Haven's premiere in July last year wasn't exactly a ground-breaking event. The Syfy series was just one more supernatural drama that received rather lukewarm initial reviews, and even managed to alienate a part of the entertainment press after just a few episodes. A moderately active fan base took over from journalists who only returned when, surprisingly, the show kept drawing respectable ratings and Syfy stubbornly showed no sign of canceling it prematurely.
Very loosely based on The Colorado Kid from Stephen King, the show tells the story of an FBI agent, Audrey Parker, who investigates supernatural events in Haven, a small coastal town in Maine. She is helped by local cop Nathan and small-time smuggler Duke. The generally tepid reviews were apparently due to the fact that Haven was nothing like Lost or The X-Files or an improvement over those two. The show designers intended to deliver a series with independent episodes and just a trace of an overarching storyline, which is exactly what they did. It follows that it doesn't make sense to assess their effort on the lack of a convoluted mythology from day one.
Throughout the season, Haven never explains how the troubles — as they are called by locals — came to be, and in each episode the "troubled" person is "dealt with" when discovered. The lack of hints of absolute answers that proved so unbearable to some in the press wasn't an issue for the viewers who chose to stick with the series. For the faithful, the show capitalized on the lead characters. I should say that the casting of Emily Rose as Audrey Parker initially bothered me. I found her too cheek-pinching cute for an FBI field agent, but I ultimately liked what they did with the part. Emily Rose portrays a detached female agent who seems absolutely unaware of being attractive, and barely aware of being a woman. She is definitely not in pursuit of a relationship and her carelessness on the subject only endears her to the viewer. Lucas Bryant steadily improved as Nathan and Eric Balfour was perfect as Duke. The quality of dialogues between the three leads and the recurring characters never wavered.
The cinematography was breathtaking throughout the entire season and was actually the first thing that caught my attention. I liked that it wasn't used to build up the suspense by creating an ominous atmosphere. Instead, we got sweeping shots of a beautiful little town with an invariably cloudy skyline. Together with the score, it gave a sense of normalcy fitting well with the lead characters' quiet demeanors. All of that helped develop the feeling that we were on a journey and not in a race to some amazing conclusion. If that sort of thing appeals to you, then Haven is a show you should consider watching. Now, there could be a debate on whether or not Audrey took in everything she discovered in Haven too easily. Also, most viewers will agree that some of the cases demanded a certain leap of faith, even considering the subject matter is the supernatural. Finally, it is obvious that many ideas — though brilliant — were lacking in their execution. Some of the investigative steps were blatant shortcuts and some of the final solutions just too easy. By the end of the season we got three important pieces of the puzzle: the troubles were dormant for a while; there might have been some sort of conflict in the past involving some tattooed troubled people; Audrey's mother Lucy (or at least someone who looks a lot like Audrey today) was instrumental in making the troubles go away.
The mystery around Audrey, more than the troubles themselves, defined the first season. The finale did what any such respectable episode should do, it left us with the sense there would be some answers during the second season premiere on July 15, 2011. The title "A Tale of Two Audreys" might be misleading though. This will not be about past and present Audreys, but rather about our very own former agent Parker (now Haven P.D.) and the cliffhanger tool of the finale. The newcomer will tag along — for one episode — during the investigation of events similar to the biblical plagues. She will allow the series to summarize some of the things that have happened and show a typical outsider reaction to supernatural events, something we didn't get with Audrey when she first came to Haven. We will then return to our weekly standalone episodes albeit with a little more information on the female lead. The season also promises to give us more on Lucy, her relationship with Audrey, and what transpired during the previous "awakening" of the troubles.
Production on season two began in April with all cast members (playing characters still alive) returning for the thirteen episodes. They will be joined by Jason Priestley who, according to the official press release, "will play Chris Weekly, a handsome but anti-social marine biologist who must deal with an affliction most would consider a blessing." Priestly will star in a four-episode story arc and has also signed on to direct one episode of the season! The new cast member notwithstanding, it would be interesting to see where the series goes from here. Whether it will learn from its mistakes or bow to the pressure of proponents of a mythology-laden and mind-bending storyline. I would rather see them improve the procedural aspect of the investigations, stop acting as if nothing that happens in Haven transpires to the outside world, and make an effort to avoid half-baked solutions to contain troubled people. That added to the witty dialogues and outstanding performances by the leads should keep the faithful viewers coming for more and even win over a new audience. I don't mind taking some time to unravel the mystery that is Audrey Parker. In addition to her aloofness, the mystery surrounding her adds to the wondrous attraction of Haven, both the place and the TV series.