Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Guided Tour of Stephen King Television Episodes, Short Films, etc.

Last year, I published a lengthy post wherein I ranked all of the movies based -- some of them extremely loosely -- on Stephen King's fiction.  It was a heck of a lot of fun, and of all of my posts it seems to have been one of the better-received.

It was, however, missing a great many television projects, as well as a few short films.  I struggled with ideas as to how to incorporate those, but there was simply no way to do so within the confines of the worst-to-best structure I was using.  It could have conceivably included some of the stand-alones, like the episodes of Nightmares & Dreamscapes, but stepping much further beyond that made things a heck of a lot trickier than I was loaded for at that point in time.

The solution seemed simple enough: devote a second post to all the things I'd omitted, eliminating the worst-to-best format in favor of tackling the subject from a chronological standpoint.

Here's the problem with that: I never finished watching The Dead Zone.  I loved that show when it premiered, but for my money it began a steady downward spiral during the second season that continued -- worsening -- into the third.  The fourth was even worse, and by the time I finished watching the Christmas episode that capped that season, I was done with the show.  I knew I'd be buying it all, since my collection of King-related DVDs wouldn't be complete without it, so I figured I'd finish watching ... later ... eventually.

This seems like the perfect excuse to do so.  I don't want to just dive into the fifth and sixth seasons, though; I'd like to rewatch the entire series, with a critical eye, and write up some detailed episode guides.  That's going to take a while, though, and I don't want to delay this post right here for the amount of time it would take me to do that.

So, the plan is this: I'm going to launch into a series of posts, one which will likely take me quite some time to complete.  The first is this one: a chronological guide to episodic King television (miniseries and movies excluded), with a few short films (such as the small number of commercially-released Dollar Babies) thrown in for good measure.  This will consist mostly of quick impressions, where I have impressions to give; otherwise, I'll toss in whatever brief plot summaries I can steal from find on other sites.  That way, this post can serve as a relatively manageable look at the chronology of King-based episodes.

From there, I'm going to sit down and watch my way through that entire list, in order, and begin creating a series of more detailed reviews and analyses, with extensive plot summaries.  So, ultimately, there will be comprehensive episode guides for Golden Years, The Dead Zone, Kingdom Hospital, Nightmares &  Dreamscapes, and Haven, as well as a final catch-all guide for the miscellaneous projects (such as the Tales from the Darkside episodes).

Another project I'd like to tackle, and am considering tackling simultaneously with this one: creating episodes guides for the entirety of The X-Files.  That's one of my favorite shows, and since King co-wrote an episode, it would not be at all out of place on this blog.  Of course, if I do that, I might consider ALSO doing Millennium at the same time, which has nothing to do with King, but is certainly horror, and is inextricably linked with The X-Files.  They're a combo deal in my brain.

So, that's what's coming down the pike for The Truth Inside The Lie.  Like I said, it's going to take a while, but I thought it was worth teasing.

Enough teasing!  Let's get down to the action!

1982     "The Boogeyman"








Before we proceed much further, let me make a clarification: I will not, as a rule, be dealing with Dollar Babies in this post.  There are several reasons for that: (1) it'd be too difficult to compile a comprehensive list of them; (2) most of them are unavailable; (3) most of the ones I've seen are awful, and really should only be considered to be amateur filmmaking; and (4) for the most part, I just don't care about them.  Some King sites give them roughly the same attention they give Hollywood features, and that's fine for them; but I'm simply not interested nine times out of ten.  I don't pay attention to fan-fiction, either.

Unless it somehow gets a professional commercial release.  At that point, it ceases to become amateur filmmaking and becomes de facto professional filmmaking, for better or for worse.

The first known Dollar Baby seems to have been "The Boogeyman," which was scripted, directed, and edited by Jeff Schiro in 1982.  Four years later, it was released on VHS as part of the Nightshift Collection, which included two other King-based student films.  More on those momentarily.

"The Boogeyman," based on the story of the same name (which appears in Night Shift), is the tale of a disturbed man named Lester Billings, who is telling a psychiatrist the story of how his children died unexpectedly, and what he thinks caused those deaths.  It's a classic story from King, and a great premise for a short film.

This, sadly, is not a great short film.  Why would you expect it to be?  It's a student film; by definition, this is the work of someone who is learning to make films properly.  There isn't much else to say than that, except to note that it IS, at the very least, watchable.

Schiro later went on to direct an episode of Tales from the Darkside, but has worked steadily as an editor on television documentaries for the past two decades.  "The Boogeyman" isn't a particularly good film, but it seems to have helped its maker gain a life of working in the filmmaking business.  Pretty cool!
 


1983     "The Woman in the Room" 



this is the one I've got!




"The Woman in the Room" is a Dollar Baby, and was certainly an amateur student production, but given the fact that its writer/director was a young Frank Darabont, it's tempting to give this one an honorific upscale to full-fledged "short film" status.  God knows it's better than any one of several dozen professionally-produced films based on King books and stories, to say nothing of how superior it is to every other Dollar Baby I've ever seen.

Let's not oversell things, though.  This is palpably the work of a filmmaker who had not yet quite figured it out (and lacked the budget he would need even if he had).  But it's a solid short, and remains so to this day.  Darabont, very clearly, was a talent in the making even at this stage.

Here, he's dealing with King's short story, which is about a man visiting his mother on her death bed.  Darabont, wisely sensing that a film has different needs than a short story has, adds a component: the man, a lawyer, also visits a client in prison.  The acting here is fairly good for a student production, and Brian Libby, who plays the prisoner, has appeared in every feature film Darabont has directed since.

As the above photos make clear, the short film was released as part of the Stephen King's Nightshift Collection VHS series.  It doesn't seem to be in print any longer (and has never been released on DVD), but you can typically find a used copy for a couple of bucks.
 


1983     "Disciples of the Crow" 







Another of the rare Dollar Babies that were released commercially, "Disciples of the Crow" is a twenty-minute film based on "Children of the Corn."  I have never seen it, and cannot vouch for its quality, but since it did (obviously) get a VHS release -- and, apparently, a DVD release in Germany (under the title "The Night of the Crow") -- I figured it merited inclusion here.

It is also worth pointing out that "The Night Waiter," the second film included on the VHS release, was in no way based on work by Stephen King.  It was an original short film written and directed by Jack Garrett, who has since gone on to a solid career in Hollywood, mostly as a camera operator.  The inclusion of "The Night Waiter" on a tape bearing the title Stephen King's Nightshift Collection is, frankly, mystifying.

Don't be fooled, though; it's got zip / zilch / nada to do with Big Steve.

11/25/1984     "The Word Processor of the Gods" (Tales from the Darkside season 1 episode 8)





I'm not in any way knowledgeable about Tales from the Darkside, and my only experience of the show has been through the two Stephen King episodes (this one and the later "Sorry, Right Number") and the feature film.

In fact, my ignorance goes further: I've seen only a handful of episodes of the two big sci-fi / fantasy / horror anthology shows, The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits.  I'm slightly better-versed in Amazing Stories, thanks to my hard-on for Steven Spielberg; but even that is a thing I remember only dimly, and have not really revisited.  I've also got a hard-on for Alfred Hitchcock, so of course, I've seen a decent number of episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents; so I'm not a total failure on the subject of genre anthology television shows ... but I'm close.

I'm aware that I need to fix this at some point, and I might well end up starting with Tales from the Darkside; its four seasons and relatively affordable complete-series-DVD-box-set price tag makes it awfully attractive.

I've seen this episode, and it's ... not bad.  King's short story -- from Skeleton Crew -- is a perfect fit for the format, and while the production itself is somewhat on the low-rent side, that is counterbalanced by a good lead performance by Bruce Davison.  This was Davison's first King film; he would go on to later appear in Apt Pupil and Kingdom Hospital.

King's presence on Tales from the Darkside is no surprise, given that two of the show's producers were Richard P. Rubinstein and George A. Romero, who also produced Creepshow.  If anything, it's surprising in retrospect that King's name appears on only two episodes in the entire four-season run.  He had (as far as I can tell) no personal involvement with this particular episode, which was adapted by Michael McDowell and directed by Michael Gornick.

The story, in case you are not familiar with it: a writer invests in a word processor, and finds out that it has the ability to literally alter reality.  Shenanigans ensue.


02/14/1986     "Gramma"  (The Twilight Zone season 1 episode 18)








First of all, a clarification: when I say above that this is the eighteenth episode of the first season of The Twilight Zone, please understand that the first season of The Twilight Zone did not occur in 1986.  Nope, that was back in 1959.  Technically, the 1985-86 season would have been the sixth overall season, but since the series for which "Gramma" was produced was, technically, not the same series at all -- but, instead, a completely different (though, obviously, related) series -- this is considered to be the first season, not the sixth.

Confused yet?

You will frequently see this series referred to as The New Twilight Zone, but that's the last time you'll see it referred to under that title on this page, since that was not, in fact, the title of the series.  I can be a stickler for that sort of thing.

In any case, when Rod Serling's seminal anthology series was dusted off and begun anew in the mid-eighties, they didn't take too long before turning to the most popular genre writer of the day for an episode.  In this case, they turned to his short story "Gramma," another tale from Skeleton Crew, this one the story of a young boy whose visit at his grandmother's house turns horrific.

Does this sound like it might have been better-suited as an episode of Tales from the Darkside?  It does to me.  And my impression of things is that "The Word Processor of the Gods" would have been better-suited as an episode of The Twilight Zone, with its magical science fiction spin on things.

In any case, that isn't how things shook out, for better or for worse.

"Gramma" -- which I have never seen -- was scripted by Harlan freakin' Ellison, directed by Bradford May (who is not notable enough to warrant a "freakin' " between his names), and was one of three stories presented in this episode.  The others were "Personal Demons" (written by Rockne S. "Farscape" O'Bannon) and "Cold Reading," written by two people I've never heard of and am too lazy to mention, even though it is now taking me way more effort to write about how I'm not writing about them than it would to have just written about them.  Why?  It amuses me.

"Gramma" stars Barret Oliver, who was a big-time child star circa 1986; he'd been in Coccoon, amongst other things, but has since disappeared from the biz.  Seems a shame.  "Gramma" also co-stars Darlanne Fluegel, who would later appear in the wretched Pet Sematary Two as Edward Norton's ill-fated mother.

(By the way: you may have heard this already, but "Gramma" is being developed as a feature film, which is slated to be called Mercy.  The short story seems a bit too slight to serve as the basis of a feature; I smell tinkerage, storywise.)


11/22/1987     "Sorry, Right Number"  (Tales from the Darkside season 4 episode 9)








"Sorry, Right Number" is of historical interest if for no other reason than that it was the first thing King ever wrote for television.  (The first to be produced, at least; my memory is insisting that he wrote a teleplay for a never-produced television series based on Night Shift. I'm too lazy to do the research and find out if that's true right this second, though, so apologies!)

It's a pretty good tale; good enough that King felt it was worth publishing in Nightmares & Dreamscapes, marking one of the few times he's allowed one of his screenplays to be published (and the only time one has appeared in one of his story collections).  It's the story of a phone call you wouldn't expect to ever receive, and wouldn't want to receive even if you did expect it.

The televised version is ... decent.  The interesting concept keeps it afloat, but the acting is mediocre, and the whole thing feels rushed and cheap.  It was directed (under the pseudonym "John Sutherland") by John Harrison, who would later direct the Tales from the Darkside movie, and who had previously written the awesome score to Creepshow.

Interestingly (or not, perhaps), this was not the first episode of television to be titled "Sorry, Right Number": a 1968 episode of Julia was the first, a 1969 episode of The Brady Bunch was the second, and a 1986 episode of Cagney and Lacey was the third.  Presumably, they have nothing to do with this episode, but since I've never seen them, I can't say for sure.



10/26/1990     "The Boogieman: October 31, 1964"  (Quantum Leap season 3 episode 5) 





If I'm being honest, this episode of Quantum Leap doesn't really belong in this post.  It isn't based on anything written by Stephen King; Stephen King was not involved in its production in any way.  Instead, what we've got here is an episode of a cool -- if dated -- sci-fi show that includes quite a few references to the works of Stephen King.  It's a Halloween episode, and there's some cool spooky stuff, if my memory serves me.

It's been quite a while since I've seen the episode, but I've got very fond memories of it.  I became a King fan during the summer of 1990, and by the time October of that year arrived, I'd read as many of his books as I could get my hands on, some of them more than once.  I'd also rented as many of the movies as I could find, but that wasn't a whole heck of a lot.  However, if I'm remembering things correctly, October brought its typical bounty of King movies airing on television.  The only one I can remember seeing for sure is Salem's Lot, but I feel pretty certain that Cat's Eye and The Dead Zone and Creepshow were in the mix, too.

I was a Quantum Leap fan at the time, too, so when this episode snuck up on me out of nowhere, imagine how tickled I was.  Pink; tickled pink, I tell you!

