Archive | September 2014

Haven, S5, Ep. 3: Spotlight

So far, I’m liking Haven Season Five.  We still have all of the same great characters, even if Audrey only has a few “blink and you miss them” moments so far.  And I really miss Jennifer, and Duke seems so lost without her.  Wow, what great acting/writing for Jennifer from S4, huh?  Too bad she couldn’t stay…along with Duke’s ponytail.

Instead of “Hear no Evil,” we have “Spotlight,” a totally Haven-weird Trouble where this lady collects all light into herself and sends it out of her body via multiple laser beams.  As awful as the Trouble was for her and her family, I couldn’t help giggling at the scenes when only two laser beams came out of her torso.  The producers should have just bitten the comedy bullet and made the beams come out of her boobs.  It’s impossible not to think of that while watching the scenes.  Or maybe I’ve just been ruined by Austin Powers.

Anyway, Nathan is still in denial of the fact that he is actually in love with Mara, one aspect or personality of whom is Audrey.  Yes, Nathan is in love with Mara, and until the show says differently, that’s what I’m going with.  The plus side is that Mara/Nathan is far more interesting than Audrey/Nathan.  A love story of two very nice people is great, great for them, great for the world, yes as far as on screen, oh so boring to watch.  Mara is distastefully bad — she kills people with pencils, yet she has that same sense of humor that Nathan always liked in Audrey.  It’s fun to see Nathan and Mara try to play each other, and bittersweet that Nathan can’t let go of Audrey.  Ok, ok, it’s true love, and Audrey still does seem to exist somehow.  However: What if Audrey really is Mara?  Can Nathan deal with that or is he just doomed to go crazy?

Duke trusts Nathan and agrees to let him try to figure a way to get Audrey out of Mara’s body.  Well, is that what Nathan’s doing?  Or is he trying to keep Audrey in Mara’s body but just make sure she stays the dominant personality?  But that doesn’t solve the problem that Audrey IS Mara.  Also, Duke is totally rethinking this trust after he walked in on Nathan and Mara tickling/making out.  And what of Duke’s affection for Audrey from seasons 1-3?  Jennifer so blew that storyline away, that I cannot even comprehend him having an attraction to Audrey now, especially because she’s Mara.  Duke rejected Mara’s advances, but Nathan somehow succumbed to them.  Does this mean Nathan is weaker or that his love for Audrey is too strong and he can’t separate (not that he necessarily should) the two personalities.  Wow, this making my head spin.

Another thing with Duke:  He is about to explode, literally (and that’s used correctly) because of all of these Troubles built up inside of him, troubles the Crocker family has collected over generations.  Also, according to Mara, Duke has a “darkness” inside of him.  Is this due to the Crocker family trouble, to Duke’s past as a smuggler, or do to some aspect of his past or personality that we haven’t yet seen?  True, he’s no boy scout, but on the show he’s been shown to be a good guy who wants to help people.  I’m just not sure where this darkness comes in.  Is it worse that Nathan’s single-mindedness in trying to save Audrey, no matter the cost?  Not that I’m trying to bash Nathan, but it’s sort of like if you have a family member in danger.  You love them, yes, but is it really right of you to jeopardize or even take the lives of numerous other people in order that you may save them?  I don’t think Nathan’s killed anyone so far in his attempts to save Audrey, but I’d have to go back and rewatch.

Mara’s trying to prove something to her family.  She revealed that much to Nathan in the cabin.  Is she perhaps trying to show that her ability to trouble people is the mark of genius, that it’s ultimately something good for humanity?  She seemed to be talking about gifts not being appreciated, sometimes being scorned, sometimes being lauded.  What she is specifically referring to, we might not know for awhile.  It’s revealing, though, that whatever kind of being she is, Mara has a family of some kind.

Sasquatch Dwight wasn’t as interesting this episode, but maybe he will have better moments in the future.  Also, I’m looking forward to Vince and Dave being in the next episode.  Have to give a few shouts out: One, for the coroner Gloria playing with that little toy while she’s talking to Dwight on the phone — pretty amusing.  Two and Three: Duke’s awesome old boat and the Grey Gull.  It felt like a true episode just with a couple shots of both.  Have we ever seen where Nathan lives?  Why not?  Oh, love that the laser beam lady and her daughter brought out Duke’s tender side, kinda sweet.  Lastly, pancakes!  I would marry Nathan forever if he made me pancakes every day!  The writers must have read the Nate the Great series as kids.

