Not until each of its 13 episodes reminds you that its roots spring from the 2005 Hard Case Crime book The Colorado Kid is the viewer jarred back into remembering. In other words, the show succeeds in crafting an identity that stands outside the large, looming shadow of its superstar source material.
For one thing, the main characters of the mystery novel are mere recurring characters in the series. Instead, the forefront belongs to Audrey Parker (Emily Rose, TVs John from Cincinnati), an FBI agent who arrives in the cozy, coastal town on a case, and despite inexplicable occurrences like crumbling roads and a giant runaway stone decides to stay for a while when she notices shes a dead ringer for a woman in a newspaper clipping about Havens unsolved murder of decades past.
Partnering with a plainclothes police officer whos lost his sense of touch (Lucas Bryant), she encounters a new weird thing each week, which the locals refer to as the troubles: evil butterflies, a contagious mental illness, droopy apples, raining birds, men who age decades in a day after sleeping with a bar hussy, stuffed animals that attack, art with the power to erase its real-life subjects, a killer shadow called the dark man, and even a sexy guidance counselor with Nostradamus-like powers.
The supernatural events are different enough to keep Haven interesting, although a couple of episodes fall flat. However, one of the better ones is set at a birthday party where its discovered that a skin-shedding human chameleon is among the guests. It has all the makings of an Agatha Christie novel, and set during a storm, no less!
Haven emerges as a fun show, but only after a little acclimation like getting comfortable with new neighbors. The first couple of episodes are kink-worker-outers, especially with Rose, who comes off way too masculine; soon, however, shes button-cute and a compelling heroine. By the time the show hits its groove, its just shy of addictive, but the truly surprising finale suggests the second season, which starts airing next month, will top this freshman year.
Entertainment One stocks the fourth disc with a wealth of featurettes and interviews, including a Pop-Up Video-style piece pointing out the King references in said finale. The company does a better job packaging and presenting series than most of the big networks and/or studios with this, Sanctuary, The Hunger and Ellery Queen, DVDevotees will wish it gets its hands over more genre television. Rod Lott