I won't give away any of the references; those of you who feel inclined to check it out at some point will undoubtedly appreciate my restraint.  What I'll say is this: the Stephen King references feel rather forced in some ways, but end up making complete sense.  Including the episode here probably is a cheat, all things considered ... but I couldn't resist doing it!


04/26/1991     "The Moving Finger"  (Monsters season 3 episode 24)



I wanted to paint out that snipe for Chiller, but couldn't figure out the right color...


I don't know a heck of a lot about Monsters, but a quick bit of research educates me: it was a syndicated anthology show that can more or less be considered to be an unofficial continuation of Tales from the Darkside.  The two series shared a couple of producers, and when Tales from the Darkside stopped production in 1988, Monsters began shortly thereafter.

Having never seen this episode, I don't have much of anything to say about it, except to note that it is based on the story of the same name from Nightmares & Dreamscapes.  I don't remember the story terribly well, although the central image -- of an unnaturally long finger that comes, inexplicably, out of the drain in a man's bathroom -- has stuck with me.

Dare I suspect that the production values of this episode might not quite be up to that challenge?

It stars Tom Noonan, who is arguably most notable for his role as Francis Dollarhyde in Manhunter, so he's probably worth seeing, if nothing else.

Unless my Amazon-fu has failed me, it appears the series is not available on DVD.  Maybe someday...!


07/16/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 1





If you are only familiar with Golden Years via the version that currently exists on DVD, then friends, I have some potentially distressing news for you: that version, which clocks in at a bit less than four hours, is missing a bit more than two hours of footage.

Yes, in case you were unaware, the version released on home video is an abridged version of the individual episodes, edited together in an attempt to present a cohesive whole.  It works reasonably well, but, as you might suspect, radically alters the pace of the overall story, and for my money is an inferior option to seeing the episodes as they originally aired.

Problem with that is: the episodes have never been released on home video.  A wily King fan can find them online and illicitly download them, but the less piratical among us are just screwed; those fans are stuck with the edited-down version.

Here, we will concern ourselves strictly with the episodes themselves. (By the way, my first attempt at summarizing the episodes went grossly overboard, and ended up being so lengthy that I decided to publish it as its own separate post.  If you're inclined to read that, you can do so here.)

The premiere episode -- which ran two hours (including commercials) -- introduces us to Harlan Williams, a janitor at Falco Plains, a military/scientific research facility in upstate New York.  Williams is nearing his seventy-first birthday, and is on the verge of being pushed out of his job by the bureaucracy of the administration.  Harlan has failed an eye exam, and might be let go as a result, although he insists that he has a right to retake the exam.  Not long after making that insistence clear, he is in the wrong place at the wrong time when an experiment goes awry; there is an explosion, and he is doused in strange energy of some sort in the blast.
 
Harlan's wife, Gina, is visited by Terry Spann, the chief of security for Falco Plains.  She escorts Gina to the base, where Harlan is a little banged up but not evidently much worse for the wear.  Except for the fact that his eyes begin emitting an unearthly green glow; there is that.  And later, once they're back home, she'll notice that his grey hair is turning brown again.
 
Terry, together with General Crewes, the head of Falco Plains, questions Dr. Toddhunter, who was in charge of the experiment that went awry.  They sense that there's something off with the man, but they don't have much in the way of proof that Toddhunter is directly at fault.  Before long, though, a new investigator is on the case: Jude Andrews, an agent of The Shop -- remember The Shop from Firestarter? -- who is also a brutal assassin.  And Terry's former partner.

Before long, Andrews is killing people who are close to the case.  Might he have an agenda?
 
Harlan, despite having been in an explosion, hasn't forgotten about retaking his eye exam.  He does so ... and passes it with flying colors.



07/18/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 2






Dr. Ackerman (a physician at Falco Plains) meets with Dr. Akins, the eye doctor who performed the re-exam for Harlan; Akins tells him all about how he'd been ordered to fake a passing grade, but ended up not needing to, on account of how Williams passed with flying colors.  Unbeknownst to the two doctors, the fellow at the next table over in the coffeeshop is recording their conversation; he later takes it to Jude Andrews.  Andrews then pays Ackerman a visit, and tells him to spill the beans, whatever beans he's got; and make sure not to leave anything out.  Ackerman does just that; Andrews promises that if he finds out Ackerman has held out on him, he'll be back to perform some radical dental work ... with a power drill.  Andrews later pays Akins a visit, too, and shoots him through the forehead.

Meanwhile, Gina confronts Harlan about his advancing condition of incipient youthfulness.  Harlan at first tries to bluff Gina into thinking it's not as serious as it seems, but it doesn't work, and he admits that a scar -- one he got when he was 67 -- has gone away completely.  There is no denying it: physically, he is getting younger by the day.  Gina tells him he has to go see a doctor, even if it's only Ackerman.

Harlan goes, and of course, Ackerman reports the details of their meeting back to Andrews.  Ackerman tells Andrews that Williams is getting younger, not merely in empirical ways (such as the lightening color of his hair, and the disappearance of his scar), but in less easily-explainable ways; he likens it to the process by which, when he was younger, fewer people every year carded him when he bought alcohol ... except, in Williams' case, in reverse.  Speaking of Harlan, he sees Ackerman meeting with Andrews, and -- correctly -- suspects the worst.  He goes home, and tells Gina to pack a bag and be ready to go on the run when he gives the word.

Elsewhere in the episode, Andrews visits the place where Reddings' body is being kept.  Reddings was one of Toddhunter's assistants; he died, obviously, but not before glowing green for a while and losing certain scars that he had had for years.  Terry discovers the body -- which she planned to use against Toddhunter -- is missing, and is none too pleased.  She's also none too pleased by a visit she receives from the annoying Major Moreland, who suspects -- both rightly and wrongly -- that chicanery and hanky-panky lie behind Williams' success at his eye exam do-over.  Terry promises the Major that she'll inform General Crewes of his concerns.

Harlan visits a beauty parlor and asks them to dye his hair ... white.  Back at home, he's feeling frisky, and he and Gina dance.  He twirls her around, and seemingly causes a twinge in her back.  "I can't keep up with you," she says, sadly.

This episode earns bonus points for having aired on the night of my seventeenth birthday.  Happy birthday, 1991 Bryant!




07/25/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 3





Terry is awoken in the middle of the night by an informant, who calls her to let her know that Dr. Akins has been murdered.  She visits the scene of the crime, and puts two and two together: Jude Andrews is eliminating people who know about Harlan Williams' curious age problem.  She calls Crewes and lets him know about her suspicions, and tells him her plan: she wants to grab Harlan and Gina and go on the run with them.  Why?  Because she likes Gina, and doesn't want her to end up in a ditch with her throat cut.
 
She pays the Williamses a call, and convinces them to trust her and go with her.  She gets them out not long before Andrews arrives, but she's left him a message: "Just like old times," signed with the initial "T" inside a heart.  Andrews recalls the "old times" she is referring to: her blackmailing him to keep him from killing someone.  Jude brings in an associate, Fredericks, and the two of them begin liasing with local and state law enforcement, trying to locate the fugitives.

The fugitives, in the meantime, have set a course: they are, at Gina's urging, heading for Chiacgo.  Their daughter, Francie, lives there; she, apparently, has been involved with nearly every unpopular anti-government movement imaginable since the late sixties, so she ought to be able to help.  Terry agrees, and then decides they need to ditch their car (since it's presumably being looked for) for another.  Her solution: she steals them a hearse.

Fredericks has gotten a list of all vehicles reported stolen anywhere near where Terry's car was found, though, and the episode ends on Andrews intuiting that she's is responsible for the hearse that was reported stolen at the same mall.




08/01/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 4




Dr. Ackerman calls Crewes in a panic, insisting that he needs protection from Andrews, who -- obviously -- will be coming to kill him.  Crewes tells Ackerman to get a grip, and the doctor realizes that he's going to have to protect himself, so he decides to steal a bunch of paperwork and make copies of it, presumably so that he can have some leverage against Andrews.  In so doing, he turns into a bumbling idiot; he runs into doors, trips over his own feet, stutters, and generally seems like a nincompoop.

All for naught, too; he gets in his car to leave Falco Plains, and the car promptly explodes.  Jude, watching from the shadows, has struck again.

His real quarry, meanwhile, has decided to pull into the barn on an apparently deserted farm and give their stolen hearse a paint job.  It's now a Christine-esque shade of red that would undoubtedly catch every eye on the road.  Remind me to never allow Terry Spann to be in charge of taking me on the lam.  She's made more than a few moronic decisions here, but let's not blame her; let's blame Stephen King, who is clearly not cut out to be a rogue government agent.

There is yet another tender scene between Harlan and Gina in which she expresses dismay at the entire situation, not without merit: this time, she's upset because she feels old for the first time.  See, because she and Harlan were aging together, she never actually felt the weight of their years, whereas seeing him growing younger by the day is only making her feel more and more decrepit.  King is better-suited to the mechanics of an emotional scene like this than he is to the mechanics of evading capture by state-sanctioned killers.  That's not to say the scene is perfect; the dialogue is clunky and repetitive, and if not for decent acting, it wouldn't work terribly well at all.  Still, there is a core of emotional truth to it that definitely feels like King's skills as a novelist came briefly to the fore.

That is certainly not evident in a horrible scene involving Toddhunter.  One of his new assistants approaches the mad doctor to tell him that preparations of some sort -- they are not explained -- are ready.  Toddhunter tells him, "Do it now!"  The man is about to respond, but Toddhunter cuts him off to tell him how time is tip-tip-tapping away.  He starts hollering "Tip-tippy-tap!" and "Do it now!" and so forth, and the actor goes so far over the top that he threatens to enter Bronson-Pinchot-in-The-Langoliers territory.  He doesn't quite get there, but it's close.  It's an embarrassing scene, and you can bet your life that director Allen Coulter doesn't have it on any of his demo reels.

Later, Toddhunter has a better scene, in which he visits his father's grave.  His watch has stopped working, and while he is speaking to his father, he digs up a metal box, which houses a bunch of other dead watches; he puts this new one with the others.  This dude is clearly nuts, and thankfully, this scene shows us a bit of that in a useful, non-annoying fashion.

Jude visits Crewes and informs him that, as per the DSA, he is now in charge of the investigation and manhunt surrounding the Williams case.  Crewes is not too pleased about this; he's even less pleased when he discovers that he is barred from leaving the base.  Andrews packs up his shit and abandons his temporary office at the local police station, which for some reason pisses off the sherriff or the constable or whoever the guy is.  In an additional bit of WTF, Andrews is wearing a black t-shirt during this scene that reads "Let Go and Let God."  Huh?!?

While they're chilling out at the conveniently abandoned barn, Terry and Harlan have a talk, in which he wonders what their chances are.  Terry tells him that when she was at The Shop, everyone told her that John Rainbird was the best; but she thinks Andrews is better, so if he's after them, they don't have much of a chance at all.  Yay, a Firestarter connection!

A few scenes later, Terry concocts a plan: if Harlan and Gina can get themselves arrested for shoplifting, and get put in the care of the local law enforcement, they could then use their one phone call to get a lawyer and thereby get some protection of the legal variety.  It's not a bad plan, but later, they all come to the realization that if Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't safe in the hands of local police custody, then a small-timer like Harlan Williams definitely wouldn't be safe.
 
The episode ends with a scene in which our heroes pass a wreck on the side of the road.  At Gina's insistence, they stop to see if they can help, and of course, the first cop who stops by recognizes the trio and tries to apprehend them.  Terry, always the genius, steals the policeman's cruiser.



08/08/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 5






This was the final episode that King scripted personally, for those of you who may be interested in such things.

As the episode opens, Ohio State Troopers have found the stolen police cruiser, and are coordinating their plan of attack with Jude Andrews (who is still at Falco Plains).  This scene goes on for what feels like ten minutes, and if you as a viewer do not figure out that the car is empty about nine minutes and forty-five second before the State Troopers do, then you, sir (or madam, as the case may be), are an idiot.  Jude Andrews is not an idiot, so I'm not sure what his excuse is for not immediately realizing that Terry and her lambs would hardly be sitting in a stolen police cruiser in the middle of a field, waiting to be found.  Let's not blame Jude; let's -- again -- blame Stephen King, whose writing has not been tip-top in these episodes.

Finally, though, somebody has at least half a good idea: Gina and Terry get on a bus (which conveniently stops in the middle of nowhere) to head for Chicago, and Harlan splits apart from them to hitch-hike his way there.  Going to Chicago isn't a good idea, of course; it's bound to be only a matter of time before Andrews figures out that Harland Gina's lone daughter might need to be observed, but since it took King five episodes to figure that out, it took all of the characters the same length of time.

But boy, they all seem to have figured out at once that looking into the Williamses personal life is in order.  Crewes has Moreland bring him Harlan's file; he shreds it, then browbeats Moreland into hacking into the government's Central Records computer to delete the digital version.  Andrews has been thinking after the cockup with the State Troopers, and is trying real hard to figure out his next move; he eventually comes up with "Moreland!" and then we're off to the races.  He calls one of his goons, Burton (played by the same actor who played Doakes on Dexter decades later), and tells him to get into Central Records and get Williams's file.  Unfortunately, Moreland is a few steps ahead of him. 
 