Haven, Season 5, Ep. 2, Speak No Evil

(Spoilers).  So I’m loving Season Five of Syfy’s Haven so far.  Not too many answers forthcoming yet, but that’s the nature of these shows.  Everyone wants a piece of Mara, whether it’s to banish her, beat the truth out of her, keep Audrey alive, or to goad her into saving Haven in some way.  Everything revolves around Audrey/Mara at the moment, giving whoever is the other Big Bad in town, a chance to flourish.

Mara: In this episode, Emily Rose did an outstanding job of portraying her, or maybe it’s just that I’m more adjusted to the actress not playing Audrey.  Mara is evil, as shown by her actions, and thus worthy of the name villain.  She also still has a bit of Audrey’s dry humor, which makes her all the more unsettling.  We got a two-second glimpse of Audrey this episode, showcasing just how talented Rose is.  Sometimes actors embody their characters so well, we forget that they’re acting.  This is why Rose as Mara is so jarring.

Vince and Dave: Love their banter and their relationship.  These two old gents have so many secrets, you’d think they’d be pouring out of their ears by now.  Vince has an intriguing attachment to Audrey, hinting at a back history with her, and perhaps some kind of love/emotional bond.

Nathan: Singleminded in his continued love for Audrey, and the belief that she still exists in some way, yet not so much as he can’t be a friend to Duke and assist Dwight in trying to save the town.  I have a theory about Nathan, and that he may have a Trouble, or power of some kind dealing with true love.  Perhaps Audrey still exists, because Nathan’s true love for her still exists?  Maybe that’s his power.

Duke: He’ll be down in the dumps for awhile about Jennifer, but I think saving the town and having to fight against whatever forces of evil are in it, will pull him out of it.  This idea of him having hundred of Troubles inside him is interesting, though, I don’t know that they’ve definitely proved that that’s the case.  Could be all coincidence, even Nathan getting sewn shut.  We still don’t know who else is in town.  Perhaps they too have an emotional bond with Jennifer and did not want to see her go.  Duke has the potential to be a super awesome hero, and it would be fun to see that pay off.  Will they resurrect his feelings for Audrey?  Their relationship is intriguing in the fact that he gets her in a way that Nathan doesn’t (he knew she was pretending to not be herself, S4).  Is it a deep love or a deep friendship, or something else?  Also, I miss his big boat home and the bar.  Hope they will show both again later in the season.

Dwight:  Adam Copeland as Sheriff Dwight is impressing me more and more.  He has a good stage presence (maybe from WWE?).  I was surprised after his first few appearances that he was a returning character, but he fits in Haven, and I love how Duke calls him Sasquatch.  His intentions seem to be entirely focused on saving Haven, and using Mara/Audrey to do so, yet something about his actions makes me uneasy.  Is he being controlled by some unknown force?

Gloria: What an awesome old lady.  I loved the actress Jayne Eastwood way back when in a small role on the Anne of Green Gables miniseries, and she’s just gotten better with age.  She’s so funny, yet a sweet old grandma to everyone.  I think she and Vince should have a romance. 🙂

Vickie: I’m glad they kept her around.  The scene with her and Mara trying to open the Thinny was great, almost fairy tale-ish.  The actress, Molly Dunsworth, has a sort of storybook princess allure about her.  Right now, due to her Trouble, Vickie is just a tool for the major characters, but that could easily change, and I like her working for Gloria and them acting as a team.

Jennifer:  Sad to see her go.  She was quirky, and cute, and ended up being perfect for Duke.  At the same time, though, she was sort of a kid sister to him, especially when contrasted with his wife Evidence (wouldn’t mind her returning).  Duke maybe needs someone he can protect, because that’s what he likes to do, but also maybe someone with more self-confidence, an equal to him in some way.

