Despite its “Imagine Greater” promotional slogan, Syfy appears stuck in a bit of a creative rut. Enter “Haven,” which, even with a Stephen King pedigree (it’s based on his novella “The Colorado Kid”), feels like the bastard child of its lead-in, “Eureka,” and “Warehouse 13.” Beyond the ominous clouds, collapsing roads and unpredictable weather, there’s not much to get excited about in the pilot for this Canadian co-production, which has the added burden of some unfortunate casting choices. In short, those seeking a haven from summer ennui had best look elsewhere.
The problems conspicuously start with Emily Rose (“Brothers and Sisters”), who may be the least convincing FBI agent a TV series has produced — and that’s saying something. She plays Audrey Parker, who’s dispatched to a small Maine town to look for an escaped convict who, in the opening sequence, gets supernaturally tossed over a cliff.
Parker is immediately suspicious regarding the cause of death and pairs up with a local cop, Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant), to investigate the murder. They meet cute, sci-fi-style, when the highway crumbles in front of her car — one of the many things transpiring with scant explanation. This is followed by the requisite playful banter, indicating that classes in Smartass 101 have become a standard element of the FBI’s training curriculum.
Uninspired writing and Rose’s lack of heft combine to undermine the Parker character, who is pivotal not only as the newcomer to this latest permutation of unusual TV hamlets but figures in a serialized twist about what might have brought her the assignment. Nor does it help that she’s given scenes like waking up half-dressed in a guy’s houseboat and saying — with as much grit as she can muster — “You took my clothes.”
King’s work has seldom been served truly well on TV or film, though the show’s exec producers have promising ties to the series version of “The Dead Zone,” which is among the rare triumphs in both media. Yet even with a town as full of quirky personalities as “Haven” (among them “Six Feet Under’s” Eric Balfour), it’s hard to envision the show overcoming its fundamental flaws.
“It takes a village to hide a secret,” reads a clever promo line for the series. Actually, if “Haven” stays this banal, Syfy should have little trouble keeping it under wraps.