The episode ends with a scene in which Harlan, having successfully gotten a ride from a long-haul trucker, falls asleep in the truck's cab while the trucker natters on.  Harlan's eyes begin glowing green; the trucker doesn't notice, because he's busy freaking out over how the truck's electrical systems are going haywire, Close Encounters-style.  He pulls the truck over, and then, suddenly, the sun rises; time has apparently gone haywire, too, almost certainly as a result of something harlan is unconsciously doing.  Everyone else on the road pulls over and gets out of their cars, understandably freaked out.  The truck driver finally notices Harlan; "This guy is full of green light!", he hollers at everyone around him.

Sure enough, he is.




08/15/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 6





The penultimate episode of the series is the first to not have been scripted by King himself; instead, the teleplay comes courtesy of supervising producer Josef Anderson, who based it on a story provided by King. 
 
The episode opens with Crewes and Moreland outside an airplane hanger, having a conversation about how Moreland's wife wants to do it more than once a week, whereas he absolutely cannot stand the thought.  They are talking, of course, about square-dancing; this scene is painfully unfunny, and I'm going to choose to believe that Josef Anderson is to blame, and not King.

Terry and Gina are getting close to Chicago, but unbeknownst to them, the guy behind the counter at a diner recognizes them and calls the appropriate authorities.  Jude has come up with a plan to find Harlan; he and Burton visit Billy the simpleton janitor, and there is an excruciating scene in which Andrews silently suffers through Billy's inability to focus.  Eventually, though, he finds out that Harlan and Gina have a daughter named Francesca in Chicago.  (Billy also tells him about a couple of sons, but Andrews intuits that because Francesca is blind, that's where her parents are headed.  Okay, then...)
 
Terry and Gina reach Chicago, and Terry sees a guy in a suit and sunglasses standing outside the bus depot.  She correctly guesses that he must be from The Shop, and so she coerces a group of conveniently-placed -- and incredibly poorly-costumed -- football players to go and rough the guy up.  This provides enough of a distraction for Terry and Gina to get away.

Back at Falco Plains, Toddhunter has assembled a team of new assistants, all of whom are working like bees.  One of them informs him that power is at 80%, and that they can't proceed any further without approval from Jude Andrews.  Toddhunter pitches a fit, and storms out.

Meanwhile, Harlan goes to a diner and is flirted with shamelessly by Margo Martindale, who is understandably put off by the fact that he goes into a fugue state and his eyes start glowing green.  Guess those hot-cross buns'll have to wait for another time.

Terry and Gina break into Francie's apartment while she's away, and when she comes back she is immediately distrustful of this pig who's with her mother, and of the story the two are telling her.  Harlan shows up, and his face feels different enough that Francie starts believing them, and quick.  She and Terry even manage to bond a bit over talking about what Harlan was like as a father.  Apparently, h was the type of dad who was always donating to charities and supporting the little guy, and when his daughter started taking part in radical protests, he was proud of her.  Terry correctly assumes that Francie's frustration lies in the fact that her father gave her nothing to rebel against.

Crewes, with the doltish Moreland along for the ride, lands in Chicago and there is a terrible scene in which the two of them interrupt a pilot -- who brought in the plane Andrews was on -- and a stewardess in mid-flirt.  They take the two hostage and lock them in a room, where their randiness seemingly offers enough of a distraction that Crewes feels no particular need to worry about them.  (There is an occasional tendency in Golden Years for characters -- ranging from minor ones like the pilot and the stewardess to major ones, like Moreland and Toddhunter -- to behave in ways that seems wholly divorced from what we might reasonably call "normal human behavior."  King's character writing is a genuine strength in his prose; in his screenplays, he sometimes seems to be another writer altogether, and one who has never even met an actual person.  The disconnect is sometimes startling, as in this scene with the randy pilot and his equally randy stewardess.)

Andrews and Burton are being escorted by a couple of other Shop agents to Francie's apartment.  They are pulled over by local policemen, who are incredibly belligerent, especially once they find all the automatic weapons.  This delay will prove to be crucial.  It allows Crewes enough time to get to Francie's apartment and tell everyone they need to get moving pronto.

They do, but not quite fast enough.  There's a shootout in a parking garage.  Francie's seeing-eye dog, Whitney, gets killed while attacking Andrews; Terry gets winged, and Andrews' cheek is grazed by a bullet.  A nameless Shop goon also goes down for the count.  Despite the bloodshed, our heroes escape, but Andrews knows he's basically got them; all he's got to do is tighten the noose.




08/22/1991     Golden Years season 1 episode 7






The teleplay is once again by Josef Anderson, from a story by King, but it's worth pointing out that there are two different versions of the episode: one which ends on a cliffhanger (complete with a "To Be Continued..." title card) and one which offers a resolution.  The ending with the resolution was apparently aired in foreign markets, once it became apparent that the series would not be renewed by CBS.

No matter which version you're talking about, the episode begins with Terry and Crewes stealing a car, and then cuts to Moreland, who is still back at the airbase.  He's in the cockpit, pretending to be a fighter pilot.  This man -- this character -- is a grade-A buffoon; one of the worst characters in King's canon, without a doubt.  In another scene, two more of the worst King characters ever meet: Toddhunter and Billy the janitor.  Toddhunter is bereft of assistants, so he enlists Bill's annoying help.  Both of these actors are still working, and have worked steadily in the last two decades; I suspect neither is particularly proud of the performances they gave on this series.  Bad acting notwithstanding, Toddhunter's experiment is a success: he makes a clock run backward, and then disappear.  Hooray...?

Francie knows a place where they can all hide; it's a house of hippies.  One of the hippies goes by the moniker "Captain Trips," so any King fan worth his salt knows this fellow is probably no damn good.  Sure enough, he turns out to be an informant, and he sells our heroes out.  Before long, The Shop has set up shop on the street where the hippies live.  Moreland, who was discovered at the airbase, has been brought along for the ride, and he's melting down big-time.  He's quite concerned that the appropriate paperwork hasn't been done.  Think of a slightly less obnoxious Craig Toomey (from The Langoliers) and you're on the right track.

Moreland finally snaps, and runs outside to start shouting about how this whole operation is most irregular and can't be tolerated.  Andrews shoots him dead, and before long the assault on the hippie-house is on.  Gina has a heart attack, or something, and Harlan won't leave her; Terry -- who seems upset to an out-of-character degree -- and Crewes reluctantly abandon the "old" man, and make their escape (offscreen) through a big storm drain that the house somehow connects to.  Harlan walks outside carrying Gina's body, and is tranked by Burton; he passes out cold, but not before he tries to bite Jude's ear off.

Terry and Crewes regroup, and for no real reason that seems all that plausible to me, decide to return to Falco Plains and try to rescue Harlan.  Toddhunter, meanwhile, has visited his father's grave again, so that he can monologue a bit and dig up one of the watches he'd previously buried.  As the episode ends, Harlan is in bed at Falco Plains, his eyes glowing green while he is under sedation.

The alternate ending that was used in foreign markets is different in that Gina does not die in the assault on the house; she and Harlan both escape with Terry through the storm drain.  They are pursued by Andrews, who is not in time to prevent Harlan and Gina from disappearing; Harlan begins glowing green throughout his entire body, and tells Gina to put her arms around him so that they can go wherever he's going together.  Then, they phase out of existence.  Shortly thereafter, so does Jude, who is shot and killed by Terry.

Crewes shows up and he and Terry walk off; they've decided to go non-reg ... maybe for the rest of their lives.

It's a lame ending, but it is, at least an ending.

Personally, I'll take the version with the cliffhanger, which at the very least doesn't feel slapped together in thirty seconds' time.


10/20/1994 -- "Treehouse of Horror V"  (The Simpsons season six episode 6)





For the fifth annual Halloween "Treehouse of Horror" episode, The Simpsons devoted roughly a third of an episode to a parody of Kubrick's The Shining.  The setup (as if that matters): Homer and family are hired to be the winter caretakers for Mr. Burns's lodge.  Things go downhill from there, thanks to there being no beer and no cable.

This is The Simpsons in its heyday, which almost invariably means good stuff.  It certainly does in this instance.



05/08/1997 -- Michael Jackson's Ghosts





I've never seen this, so I'm at a bit of a loss to tell you much about it.

King's involvement was apparently rather negligible, consisting of working -- to what extent, I do not know -- with Jackson on a concept and general story for this forty-minute music video.  Mick Garris and Stan Winston are also credited for the story, and the final screenplay was written by Winston and Garris.

Winston directed the video, which -- if the film's Wikipedia page can be believed -- seems to be as much a veiled polemic about Jackson's persecution (for his alleged improprieties with children) as it is an attempt to recreate the magic of the video for "Thriller."

This isn't the place to get into a discussion about Jackson, but it's worth mentioning that I was huge fan of his from roughly 1983 to 1991.  After that, I lost interest, partly because the music became less inspired and partly because the real-life story became so weird.  His death bummed me out, though, and in its wake I managed to rediscover a bit of my appreciation for his work.  Say what you will about the man, who was -- regardless of the veracity of those allegations -- surely a strange and troubled human; much of the work remains superb.

Whether this particular video fits that bill or not, I cannot say.  It's on my list, though; I'll get around to it eventually.



06/06/1996 -- "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson"  (The Outer Limits season 3, episode 15)




The Outer Limits first existed in the '60s; it ran for only two seasons, but those two seasons were pretty darn glorious.  (So I'm led to believe, at least; I'm only vaguely familiar with the show.  It's on my list; I'll get to it.)

In 1995, Trilogy Productions somehow got the rights to revive the series, and the end result was a show that ran for the next seven seasons (first on Showtime and then on the Sci-Fi Channel).  Guess what?  I'm not familiar with that incarnation, either.  It's also on my list, though considerably lower.

The third episode from the fifth season is "The Revelations of 'Becka Paulson," based on the short story by King.  The short story was originally published in Rolling Stone in 1984; three years later, a fairly heavily-revised version of the story was incorporated into the novel The Tommyknockers.
 
The original version of the story -- which is, for my money, the preferable version -- has never been included in one of King's collections.  It was included in the 1985 limited edition of Skeleton Crew published y Scream/Press, but since only a thousand copies of that were made, it's not exactly easy to obtain.  Easier to locate: the 1991 anthology I Shudder At Your Touch, which included the original version.  An audio version was published -- on cassette -- that featured King himself reading the story.

This particular episode of The Outer Limits is based on the original version, and not on the Tommyknockers version.  The story: 'Becka Paulson, a housewife, finds a gun in her husband's closet and accidentally shoots herself in the head.  She doesn't die; instead, she begins having conversations with the image of a man in an 8x10 photo frame.

In King's version, it is an image of Jesus that is doing the talking, and it's moderately disappointing that the episode did not follow suit.  However, the 8x10 man is played here by Steven Weber (who also directed the episode), a year before he took on the role of Jack Torrance in The Shining.

'Becka herself is played by Catherine O'Hara, who is loved and adored by all right-thinking people.  I am a right-thinking person, so her appearance here pleases me.  On some other level of the Tower, O'Hara won an Oscar for playing Jessie Burlingame in a feature film based on Gerald's Game at around this time in her career.  Sadly, this is not that level of the Tower, and not only did the movie never happen, nobody seems to have ever even considered it until I wrote this paragraph.  What a shame!

The episode itself is pretty good.  King's story is an intriguing one, and it translates reasonably well to the small screen.  Certainly, this version is better than the corresponding scenes from the television version of The Tommyknockers.



02/08/1998 -- "Chinga"  (The X-Files season 5 episode 10)



My ardor for Dana Scully is substantial, and this t-shirt does nothing to lessen it.

From the back of the DVD: "Rumors of witchcraft and sorcery surrounding a bizarre murder lead Scully to a little girl and a cursed doll that may be hiding a murderous presence."

Here are a few facts about my personal history with The X-Files:

(1)  I began watching during the third season, and was a religious-level devotee through the next two seasons, up to and including the (in my opinion) excellent feature film, Fight the Future.

(2)  I stopped watching during the sixth season, disgusted with the alarming dropoff in quality and by the persistent refusal to pay off any of the plot developments.

(3)  I watched two additional episodes during the show's run, a seventh-season one and a ninth-season one, both of which were awful.

(4)  I became determined to buy the series on DVD circa 2004, not so much because of a desire to revisit it as due to a desire to complete my Stephen King collection.  I know, I know; silly, since we're talking about one episode.  However, I've got just enough OCD in me that it would have bothered me to own only the fifth season, so I decided to buy the first five, and be done with it.  However...

(5)  ...when I bought those, Amazon had each season on sale for $25 each.  The box sets had previously been $100 per season, so this was a titanically small price.  I was utterly unable to resist buying the entire series.

(6)  Having bought the whole series, I figured I'd better watch it, so I did, with a friend who'd never seen it.  We blew through the first five seasons, and I warned her that it would start sucking soon.

