Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Haven The Complete First Season (DVD Review)

DVD review of Haven The Complete First Season, supernatural drama TV series based on the Stephen King novella The Colorado Kid

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Image: Courtesy of eOne Films.

Haven, Season One (13 Episodes)
Directors: Adam Kane, Rachel Talalay, Tim Sotham, Keith Samples, TW Peacocke, Ken Griotti, Rob Lieberman, Rick Rosenthal, Lee Rose, Mike Rohl, Fred Gerber
Cast: Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Nicholas Campbell, Richard Donat, John Dunsworth, Mary-Colin Chisholm, Michelle Monteith, Anne Caillon, Maurice Dean Wint, Stephen McHattie
Canada, 2010

Reason to see: Stephen King based shows are always going to get me, plus this one is filmed in Nova Scotia and has a supernatural spin!

Based on "The Colorado Kid" novella by Stephen King, Haven follows FBI Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) who follow a routine case which takes her to Haven, Maine, a place where nothing feels routine. Haven is a small town where we see people afflicted by what they call "The Troubles", which are supernatural-toned powers or phenomena which are often unwanted or denied and defy explanation. The Troubles intrigue Audrey, who tries to unveil the mysteries along with the help (or hindrance) from the locals including cops Nathan (Lucas Byrant) and Chief Wournos (Nicholas Campbell) and importer/smuggler Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour of Skyline, Dinoshark). Looking past the everyday, Audrey also sees a possible personal connection to the sleepy town of Haven.

There are so many things to love about Haven. I love that although so much is shrouded with mystery, it's actually rather sweet. Audrey approaches the problems, or rather The Troubles, with the perspective of trying to not only solve the case but help the person involved. And it's not an either/or but rather a both - she cares and she's wants to solve the case. I love how the show often is very grey, not only visually as it's shot in beautiful Nova Scotia, but also in terms of the history of the characters and the action to deal with the troubles. When you see a show that has cops and a smuggler as the main characters, it feels like it will be black and white in terms of right and wrong, but it isn't. It's grey, misty and moody all the way but maintains a beautiful human spirit and accepting nature, even if there is no understanding. That is so rare, as and it's one of the many reasons I love the show.

The cast is fantastic, and they really bring the world of Haven to life. Emily Rose is brilliant as Audrey who plays the logic card with heart at each step and it's so exciting to see a strong, smart female protagonist in the lead of the series. Eric Balfour is great as the charismatic smuggler Duke and Lucas Byrant really won me over as the cop-who-can't-feel (literally) Nathan. We also have Nicholas Campbell who is great as no nonsense stick in the mud Chief Wournos, who has the knowing-but-distant thing down and is highly quotable to boot! And that's just the main cast. We are also treated to an array of locals including kind hearted medical examiner Eleanor Carr (played by Mary-Colin Chisholm) and the hilarious Haven Herald newspaper brothers Vince & Dave Teagues (played by Richard Donat and John Dunsworth), along with occasional appearances from Audrey's FBI boss Agent Howard (Maurice Dean Wint).

Watching Haven does require a few leaps of faith along the way as the stories can seem far-out, but it's worth it to go along for the ride. Each episode has it's own mystery along with at least a crumb more into arc mythology leading us deeper in to the mysteries of Haven. I love how the show plays both the long arc game and episodic mystery, which gives the viewer curious and wanting more, without feeling like the characters are in imminent peril until the next time we see them. It's a slow burn style is a great parallel to the idea of a small town not taking in newcomers right away, just as the audience watches Audrey try to unravel the mysteries into Haven.

Haven was easily my favourite TV show of Summer 2010. I loved the supernatural tone & charismatic characters, plus it successfully plotted out a long arc mystery as well as episode-by-episode intrigue. If you want to hear even more ravings about the show you can check out Hexed: Sisterhood of the Supernatural where I chatted about Haven every week with my sister Suzie. I'm thrilled to see that it's on DVD now so even more people can enjoy it and I can't wait for Season 2!

DVD Extras
I had a blast watching the extras on the DVD set, they are a lot of fun and include lots of behind the scenes footage, interviews and 12 commentaries. Great quality, highly enjoyable and one of my favourite things: not much repeat content over the different extras. Yay! Here are the details.

3 Making of Featurettes:
  • Welcome to Haven (18 minutes) behind the scenes footage, show clips, interviews with co-executive producer Adam Fratto on how he came to the novella The Colorado Kid, interviews with executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst, executive producers Shawn Piller, Lloyd Segan, supervising producer Stefani Deoul, director of photography Eric Cayla, production designer Jennifer Stewart, actors Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour and Nicholas Campbell on the script, Haven's surrounding mythology, the challenge of the developing into a TV series and production partners, casting, characters, possible locations, the beauty & challenges of the location including Lunenberg, creating Haven including the interiors and working in the Stephen King world.
  • VFX of Haven (5 minutes) behind the scenes, show footage and interviews with interviews with executive producer Shawn Piller, visual efects supervisor STARGATE STUDIOS Kris Wood, director of photography Eric Cayla and actor Emily Rosediscussing the use of effects, choice of what kind of effect to use, how they blend them into the real world and lots of show footage of transitions of how the effects pre and post from aerials, day to night, lights - I was so impressed by this and how many of them are really enhancing the environment that I had no idea were actual effects.
  • Mythology of Haven (6 minutes) interviews with co-executive producer Adam Fratto, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst, producerLloyd Segan, production designer Jennifer Stewart, actors Eric Balfour, Emily Rose and Nicolas Campbell, on how the series is about secrets and the creation of an entire world and the layers and the importance to have the episodes self contained aas well as having a huge amount of mythology, that intentional seeds that are planted along the way, and the actors discuss the experience of shooting when they don't know where their characters or the stories are going, plus the fun of the homages to Stephen King in the episodes and touch on the amount of mythology that has the potential to play out.
6 Behind-the-Scenes Video Blogs
  • What is Haven to You? (4 minutes) show clips plus interview responses from actors Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour on what the show means to them and working on a Stephen King project, their characters and working together.
  • Let the Good Times Roll... (4 minutes) pretty funny behind the scenes with Emily Rose on location with in Chester, Nova Scotia during the filming with a particular look the effects and jokes surrounding the props for.
  • Episode 2, Location, Location, Location (2 minutes) on location with Emily Rose at Peggy's Cove (so beautiful! and windy), on the water with Emily Rose & Eric Balfour.
  • Emily Rose Q&A (3 minutes) from the SyFy office answering questions on how she is like her character Audrey, the mysteries of her character, possible romance, her favourite episode, what her supernatural power would be.
  • Stephen King References in Spiral (3 minutes) selections of the episode Spiral with pop ups explaining Stephen King references.
  • Sci Fi Wire Interview with Emily Rose (2 minutes) includes her take on her character, connecting to her character, her response to reading the novella it's based on.

