, which may link up with her own cloudy past. Unlike those shows, however, Haven lacks the kind of distinctive, compelling characters that would draw us into its continuing story. Balfour’s Crocker has potential as a colorful rogue, but Rose and Bryant make for a dull, chemistry-free duo. A love triangle seems inevitable—and inevitably tedious.
Worse, the creative team (many of whom, including show-runner Scott Shepherd and writers Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, are veterans of the long-running series based on King’s The Dead Zone) has failed to make the title character, the town of Haven itself, a vivid presence. It’s just another bland TV Nowheresville, lacking any regional flavor or sense of community; heck, there’s hardly even a cursory attempt at giving the locals Maine accents, which is usually the least you can expect from a King adaptation. Without that appealingly off-kilter setting, and given the show’s planned focus on a different supernatural threat each week, maybe Haven is less a Twin Peaks knockoff than it is The X-Files Lite.