‘Haven’ Is Not a Typical Eerie-town Mystery Drama

Haven, Maine, looks like your typical television town: the central square is quaint and reeks of Americana, and the townsfolk are hardworking, friendly, and full of secrets. And of course, it takes an outsider to bring those secrets to the surface.

Fortunately, SyFy’s Haven is not a typical eerie-town mystery drama. Its difference begins with FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), sent to Haven when a federal employee turns up dead. The sheriff (Nicholas Campbell) declares the death an accident, but Parker suspects something more at play. When the weather goes haywire, she begins looking beyond the traditional law and order process for answers.

Much of what we need to know about Parker we learned in the first few minutes of the premiere episode, which premiered 9 July. When her boss unexpectedly stopped by her sparse apartment, he remarked, “Impressive how little you’ve done with… so little.” She had a ready answer: “That’s what I do with all the vacation time that I don’t get, hit a bunch of outlet stores and furniture shop with all the guys I don’t meet.”

In other words, she’s dedicated, single, and minimalist, and she has a sense of humor: Fox Mulder without the conspiracy theories and self-righteousness. Her introduction to the world of the supernatural reminds you of how strange it’s supposed to be. The incident that sent Parker to Haven began with a man being chased through the woods. When he reached a cliff edge, an unseen force hurled him hundreds of feet through the air and onto the jagged rocks below. On her arrival in town, Parker embarked on her investigation with the help of the skeptical sheriff’s detective son Nathan (Lucas Bryant). Because he treated her like an interloper, Parker resolved to solve the case, not only to achieve justice, but also to “piss off” the sheriff.

Nathan immediately turned to his usual suspect, town bad boy Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour). However, Crocker endeared himself to Parker after a freak lightning storm knocked her unconscious and into the water. She awakened to find herself on Crocker’s boat, her clothes washed and dried, and her fried cell phone replaced with a new one (Parker: “A princess phone? Seriously?”)

The electrical storm wasn’t the only weather problem Parker encountered. She also had to deal with an unseasonal hailstorm and instantaneous fog. Eventually, she learned that both she and the sheriff were right about the death: it was both a crime and an accident. One of the town’s residents is the cause of the ongoing freakish weather, although she has no idea that her anxiety and anger are responsible for the shifting weather conditions. Upon realizing that her fiancé was actually a con man after her money, her upset resulted in bad weather that sent his partner to his death.

Now that Parker’s in Haven, the series can begin in earnest. The true mystery she must solve began to unfold when the editors of the town paper, brothers Vince and Dave Teagues (John Dunsworth and Richard Donat), presented her with a copy of a 40-year-old picture of a young woman who disappeared. The woman in the photo was Parker’s double; since Parker never knew her own mother, she was intrigued (although Parker’s age makes it unlikely that a woman presumed dead for 40 years is her mother). Duly intrigued, she decided to take some of that vacation time and stick around Haven for a while.

The reason we might stick around is Audrey Parker. She also provides an alternative to the usual dark mystery associated with Stephen King’s work (the show is based on his story, “The Colorado Kid”). Helping us to understand her strange new environs as she does, Parker identified Nathan’s limits right away, turning over the questioning of a suspect to him because, she said concisely, they both “speak monosyllable.” In a television landscape full of cops who specialize in brooding intensity or quirky bumbling, Parker is refreshingly good-natured, down to earth, and smart.

RATING 5 / 10