FBI Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) travels to Haven, Maine to investigate the murder of a local ex-con, but soon discovers that the small town is a refuge for people with supernatural afflictions. Now, itâ€™s up to her to unlock Havenâ€™s mysterious secrets, including the hidden truth about her past. Loosely based on the Stephen King pulp novel The Colorado Kid
, the 13 first-season episodes of Syfy's Haven
bear obvious hallmarks of the Ã¼ber-author's style: picturesque Maine setting, town filled with odd characters with old secrets, spooky (and often deadly) goings-on. But this one's a little different. "King lite," you might call it. As the season opens, FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) has been dispatched to the scenic coastal town of Haven to find a recently escaped convict. He's mysteriously dead by the time she finds him, but other weirdness--huge cracks in the road, sudden and dramatic changes in the weather, and especially an old photo of a woman whom Audrey, who was raised by the state, believes might be her mother--keeps her in town, where she partners with taciturn local detective Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant). Sometimes aided, and hindered, by cocky "importer" Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), our heroes soon realize that a series of supernatural phenomena known as "the troubles" has returned to plague Haven. Each new incident can be traced to a single "troubled" local. Hence episodes about an adopted teenager who unleashes telekinetic powers on anyone who threatens to splinter his family; a restaurateur whose food rots instantaneously when he's upset; a young woman whose uncontrollable pyrokinesis turns folks into crispy critters; and a taxidermist whose suddenly re-animated trophies seek and destroy the hunters who killed them.
Some of these story lines are intriguing, others are every bit as silly as they sound, and none is very scary (The Shining is referenced, but chill-seekers should stick with the real deal). This show has a much lighter tone, favoring cutesy flirtation and smart-alecky one-liners delivered by lead actors who are photogenic but bland. Technically, it looks great--cinematography, sets, effects, et al. are top-notch. And the writers have clearly mapped out what they expect to be a several-season arc, killing off a character here and there or tossing out a few big revelations about the principals (Audrey's search for her mother is a steady through-line this season), but still leaving plenty of possibilities for season two and thereafter.
Special-features highlights include a half-hour's worth of detailed and informative making-of featurettes, audio commentary on a dozen episodes, and a look ahead to the next season. --Sam Graham