(7)  It never started sucking.  Not, at least, to any huge degree.  Oh, to be sure, there are bad episodes, and the ongoing story never pays off totally.  Also, Mulder's departure hurts in some ways.  But it helps in others, and for my money, the show remained a good one right through to the end.

(8)  At some point in time, this blog will be the home for an extensive episode guide for the entire series.  That's going to be quite a project.  I kinda can't wait.  And yet, wait I shall.

Enough personal history.

What you need to know about the episode "Chinga" is that it really has very little to do with Stephen King.  Yeah, sure, his name appears in the credits, but the episode he wrote and the one Chris Carter produced are radically different.  Carter adapted King's screenplay, and the produced episode resembles what King wrote in the same way the movie version of Christine resembles the novel: slightly.  There is enough resemblance left to be of interest to King fans, but for all intents and purposes, this is much more palpably a Chris Carter work than a Stephen King work.

For those of you who are interested in what King wrote, I cannot recommend highly enough Rocky Wood's book Stephen King: Uncollected, Unpublished.  It includes an extensive summary of "Molly" (which was King's title for the episode), and is worth buying for that section alone.  That the rest of it is just as good is mere icing on the cake.

As for "Chinga" itself, well ... sadly, it's not that great an episode.  It has its moments, but only a few of them, and in general seems like everyone was swinging for the fences but forgot to grab the bat before they did so.  During its fifth season, The X-Files was probably at its peak of excellence; as such, this episode stands out all the more as a mediocrity.

Not bad, but thoroughly non-essential, for X-Files and King fans alike.  For those of us who have one foot in both camps, it's doubly disappointing.



12/06/1999 -- "Stephen King: Shining in the Dark"  (Omnibus season 33 episode 17)





Omnibus was a British documentary program that ran on the BBC from 1967 to 2003.  I have no idea what other sorts of episode they produced during those 37 seasons, but this particular one -- which can typically be found on YouTube, in various poorly-ripped versions with out-of sync audio -- is a program in the style of A&E's Biography series.

It's very good, and has excellent interview clips with King, as well as with other King-related celebrities like Tom Hanks and Kathy Bates and Mick Garris.

Very much worth watching.



01/17/2000 -- "Stephen King: Fear, Fame, and Fortune"  (Biography)





Speaking of Biography, they produced an episode about King in 2000, while everyone was still worrying about the effects the 1999 van accident would have on his life and career.

This, like the Omnibus episode, is good stuff.

An updated version -- which is mostly the same thing as the 2000 version -- was produced a few years later, probably in 2004.



2000 -- "Paranoid"



not Jenifer Garner, but kinda looks like her


This Dollar Baby short film is being included here because it actually received a commercial release, of sorts.  During the early '00s, there was a magazine called Total Movie that included a DVD with each issue.  The DVDs consisted mostly of trailers and promo pieces, but also included indie features, as well as occasional short films.

The December '01 / January '02 issue's DVD included Jay Holben's 2000 short film "Paranoid," which was based upon the Stephen King poem "Paranoid: A Chant."  Depending on who you ask, this may or may not have been a violation of the contract Holben had with King to make the film.  Either way, it was indeed released.

It's not much of a short, frankly.  I've seen worse, but there is nothing inspiring here, including the poem by King.



01/11/2002 -- "Unlocking Rose Red: The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer"





This fake-out "documentary" aired on ABC a couple of weeks prior to Rose Red, and seems to have been inspired by Sci-Fi Channel's 1999 success "The Curse of the Blair Witch."  That mockumentary was a promo piece for The Blair Witch Project, and is credited with helping the movie become the massive hit it became in the summer of 1999.

King is on record as being a big fan of The Blair Witch Project, so it's entirely likely that he was inspired by the "is-it-real-or-isn't-it" furor generated by that film to try something similar.  For Rose Red, a companion book (The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer) was published, and "Unlocking Rose Red" was tasked with trying to convince hapless viewers that the book is real, and that Rose Red is therefore based on real events.

It was a pretty good effort by all involved, too.  "Unlocking Rose Red" is no classic, but the actors who were hired to portray the supposed real-life versions of some of the characters depicted in Rose Red do a good job of seeming awkward on camera, and therefore seeming "real."  Joyce Reardon -- the supposed author of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (it was actually Ridley Pearson) -- is played by Sue Scott, who has been in the cast of A Prairie Home Companion for over two decades.

"Unlocking Rose Red" is included as a bonus feature on the Rose Red DVD, so it's not terribly hard to locate.  I'm not a fan of Rose Red particularly, but I do find the marketing shenanigans of The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer to be a hoot.



06/16/2002 -- "Wheel of Fortune"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 1)





And now, we enter the Dead Zone portion of this post.

I was skeptical as hell when I heard a television series was being based on The Dead Zone, at least initially.  However, the potential became evident in the first episode, which sets up the idea that John Smith can basically be the same John Smith from the novel, only with an eye toward delaying his confrontation with Greg Stillson as long as possible.  The idea actually works remarkably well, on paper.

The actual payoff is arguably another matter.

My personal history with the series went something like this:
 
I tuned in to the first episode, liked it a lot, and continued to be mostly enthusiastic throughout the entire first season.  The series diverged from the novel quite severely right off the bat, but that was fine by me; I liked the version of the story the series was presenting me with, and I especially liked Anthony Michael Hall as Johnny.  I was more than willing to go along with some sort of psychic-detective adventure with him each week, regardless of how far away from the source material things got.  Problem was, the second season, though still fine, seemed to lose a bit of steam in comparison to the first.  Then, the third season wasn't as good as the second ... and not only was the fourth not even as good as the third had been, in its worst moments it was downright bad.

That was as far as I made it.  Seasons five and six are still utterly unfamiliar to me.  I've got the DVDs, and I'm planning to watch the entire series and do an extensive episode guide for this here blog.  But to be honest, I'm not looking forward to it; that fourth season lost me completely, and I'm under no illusions that it's going to magically improve upon a reviewing.  Although, to be fair, that's exactly what happened for me with The X-Files, so who knows?  Maybe lightning'll strike twice.

As for "Wheel of Fortune," the premiere episode, here is a plot summary courtesy of Wikipedia, from who I will be stealing left and right for the next little bit:

"John Smith wakes up after six years in a coma.  He then finds that he can sense the past and future of the objects and people that he touches.  His ex-fiancee is married to the local sheriff, and he has a six year old son who knows nothing about him."



06/23/2002 -- "What It Seems"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 2)





"Johnny has a vision of one of his nurses being strangled to death outside her home.  He and Bruce, his physical therapist, manage to save her, but he rapes and strangles another woman instead."  Let's pause here and admire the writing, courtesy of Wikipedia.  (The "he" who rapes and strangles someone is neither Johnny nor Bruce, but a serial killer.)  "Johnny and Sheriff Bannerman track down the strangler, a..."

And here, I will omit the spoiler that the anonymous Wikipedian included in the plot summary.  Suffice it to say that nobody who is familiar with the novel or the Cronenberg movie will be surprised.

For the next episode's plot summary, I think I might switch to stealing from IMDb, and see if their writers are better.

As for the episode, it's a pretty good one.  Episodes one and two were actually a single episode, broken into two parts (if my memory serves me); together, they serve as a relatively faithful adaptation of certain sections of the novel, and they work pretty well.  The acting is good, and writing and direction are solid as well.  Things feel a bit on the cheap side, as is often the case with television; but that's not the end of the world.



06/30/2002 -- "Quality of Life"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 3)





"After returning to his old high school teaching job, Johnny begins to trust his powers after they allow him to save a high-school all-star athlete from a possibly fatal heart condition.  But with each vision, it makes Johnny physically weaker since the visions take a drain on his life energy."

Now, anonymous IMDb-ite, you had me with the first sentence.  The second one loses me completely, though; it's like a rebuttal to an argument nobody is making.

This is a pretty good episode, from what I remember.  It co-stars Christopher Masterson, of Malcolm in the Middle fame.



07/07/2002 -- "Enigma"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 4)





This is the episode marking the point at which it became evident that one of the cards on the table for this particular series was an evocation of Quantum Leap: by having Johnny dip a mental toe into people's past or future, it offered the opportunity to have Anthony Michael Hall play those characters within Johnny's vision.  That technique sounds convoluted, but it works quite well, and from what I remember, this episode is quite good.

The plot summary, this time courtesy of the booklet that came with my DVDs:

"In helping an old man find his long lost love, Johnny Smith falls in love with the woman himself through visions he has of her in her youth."

The episode co-stars George Murdock, a venerable character actor whose many credits includes the role of "God" in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.  And you know, we're all still wondering: what does God need with a starship?

This episode of The Dead Zone will not answer that question, but to be fair, if you task it with that expectation, you deserve the disappointment you shall surely receive.



07/14/2002 -- "Unreasonable Doubt"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 7)





Hey, waitaminit!  That says "episode 7" above!  You skipped from episode 4 to episode 7!  What gives?!?

Both Wikipedia and IMDb list "Unreasonable Doubt" as the fifth episode of the series, and it definitely was the fifth to air.  However, the DVD box set lists it as episode 7, which probably means that while it might have been the fifth episode to air, it was probably aired out of order for one reason or another.  This is by no means uncommon in series television.

To satisfy all concerns as much as possible, I am going to list the episodes here in the order they aired; however, in terms of numbering the episodes, I am inclined to give preference to the way the studio numbers them on the DVDs.

The plot summary:

"Johnny Smith is called to serve on a jury and uses his powers to uncover the real facts in the case."

If that sounds like an implausible scenario, well, you're probably right to think of it that way.  However, my memory insists that this is a very good episode, and one that -- as many of the series' best episodes do -- really digs into the concept of what it would be like to actually have psychic abilities.



07/21/2002 -- "The House"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 6)





"Johnny Smith experiences disturbing visions in his home that lead him to discover the truth about his mother's death."

Don't remember a heck of a lot about this one, apart from a vague sense that it was good.



07/28/2002 -- "Enemy Mind"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 9)





"While trying to rescue a runaway teen, Johnny Smith is exposed to mind-altering drugs that have a uniquely adverse effect on his brain."

This episode probably resulted from a simple premise: what if a psychic was tripping balls?

I remember this one being decent, but unspectacular.



08/04/2002 -- "Netherworld"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 5)





"Struck with a vision of a fiery explosion, Johnny Smith must distinguish between his dream world and reality in order to prevent a disaster."

From what I recall, this is easily one of the best episodes of the series.



08/11/2002 -- "The Siege"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 8)





"Johnny Smith attempts to manipulate the events during a hostage situation in a bank but each time he makes a move, the ending changes for the worse."

This is a terrific episode, or at least so 2002 Bryant is hollering at the back of my brain.  2013 Bryant is inclined to trust him.



08/18/2002 -- "Here There Be Monsters"  (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 10)





"Johnny Smith's life is threatened when he's charged with witchcraft in a small New England town."

A semi-ridiculous concept works better than it probably ought to, but still, this is not one of the first season's better episodes.



08/25/2002 -- "Dinner With Dana" (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 11)





"Things heat up between Johnny Smith and Dana Bright, the news reporter who's been hounding him since he awoke from his coma, during a pretend date she plans to use as the basis for a cover story."

This is a funny episode that also has some real tension, thanks in part to a guest-starring role from Callum Keith Rennie, who is always scary. He later played Leoben on Battlestar Galactica and did many terrible things to Starbuck.  Not as many as Starbuck did to him, though.



09/08/2002 -- "Shaman" (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 12)





"Johnny Smith's visions reach across time when he joins forces with a psychic Native American Shaman from centuries past to avert a major disaster."

Have you noticed that these summaries from the DVDs mention ole J.S.'s full name every time?  Never just Johnny, or just Smith; nope, it's "Johnny Smith" every stinkin' time.  Fellas: we get it.  We know who you're talking about.

This is a very good episode, with a cool-as-hell premise: what if one psychic seeing the past were to have a sort of conversation with another, one in the long ago who is seeing the future?  What would that be like?  Well, if you filmed on a tight budget in Canada, it'd apparently be a bit like this.

And that ain't all bad, as it turns out.



09/15/2002 -- "Destiny" (The Dead Zone season 1 episode 13)





"When Johnny Smith's prediction of a tragic fire comes true, the incident brings him unwanted media coverage, as well as the attention of Greg Stillson, a very ambitious young candidate for congress."

And so we finally get the appearance of Greg Stillson.  He is played here by Sean Patrick Flannery, who will forever be dear to the hearts of fans of The Boondock Saints.  Me, I still think of him as young Indiana Jones, from the not-great television series of the same name.  He was a good Indy, and he's an even better Stillson.

This episode capped a fine first season with a very solid step toward the show's true purpose: revealing Johnny's purpose in life, in the form of an evil for him to vanquish.  When you think about it, it really is quite a fine premise for a series.

Sadly, in my opinion, it did not bear fruit.  Let's not fault the premise, though; the premise is really quite sound.



01/05/2003 -- "Valley of the Shadow"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 1)





"The season premiere finds Johnny still shaken by his Armageddon visions and growing increasingly obsessed with Stillson whom he's secretly investigating."

