Tag Archive: Haven


Review by C.J. Bunce

Any Midwesterner will find the quaint farm community in writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton’s new Image Comics “rural noir” series Revival very familiar.  Even if you live in the city, you drive past these communities going to and fro, dotted with barns and sheep and silos.  What goes on there?  Are you sure you want to know?

In the Pacific Northwest David Lynch showed us a local community in the woods (set near Snoqualmie, Washington) in his TV series Twin Peaks.  In the Syfy Channel TV series Haven, we meet a New England small-town community courtesy of Steven King.  M. Night Shyamalan has written the book over and over on these towns, a la Pennsylvania flavor, whether it’s with Signs, and its nondescript blot on the map town, or Lady in the Water and its tacky apartment complex community, or The Happening with strange goings-on in Harrisburg, Penn., or The Village, whose time and place is part of the village’s (and the movie’s) secret.  Of course these all have something less than quaint in common, something filled with secrets and the supernatural, something powerful and dark.  Yet these places manage to seem familiar, and part of you wouldn’t mind setting up residence in, say, Twin Peaks, Wash. or Haven, Maine.  Remember the good coffee and donuts at the diner in Twin Peaks?  Something is luring you closer.  And now you can add the Wisconsin version of this town to the mix.  The town of the Revival.

A certain “happening” or “event” has taken place in Wausau, Wisconsin, and its drawn the attention of the entire world.  You can’t die in Wausau, plain and simple.  But what is the cause?  An old woman is reciting verses from the Bible, speaking of purgatory and rapture.  And then, like a scene from Shyamalan’s Signs, a little boy playing on his farm encounters an all-out alien–straight out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind–walking by, mimicking, and learning the boy’s language like E.T. himself.

A sheriff and his daughter Dana are investigating this upheaval, this “things like this never happen in my town” incident, as if it were an act of bio-terrorists, including involvement of the C.D.C.  Dana is our very likable police officer, a fixture in her community.  Familiar to all of us.  She is our tour guide on our travels through this world on the edge of its own Twilight Zone.  These are simple folk, and otherwise, things are normal in Wausau.

Dana finds her sister with her car parked at a bridge standing near the edge and offers to take her on to school, but she instead accompanies her to her next case.  The disturbing old woman staring away from us in a barn…  and the end comes too soon for our apparent heroine, Dana.  And her sister is next.  Or so one might think.  After all, we’re in Wausau.  And the Revival has begun.

G.I. Joe, Hack/Slash, and Forgotten Realms writer Seeley’s story is compelling and subtle and creepy.  Battlepug and Green Arrow/Black Canary Eisner-winning artist Norton’s pencil work drops us into the pastoral realm, allowing us to get sufficiently comfortable before dropping a bomb on us, or in this case, a scythe.  Creepy but not so much disturbing, as say, the similar vein of Terry Moore’s Rachel Rising.  Thankfully.  But you really get the feel of Steven King, David Lynch, and M. Night Shyamalan here.  And I’ll be back for more with Issue #2.

By C.J. Bunce

You can spend your weekend at Comic-Con wandering the exhibit floor looking for mass market collectibles, talking with dealers of original art, talking with writers and artists of current and classic comic books, attend panels and see comic and other creators, TV and movie stars and get the low-down on coming projects, go offsite for parties and studio and publisher events–the biggest problem is doing all you want when there is nowhere close to enough time to do it in.  If you’re in for only a few days, you really have to pick up your pace and narrow down what you want to see.  Since I spent a whole day in panels and did not stay for the entire weekend, any encounters I had with creators and studio celebrities were pretty much based on happenstance this year.  Many creators are now friends, others I gawk at like everyone else from afar.  So who did I see?

First of all, in panels I saw the cast of Community, Firefly, and the new series Arrow, including guys I’d love to talk in person someday–Alan Tudyk and Adam Baldwin, David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel from Bones, and the guy you may know as Bud from Married with Children, David Faustino, who is doing voice work now for Nickelodeon, and he voiced the character Mako as part of the Legends of Korra panel.  As I mentioned earlier in the week, waiting in line allowed me to meet and get a photo with Joss Whedon.

The Soup host Joel McHale, Firefly star Nathan Fillion, former Angel star David Boreanaz and Korra’s David Faustino really stood out as funny guys in these panels–surprisingly quick-witted people who got the crowd cheering with everything they said.