Commentaries (12 Episode Commentaries)
Huge amount of commentaries included for one season and Episode 1 even has 2 different commentaries! All in all, all but three episodes (7, 9 & 10) have a commentary and some even have two (Episodes 1 & 5) which is amazing for a TV on DVD set. Really impressive. I did really enjoy the especially on episode 1 and 5, they have a great, relaxed and fun feel to them with lots of jokes and really shows a sweet camaraderie between everyone. I would recommend watching the entire season and then checking out the commentaries as they will mention now and again references from future episodes and reveals in Season 1 and there even feels like a few quiet hints beyond that as well. There are lots of notations to the series arc & mythology, working on location, how certain scenes and effects were created, the audition process, and stories from the cast & crew working together. The commentaries feel like they are being recorded as the season progresses, as along the way they aren't sure if the show will get picked up for Season 2 (which is has and will start airing in mid-July 2011) until late in the commentaries. Here's a detail of the commentaries:
  • Episode 1 Has 2 Commentaries: Commentary 1 is with Cast and Producer Commentary with executive producers Lloyd Segan & Shawn Piller, co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst and actors Lucas Bryant & Emily Rose and Commentary 2 Director Commentary with episode director Adam Kane.
  • Episode 2 Commentary with co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst.
  • Episode 3 Commentary with co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst and co-executive producer Jose Molina.
  • Episode 4 Commentary with co-creater, executive producer and writer Sam Ernst & co-executive producer Jose Molina.
  • Episode 5 Has 2 Commentaries: Commentary 1 is a Cast and Producer Commentary with executive producers Lloyd Segan & Shawn Piller, co-creater, executive producer & writer Sam Ernst and actors Eric Balfour, Lucas Bryant & Emily Rose and Commentary 2 is with co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst.
  • Episode 6 Commentary with co-creater, executive producer & writer Jim Dunn
  • Episode 8 Commentary co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst
  • Episode 11 Commentary with executive producer Shawn Piller, co-creater, executive producer & writer Sam Ernst and actors Eric Balfour, Lucas Bryant & Emily Rose
  • Episode 12 Commentary with consulting producer/writer Charles Ardai and publisher of crime novels including The Colorado Kid
  • Episode 13 Commentary Cast and Producer Commentary with executive producer Shawn Piller, co-creaters, executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst and actors Lucas Bryant & Emily Rose
Plus:
  • Cast Interviews with actors Emily Rose (2 minutes), Lucas Bryant (2 minutes) and Eric Balfour (2 minutes) on describing the show, the town of Haven, their characters & their characters relationship to Haven and preparation and challenges of their roles.
  • Seasons Two Writers' Room Sneak Peak (4 minutes) interview and discussions with executive producers & writers Jim Dunn & Sam Ernst, head writer/show runner Matt McGuinness and discussions in writers' room (I didn't watch this, I want to be surprized!).
  • Season One Trailer

Haven The Complete First Season is available on DVD and Blu-Ray as of June 14, 2011. Check it out over at Amazon.ca (DVD) & Amazon.ca [Blu-ray] and Amazon.com (DVD) & Amazon.com [Blu-ray]

Shannon's Overall View:
I loved it
I can't wait to watch it again, and for Season 2 to start!
I highly recommend it to fans of supernatural and/or mysteries stories as well as drama fans

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© Shannon Ridler, 2011

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Lucas Bryant and Emily Rose in HAVEN.

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Eric Balfour in HAVEN.

3 comments:

Norlinda said...

Hello fellow Haven fan,
I also love this show and even though it's a little slow going at the start, it's worth hanging in there and getting emotionally invested in the characters. Audrey is such a strong female character and her potentially complicated relationship with her police partner Nathan is what keeps me coming back each episode.
Has always been a fan of Lucas Bryant. This is the first time I've seen him play such a subdued character but he pulls it off so well, esp the episode where he discovers his special connection to Audrey.
Can't wait for season 2.

Shannon the Movie Moxie said...

Hey Norlinda! So glad to hear you are a Haven fan too! I was pulled in by it right away although there are some bumpy bits you are right that getting emotionally invested into the characters is where it's at!

What do you know Lucas Byrant from? This was the first time I've seen him and have been very impressed with his performance over the season.

Norlinda said...

Playing House, a Canadian movie which invariably gets shown every year on some Canadian channel so watch for it. I've also seen him in the short-lived CBC hockey drama M.V.P..

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