It delights me to no end to see that whoever wrote this plot summary for the season two DVD box-set uses "Johnny" there, as opposed to the full-blown "Johnny Smith."  In my mind, somebody got fired over that whole deal on the season one box-set.  And if you happen to know different, keep it to yourself; let me have my daydreams.

That plot summary doesn't tell you much about the actual episode, though, so let's briefly turn back to stealing from our friends at Wikipedia, who add this:

"Meanwhile, he and Walt investigate the kidnapping of the child of a tech executive."  They add another line, but it's spoilery, and we don't want it in this dojo.



01/12/2003 -- "Descent"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 2)





"Johnny struggles to rescue four teens trapped in a collapsing mine, all the while reliving -- and in some way trying to redeem -- sins from his family's past."

Solid episode, part one of a two-parter.



01/19/2003 -- "Ascent"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 3)





"In the continuation of the episode 'Descent', an unexpected incident leads Johnny to a new understanding of Walt."

Walt (for the benefit of those of you who do not know) is the guy who married Sarah, who was Johnny's fiancee at the time of his accident.  One of the things I like about this series is that the producers had the sense to make Walt a genuinely likeable character.  A lot of shows would have gone down the road of making him a complete tool, or a douche, or even -- this would have been in truly incompetent hands -- a dick.  Making that sort of move would have given the show an air of inevitability: that Johnny and Sarah would get back together, and that we would be happy about it, on account of how Walt her replacement husband was such a load.

Instead, this show wisely made Walt a good guy.  There were occasional plot points that hinted toward the idea of Johnny and Sarah having a renewed romance in their future ... at least in the theoretical sense.  But the show makes it clear that if and when that were to ever happen, it would be at the expense of Walt, a character the audience is expected to like right off the bat.  Most of the audience will find that to be no particular trouble; Chris Bruno is very charismatic and engaging in the role, and while you obviously sympathize with Johnny's broken heart, you don't particularly want to see Walt's get broken, either.

Good move, show; good move.

And by the way, this episode is very much focused on that particular plot thread.



02/02/2003 -- "The Outsider"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 4)





"Johnny takes on a major corporation to prevent the mass marketing of a drug he foresees will cause terrible birth defects years down the line."

I remember very little about this episode, which probably means that it is good, but in an unremarkable way.



02/09/2003 - "Precipitate"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 5)





"When Johnny is injured and infused with a blood product stemming from six different people, he begins having visions through the donors' eyes."

Another highly intriguing concept, and another standout episode.



02/16/2003 -- "Scars"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 6)





"Johnny's decision to join the reelection campaign of Stillson's chief opponent, Harrison Fisher, has unintended consequences."

Playing Fisher is special guest star Gerald McRaney, who is terrific.  You kinda wish the show could've figured out a way to keep him around for a few more episodes.  Sadly, no; it's just the one.

But it's a good one.



02/23/2003 -- "Misbegotten"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 7)





"Johnny is kidnapped by three young women who demand his help in solving a murder mystery from the past."

Another intriguing concept, but with less-intriguing results than is typically the case with the show's high-concept episodes.  Or at least, that's how I remember it.



03/02/2003 -- "Cabin Pressure"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 8)





"On a flight to Washington with Purdy, Johnny has a vision of their plane crashing and must convince the pilot and an onboard Air Marshall to risk the lives of everyone on board."

This is kinda like a riff on that Twilight Zone episode in which William Shatner sees a gremlin on the wing of a plane, except with Anthony Michael Hall instead of the Shat.  A very solid episode, albeit with moderately iffy effects.



03/09/2003 -- "The Man Who Never Was"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 9)





"A terrifying vision leads to Johnny's involvement with a man with a mysterious past who disappears."

I remember not particularly liking this episode, which -- coincidentally, or perhaps not -- co-stars Robert Culp.



03/16/2003 -- "Dead Men Tell Tales"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 10)





"The vision of a hit on crime boss Cathan Donnegal leads to Johnny's dangerous involvement with the mob."

I remember disliking this episode, also.  "Cathan Donnegal" is a silly name.  That hat Johnny is wearing is a silly hat.



03/30/2003 -- "Playing God"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 11)





"When Johnny is reunited with two close friends from high school, one of whom is awaiting a heart transplant, he is tormented by a vision of the other" -- who is played by Ally Sheedy -- "becoming the donor."

This is a pretty damn good episode.  Might want to have a tissue or two handy, though.  Just sayin'.



04/06/2003 -- "Zion"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 12)





"The death of Bruce's father, Pastor David Lewis" -- who is played by Louis Gossett, Jr. (!!!) -- "leads Bruce on an amazing journey down the road not taken."

We've not discussed Bruce much here, have we?

Bruce is Johnny's physical therapist, and he also becomes his confidante and, arguably, his conscience.  In other words, he's quite an important character to the series.  Sadly, the producers didn't always use him terribly well.  This episode is a big-time exception, though, and to prove it, they went out and hired an Oscar-winning actor to play his deceased father.

Good stuff.



06/17/2003 -- The Dead Zone  (unaired pilot episode)




Hey, kids, didja know that they made the pilot episode to The Dead Zone twice?  True story!

The original version was released on DVD along with the the first season box-set, although you had to mail off to receive the actual disc.  That was a mildly annoying process, but it was worth it; or it was worth it for this completist, at least.

The original pilot runs about an hour and a half, and is basically the same thing as the first two episodes -- "Wheel of Fortune" and "What It Seems" -- except with a few key differences.  For our purposes here, we're going to stick to noting two major differences in the casting: Reverend Purdy is played here by Michael "A Return to Salem's Lot" Moriarty, and Dana Bright is played by Kendall Cross.

Moriarty is a cold, odd actor, and part of me wishes he had kept the role.  He was replaced by David Ogden Stiers, who is a very good actor; however, he's not that great at projecting a dark side, a character trait that is important for Purdy at times.  Moriarty would have done well with that.  He'd have done less well with Purdy's lighter side, though.  On the whole, I think the producers probably made the right call.

As for Kendall Cross, I can't remember much of anything about her portrayal of Dana.  She is not the obvious sexpot that Kristen Dalton ended up being when she finally got the role.  Draw from that what you will.

(A brief housekeeping note: the date I list above represents the date the first season was released on DVD.  That seemed like the most logical "airdate" to assign to this version of the pilot, which never actually aired at all.  You will perhaps note that the date indicates that the first season had not yet come out on DVD by the time the second season's first block of episodes was complete.  That sort of delay would never happen these days, but selling TV shows on DVD was still a relatively new concept back in 2003; they still hadn't quite perfected the process.)



07/06/2003 -- "The Storm"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 13)



Well, look, here's the thing: if you have someone as hot as Kristen Dalton on your show and DON'T find an excuse to put her in a bikini, you have failed your mandate as a television producer.




"When Johnny is caught in a deadly storm, he is forced to come to terms with his own destiny in order to save those he loves."

Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed that there was a three-month delay between episodes.  As I recall, USA -- the network that aired the series in America -- was so thrilled with the ratings for the first few episodes of the second season that they decided to order seven additional episodes, which could air during the less-crowded summer and (presumably) crush the competition.  Hence the delay.

The first of these new episodes out of the gate was "The Storm," which co-stars Jane Lynch and Robert Picardo and a bikini-clad Kristen Dalton.  Did I mention that Kristen Dalton wears a bikini?

And there's a tornado, too.  It's a pretty good episode.



07/13/2003 -- "Plague"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 14)





"When J.J. falls prey to a deadly new virus sweeping across the Northeast, Johnny must use his powers to solve the medical mystery in time to save his son's life."

I don't remember this one terribly well, but I have a vague memory of liking it more than I expected to.



07/20/2003 -- "Deja Voodoo"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 15)





"Johnny meets a beautiful woman" -- he sure does... -- "in danger and is reminded again of the potentially dire consequences of even the smallest of choices."

Here's the thing: if even the plot summary of an episode includes the phrase "and is reminded again," then it is perhaps an indication that that particular well has been visited too often.

And yet, I remember this as an outstanding episode.  Part of that is due to the presence of Reiko Aylesworth as the so-called beautiful woman, who is so called on account of the fact that Reiko Aylesworth is indeed beautiful.  To say the least.  She got a job on 24 not too long after this, and was there for a couple of fine seasons.  She's great in this episode of The Dead Zone, and I wouldn't be surprised if that had helped her get the job on 24.



07/27/2003 -- "The Hunt"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 16)
 
Speaking of 24...





"A covert branch of U.S. intelligence recruits Johnny to track down the world's most wanted terrorist."

So in a sense, it's kinda like Johnny goes to work for CTU in this episode.  It's a ridiculous concept, and yet somehow, it manages to work.  This is a fun, compelling episode.  It involves Johnny joining a team of psychics who are using their talents in service of tracking terrorists.

I say it's a ridiculous concept, but it's also a completely logical one; after all, Johnny's powers are extremely, um, powerful, and within the context of the world of the series, I can completely buy that he would get hired to try to locate Usama bin Laden.  (Usama?  Osama?  I dunno.)

And yet, ridiculous; genre series like this tend to steer clear of real-world stories as much as humanly possible, because it begs too many questions that the series will be unable to resolve.  It's like the question of why, during the wartime comics, Superman doesn't just fly over the Germany, grab Hitler, fly his narrow ass into outer space and then chuck his corpse into the sun.  Because really, wouldn't you love to see that happen?  But if DC had done that in their comics, then the comics would have rang hollow, because clearly, there was no Superman to do that to Hitler.  We may wish there had been, but there wasn't.

This episode plays with those conceits fairly well, and while I think in some ways that it might have been better to just not go down that road at all, I also get why the producers felt like taking the risk.  If nothing else, it was a bold move.  So bold, in fact, that it had to be toned down a bit to appease various factions who were pissed off by it: the original title was "The Hunt For Osama," which was shortened.  And bin Laden is never actually name-checked in the final cut of the episode, even though any goober would know who is being talked about.  Those compromises hurt the episode a bit, but since the core of the idea is unchanged, the damage is really quite minimal.



08/03/2003 -- "The Mountain"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 17)





"After Johnny is struck by the vision of a plane lost in a crash, thieves in search of a missing treasure take Johnny, Sarah, Walt and J.J. hostage."

First of all, I object to the punctuation.  That summary should read "Johnny, Sarah, Walt, and J.J." instead of "Johnny, Sarah, Walt and J.J."  Oxford comma; look it up.

I'm not a big fan of this episode.  It's decent, and has some tension to it, but it's also kinda silly.



08/10/2003 -- "The Combination"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 18)





"Johnny goes public with his vision of a heavyweight contender dying in an upcoming bout, but instead of stopping the fight, his announcement turns it into the pay-per-view event of the year."

I don't remember much about this one.



08/17/2003 -- "Visions"  (The Dead Zone season 2 episode 19)





"Johnny sets out to discover the secret of a mysterious man who appears to be stalking him, but who actually has a life-changing message for Johnny."

Episode nineteen, eh?

As I recall, this is a solid mythology episode -- by which I mean, it advances the overall plot of the series -- that takes the series into some places you'd been suspecting it might go eventually.



February 2000 -- "Investigating Kingdom Hospital: The Journals of Eleanor Druse"



image stolen from Lilja's Library


This mockumentary was a promo piece designed to hype Kingdom Hospital for ABC.  It was released on ABC's website for the series, and has never been put on home video of any kind.  I never saw it, and can say nothing further about it, except to note that if you, dear reader, ever stumble across it on YouTube or something, drop a brutha a line, won't you?



03/03/2004 -- "Thy Kingdom Come"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 1)





This ABC series was created by King himself, although I should qualify the use of the word "created"; it is based upon the 1994 Danish miniseries Riget (which seems to mean "The Realm," although the actual title for English releases of the series is "The Kingdom").  Riget was created, co-written, and co-directed by noted filmmaker Lars von Trier.

I'm only familiar with von Trier's work via Riget (and its 1997 sequel, Riget II) and one of his features, Melancholia.  I liked Melancholia pretty well, and both Riget series are quite good.

King's adaptation is somewhat close story-wise, and also makes attempts to replicate the odd -- or, perhaps, merely Danish -- sense of humor in abundant evidence in the original.  Those "humorous" touches are far and away the worst element of the series, and in my opinion hamstring it to a palpable extent.

Despite that, Kingdom Hospital is a decent piece of work overall, and is of obvious interest to serious King fans.  It is the author's attempt to craft a genuinely epic story specifically for the medium of television, and it is an improvement upon Golden Years in every regard (especially in the sense of having a proper conclusion).

Courtesy of the back of the DVD comes this plot setup: "Spirits haunt a hospital that sits upon the site of a tragic mill fire.  Artist Peter Rickman is haunted by visions after being admitted as an accident victim."

What this doesn't tell you is that the premiere episode includes an accident scene in which a painter is jogging on the side of the road, and is hit by a distracted man driving a van.  Sound familiar?  Sure enough, the scene has serious parallels with the accident that nearly claimed King's life.  It's a good scene, and the hint that Rickman's accident is serving a higher purpose -- possibly in service of an otherwordly creature called Antubis -- is an intriguing one.  (Later in 2004, similar ideas crept into the King novel The Dark Tower, to even better effect.)