The Guard:  The people with the super special circle/compass tattoos.  As a group, I’m finding them annoying, mostly because it’s apparent that they are just drones following orders and don’t really have any answers themselves.  Makes most of them irrelevant.

The plot: Yep, it’s unbelievable and complicated, but right now I’m just enjoying the characters finding their way in this yet again altered Haven.  Any one of the characters can take a turn to the dark side, no matter their intentions, and the ultimate question may turn out to be: Is Haven worth saving?  If so, why?  If not, why?  Is the town some kind of purgatory similar to the island on Lost, or is it something different?

The scenery: Can. Not. Get. Enough. of. Nova. Scotia.  Vacation destination calling at some point in the future.

Seven Reasons to Love SyFy’s Haven


SyFy’s Haven is my current favorite show, and here are seven reasons why:

7. Based on a Stephen King novel.

I have an on again off again readership with author King.  Sometime’s his stories are great, sometimes they’re just too out there or hokey for me to relate to.  Haven is based on a short novel by King called The Colorado Kid.  I put this reason of watching Haven at number seven mainly because the story it’s based on is awesome.  It’s a story with no ending about a reporter being tested.  Does she have what it takes to be a journalist?  Does she have a curious enough mind to ask the right questions?  The mystery itself of The Colorado Kid is baffling, but not in a bang, bang, boom, sort of way, making it unique among King’s more grandiose reality bending stories.  The writing is some of his best yet, in my opinion.  At heart, The Colorado Kid and Haven are both about people, what motivates them, makes them tick, etc.  And the show caters to King fan’s, including numerous odes to his stories, some blink-and-you-miss-them.  Haven also pays tribute to similar teen shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

6. The Troubles.

Like most science fiction and/or fantasy shows, Haven revolves around people with special abilities and how they deal with them, using them for evil and/or good.  And Haven has some truly unique troubles (spoilers), like a girl who can turn an entire town into a snow globe, or a man obsessed with aliens who makes alien invasions turn real (or are they real?), or a man who becomes a house.  Fun and disturbing stuff.

5. It’s like LOST.

And I mean that in the best possible way.  Haven starts out simply, FBI agent going to a town to investigate strange circumstances, but it just gets weirder and weirder, much like the island on Lost.  If you loved that about Lost, you’ll like it about Haven too.  Both shows are similar in that the characters are dealing with events they cannot control, and they are part of a grand scheme where good and evil go head to head.  In addition to that, both shows share a love of humanity, it’s various struggles, concerns, and fear of the truth.  Like Lost, many Haven episodes are stand alone reflections on human life.  Taken away from the larger arc of the Troubles’ origins, these episodes are sweet, little stories in and of themselves.  Also, like Lost, Haven doesn’t really make sense, and the ending is likely to be a letdown, but I don’t care.  It’s fun to see writers and show producers push their imaginations.  It’s great to see channels like SyFy at least give the stranger stories a chance.

4.  The theme song.

I don’t know if the song has a title or who it’s by, but the theme song and opening credits are ultimately what got me hooked on Haven.  The shots of Nova Scotia and/or New England are breathtaking, and the Celtic-themed melody just lets you know you’re in for a yarn of a story.  It’s no mistake that Haven is located on the sea.  The Troubles are just another version of all those sailor’s stories, like mermaids, or Davy Jones’ locker, whimsical stories involving both passion and danger.

3. The love story.

Haven is ultimately a love story.  There’s some sort of love triangle involved, which becomes a quadrangle, but how that will play out to the end, I don’t know.  Many people dismiss love stories as boring, but I think Haven does a decent job with it.  They don’t bang us over the head too hard, and generally keep the focus on defeating whatever the Big Bad currently is.  But love is the reason the main characters have such a problem weeding out the Troubles.  Because people love their family members, they are reluctant to “out” them, so to speak, and/or are in absolute denial that either they or their family members have a Trouble.