I saw the main cast of the Syfy Channel series Haven during their signing session.  They really looked like they were having a good time–like they really get along with each other.  Also signing in the Sails Pavilion were Richard Anderson, who was the classic character Oscar Goldman from one of borg.com’s favorite borg shows: The Six Million Dollar Man, and Cindy Morgan from the original Tron and Caddyshack.  I hoped to run into Bruce Boxleitner, JK Woodward and Scott and David Tipton but my panel schedule caused me to miss meeting them.

On the exhibit floor I watched Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and Kevin Sorbo (Hercules) talk with fans and sign autographs.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was coming into the hall and I staked out a photo op location but his handlers moved him out of the hall so I missed seeing him.

As a Star Trek fan, I was very happy to finally meet and have a nice conversation with Brent Spiner.  He was a great guy who was as nice in person as you’d hope him to be from years of watching his lovable character Data.  I also had a brief chat at day’s end with Levar Burton, also a friendly guy, signing photos of Geordi LaForge for fans.  I’d met Marina Sirtis before so I didn’t chat with her this round, but she was also signing Counselor Deanna Troi photos in the hall.

Earlier this year I reviewed Table Top, a new, fun Web series hosted by Wil Wheaton with the Geek and Sundry creators.  I met him near a Starbucks and shared my feedback with him on his show.  We talked about some of the games and he graciously introduced me to his wife and friends.

Wheaton is truly “one of us” and a really personable guy.  Of everyone at the Con, he is probably my first pick of someone you’d like to wander the Con halls and chat with.  Another show host, Blair Butler was attending the Con from the popular genre cable channel G4.

Of the comic book realm, I met Cat Skaggs, a well-known comic book artist who was signing cover prints to Smallville Season 11 #1 and she sketched a great Green Arrow bust for me.

I also met Neal Adams–a comic book legend who created the look of the Silver Age Green Arrow and I finally was able to add one of his sketches to my folio.  Neal was sketching non-stop for fans just like the newer, younger artists in Artist Alley–a real “working artist” even after all these years.

I ran into my friend Freddie Williams II also, and he also was busy sketching for fans throughout the Con and selling original art from his various DC Comics series.

David Petersen, known best for his Mouse Guard work, was working on commissions for attendees and selling shirts and art at his booth in Artist Alley.  I also lucked into getting a sketch from him and enjoyed talking with his wife, who manned the booth when he was doing signings elsewhere.

I ran into Frank Cho again this year and he said he is still expecting to get Guns & Dinos out soon.  He was selling a great pin-up calendar featuring Brandy and the Liberty Meadows gang.  More on that in future posts.  A nominee for the Eisner in two categories this year, Rachel Rising creator Terry Moore was busy talking with fans.

As with last year, Jim Lee could be found at several panels and signing throughout Comic-Con.

As with Freddie Williams, I met up with several folks from back in the Midwest.  I ran into artist Ande Parks and met his wife, while hanging with Sean and William from Elite Comics and Chris Jackson who runs Planet Comicon.  Parks was chatting with his frequent cover artist Francesco Francavilla, this year’s Eisner cover artist of the year winner, and someone we have talked about here at borg.com all year long for his great cover art.  I ran into Star Trek author Kevin Dilmore twice on the exhibit floor–my third year seeing Kevin at the Con.  It’s crazy how you can be in your hometown and never run into anyone, and then fly to San Diego and see so many people from back home.

If there was a theme to this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego it would be zombies.  Like no year before you could not turn left or right without someone dragging one of their feet with a dazed look.  The San Diego Padres Petco Stadium was blocked off and turned into a gauntlet/run/haunted house where fans of The Walking Dead could either be made up to look like zombies or be a survivor and attempt to run through 40 minutes of obstacles, and hiding zombies, to get out the exit gate without being “infected”.

As for costumes, it was cartoons and anime that seemed to monopolize cosplayers over superheroes and sci-fi.  You name the series, someone was wearing their gear.  But the best costumes overall remain the diehard Star Wars fans, whose Boba Fetts and Imperial armor could hardly be distinguished from the real thing.

As for panels, all the advance buzz and most talked about panel was the panel for Firefly, but The Hobbit, Game of Thrones, and Expendables 2 were not far behind–Arnold Schwartzenegger drew a huge mob of fans as he entered the convention hall.