There's plenty to say about Kingdom Hospital, and at some point in time an extensive episode-by-episode write-up will be in order.  For now, though, let's stop at noting that the first episode was directed by Craig R. Baxley, who had previously helmed Storm of the Century and Rose Red for King.  Baxley directed all thirteen episodes of Kingdom Hospital, which gives the series an extremely unified look and tone.  Whether that is entirely a good thing is debatable, but I think the sheer fact is admirable in and of itself.

As for the teleplays, King wrote the vast majority of them, but not every single one.  One of the ones he did write, though, was "Thy Kingdom Come."



03/10/2004 -- "Death's Kingdom"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 2)





"As an accident lands Rickman's assailant in his hospital room, Dr. Stegman insists that Dr. Hook discharge Mrs. Druse."

Dr. Stegman is a pompous ass, and he is played by Bruce Davison, who is very good at playing pompous asses.

Mrs. Druse is played by Diane Ladd, who is also good, though not used particularly well.  Sally Druse is a character who is both a hypochondriac and a spiritualist; that way, she can keep inventing reasons to be in the hospital to attempt communion with the spirits that still reside there.

The teleplay for "Death's Kingdom" was written by King.  I wish I remembered something about it, but I kinda don't. 
 


03/17/2004 -- "Goodbye Kiss"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 3)





"As Mrs. Druse and Dr. Hook try to contact the hospital's ghosts, a convicted murderer arrives as part of his deviously planned prison break."

Not a fan of this episode, which was written by King.  There is a genuinely awful scene in which the staff in the hospital's operating room sing, production-number style, "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye" (by Steam) to a dying patient.  That patient is pictured above, and if he looks incredulous and offended, he's right to be.  Now, to be fair, the scene is a dream sequence, or a drug hallucination, or something like that.  I don't remember the specifics, but regardless of what they are, the scene was a bad idea.  King is often at his worst when he thinks he's being funny, and when he's thinks he's written an amusing scene for a movie, all hands are advised to brace for suck.



03/24/2004 -- "West Side of Midnight"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 4)





"Mrs. Druse prompts a dying patient to help her contact Mary's ghost."

I seem to recall this episode -- another written by King -- being pretty good.  Truth be told, though, most of them blur together for me.



03/31/2004 -- "Hook's Kingdom"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 5)





"As Dr. Hook shows Chris his home deep inside the bowels of an old hospital, Dr. Stegman carlessly polishes up his surgical techniques on a homeless patient."

This episode was co-written by King and Richard Dooling.  Dooling is an author whose books include Critical Care, but for our purposes, he is perhaps more notable as the ghostwriter behind the spinoff novel The Journals of Eleanor Druse.  That book is a pretty decent read, though as not as good as its marketing-tool ancestor, Riddley Pearson's The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer (which was written as a promotional gambit for Rose Red.  Dooling was basically King's second-in-command in terms of the writing for Kingdom Hospital, and he also served as the show's medical consultant.

I wish I remembered something tangible about this episode, but again, I kinda don't.  We're obviously in dire need of a rewatch here at The Truth Inside The Lie.



04/08/2004 -- "The Young and the Headless"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 6)





"As Rolf is pressed to do away with Peter and Mrs. Druse, Dr. Stegman's induction into the hospital's secret fraternity sends him running into Kingdom's basement of horrors."

If memory serves, Rolf is a serial killer or a non-serial murderer or something, who ends up sharing a room with Rickman, the artist who was struck by a van and put into a coma.  Rolf is being urged by an evil spirit to kill Rickman, and Druse, too; both of them are seemingly bad news of some sort for this particular spirit.

The teleplay here is credited solely to Richard Dooling.  Part of the plot involves a severed-head practical joke.  Some of it is amusing -- including the title of the episode -- but there is an unfortunate music choice involving the Basement Jaxx song "Where's Your Head At."  Guys, please don't end song titles in prepositions, especially when the song is as shitty as this one.



04/15/2004 -- "Black Noise"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 7)





"A heart attack sends a philandering attorney to the Kingdom."

And yet, that is not said philandering attorney pictured above.  Nope, that's some other guy; he's a science dude of some sort, who's been driven crazy and thinks his feet are on fire.  I think this has something to do with Dr. Stegman, but can't remember.

The teleplay here is again courtesy of Richard Dooling.  And by the way, see that baseball jersey?  That's for a fictional team called the New England Robins.  More on them in a bit.



04/22/2004 -- "Heartless"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 8)



A girl with a dragon tattoo.  (This episode was aired in 2004; Man som hatar kvinnor -- the novel better known to English-speaking peoples as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo -- was published in 2005.  Just sayin'.)

"Attorney Sheldon Fleischer schemes to move himself to the top of the organ transplant list."

Fleischer is the philandering attorney referenced earlier.  He's an annoying character, so his return here is not especially welcome.  This episode, like the previous two, was written by Richard Dooling.

For the life of me, I cannot remember why this episode opens with a dead dragon-tattooed woman lying in bed.  However, the scene takes place in a house that I think had previously been used as Baltar's house on Caprica in Battlestar Galactica.  I'm not positive of that, but I think it might be.



04/29/2004 -- "Butterfingers"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 9)





"Peter and Mary team up to save a suicidal veteran baseball player from the Kingdom's subterranean spirit world."

Stephen King returned to scripting duties for this baseball-centric episode.  Remember the New England Robins I was talking about earlier?  Well, they've been playing in the World Series, and Red Sox fans might be familiar with the following setup: the Robins got close to winning the Series in '87, and were only stopped when one of their players, Earl Candleton, dropped an easy catch.  I'm no Sox expert, but I've read enough King to know that this is merely a stand-in for what happened with Bill Buckner.  Still a sore spot for fans, I gather.

The plot of this episode involves Earl Candleton trying to buy himself a second chance.  King is obviously hoping for a second chance himself, and damned if he didn't get it (as a fan) in the real world only a few months after this episode aired: the Red Sox finally won the series in '04.  King published a book about it, Faithful, which he co-wrote with Stewart O'Nan.

"Butterfingers" is one of the better episodes of Kingdom Hospital, partly because it stands alone fairly well, and partly because of an excellent guest turn by Callum Keith Rennie.  You might remember Rennie's name as having been mentioned in association with "Dinner With Dana," an episode of The Dead Zone.  Rennie had just started his ongoing role on Battlestar Galactica around this same time; it was a good time to be him, evidently.  He's a fine, intense actor, and he deserves to be a bigger star than he is.



06/06/2004 -- "Finding Rachel Part 1"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 1)





"Johnny becomes the prime suspect in a case involving a missing woman and is confronted by her sister, who clamors for his arrest."

Nice use of "clamors" there, DVD-summary-writer.  Salud!

My memory insists that while this is not a bad two-parter, it is also somehow the point at which the series begins to lose focus and start genuinely sliding down the hill quality-wise.  I'll be curious to see if a rewatch alters my opinion.



06/13/2004 -- "Finding Rachel Part 2"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 2)





"Following his arrest" -- spoilers, lol! -- "for the murder of a young volunteer for the Stillson campaign, Johnny struggles to persuade the victim's sister to help him find the real killer."

Apropos of nothing, you know what I just remembered?  That by this point in The Dead Zone, Dana Bright had been removed from the show.  Her final appearance -- apart from one episode in season five -- was in "Deja Voodoo."  The producers never quite seemed to figure out what to do with Bright as a character; maybe by the third season, they were tired of shoehorning her into scripts.

Beats me.  Personally, I say go ahead and make the effort, unless Kristen Dalton was just a complete C.  And maybe even still.

I don't remember much about the conclusion of "Finding Rachel."  Aren't you glad I told you that?



06/20/2004 -- "Collision"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 3)





"Rebecca helps guide Johnny through agonizing visions of his car accident years earlier, which are triggered by his efforts to rescue a missing girl."

God damn, another missing girl?!?

For the record, Rebecca is the sister of Rachel, the titular missing girl -- oopsie, make that "murdered" girl -- of the previous two episodes.  I remember "Collision" being a decent episode, but looking at it on paper, it seems silly to have immediately gone back to the missing-girl well after a major missing-girl two-parter.



06/24/2004 -- "The Passion of Reverend Jimmy"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 10)





"Reverend Jimmy's crucifixion sparks a series of miracles."

Yes, you read that right.  This episode is basically a reboot of the story of Jesus on the cross.  Wow.

It's a pretty good episode, too, believe it or not.  It's got what seems like an appropriate amount of awe behind it, and packs a few emotional punches.  It seemingly prefigures a major new direction for the series, but that never really pans out.  It's possible that a hypothetical second season might have taken the storyline up again, I suppose.

Interesting bit of trivia for you: the episode was retitled for the DVD release, and is now known as "On the Third Day."

Another interesting bit of trivia: the teleplay was written by Stephen King, based on a story by his wife, novelist Tabitha King.  This marks the only known collaboration between the two, which is kinda cool.  I've still never read one of Tabitha's books; I'm bound and determined to read (and review) Small World in 2013, though.



06/27/2004 -- "Cold Hard Truth"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 4)





"Johnny becomes involved with an abusive radio shock jock and in the process forges a new relationship with his son J.J."

Directed by Anthony Michael Hall himself, this episode features an excellent guest-starring turn by Richard Lewis as the Howard Stern-esque radio personality.  They still had radio personalities back in 2004; how quaint...

From what I remember, this is a fairly good episode that manages to not be about Johnny and yet totally be about Johnny.



07/01/2004 -- "Seizure Day"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 11)





"Their respective searches for an incriminating report continue to pit Dr. Hook against Dr. Stegman."

If I'm not badly mistaken -- as I was that one time I thought it might be an interesting idea to mix milk with orange juice and see what the result tasted like -- then this episode's storyline follows a similar storyline from Riget.  I plan to go back and rewatch both seasons of the Danish show before I rewatch the remake, whenever that is.
 
"Seizure Day" was written by Richard Dooling, for those of you who were wondering.



 07/04/2004 -- "Total Awareness"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 5)





"Johnny and a rebellious young woman with a strange gift for numbers team up to expose a corrupt government agency using a massive intelligence-gathering program that can access every surveillance network in the world."

What I remember about this one is that it co-stars Aaron Douglas, who played Chief on Battlestar Galactica.



07/08/2004 -- "Shoulda' Stood in Bed"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 12)





"Mrs. Druse is summoned for a seance to head off an earthquake; the truth jeopardizes Dr. Stegman's career."

This episode was written by Stephen King.  I wish I could tell you something else interesting about it, but I remember very little about the episode.  This is top-notch bloggin', ain't it?  
 
Oh, wait!  I've got something!  It's not about the episode, per se, but it'll have to do.

On the subject of the title for this episode: the phrase "stood in bed" might well be confusing or unfamiliar to many people, particularly people for whom English is not their first language.  A bit of explanation is in order.

"Stood in bed" is sometimes used in certain regional dialects -- those regions being "Rednecksylvania," "Hillbillyburg," and "Hicksville" -- as a stand-in for the phrase "stayed in bed."  "Stood," in other words, is a past-tense version of the word "stay."  This is incorrect English, and let's have no mistakes about it.

However, verbally, I am a frequent user of incorrect English.  I also enjoy typing in incorrect English sometimes, particularly if I think the fact of its incorrectness will be successful conveyed.  Ain't goan lie 'bout that, y'all.  Of course, there are plenty of rednecks perched on the branches of my family tree, so it's in my blood to say something like "stood in bed."

I do not recall the significance of the phrase in terms of its use as the title of this particular episode, but I can recall at least one instance of the phrase being used in a movie: Dr. McCoy says it to Spock while they are prepping a missile for Kirk to launch near the end of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  I remember being kinda thrilled to hear McCoy slip into redneck-speak, on account of how I'd heard relatives use that very phrase on a few occasions.

In writing this post, I wondered where Stephen King might have heard the phrase.  I found no answer for that, but stumbled across a possibility: this 1989 L.A. Times article, which attributes the phrase to Joe Jacobs, who supposedly made the remark in reference to a World Series game which he lost a bet on in 1935.  There's more to the story of where the phrase came from than that, and if you're interested you can follow that link and find out about it, but for our purposes, I think the baseball connection is a persuasive one, particularly since we've already seen how the World Series comes into play in Kingdom Hospital.

Is that tale of Joe Jacobs and a losing World Series bet where King first heard the phrase?  Or is it simply that King, no stranger to small-town hicks, has been hearing yokels say it his entire life?

Neither case would surprise me.



07/15/2004 -- "Finale"  (Kingdom Hospital season 1 episode 13)





"Mrs. Druse's seance sends a rescue party back in time to try and alter the Kingdom's tragic course of history."

