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Haven: The Complete First Season(TV) (2010)
FBI Agent arrives in the tiny town of Haven, Maine and discovers a long history of paranormal phenomena and unexplained mysteries.
For more about Haven: The Complete First Season and the Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray release, see Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on November 2, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Richard Donat, John Dunsworth
» See full cast & crew
Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, November 2, 2011
Stop me if you've heard (or seen) this one: a stalwart FBI agent is sent to investigate a horrific crime, a crime which took place in a quirky little backwater where virtually every inhabitant has a secret and seemingly individually and collectively defines eccentricity. Stop me if you've heard (or seen) this one: two FBI agents chase down cases with a paranormal aspect, cases no one else (and even one of the agents) can quite believe might really be happening. Most will be able to identify Twin Peaks and The X Files as the shows in question (and bonus points to those who remember David Duchovny had roles in both series), but large swaths of those descriptions could just as easily refer to the Syfy series Haven, a show which takes one part Twin Peaks weird (and sometimes slightly menacing) town and townsfolk and one part X Files Agent Mulder and mixes them up in a surprisingly satisfying stew that may not be especially innovative but which offers some fun escapism and excellent characterizations. Culled, at least tangentially, from a Stephen King novel called The Colorado Kid, Haven concerns the exploits of FBI Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who is assigned to track down an escaped convict who has killed a guard and is presumed to have returned to his hometown stomping grounds of Haven, Maine. The series actually shows us the X Files-esque demise of the criminal as he's hoisted into the air by some unseen force and catapulted off one of the rocky cliffs that meet the shore along Maine's Atlantic coast (the series actually films in Nova Scotia). Audrey of course has no clue about that aspect of the case when she first arrives in Haven, but she soon experiences the strangeness of the environment there when the road she's taking into town suddenly opens up and she nearly catapults her rental car off another cliff as she attempts to avoid the chasm. That sets up her "meet cute" with a Haven police officer, Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant). Nathan soon becomes her comrade in figuring out what happened to the escaped criminal, whose body is found on the beach beneath the cliffs, but who is not especially prone to understanding much less believing some of the paranormal phenomena that Audrey begins witnessing virtually from the get go during her investigation.
King's source novel actually deals with the mysterious murder of an individual known as The Colorado Kid (hence the title of his book), and that plays out as a major subplot to Haven's overall story arc, if not quite in the same way as Laura Palmer's murder in Twin Peaks did for Kyle McLachlan's Agent Dale Cooper. The Colorado Kid murder took place decades before Audrey's arrival in Haven, but a disturbing newspaper photo taken at the scene of the crime has an image of a woman standing next to the body of the victim who bears a striking—as in near identical—resemblance to Audrey. Audrey, who was orphaned and knows little about her actual background, begins thinking that perhaps this mysterious woman was her mother. That sets her out on a quest to discover her own secrets even as she's uncovering one bizarrely powered town resident after another. All of these questions seem to swirl around an ongoing set of incidents known as The Troubles, a series of calamities which seem to have afflicted Haven virtually from its founding hundreds of years previously.
Show co-creators and executive producers Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, who also write several of the first season's episodes and contribute to some of this Blu-ray release's enjoyable commentaries, are obviously aiming for something that doesn't just evoke Twin Peaks or The X Files, but which aims more ambitiously for a Lost- like layering of interconnected stories and slow reveals of backgrounds that provide the occasional jolt of new understanding as the series progresses. While Ernst and Dunn haven't quite fulfilled that promise with the first season of Haven, this is a show which has immense potential to grow and start to fill in some of the storytelling gaps which occasionally crop up in the first thirteen episodes. Part of the problem here is that Audrey simply keeps uncovering townspeople whose emotions seem to create all sorts of paranormal phenomena, from weather changes to unexpected (or maybe slightly expected) deaths. After a while, some viewers may be calling out to the collected townsfolk of Haven, "Just chill! Take a Xanax, for crying out loud!"
The show's much more intriguing story is actually Audrey's history, especially as she begins to figure out that the woman in the picture, whom she finds out was named Lucy, may not be her mother but someone much more fascinating. (In order not to post a major plot point, that's all that will be said). Audrey's slowly developing relationships with Nathan and local bad boy Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour) also provide a romantic angle that may suck in some female viewers who might not otherwise be interested in the paranormal aspect of the series. The first season has a delicious denouement in the final moments of the last episode which promises to set up the second season quite artfully. Who exactly is Audrey and why was she seemingly drawn inexorably to Haven? Those are the most compelling questions this series has to answer, and if Ernst and Dunn play those answers smartly, this series could be one of the gems of Syfy.
Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Video Quality
Haven is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Entertainment One with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This is often an incredibly scenic presentation due to the lovely Nova Scotia locations. The town of Haven may in fact remind some people of Northern Exposure's Cicely, Alaska, though perhaps a bit more developed. The show makes extensive use of aerial establishing shots and those are among the sharpest and most appealing sequences of the entire series. Unfortunately things are a bit softer with respect to the ubiquitous CGI, which sometimes (though not always) has a slapdash quality to it. The overall series boasts well above average sharpness and clarity, though occasionally drifts into a bit of murkiness, especially with regard to some darker interior sequences such as those aboard Duke's boat. The presentation is largely free of artifacts other than occasional minor crush.
Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Haven is presented with both a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix as well as a lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is really fairly impressive for a weekly television series, with some excellent surround activity, especially with regard to some of the paranormal phenomena that occurs throughout the episodes. (The series' opener which has a major storm element is a great example, with swirling wind and hail noises filling the surrounds with some impressive immersion). Fidelity is great throughout the series, with dialogue, effects and score well presented and very well prioritized. The series also offers some excellent LFE courtesy of several well rendered sound effects.
One very odd anomaly about this set: Disc 4 of the four disc set has absurdly high volume for the opening Entertainment One logo and the main Haven menu (which plays with the series' theme music). Once an actual episode is loaded, volume returns to normal levels, but be prepared when you put in the fourth disc as that opening Entertainment One moment will blast you out of your chair.
Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Haven is a very appealing, well written show that shows immense promise. This first season spends a bit too much time on the "trouble of the week," with some individuals experiencing paranormal phenomena that may be too redolent of The X Files for some. The central mystery of who Audrey is and how her story ties into the murder of The Colorado Kid is in the long term more interesting and seems to be where the series is headed in terms of some focal storytelling for the series' second season. With very good video, excellent audio, and some nice supplemental material, the series and this Blu-ray come Recommended.
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Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Haven: The Complete First Season Blu-ray Details Emerge - May 13, 2011
E1 Entertainment has detailed the Blu-ray release of Haven: The Complete First Season, due on June 14th. The series, based on Stephen King's "The Colorado Kid," follows a female FBI agent who stumbles upon a small town teeming with dark secrets. Spread across four ...
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