As for marketing, Quentin Tarentino’s new movie Django was in well represented, along with the NBC TV series Grimm, and the remake of Total Recall.

If you’re a fan, like I am, of Green Arrow, come back this week for a review of the pilot for the new CW Network series Arrow, as well as a look at the Green Arrow suit from the series.  Creator of the Silver Age look for Green Arrow, Neal Adams, was talking with convention guests and sketching Batman and other characters for fans.

Star Trek fans had a lot to see as well, with attendance at the con by Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner and Levar Burton, and Wil Wheaton could be found circulating the halls.

Fans of series like Grimm and Haven could see the series stars on panels and then meet the actors afterward for signings.

More to come…

  

Review by C.J. Bunce

With three issues out we’ve had enough time to get a feel for the DC Comics’ New 52.  Some of the DC titles have found their own niche in the giant volume of books available, considering the severl hundred books published by DC, Marvel and all the independents.

I am pretty pleased with the overall picture in the Aquaman series.  On the one hand, the story is very simple so far.  On the other hand, what is there is full of snappy dialogue, nostalgic quick references, and inside jokes, from the pen of writer Geoff Johns.  As far as the art is concerned, initially I was hoping an Aspen comics-esque, ex-Fathom series artist would draw the Aquaman series or that the current artist would take on Fathom’s dreamy waterworld stylings.  Yet Ivan Reis’s view of a world existing side by side Atlantis is superb.  And his seafaring underworld aliens are still the best villains in the DC universe right now.  Kudos are owed to Reis for his consistent, relevant, striking covers, too.

What struck me reading issues #2 and #3 is that this story is written as if Aquaman was existing in the Marvel Universe.  Folk on the street chide and lambast Captain America and X-Men in the ordinary course of the day.  Here, Aquaman walks in the room and there is no awe in the eyes of those he meets.  He might as well not be there, from the perspective of the regular townspeople.  Now this has been done in the DCU before and happens all the time in various contexts but this superhero in the real world concept is very overt here and Geoff Johns’ approach is working so far.  The fact that someone can show up at Aquaman’s door and basically say that he was looking for Aquaman and heard he lived around here…maybe it is simple, but it works.

As story arc is concerned, we are seeing more of the calm before the storm in this story than the actual storm, yet we see pockets of storm.  As a matter of story tempo and meter, it is following the pacing of the movie Jaws, unintentionally I would expect. That is, we get to know this harbor town, and this is a familiar place.  It could be Amity from Jaws.  It could be Haven from the Stephen King/SyFy channel series Haven.  It is tranquil, and if you have ever spent much time in coastal towns Johns and Reis locked in the feel of this setting, the calm tide, almost the smell of sea and sound of the squawking seagulls.  And like the vengeful spirits in John Carpenter’s Fog, the approach of the villainy is slow and deliberate, victims are picked off one by one.

The aliens speak in stilted tones like the bionic animals in the stellar-but-sad-and-disturbing series WE 3, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely (probably the only series that has really impressed me from the much-hyped Grant Morrison).  Unlike the aliens in the Alien series, this makes them some how more approachable, a necessary trait with any good fleshed out villain.  Can these seemingly unsympathetic villains be redeemable?  One says “Help us” as he drifts away?  Does he mean “I am helping myself?” by escaping, or is he beckoning to Aquaman?

If there is anything to improve upon it is Aquaman and the often jokingly mislabeled Aquawoman, Mera.  Mera almost seems more interesting at this point.  We’ve been peppered with some slightly depressing but spotty backstory, some kind of regret, but I’d prefer something else, or at least some reason to like these characters more.  The super duo are trying to help humans, despite clearly the fact that humans don’t always want their help.  But as story elements go, we need to like the humans and the lead characters both or we’ll get bored with the story.  Maybe if Aquaman were to act against his own interest?  Then again, saving a dog from the creatures is a good start.

In issue #2 we learn that the sea monsters are hungry and they see us as food.  We also see that Mera is not going to take a backseat in this story—being the first to step forward against this new threat.  In issue #3 Aquaman gets the body of one of the sea monsters for examination and learns more about the creatures.  The book ends with Aquaman and Mera racing to “The Trench,” the supposed origin of these villains.  The story arc continues next month… and we’ll be back for more.