2. The actors/characters.

Emily Rose is a great Audrey.  She’s spunky and portrays Audrey as the girl you’d want for your best friend.  She plays Audrey so well, that seeing her play (spoilers) Audrey’s alternate egos is jarring, and seemingly unnatural.  Lucas Bryant as detective Nathan Wuornos is a unique face, and he plays Nathan’s alternating low self-esteem against his absolute belief in true love really well.  He’s a bullied kid who still believes in people and in love, and even might be the one to get the girl in the end.  The third member of this triangle is Duke Crocker, played by Eric Balfour.  Balfour has gone mostly under the radar up to this point, and I think this is because Duke is his first big chance to shine.  If Haven were Lost, Crocker would be its Sawyer.  He’s funny, charming, and teetering the line between criminal and good guy.  He has a good heart and cares about people, but is not necessarily pure of heart.  Like Sawyer, Haven would not be Haven without Duke Crocker.

The numerous minor characters on Haven, are great as well, especially the Teague brothers with their old married couple spats, and the unexpected longterm addition to the “Scooby gang,” Dwight Hendrickson played by Adam Copeland.  Even those who only stick around for one episode, are memorable, and in their own ways, are each a thread of the fabric that is Haven, including Maurice Dean Wint as Agent Howard, Vinessa Antoine, as Evi, and Emma Lahana who won me over as Jennifer.   In addition, I have to give props to the Haven production for picking such great actors to play the town’s coroners.  The coroners are all portrayed as quirky, salt-of-the-earth people who tell it like it is.  They embody the town of Haven most of all, and are played by Mary-Colin Chisholm, Christopher Shore,  and Jayne Eastwood, who steals nearly every scene she’s in.

1. The writing.

The fun of writing a fantastical story is that as a writer, you can tie yourself into absolute knots, the likes of which it is impossible to untangle to anyone’s satisfaction.  Some people, like me, like these kind of stories, whereas others can’t stand them.  I am constantly intrigued by what the writers come up with for the overall arc of Haven, and also how they bring back minor characters that previously seemed throwaway.  In Season 5, we have the continued presence of Vicki Dutton, a girl who’s drawings work something like voodoo dolls.  It’s a troubling Trouble, writing wise, because any effect on the paper can cause chaos in the real world.  It is one of the more illogical Troubles to use, and yet one of the most interesting.

Season 5 of Haven, hangs in a balance of sorts.  Rumors are that both Emma Lahana, who played Duke’s love interest, Jennifer, and Colin Ferguson, who played the Big Bad, William, may not be returning to the show.  Both characters are integral to the overall arc, so if they are not recast, or even do not return at all, it will be intriguing to watch how the writers write themselves out of that trouble, and it’s exciting that the renewal for another Season will give Haven an ending, hopefully a good one.  I think the most interesting reveal to come will be just how Vince and Dave Teague play into the origins behind the Troubles.  They’ve been keeping secrets for a long time, perhaps to hide an awful truth from the world.

The love triangle with Nathan, Audrey, and Duke, I have a feeling may end with a self-sacrifice of some kind.  One will take it upon his or herself to fight and die in order that the other two may be happy.  Well, I think that would be a great ending, even if cliche.  The likeliest to sacrifice himself would be Duke, as his antihero persona is becoming more and more all out hero all the time, even though he still denies it.  His potential sacrifice would be satisfying in a way that Nathan and Audrey’s would not, as such a sacrifice would be a given with them, and consequently, somewhat disappointing.  Also, Nathan and Audrey are the embodiment of true romantic love on the show, and as such, they should live, and live happily with that love.  Is that cheesy?  But why do we think this about true love ?  Are we too cynical for our own good?  The problem most have with happy endings is that there’s often no pay off.  The happy ending is tacked on without an emotional catharsis, which is why sometimes a sad ending gets more points.  I have hope, though, that if Haven does end happily, the writers, will make the characters earn it.

Austenland: Book vs. Movie


If you’re any sort of Jane Austen fan, you likely will have read and/or seen Austenland, the book by Shannon Hale, or the movie starring Keri Russell (Felicity, August Rush).  Are Austen addicts crazy spinster women?  Some, perhaps, and both book and movie are a half-warning against women delving too much into fantasy that they forget the very real men beside them.  The between-the-lines message of the story being that most men don’t care much for romance, daydreaming, or fantasy, and that women have to be more practical in their approach to romantic love.  And then both book and movie turn that idea on its head with a revolutionary thought:  A woman, not only in body, but mind and spirit, can be the answer to a man’s fantasy.  An intriguing thought, and likely a fantasy in itself, but I’ve known many men who are at heart very romantic and prone to daydreaming about the ideal woman, though one would not guess so upon first meeting them.