My memory of things is that this final episode puts a fairly satisfactory conclusion on the season.  It doesn't tie up every single plot thread, because everyone involved was hoping the series would continue indefinitely, and so naturally King (who scripted the final episode) decided not to leave some things open for a potential second season.  If I remember correctly, Dr. Stegman's plotline is the one that is left the most unresolved, but don't hold me to that; I might be remembering poorly.

In any case, you will definitely get a sense of closure with this episode, which is more than, say, Golden Years can boast.  And it's a good, well-written, and well-made episode.  I certainly feel like there are elements of Kingdom Hospital that don't work, but the resolution is not one of them.



07/18/2004 -- "No Questions Asked"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 6)





"Walt reluctantly accepts Johnny's help when a crime from the past comes back to haunt him."

This episode aired on the night of my thirtieth birthday, which makes the second time a Stephen King-related episode of television aired on my birthday.

Happy birthday, 2004 Bryant!



07/25/2004 -- "Looking Glass"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 7)





"Johnny fights to prevent identical twins from manipulating him and his visions to commit the perfect murder."

This silly episode may well mark the moment at which The Dead Zone began to make the shift from good Stephen King-inspired series to SKINO mediocrity.



08/01/2004 -- "Speak Now"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 4)





"As a young couple is about to tie the knot, Johnny has a troubling vision of their future and must find a way to reveal what he sees."

And stuff.

I remember this one being tedious.



08/08/2004 -- "Cycle of Violence"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 9)



spoilers, lol


"When Johnny has a vision of a school shooting, the principle" -- played, for some reason, by Judge Reinhold -- "focuses on a particularly outspoken student" -- played by Robert Iler, best-known as A.J. Soprano -- "as the likeliest culprit while Johnny struggles to discover the identity of the shooter."

An episode about a school shooting was relevant in 2004, and it's arguably more relevant in 2013.  How sad.  Speaking of sad, I remember this as being the episode that caused me to realize that I no longer liked the series.  Not that it's a particularly terrible episode or anything; it isn't, from what I remember.  No, there was just something about it that made me realize I'd lost interest in the series overall.

That point always comes when a good series turns into a mediocre or a bad one.  I'm sure people will disagree with me over when the shift happened for The Dead Zone, and on the subject of whether it ever happened at all; for some, the show will have remained satisfying right until the end, and for others it will have failed to satisfy right from the start.

There's no science to this stuff.



08/15/2004 -- "Instinct"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 10)





"Johnny and Walt investigate the sudden violent behavior of the animals around Cleaves Mills while Reverend Purdy wrestles with his faith and past decisions."

I remember nothing about this.



08/22/2004 -- "Shadows"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 11)





"When Johnny foresees the death of someone very close to him, he must confront his inner demons before they push him to the brink of murder."

First of all, let me apologize for that boring screencap.  Here's an insight into how I've been deciding what screencaps to use: it's been a slightly more complicated version of blind luck.  As is obvious from a lot of my commentary, I don't necessarily remember much about some of the episodes.  Therefore, it makes trawling the Internet for photos of the episodes more than a bit problematic, as I'd have no way of verifying that whatever I found -- if I found anything at all -- actually represented the episode at hand.

That leaves me with the best choice being to trawl the episodes themselves looking for a decent image to screencap.  However, doing a really bang-up job of that would require one of two things: a solid knowledge of the episode, or a complete rewatch of it.  I do not possess the former, and have not the time (currently) for the latter.

So, I've been just skimming the episodes randomly and searching for interesting images.

I could not immediately find one for this episode, and I didn't feel like spending more time on it.  And so, you get Bruce and Johnny sitting on a bench.  It'll just have to do.



08/22/2004 -- "Tipping Point"  (The Dead Zone season 3 episode 12)





"As problems with his dead zone become life threatening, Johnny must decide whether to have brain surgery, knowing he might lose his psychic abilities that may help prevent Armageddon."

Wouldn't it have been interesting if the series had decided to divest Johnny of his powers?

Spoilers, lol: that doesn't happen.



11/07/2004 -- "Treehouse of Horror XV"  (The Simpsons season 16 episode 1)





As part of the annual Halloween episode, "The Ned Zone" became the second Stephen King property to be spoofed by The Simpsons.

Unlike "The Shinning," "The Ned Zone" doesn't hit too many plot points of the original work.  Instead, it's a broad farce built around the idea of Ned waking up from an accident with newfound precognitive abilities.

There are several funny jokes that made me laugh, but overall it's an bit on the mediocre side.  Still, any segment that begins with Homer using a bowling ball to try to get a Frisbee off the roof can't be all bad.



06/12/2005 - "Broken Circle"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 1)





"Johnny fights to stop Rebecca from killing Greg Stillson, whom she believes is responsible for her sister's murder."

Definitely watched this; remember nothing about it.



06/19/2005 -- "The Collector"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 2)





"Johnny's visions of a young girl's abduction lead him on a life-and-death race to find the 'collector', a disturbed man who kidnaps and indoctrinates young women."

John Fowles published a novel called The Collector in 1963, and it, too, is about a man who kidnaps a woman.  Stephen King even wrote an introduction for a new edition of the novel that was published in 1989, so the novel certainly has a significance to King's work.

What, then, to make of a television series based on a King novel that has an episode which is seemingly a rip-off of a novel by a different author that King once introduced?

You got me.

(By the way, just for clarity's sake, the 2009 horror flick The Collector is not based on the Fowles novel; it is its own thing entirely, which makes one wish that it had a different title.  I'd imagine that anyone associated with the 1965 film The Collector -- which is based on the Fowles novel -- also wishes that wish.)



06/26/2005 -- "Double Vision"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 3)





"Johnny's ability to alter fate is put to the test when he meets a young woman with psychic abilities of her own."

Why "young woman," author of that plot description?  Why not merely "woman"?  Just sayin'.

Young or not, the woman in question is Alex Sinclair, played by the fetching Jennifer Finnigan.  I remember enjoying this episode quite a bit, because it seemed to introduce a major new character, and offered the potential of a major nude erection new direction for the series, which was at that time in dire need of a new direction.

It never panned out, so far as I could tell.



07/10/2005 -- "Still Life"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 5)





No, "Still Life" is not the title of a fictional reality show starring Greg Stillson and his family, although that would surely have been a hoot. Instead:

"Johnny becomes embroiled in a murder mystery as he searches for the missing daughter of a famous artist."

Sheesh ... another missing woman?!?  One-note much, The Dead Zone?



07/17/2005 -- "Heroes & Demons"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 5)





"An autistic boy seeks Johnny's help to save his father, a tough cop awaiting execution for the murder of a Federal DEA agent."

This is a terrible episode.  'Nuff said.



07/24/2005 -- "The Last Goodbye"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 6)





"A performance by the son of a rock and roll legend leads Johnny and Sarah on a search for clues about the mysterious death of his famous father."

I remember liking this one reasonably well, partially because it did what a great many episodes of the series failed to achieve: give Nicole de Boer something to do.



07/31/2005 -- "Grains of Sand"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 7)





"Johnny faces a difficult decision after saving an infant from a dangerous ring of human traffickers."

I recall liking this episode fairly well, also.  Two in a row!



08/07/2005 -- "Vanguard"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 8)



I know they're important, but it is nearly impossible to wear a motorcycle helmet and not look like a goober.


"Johnny must discover why his reunion with a former student, who is now a top biomedical researcher, triggers his visions of Stillson and a future Armageddon."

I must discover why I have no memory of this episode, even though I know for a fact that I watched it.



08/14/2005 -- "Babble On"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 9)





"A string of horrific nightmares prompts Johnny to dig into his late father's mysterious past to try to prevent a present day catastrophe."

I have no memory of this episode, either, which leads me to the conclusion that by this point in the series, I was barely paying attention.



08/21/2005 - "Coming Home"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 10)



Thumbs-up right back atcha, Ed Asner.


"When Sarah's father, Marty, loves into a local retirement home, Johnny begins having morbid visions about the fate of its residents and is driven to investigate."

Guest-starring the great Ed Asner, this episode has a few sparks in it.  With a pro like him aboard, it'd be hard for it not to.



08/28/2005 -- "Saved"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 11)





"In a bizarre turn of events, Stillson begs Johnny to help him investigate the disappearance of his girlfriend, Miranda."

Miranda is played by Laura Harris, whom I would happily watch in a movie called Shaved, if such a movie existed and she starred in it.  Sorry about that, but my disinterest in this series at this point can really lead only to thoughts of pornography.  The Dead Bone, starring Johnny Smut.

No?

Ah, well.



12/04/2005 -- "A Very Dead Zone Christmas"  (The Dead Zone season 4 episode 12)

You read that correctly.  "A Very Dead Zone Christmas."  One of the worst titles ever.  Makes sense; it's one of the worst episode of television I have ever seen.





"When female psychic Alex Sinclair pays Johnny a surprise Christmas visit, the two work together to solve the mystery of one very lost and confused Santa."

Not, sadly, the real Santa; that would have at least been interesting.  Instead, it's just boring as hell, and vaguely offensive in the way only a Christmas-exploitation project can be.

One subplot involves -- I kid you not -- Johnny using his psychic powers to track down that last unsold copy of a video game J.J. wants for Christmas.

Gag me with a spoon.

By December of 2005, it has been quite a while since I'd actually enjoyed The Dead Zone to any meaningful degree.  However, my King fandom kept me soldiering on, grimly determined to watch the show through to the bitter end.  I was in a thoroughly awful mood that year, though; I'd been cheated out of a vacation to Disney World by shenanigans at work, and perhaps in part because of that foul not-getting-to-go-to-Orlando mood, this episode just rubbed me in entirely the wrong way.  I watched the entire lame thing, and then said, "Alright, I'm done with this piece of shit of a show."

And so I was, until writing this post.  I've still never watched the fifth or sixth seasons, despite having bought the DVDs.



06/18/2006 -- "Forbidden Fruit"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 1)





"Johnny races to find a way to stop the wedding of Miranda Ellis and Greg Stillson, while a political crisis develops that brings Stillson one step closer to the White House."



06/25/2006 -- "Independence Day"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 2)





"Johnny must help upload a computer virus to an alien spaceship that threatens to wipe humanity off the face of the planet.  A lighthearted Fourth of July road trip turns into a nightmare after Johnny is hit with a vision of Bruce dying in a car crash."

This episode co-stars Dylan Bruno, who is evidently Chris Bruno's brother.  He also co-starred -- and, I thought, was quite good in -- The Rage: Carrie 2 (a film I actually kinda like), so his King "connections" are not limited to this episode.



07/02/2006 -- "Panic"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 3)





"When Johnny, J.J. and a neighborhood teen are trapped inside the Smith home by two ruthless killers, Johnny's visions of the past help them evade capture."

Oxford comma, please.



07/09/2006 -- "Articles of Faith"  (The Dead Zone season five episode 4)





"When a possible hate crime rocks Cleaves Mills, Johnny must help solve it before the violence spreads."

Dana Bright returns for this episode, and the DVD plot-description writer can't be bothered to mention it.  What up wi' dat?



07/12/2006 - "Battleground"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 1)





I think Nightmares & Dreamscapes was a great idea for a television series.  I really do.  So when you find me being harsh toward many of the episodes, please don't mistake me; this is something I wanted -- maybe even expected -- to love.

Happily, it's fairly easy to love the first episode, "Battleground."  Based on the 1972 short story (later collected in Night Shift), it was directed by Brian Henson from a teleplay by Richard Christian Matheson.

The conceit of the episode is that it is almost entirely free of dialogue.  Star William Hurt speaks not one word the entire time.  There is plenty of sound, courtesy of explosions and screams and other sound effects; but dialogue, not so much.

Can I be honest?

I don't think this all that great a film.

Now, now, put down your torches and pitchforks; don't get yourself in a tizzy.  My point is merely that I don't think it's THAT great a film.  It's pretty great; just not that great.  I've heard some people talk about it as though it's the second coming or something, and in my opinion it never reaches anything remotely near heights of that nature.  There are times, in fact, when the lack of dialogue feels utterly forced to me, and there's a reason for that: it is forced.  That's a decision that gets made in advance, and then forced upon the story, regardless of whether it is realistic or not.

For my part, I'm saying that it doesn't necessarily feel that realistic to me.  If my apartment were invaded by tiny living soldiers who started shooting me with tiny rifles and whatnot, I can guarantee you I'd be speaking quite a lot during the entire exchange.  It might be only to shout "Fuck, that hurts!" or "Would you little assholes please stop shooting me?!?" or something of that nature, but words would definitely be spoken.

To be fair, in the original story, Renshaw never speaks a word during the attack, either, so in that sense, it's a highly accurate adaptation.

And let's be very clear about this: it is a very, very good piece of work.  A great one, even.

Just not that great.






07/12/2006 -- "Crouch End"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 2)





And now, for yet another episode of Navel-Gazing Minute, starring Bryant Burnette:

I'm not entirely sure whether I should refer to this as "Season 1" of Nightmares & Dreamscapes.  I think it's correct terminology, but I'm not sure of it.  Let me explain what I mean by that.

