Good Television: Haven

I love tv. I think I have admitted a few times over the years …

And there was a while there, around about when I was in high school and university, where tv just, well, sucked. With very limited exceptions.

And then all of a sudden there were so many options it boggled the mind.

And Haven is one of them.

Haven is a police procedural with a twist: based on The Colorado Kid (and when I say “based” I mean in the loosest possible terms) by Stephen King, it follows the titular town as it goes through “the troubles” – a wave of strange happenings to certain citizens and familial lines of Haven that reoccur every thirty years or so. Our main character is Audrey – an FBI-agent-turn-local cop who seems to have a knack for solving the problems of those with “troubles”.

Set in Maine (like I said, based on Stephen King) and filmed in Nova Scotia, it’s a beautifully shot television show with such evocative shots of a moody east coast with all it’s beautiful colourful houses that sit along wharfs and winding streets, rain soaked evergreens and lobster traps that are piled up high on the docks. For an east-coast girl like me, stuck on the west coast – it’s like being home for a bit. Sigh.

The plot can be hard to follow – the series is currently on it’s fourth season on Syfy (ugh, hate that new spelling) or Showcase, if you’re Canadian-side, and because of this, the world around Haven has had to be built to expand over all those episodes. Usually, this annoys me tremendously, but the Haven writers tend to know what they’re doing – the elements they’ve introduced, including secret societies, hidden villages within villages, and self-sacrifice from all parties at one time or another, add to the world in which Haven was conceived, in order to make it more and more real. It would never be believable if Haven existed completely outside of the world, and the writers knew that and so they had to explain: Why do people never just … move? Why don’t people – more FBI like people – show up to figure out what is going on with the mounting kill toll? And more.

The village is a wonderful Friday-night reprieve from life.

The troubles themselves are usually pretty fun to decipher before the characters do – they take the shape of mythology, sci-fi, old wives’ tales, and the like. They tend to go from light hearted or silly to downright scary, and you’ll never know which is which until you get to the end of the episode. There’s also a great deal of tragedy that is wrapped up in the supernatural elements of the show: it’s not just that there are supernatural elements that can kill other people, but rather that those affected by the troubles are in themselves tragic – they are partitioned off from “normal” society and forced to lead careful, sometimes very isolating lives. The great actors who bring all of these feelings to the surface are what make that extra layer – the tragedy of it – so realistic.

And the characters are pretty damn great.

Emily Rose’s Audrey Parker is pretty cool. She’s calm, she’s cool and rational, and even though she finds herself in a strange situation with strange people, she runs with it. That is not to say, however, that she is only a roll-with-it girl. She’s afraid, she’s tormented by her own face as she sees lookalikes – first from the 70s in the shape of a long-haired woman connected to the mysterious “Colorado Kid” she sees in a newspaper clipping, and then another, a nurse, from the 50s. All these dopplegangers arrive in Haven in time for the troubes to begin – something Audrey is quick to piece together, even though it nearly drives her out of Haven several times.

Audrey can ssometimes be a little bit cold – she internalizes her emotions and tends to run from any warm feelings, but the way in which Emily Rose portrays an emotionally distant Audrey is touching, and the stubborn set to her jaw when she is playing Audrey at odds with convention is just brilliant.

But Audrey isn’t the only character I long for.

Enter Duke.

I have loved Eric Balfour for about as long as I knew he existed (a long time). No matter what he’s in – from amazing movies like Lie with Me to questionable alien cinema like Skyline – I will watch it. Not only because he has the type of face that makes me melt, but also because, as an actor he has good range, he’s believable and he delivers his lines with a gracefulness that adds a lot to his characters. Also – the way he looks at the camera … yes.

Eric Balfour plays Duke Crocker – a native of Haven with a somewhat black-market-like entrepreneurship that’s run out of his fishing boat or his restaurant, depending. He’s a poker playing, secret holding modern day adventurer, with a lot of confidence and a lot of responsibility. He is probably the most changed character from the start of the series – though he still retains the qualities that make him “Duke” – i.e., he remains bad ass.

At first, I think, writers intended for Duke to be the bad boy end of a love triangle, but the character superseded that – taking the whole relationship to the next level and becoming a character for himself in his own right. It’s not only interesting, it’s fun to watch Duke do his thing.

Ah, Haven.

I highly recommend you guys gets caught up, if you haven’t – It’s on Netflix for those with Netflix, and it’s well worth the watch. I will warn you though – there tends to be a lot of filler episodes that only tangentially relate to the overall arc of the season, but those are fun and entertaining in themselves and lead you through the wider Haven-verse.

Have you ever watched Haven? Or read the book it was based off of?

Let me know!




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