What is it about the Pride and Prejudice love story that both women and men like so much?  In this day and age, their wordy banter is a novelty to us, a society that leaps into bed with the first person we find attractive.  As much as we may poo-poo the societal physical restrains on romance from back in the day, our love of these kinds of stories show that we sort of miss those restraints, even if it’s just a little bit.  It’s like poetry.  Today, we have free verse, free verse, and only free verse, and although the poetry can be very good, it’s not quite as awesome as mastering the rules of a sonnet.  Rules can be a great way of shaping art, focusing the artist or writer to really hone their work.  Splat painting vs. the Mona Lisa, as one example.  Both can be admired, but only one is truly great art and precisely because it follows certain rules.  Perhaps we, with our very modern ways, secretly feel the same about romance.

Into the fray:  The book vs. the movie.  I enjoyed both, though, the book delved far deeper into this question of fantasy vs. reality.  Taking the movie first, it was cute, full of the appropriate fluff, and had some great performances.  Keri Russell plays a good everywoman, Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blond) is hilarious as always, and Georgia King (Little Dorrit) was born to play period roles.  And Jane Seymour is still just as stunning as she was on Dr. Quinn.  Does this woman not age? 🙂  The standout character is Bret McKenzie’s (Flight of the Conchords) gardener.  He’s wickedly handsome, funny, charming, and far more appealing than the Mr. Darcy stand in of Mr. Nobley.  That’s not to say that Mr. Nobley played by J.J. Field (Captain America: First Avenger), doesn’t also have his charms, but he’s not given enough screen time to adequately nudge him to the head of the line.  I found myself wishing that, although he’s nothing like a Mr. Darcy, that McKenzie had had the main role (I love funny guys).  But that’s not the point, the point the of whole story is: Don’t give up on Mr. Darcy, he’s real.

Who is a Mr. Darcy, exactly?  Is he merely a hunk in a wet t-shirt?  The movie seems to indicate that for most women that’s all Darcy is, a daydream about a good looking man a la Colin Firth (or Ricky Whittle) in tight pants and a billowy shirt that tends to look best when damp as to outline his manly features.  The 1995 BBC version of Pride & Prejudice was a revelation in its time.  As for me,  when I first read the novel in college, I just didn’t get the appeal, and didn’t even want to finish it.  Neither did my friends.  So we rented this super long miniseries in the hope that we would be sufficiently caught up on all plot points enough to pass the test.  We subsequently ended up falling head over heels for Firth’s standoffish, irritating Mr. Darcy.  Jane Austen was a genius, and the miniseries made that clear, showing her wit and plotting to full effect.

Other standouts in the movie:  The scenery, house, and rooms are gorgeous.  Everything is done with a wink, wink, and we often get to see the male actors of Austenland in their downtime.  The various plots of Austen’s stories are woven well throughout, and the ball at the end is stunning.  This sort of theme park wouldn’t be entirely bad and could be a lot of fun if one went with friends — something similar to a murder mystery weekend at an old Victorian mansion.

To the book: Austenland has so much going for it.  It’s sweet, the main character is appealing, neurotic, and vulnerable, and the story walks the line between reality and fantasy well, yet ends where we all want it to, in the fantasy (or is it the truth?) that there are men out there who like the other parts of romance just as much as they do the physical parts.  That there are men out there who want to be the hero, who want to battle their lady love with witty dialogue, those who sort of wish they could be someone’s Mr Darcy, or at least a Willoughby.  Mr. Nobley is given a bit more time to breathe and to woo Jane, and Martin the gardener is a bit more obvious as to his intentions.

