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Yom Kippur and it's temporal suburbs was spent in the time honored and much cherished tradition common to my particular secular Israeli social subgroup, of eating rather mediocre food and watching rather mediocre television, safe and happy in the knowledge that for just one day, there really is absoloutely nothing else, or better, to be doing. (I really do love Yom Kippur for that.)

So I marathoned most of the first two seasons of Haven.

It's kind of an interesting mix, with some appealing characters, and might not be nearly as mediocre as it pretends. It's got that SciFi channel sensibility where everything is fairly PG and a little hammy, and it's quite old-school episodic, firmly with a monster-of-the-week, but also quite happily unpretentious and un-artsy. On the other hand, good grief, is it ever bleak! There's just a really consistent and almost total lack of even marginally happy endings. Mosters-of-the-wekk get solved, but never well. It's such an odd - but compelling - tenor for me, for a show that's like a mashup of Supernatural and Once Upon a Time. (basically, it's this odd little town where people develop strange abilities. An FBI agent comes to investigate, but discovers the town may be tied up with her own past! Who'd have thunk it?)

People are never in control of their powers, it's always the other way around. Powers are usually vastly bigger than the person - it's rare for someone to just, like, be telekinetik or be able to start fires or see the future or the usual standard things. They set the whole town on fire anytime they get slightly worried. They destroy everything they touch. They see everyone dying and die themselves.

Even when they have a relative amount of control - like the underwater guys - there's still some genuinely nasty price, and the price is almost always some form of isolation. People will have to spend the rest of their lives (or at least the rest of the Troubles) on tiny boats adrift at sea or in perfectly dark, empty houses or living feral behind a slaughterhouse. Even Chris comes to the conclusion - and he's probably right - that he has to be away from people and Nathan's issues with his affliction mostly come down to feeling cut off and alone.

Anyway, that seems like a reasonably novel take on the people-develop-powers thing to me. It's usually individually isolating, but here there this sense that this is tearing apart this town as a community. This isn't the ennobled isolation of the X-men (et al,) shunned by cruel society, etc, etc, but mostly self imposed choices (occasionally, someone commits suicide instead), because it really is the only way to keep other people - and themselves - safe. Couples, families, businesses and friendships all have to go, in the most painful and ordinary sort of ways, and (so far, at least) there is no sense of a community of the special people emerging to replace them.

The overarching plot is pretty good, and the case of a given week usually holds together fairly well, thought (probably exacerbated by marathoning) it does suffer from that thing that every show has to do now, where every single episode is some kind of narrative paradigm shift - barely one can go by where a main character isn't killed or revealed to actually have been someone else all along and all that sort of thing. That said, and this is what i've been missing in a lot of shows lately - there is at least a bit of a sense of time passing and life being lived, messed up circumstances and all. Motivations, priorities and relationships slowly evolve in the background, week by week. (The episodic format is what does it) It isn't just everyone sprinting to catch up with the plot all the time, like in, say, Orphan Black.

I also quite like both Nathan and Audrey. She's spunky FBI girl and he's taciturn local cop guy, but both have more going for them. They're not afraid to let Nathan in particular have a bit more personality than required by the whole Standard-American-Masculinity thing, and his affliction is just interesting to explore. It's basically quite subtle and can go more-or-less ignored for whole episodes, but it's obvious that it's fairly devastating to him whenever he does open up about it.

I'm less interested in Duke, who so far hasn't really managed to get out of the bad-boy cliche character rut. Though the actor certainly is easy on the eyes, which might actually be to the detriment of the characterization, there. In general, (barring the three main characters) Haven tends to have a lot of people who look slightly more like ordinary people than American TV norm, which is refreshing. Also, secondary characters, especially women, tend to have somewhat short careers, which bugs me. Quite a few rather interesting ones show up, but they always die or get sent to Montreal or get brainwiped or whatever after a while, which is a shame - I liked most of them quite a bit and would have been happy to spend more time with them.

So, thats my thoughts on Haven. I've basically been enjoying it. Recommended if you're into that sort of thing.


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May 2017

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