Back in Beginner Computing class in junior high, we learned the BASIC computer language on Commodore VIC 20s.  The first program you learn to write is this:

10 PRINT HELLO

20 GOTO 10

The end result is a loop, printing the word HELLO over and over again infinitely like this:

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO

HELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLOHELLO …

It’s an easy way to illustrate a temporal loop or time loop, a recurring story element in science fiction and fantasy works.

In 1905 Spanish philosopher George Santayana wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  He didn’t mean this literally.  As science and science fiction would later speculate, repeating the past may be a possibility one day.

It is difficult to determine who first put the literal repeat of history into story form, but it is a recurring science fiction device that is often used to great effect.  Classic sci-fi writer Philip K. Dick used the time loop in his 1975 short story “A Little Something for Us Tempunauts.”  The best and most well known example of this is the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, where for for some unknown reason a weatherman’s day is repeated until something happens that is supposed to happen–he gets the day exactly right.

Unlike later uses of this device, in his short story Philip K. Dick did not express the element as a repeat of the actual narrative story, but an explanation of cause and effect.  In his story, time traveling astronauts go on a mission, where destruction of the mission results in a time loop that may or may not result in the preservation of an eternal life for everyone.  We don’t see the result, but hear from the tempunauts they have been there, done that, before.  Over and over.

Usually use of a time loop on sci-fi/fantasy genre tales involves at least one person being able to realize the existence of the repetition.  Bill Murray’s weatherman knows the day is repeating in Groundhog Day.  Yet the other characters are not aware at all.  In other uses, characters get to experience deja vu or even fatigue from living time over and over.

This week’s episode of the Syfy Channel’s Haven, the series based on a Stephen King story, is titled “Audrey Parker’s Day Off,” and is one of the best of the series so far.  The main character Audrey Parker, played by Emily Rose, wakes up to repeat a day after she comes upon a death at a crime scene.  She is in bed with friend Chris, played by Jason Priestley, to whom she must explain a different plan for each new day.  In each new day she tries to figure out how to not cause any death, by changing the variables of each day.  In the context of the mystic “troubles” the town of Haven is dealing with, Audrey as the only person person unaffected by the troubles.  With Audrey the show uses this story device quite well.  The parallels to Groundhog Day are unmistakable, but viewers can’t help but like it when it is adapted in a new way as was done here.

Jason Priestley may be strangely tied to time loops, as he also appeared in a television series entirely about time loops, called Tru Calling, one of borg.com’s favorite series.  In Tru Calling, a graduate student and morgue worker named Tru played by Eliza Dushku is able to relive days in the hope of saving the life of someone who died on that day.  Usually she has several opportunities to do this.  Priestley’s character later in the series comes along as an agent of death to undo the seemingly good that Tru has been doing.  His view is that Tru is interfering with the proper course of events, as if only one timeline is correct, and with him it is the first timeline.

Early Edition was another series focusing on the ability to “do over.”  The loop also occurs in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Life Serial,” on the series Eureka in the episode “I Do Over,” the X-Files episode “Monday,” and the Xena, Warrier Princess episode “Been There, Done That.”

In theaters now is the fifth film in the Final Destination franchise.  This series presents a variant on going back to change the past, without the ability to try again via repeats, although with the character of Clear played by Ali Larter in the first two movies, the repeat effort seems to be there all the same.  In the world of the Final Destination films, an individual lives out a horrible accident, then snaps back in sort of a deja vu state, with only seconds to try to prevent the course of events from happening.  However, like Priestley’s character in Tru Calling, an unseen power, like his agent of death, is set about to return the normal and proper timeline, even if it means the death of dozens.

In Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut’s hero Billy Pilgrim similarly becomes what Vonnegut calls “unstuck in time”.  He has no choice, he appears in various stages of his own life, but with the choice of changing events.  This also happens in the episode of Angel called “Time Bomb.”

Captain Picard  (Patrick Stewart) experienced the same problem a few times in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  In  the episode “Tapestry,” John de Lancie’s omnipotent character Q plunges Picard into the past to allow Picard to not only revisit his past, but to change it if he wishes.  With no regrets, Picard changes nothing, even when that means a Nausicaan will again put a pool cue through his heart, resulting in Picard again needing an artificial heart for the rest of his life.  But whereas revisiting the past in story form has been around for centuries–think Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol–a temporal loop requires repeated visits to the past.  Luckily Scrooge gets it right after merely watching his past, and Q is just fine with Picard’s choices the second time around.