Which brings me to the ending (spoilers, or, er, more spoilers ahead).  I have always liked Mr. Darcy, but I like him for Elizabeth Bennet.  I like him in his place in Pride and Prejudice.  Enter Jane Hayes, or Miss Erstwhile of Austenland.  Should we cheer Jane on for landing her proverbial Mr. Darcy?  Warm fuzzies say yes, but reality…there’s always reality, isn’t there?  Speaking of reality, although many, many woman love Austen’s Mr. Darcy, he’s not necessarily someone they could stand for two minutes in real life.  Mrs. Wattlesbrook’s revelation about Martin the gardener being an actor is kind of a let down. But that’s probably the point.  As a reader or audience member, there are several clues to catch in both the book and film that this guy isn’t exactly on the up and up, yet I found myself cheering Jane on from ridding herself of this Darcy fantasy that no man could measure up to.  It’s a catch 22: Do we wait years on end (getting older, grayer, and more neurotic in the process) to meet that ideal man or woman of our dreams, or do we put those dreams aside and settle for the sweet, kind people beside us who leave the toilet seat up, have morning breath, and fumble when speaking of feelings?  Are there some awesome love stories out there where the guy or girl waits for the person of their dreams and gets them?  Sure, but it’s not common.  True love is the stuff of heaven…and maybe The Princess Bride.  Isn’t it just better to “love the one you’re with?”  In conclusion, I don’t know what to think of the ending.  I’m thrilled by the fantasy of it, but shamed that it is still, a fantasy, a novel, a movie, a dream.  Austenland is a Disneyland, no more, no less.

Miss Buncle’s Book: Delightful


Modern books and stories are thrilling, entertaining, well written, and in increasing turns, dull, formulaic, and badly written.  Something, perhaps a childlike delight in stories and the world around us, is lacking.  I see it in myself.  As a fantasy writer, I tend to conceive of fantastic plots, eccentric characters, strange settings, but sadly, I find my stories disconnected, if intentionally, from the real world.  This is, of course, because I have so much room to grow as a writer, but also because I have a fear of writing about real people, perhaps characters even inspired by people I actually know, and the places in which I have lived.  This is not an idle fear.  How many books and how many films begin with the cautionary paragraph: “All events and characters in the following are purely fictional and not meant to represent any real person or circumstances, etc.” (or some form of the same disclaimer).

Enter Miss Buncle’s Book, a supremely delightful read I happened to come across at the bookstore this past week.  Written by D.E. Stevenson and published in 1936, the book concerns an English village of the kind that that likely don’t exist anymore and a world in which Anne of Green Gables (also a delightful series) would be comfortable.  Stevenson plumbs the amusing side of “writing what you know” in this tale of a thirty-something woman who decides to write a book about her village.  The characters are at once larger than life and also very human.  It is a book within a book, a conceit made ample use of in the hilarious reactions the village people have when they recognize themselves in the new bestseller sweeping the country.  Miss Buncle, the authoress of this bestseller, is a very good writer, yet her talents at, well, anything, are completely overlooked by the people she interacts with daily.  She is, in fact, a very sharp observer of human nature, but with a comical lack of foresight to her actions.  Her bestseller about a village being turned upside down by a singular event is itself the singular event that turns Buncle and her village upside down.  Miss Buncle herself becomes braver, better dressed, and poised upon a new life entirely, one of passion, writing, travel, and romance.

Miss Buncle’s Book delights in the ordinary, everyday interactions of people and how people’s behaviors are so often misinterpreted.  It portrays those villagers who instantly see the characters as themselves in the book as being self-centered.  It seems to indicate that those who do not really see themselves in the story as having purer hearts.  Yet the former are in some ways more intelligent than the latter.  It is funny that a loud, bossy gossip should see a village character portrayed exactly as such and think immediately that it must be herself.  Not only that, but also that a lawsuit must happen because of the portrayal.  Yet, the gossip is smart enough to know that she is being made fun of, even if that’s not what the author, Miss Buncle, intended.

Miss Buncle’s Book reminded me so much of the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery, and also Little Women (referenced in the book and also a book within a book) by Louisa May Alcott.  These types of books that take joy in portraying an idyllic, ordinary world are quiet spaces of refuge in shelves and shelves of modern stories full of cynicism, dystopia, and perhaps a bit too much excitement.  It gives a writer like myself pause.  Which is the truth?  Write what you know, or never write what you know?  Miss Buncle’s Book plumbs both ideas by first describing an average village with average people, and then plunging it (somewhat fantastically) into an innocent chaos.