BLU-RAY REVIEW - Haven: The Complete First Season
A small town with some very big mysteries...
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The SyFy Channel has a pretty long and growing history of original programming, with a variety of shows that have ranged in success and popularity. Season One of one of the better series in recent years is finally coming to DVD and Blu-ray with Haven: The Complete First Season. For those who may not be familiar with the show, Haven is based on Stephen King’s The Colorado Kid (though to what extent I do not know since I’ve never read it) and follows the stories of an FBI agent investigating strange occurrences in a small Maine town. The first season, somewhat reminiscent of the X-Files and Twin Peaks, really captured the interest of sci-fi fans and the show has already aired its second season with a holiday-themed episode coming next week!
It all started with the tracking of an escaped fugitive deep into the heart of Maine. The job was assigned to young but determined FBI Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) by the shadowy Agent Howard (Maurice Dean Wint), and off she went to the tiny, insular town of Haven. There she partners with local detective Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) to find her man, who is mysteriously killed. Strange occurrences pile up with cracks opening in streets, fog appearing out of nowhere, and more. Audrey slowly begins to learn that Haven hides many secrets and that a sizeable proportion of its residents are “Troubled.” The Troubled have generally uncontrollable powers that flare up in times of stress, and a new time of troubles has come. Even more unsettling, Audrey seems to have a deeper connection to the town including a one of a kind immunity to their afflictions! In addition to Nathan, troubled himself with an inability to feel anything except Audrey’s touch, the agent befriends smuggler Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), Chief Wuornos (Nicholas Campbell), fiery anti-trouble Reverend Driscoll (Stephen McHattie), and local newspaper co-editors Vince (Richard Donat) and Dave Teagues (John Dunsworth).
The Blu-ray of Haven: The Complete First Season has a cover that’s similar to some of the TV promos and features the main characters Audrey, Nathan, and Duke. The back cover has a very brief description, a variety of stills from the show, and a list of the bonus features. Inside the outer box is a tri-fold disc holder with tons more images, credits, and a full breakdown of the episodes along with individual descriptions. The four Blu-ray discs are each emblazoned with the Haven logo.
Once Audrey becomes a resident of Haven herself, the show quickly settles into a “trouble of the week” groove. A strange event leads to an investigation by Audrey and Nathan that invariably leads to an afflicted resident who must be stopped or freed from whatever is causing the damage. The various crazy situations have included strange weather effects, music that can (temporarily) cure mental illness, plagues and epidemics, rapid aging, taxidermied animals killing people, drawings affecting reality, doppelgangers, and much more! But the show isn’t just episodic; there’s an overall arc concerning the secret history of Haven and its cursed residents. The Rev leads an anti-Troubled contingent while Audrey must discover her past and how it relates to a woman who once lived there that looked just like her. Meanwhile, a secret organization of tattooed men is destined to kill Duke and the Chief has been covering up Troubled events for the safety of the town; upon his succession that job falls to another...
Some of the best episodes in the first season included “Ain’t No Sunshine” in which a shadowy figure commits murders, “Fur” that sees Haven’s hunting club attacked by their own trophies, “As You Were” that brings the main characters to a secluded island party crashed by a shape-shifter, and the finale that turns the entire story on its head. Filmed in picturesque Nova Scotia, Haven looks amazing as Maine with sweeping vistas of forests and ocean-front landscapes. The quality of the show is up there with the best of SyFy’s original programming in full HD and with good visual effects.
After you’ve caught up on the first season’s thirteen episodes, there are plenty of special features to enjoy. The Complete First Season on Blu-ray is jam-packed with twelve audio commentaries, three making-of featurettes (“Welcome to Haven,” “VFX of Haven,” and “Mythology of Haven”), six behind-the-scenes video blogs, cast interviews with the three main actors, and an exclusive sneak peek at season two (now aired). Haven: the Complete First Season is available everywhere on Blu-ray now!
Review by Scott Rubin