Actually the best Star Trek representation of the temporal loop is the Next Generation episode “Cause and Effect,” which might as well be an essay on how time loops work.  The episode starts with a poker game between the bridge officers.  The ship then experiences a temporal distortion and a ship comes out of nowhere to collide with the USS Enterprise, resulting in the destruction of both ships.  Then we have a commercial break, and the show appears to repeat again.  I know of at least one person who almost turned off the show, thinking there was something wrong with the network feed.  Brilliantly, the audience must be confused.  What did we miss?  In this story, characters are impacted by the repetition, they feel tired, and they experience deja vu.  Luckily Lt. Commander Data figures out how to leave a subtle clue for the next repeat, allowing him to save the ship before the end of the hour of the episode.  His crew had been repeating the event for mere days, but the other ship caught in the anomaly, the USS Bozeman helmed by a captain played by Kelsey Grammer, has unknowingly re-lived the same day for decades, and the show ends with Picard informing the other captain of some pretty bad news about his lost time.  Breaking a time loop is also the focus of the Charmed episode “The Good, The Bad, and The Cursed.”

Writers use time loops again and again because they are fun, and modern audiences understand them, mostly because of the success of Groundhog Day.  In fact in this week’s episode of Haven, “Audrey Parker’s Day Off,” when Audrey explains all this to Interim Chief of Police Nathan Wournos, his response is “you’re stuck in my second favorite Bill Murray movie.”  When on the following day Audrey has to explain the recurring events yet again, she cuts him off when he is about to repeat the line and finishes it for him.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

[with spoilers]

Last year Syfy launched an all-new paranormal series inspired by a Stephen King novel (The Colorado Kid), Haven, about an FBI agent-turned small-town cop in a tiny seaside town where Odd Things Happen.  After an uneven start, Haven eventually found its feet, with writers and performers hitting their stride at “As You Were,” and finally delivering the fall 2010 TV season’s most exciting season finale.  “Spiral” left us with a brilliantly-executed cliffhanger, revealing that Agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) may not be who we—or she—have been led to believe.

That outstanding lead-up to Season 2 should have smoothed the way for an equally riveting season premiere, but for whatever reason, “A Tale of Two Audreys” fell short.  When we left Haven for the winter, Agent Parker and Officer Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant) were guns-to-gun with… Agent Audrey Parker, carrying a badge, her FBI credentials, and (it turns out) all of Audrey’s memories.  It seemed we were finally going to get a clue about “our” Agent Parker’s identity, and the discovery that she might not be Agent Parker after all was electrifying.

So what went wrong?  Well, instead of seizing upon the notion of New Agent Parker being the Real Agent Parker, leaving Our Audrey’s true ID in the air, they went in the less-exciting direction of declaring New Parker an imposter, a victim of Haven’s mysterious Troubles who only believes she’s Audrey Parker.  Clearly the mystery is ongoing; nothing of this storyline was resolved in “A Tale of Two Audreys,” so there’s still a chance to recover this storyline (and the hint at the very end of the episode does go a long way toward redeeming it).  But they missed a chance for some great intriguing drama by shunting the Audrey vs Audrey issue aside for the moment.

As for what this episode did focus on, the “Trouble of the Week” was likewise disappointing.  The Ten Plagues of Egypt hitting Haven should have been riveting, as the plagues increase in dread, leading up to the inevitable Death of the Firstborn Sons.  But here they played out rather sedately, hopping from plague to plague with little rising tension building between them, only to culminate in an almost entirely tension-free climax, where the Trouble just… stopped.  More time was spent cleaning up loose ends from last season, introducing new complications, and firmly establing the Rev as this season’s villain, but despite all the mysteries afoot, “A Tale of Two Audreys” felt a little phoned-in, as if given the choice between high drama and ho-hum, they took the more boring path every time.

Still, “Haven” has recovered from weak episodes before, and I don’t believe this misstep is crippling.  There’s enough about the show to keep viewers tuning in, and the questions introduced in “A Tale of Two Audreys” are still intriguing, even despite their currently lackluster execution.  Emily Rose’s Audrey Parker is a smart, likeable heroine who stands out from the Fiesty Female Cop mold, and the male leads (Eric Balfour and Lucas Bryant) have great chemistry.  I’m convinced they can pull this together and deliver a solid season two, and I’m looking forward to what Haven has to offer this summer.

%d bloggers like this: