Posts tagged Haven

Caprica canceled: What the frak is happening to sci-fi TV?

So Syfy has officially canceled Caprica, citing poor ratings and a decline in viewership leading to viewing numbers too low to justify more episodes. In what seems like a little bit of a “Frak you” to fans, Syfy has also announced that, effective immediately, they will not be airing any of the already-produced episodes, instead choosing to burn them off sometime in 2011.

The popular thing these days when a show is canceled is to start a fan campaign to try to get the network to reverse the decision to cancel the show. Fan campaigns, with the notable exception of the resurrection of Jericho, are largely unsuccessful. Sci-fi fans are notoriously dedicated to their favorite shows, though, and there are already several fan campaigns in action to try to “Save Caprica.” Whether or not the show can be saved remains to be seen, but the cancellation of Caprica is indicative of a larger problem for sci-fi fans: Why do our shows keep getting canceled?

Critics of the re-branded SyFy channel generally have the same (valid) complaints. First and foremost: shouldn’t a channel positioning itself as the place for science fiction actually, you know, have some science fiction programming? A look at their program lineup shows, among other things, WWE wrestling, a couple of reality-type shows, and four different versions of Ghost Hunters. Their original movies are awful almost to the point of intentional parody of the genre, their miniseries have been hit-or-miss, and their original series are uneven at best. Battlestar Galactica was arguably their biggest hit and their most well-made, well-written, well-produced, and well-acted series of all. The network was clearly trying to capitalize on BSG‘s success with Caprica, as well as the upcoming Blood & Chrome, both taking place in the BSG-verse. The only current original series I’m enjoying are Warehouse 13 and Eureka. Haven is getting better, but took most of a season to really get into its own groove.

I’m sort of conflicted as to whether or not I want Caprica to be “saved.” It took me a while to get into the story, and it often more resembled a soap opera than science fiction, but I’m an ardent believer in producing and supporting as much sci-fi on TV as possible. There has to be a smart, engaging alternative to the endless number of reality shows and dozens of versions of procedural dramas that make up current TV viewing options. Trying to build support for shows outside of those formulas takes a little extra work, though, and things like lengthy mid-season breaks, changing broadcast days and times, and showing more promotional support for professional wrestling and paranormal reality shows on your own network don’t help build a strong, loyal audience. There’s a market for quality sci-fi TV series, but it seems with each cancellation that networks are unwilling to give shows a chance to find their footing, and to give the viewership a little more credit than to assume that sci-fi, excuse me SyFy, fans don’t want more, and better quality, science fiction TV. Every time a sci-fi show gets canceled prematurely, I fear we’re taking another step away from an entertainment culture that produces and supports programming that’s outside of the reality show/procedural norm.

Haven Season Finale – Spiral

Season finale time!  (WARNING: There will be some spoilers)

We start off where we left off last week with Audrey walking down by the water where The Colorado Kid incident occurred. Last week we discovered that Audrey shares the same scar on the bottom of her foot that Lucy (the one she assumed was her mother) had. While she is talking to herself about the craziness of her life, a random man, Max, shows up with a bag from Shawshank Prison. He returned to Haven after being in prison for 25 years and already appears slightly…off. As Max moves around town we see him encounter all the regulars from this season. They all essentially tell him to get the hell out of town. We find out that he was in prison for some killing a family in Haven back around the time of the Colorado Kid incident. He is also suspected of killing the Colorado Kid but that was never proven. He is clearly being established as the next “big bad.” After a particularly nasty conversation with Chief Wuornos, the camera pans to the lighthouse on the cove behind where Max is sitting and we watch as the lighthouse collapses.

It is revealed that the lighthouse collapsed due to the cracks that have been showing up around Haven since Parker arrived in town. Audrey is still clearly frazzled from realizing that she is Lucy and so Nathan sends her home from work. Meanwhile, while confronting Duke on Duke’s boat, Max takes off his shirt.  We see that Max has a tattoo on his inner forearm that is suppose to be on the man who is going to ultimately kill Duke. This sufficiently freaks Duke out and he runs off to find Audrey (with no real luck). Audrey finds out about the tattoo and confronts Max.

Have I mentioned how much I love Emily Rose in this show? She kicks ass.

Anyway, while meeting with Max a waitress accidentally spills hot coffee on Max. He doesn’t flinch. Audrey puts two and two together and realizes that Max must be related to Nate (who also cannot feel pain/touch/etc). Max visits Nathan and confirms this for himself. After Audrey tells him about this incident, Nathan confronts his dad, Chief Wuornos. Chief Wuornos reveals what we have all figured out, which is that Max is Nathan’s real father.

At this point, it seems fairly obvious that nothing good will come from Max. Until, of course, Max falls into the ground via an extremely large crack that forms as Max is walking/running down the street.

Let me pause again to say that this is why I love this show. It sets something up that seems to be the use of just another TV trope and then crushes it. The entire rest of the episode I was convinced Max would show up again and suddenly be alive due to some special trouble/power that he has.  He never does. This all happens about halfway through the episode, thus leaving me to wonder…how much more awesomeness is going to go down?

Well I don’t want to ruin ALL the surprises so I’m going to wrap this up. The rest of the episode involves Nathan and Audrey trying to figure out who killed Max/is responsible for creating the cracks around town (since, you know, weird things happen in Haven).  At first Nathan thinks Duke did it, but, of course, not-so-much. By the end of the episode we find out who is responsible for the cracks, Audrey tells Nathan that she is Lucy, and Duke finds out that there are thousands of people out there that have that tattoo, many dead but also, most likely, many still alive. We don’t know what these people have in common but there is a cemetery full of gravestones with that tattoo on them so it is safe to say that there is going to be a nice long mystery there next season. Oh, and Nathan tells Audrey that he can feel her touch (pretty much the only person he can feel).

Yea, there are cheesy moments. The music at times feels overly melodramatic and there is one moment in particular that came off as a little forced.  However, so much happens that is well done that I let those not AS awesome moments slide.  Really, this is probably one of the best season finales I have seen this year, right up there with the Justified finale.

First of all, it is beautifully paced. All three characters have their own stuff going on but they intersect nicely throughout the episode without feeling rushed. The connections just all makes sense and work well together. Also, almost nothing happens that involves the “maybe/sorta love triangle.” Everything that occurs in the episode is relevant to the mysteries of the town that we’ve been examining all season. Granted, there are a couple of small semi-romantic moments involving Audrey/Duke and Audrey/Nathan but overall it’s just plot-driven momentum. Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, and Eric Balfour give brilliantly well-acted, nuanced performances. They embody these characters. Eric Balfour does such a great job that I am able to forget that he played that asshole on Six Feet Under. I’ve not seen Emily Rose in anything before but she continues to rock my world on this show, and Lucas Bryant successfully pulls off the “doesn’t feel anything” and angsty “you lied to me all these years” bit without any level of cheesiness (which I imagine is not easy).

Since this is a Syfy original series, the first season is only 13 episodes and a lot of them are still on Hulu or On Demand. The show is episodic enough throughout most of the season that you can pick up with later episodes and still kind of figure out what is going on.  This is particularly nice because the show did start off kind of slow but by mid-season it is full on addictive. Syfy picked it up for a second season (woo!) and I can’t wait to see it back next summer. Oh, also, this has made me hard-core want to read more Stephen King. I already procured the audio book of The Colorado Kid! That will cover 1.5 trips to and from work for me! Yay!

Safe Haven

Since BSG ended I will confess that I did not have any show on SyFy that I watched every week. I loved Eureka but it was one of those shows that I would catch if I could remember. That has changed this season with the “re-boot” and I absolutely love where the show has gone but this blog post is not about the awesomeness that is Eureka :). Instead, I want to pimp one of my favorite new shows this year, Haven. I’m not sure how many people are watching it as I have stopped following ratings (don’t think they really show all that much info considering the billions of ways people can watch shows now). Nevertheless, I love it.

In case you aren’t familiar with the show, it’s based on a Stephen King short story entitled “The Colorado Kid.” It takes place in a small town named Haven, Maine (I know, shock!) and it involves an FBI agent named Audrey Parker coming to town in order to solve a mysterious murder. While there she discovers a photo of a woman in a newspaper article that looks a lot like herself. Audrey assumes this could be her birth mother and since she doesn’t know anything about her parents/history she decides to stick around and learn more. The photo is associated with a news article about the death of “The Colorado Kid” but no one seems to remember anything about the incident and, of course, this serves as the catalyst for the show.

Most episodes don’t actually focus too much on this mystery at first. The show has an episodic feel as Audrey learns more about the town and the “Troubles,” which is a nice label the town puts on the fact that weird, unnatural things happen quite frequently in Haven. People have “powers/abilities” ranging from the inability to feel physical contact, the ability to make dreams/nightmares come true and harm/kill people, the ability to bring dead creatures back to life by stuffing them, etc. It sounds ridiculous but honestly every episode pulls it off quite nicely. It is kind of X-Files-esque except for the fact that this has nothing to do with aliens and everything to do with just weird shit.

So, why do I like this show and why should you check it out? First of all, I love Emily Rose on the show. She’s an awesome lead and completely adorable. Plus, I love the fact that she is not your stereotypical “sexy because she doesn’t wear anything” FBI agent. She’s gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but she looks gorgeous in a realistic down-to-earth way. She doesn’t wear overly sexualized, low-cut clothes and she can kick ass while fully clothed. This is not to say that those other types of FBI/CIA/whatever agents aren’t fun to watch. I just love her in the way that I love Olivia Dunham in Fringe. They’re beautiful without having to draw attention to their beauty. Another thing I love about the show is that there is a love-triangle (of course) between Audrey and the two male leads (Duke played by Eric Balfour and Nathan played by Lucas Bryant). And while both men are handsome and sexy and fun to watch, the love triangle is definitely not the focus of the show. Similar to Eureka, there are love stories and there is romantic drama but it is thrown in here and there without it ever being the focus or the “reason to watch.” The focus is the mystery and sci-fi elements of each episode.

Finally? The number one reason I love the show? The science fiction of course! I mean, it is difficult to come up with entirely new sci-fi mysteries and most ideas have been done at this point. But you have to admire a show that takes a possible werewolf storyline and adds a little twist. Every mystery they do is somewhat of a twist on previous sci-fi stories and unique enough that it makes it super fun to watch. And the show doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is another thing I love about Syfy shows in general.

I will end this review with this, I am a bad nerd in that I have not read a lot of Stephen King. I love The Shining and other Stephen King movies, but I just have never gotten around to reading his books/short stories. I bought my first one a few months ago and am fully psyched about reading it. This admission means that I’m not that familiar with the characters/mysteries that he has written about with the exception of the bigger named stories that have become movies. If a lot of these ideas have been done before, I wouldn’t know :). Regardless, King IS a co-writer on this show so if you are a fan of his, he has clearly given his blessing. I say everyone should go check it out. If you don’t love it right away, I completely understand. It took me about 3-4 episodes in before I started really enjoying the show and having that feeling of “I NEED to see the next episode NOW.” Give it a chance at least. It airs with Eureka so it has that going for it (Fridays at 10pm)!

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