Earlier, in the case of Golden Years and of Kingdom Hospital, I referred to both of those shows as "Season 1," despite the fact that there is no second season of either show, and therefore no real need to specify the number of the season each episode aired during.  I went with that terminology, though, because in both instances, the series were intended to be ongoing in nature; in others words, the producers hoped for and expected second, and third, and fourth, seasons.

Now, in the case of a series that is purposely designed to last for only a single run of episodes, I would not refer to it as "Season 1."  For example, on HBO, shows like From the Earth to the Moon, Band of Brothers, John Adams, and The Pacific are episodic in nature, but there was never any intent for those shows to extend into second seasons.  Hence, I would refer not to "season 1 episode 1" of Band of Brothers, but merely to "episode 1" of Band of Brothers.

In the case of Nightmares & Dreamscapes, I am not entirely sure whether a second season was ever considered, even in the theoretical sense of things.  I think I remember reading an interview with one of the producers -- or, possibly, with a TNT exec -- who said that they would consider producing a second season if ratings were good enough.  And that's what I'm basing my designations upon.  Obviously, a second season never did actually emerge, though, so it's really all kinda irrelevant.

In any case, the second episode, "Crouch End," was aired on the same night as the first.  TNT's practice with the series was to air two episodes per night over the course of four successive weeks, for those of you who are worrying about that sort of thing.  (And welcome!  You are in the right place, my friends.)

It's a lousy episode, too.  Based on the 1980 short story (which was collected in Nightmares &  Dreamscapes, having for no apparent reason been left out of Skeleton Crew), it was directed by Mark Haber from a teleplay by Kim LeMasters.  It stars Claire Forlani and Eion Bailey -- who appeared in the aforementioned Band of Brothers, by the way -- and is just not particularly good.  Forlani and Bailey, both of whom I have liked in previous projects, are smarmy and uninteresting, and the look of the whole thing is extremely unattractive, with way too much CGI being a significant part of the problem.

It's a scary story, but in this adaptation, you'd never know it.



07/16/2006 - "The Inside Man"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 5)





"When Johnny foresees the theft of a prized religious artifact on display at Faith Heritage, he infiltrates the band of masked robbers in order to save innocent lives."

That sounds awful!



07/19/2006 -- "Umney's Last Case"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 3)





The short story "Umney's Last Case" is one of King's best, and made its premiere appearance in Nightmares & Dreamscapes (the book, that is, not the television series).  It's hard to fathom why King never sold it to a magazine; my best theory would be that he finished it at around the same time he was prepping the contents of Nightmares & Dreamscapes, and simply decided to forgo the magazine route.

For those of you who don't know, it's the tale of a private eye who suddenly finds his life turned upside down by the appearance of a man who claims to be a writer ... specifically, the writer who invented him.

Good stuff.  The episode is directed by Rob Bowman, and was written by April Smith.  It stars William H. Macy, who is excellent.  As for the episode itself, it's a mixed bag.  The tone seems off, somehow.  Not bad, though, and apart from "Battleground," this is probably the highlight of Nightmares & Dreamscapes.



07/19/2006 -- "The End of the Whole Mess"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 4)





The 1985 short story "The End of the Whole Mess" is one that be very comfortably be labeled science-fiction.  Not because it deals with rocket ships or laser blasters; no, this is sci-fi of the Flowers For Algernon variety, and if you thought that had an unhappy ending, well, this one whoops the pants off of it in that regard.

The film version is directed by Mikael Salomon, and was written by frequent King adapted Laurence D. Cohen (who was also responsible for Carrie and It).  It stars Ron Livingston and Henry Thomas, both of whom give very good performances, but only succeeds marginally as a film.  One of the problems is that in the story, King has one of the brothers refer to the other as "Bow Wow," which is something no human being should do to another; Cohen, lamentably, retains this affectation, and it grates my nerves every single time it is uttered.

Overall, though, it's not bad.



07/23/2006 -- "Lotto Fever"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 6)





"Johnny is kidnapped by a 'loser' convinced that the psychic ruined his life by helping him win the Lotto."



07/26/2006 -- "The Road Virus Heads North"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 5)





The 1999 short story "The Road Virus Heads North" originally appeared in an anthology called 999: New Stories of Horror and Suspense, and was later collected in Everything's Eventual.  I like the story a lot, and wish I could say the same for this film version.

Directed by television stalwart Sergio Mimica-Gezzan from a teleplay by Peter Filardi, the episode stars Tom Berenger as a horror writer who buys a painting from a yard-sale.  Bad things begin happening.

Part of my problem with the movie is that I don't think the painting is even slightly scary.  It's a comic-book-style illustration, and does not creep me out in the slightest.  Now, if you have a different reaction, you might find this to be a good hour of television.  But for me, it doesn't work at all.



07/26/2006 - "The Fifth Quarter"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 6)





"The Fifth Quarter" was first published by Stephen King in April 1972, in an issue of the men's magazine Cavalier, although you wouldn't have known it was King at the time; he published it under the pseudonym "John Swithen."  The story went uncollected for twenty years, before finally turning up in Nightmares &  Dreamscapes.  It's a decent story, but to be honest, I'm not sure I understand why the producers of this series selected it for adaptation, when there were presumably any number of others that would have been better-suited.

Adapted by Alan Sharp and directed (again) by Rob Bowman, it stars Jeremy Sisto and Samantha Mathis, both of whom are good.  It looks nice and is well-paced.  I don't have anything particularly bad to say about it, except to say that it's just kinda uninspired.  But since it's an uninspiring story, I guess that's no real surprise.



07/30/2006 -- "Symmetry"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 7)





"Johnny has trouble keeping track of his identity when visions from an attacker, a victim and a rescuer confuse the psychic's sense of reality."




08/02/2006 -- "Autopsy Room Four"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 7)





King's short story was written for the 1998 anthology Robert Bloch's Psychos and eventually got collected in, um, Everything's Eventual.  The story is basically a riff on a classic episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (which was itself based on the 1947 short story "Breakdown" by Louis Pollock -- thanks for that info, Wikipedia), and I can't help but think that Hitchcock would have approved mightily of the twist that King put into it.

The television version can't go to those places, and probably wouldn't have been able to even if it had aired on HBO.  As is, that compromised nature doesn't hurt things too badly.

It stars Richard Thomas, last seen in the Kingverse playing Bill Denbrough in It.  He does a good job playing a stiff.  I'm less charmed by everyone else who appears.  Mikael Salomon directs his second episode here, and April Smith writes her second.



08/02/2006 -- "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band"  (Nightmares & Dreamscapes season 1 episode 8)





Written and directed by Mike Robe, this is -- for me, at least -- hands-down the worst episode of the series.  It feels like something Mick Garris directed, and if you know me then you know that I mean that as an insult.

The story was published in 1992, and I've got a soft spot for it for several reasons.  The first and most notable is that it's a good story; everything else is more or less irrelevant, but let's not worry about that.

The second reason is that it was the first time in the course of my Stephen King fandom that I ever bought a brand-new book for no better reason than that it featured a new story by King.  I first heard about it, I think, via an article that appeared in USA Today, and I began searching the various local bookstores for a copy.  This was back in the days when there were -- even in Tuscaloosa, Alabama -- enough bookstores that if you didn't find a book in one place, you still ran a decent chance of finding it in another.  No dice, though; eventually, I had to resort to special-ordering the thing.

The third reason is simply that I am a fan of a decent number of the musicians who "appear" in the story.

Now, on the page, the ideas presented here can -- and do -- work just fine, despite being outlandish.  They could probably work pretty well in a comic book, too.  But on film, it requires some truly expert casting, and that is one virtue that this episode absolutely did not lack.  Sure, you can tell me that I'm looking at Janis Joplin, but if I don't believe I'm looking at Janis Joplin, then I may as well be looking at Jackie Jormp-Jomp, for all the good it'll do me.

The episode doesn't work even apart from that, though.  The tone is just ... off.  Steven Weber, a frequent visitor to the Kingverse, does decent work, but Kim Delaney appears to have had some sort of major work done on her mouth about two days before filming began, and to be honest, it's hard for me to think about anything else while she is onscreen.

Despite going out on such a false note, I wish there had been a second season of Nightmares &  Dreamscapes.  There are plenty of King stories I'd have loved to see adapted.  Maybe someone will revive the concept one of these days.



08/06/2006 - "Vortex"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 8)





"Johnny is brought before a congressional panel, led by Greg Stillson, after infiltrating a cult to prevent a Waco-like catastrophe."



08/13/2006 - "Revelations"  (The Dead Zone season five episode 9)






"The arrival of a mysterious young woman from Rev. Purdy's past raises new questions for Johnny about the minister's character."



08/20/2006 -- "Into the Heart of Darkness"  (The Dead Zone season five episode 10)





"Johnny and Walt must rescue a newly pregnant Sarah from the kidnapper known as the Collector, who has returned seeking revenge."

Oh dear.



08/27/2006 -- "The Hunting Party"  (The Dead Zone season 5 episode 11)





"In the season finale, Johnny is witness to Janus' secret plot to assassinate the Vice President in order to move Stillson one step closer to the White House."

Only eleven episodes this season?  What up wi' dat?

By the way, unless you want to read a whopper of a spoiler -- not merely for the episode, but for the entire series -- then you are advised to skip the next episode description.

Don't say I didn't warn you.



06/17/2007 -- "Heritage"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 1)





Spoilers in 5...

4...

3...

2...

1...

So apparently Walt gets killed in this episode.  I didn't know that happened on the show, and I kinda wish I hadn't found out until I actually saw the episode, but hey, it's six years old.  These things happen.

By the way, here's a theory: season five only had eleven episodes, instead of the standard-for-cable twelve, and season six seemingly has thirteen.  So my theory is that "Heritage" was filmed as part of the fifth season, but delayed to air with the sixth.  There may be some story reason for that that I'm not aware of, or perhaps it was some sort of contractual thing.

Or perhaps I'm totally incorrect.  Let's definitely not rule out that possibility.



06/24/2007 -- "Ego"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 2)





"When Johnny meets the new sheriff of Cleaves Mills, he envisions he shooting a local psychiatrist and launches an investigation despite her objections."



07/01/2007 -- "Re-Entry"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 3)





I will never hear the phrase "re-entry" again without thinking of Moonraker.  (About which you can read my thoughts here, if you're so inclined.)

"Johnny must try to set aside his personal distrust of Vice President Stillson in an effort to prevent a national disaster."  
 
Which evidently involves a space shuttle.  This actually sounds kinda cool to me.  Some of the episode descriptions for the two seasons of this show I've not seen have intrigued me; I think the time may come relatively soon for me to dive back into the series.



07/08/2007 -- "Big Top"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 4)





"Johnny's visions inadvertently lead him to reexamine a ten-year-old murder case and his current relationship with his teenaged son, J.J."

I was not aware of this, but apparently the role of J.J. was recast at some point between seasons five and six.  The production also moved from Vancouver to Montreal during that time, so perhaps these things are related...?



07/15/2007 -- "Interred"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 5)






"When Johnny has disturbing visions of a man buried alive, he must overcome his differences with Sheriff Turner in the hopes of saving the man's life."



07/22/2007 -- "Switch"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 6)



The lady on the left looks kinda like Emma Stone; is not Emma Stone.


"After Johnny boards a train for some much-needed relaxation, he has a vision of a woman thrown to her death and soon falls for the intriguing beauty."



07/29/2007 -- "Numb"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 7)





"A serious case of appendicitis sends Johnny into another coma, and this time it's up to Sarah to save his life."

Nicole de Boer is super-duper fine, and that haircut ain't makin' her any less so.



08/05/2007 -- "Outcome"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 8)





"Johnny has to race against the clock to prevent a massive explosion from ripping apart the regional bus station."

Can I take a moment to point out how incredibly boring most of the episode titles for this series are?



08/12/2007 -- "Transgressions"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 9)





"Faith and truth collide as Johnny is thrust into a murder investigation of a young missing woman."

Dear flatulent lord ... yet another missing-woman episode.



08/19/2007 -- "Drift"  (The Dead Zone season six episode 10)





"During a visit with Bruce, Johnny is struck with a vision of a valuable filly being stolen on the eve of a big horse race."

That's one of my boringest screencaps ever.  Sorry 'bout that, y'all.



08/26/2007 -- "Exile"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 11)





"In jail for a crime he didn't commit, Johnny risks everything to run from the law and try to prevent his psychic friend Alex Sinclair from being murdered."

Alex Sinclair's last appearance previous to this one was in "A Very Dead Zone Christmas" back in season four.  What a waste of a good character.



09/09/2007 -- "Ambush"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 12)





"Johnny and Sheriff Turner's lives are on the line as they pursue two separate criminal investigations that lead them both back to Walt."



09/16/2007 -- "Denoument"  (The Dead Zone season 6 episode 13)





"In the thrilling series finale, Johnny's visions of Walt lead to s hocking discovery about Johnny's dad" -- played by Tom Skerritt! -- "as secrets from the past are revealed."

In my mind, I only think of a series finale as being an episode written with the intention of ending a series.  Evidently, this was not that; everyone involved hoped and expected that there would be more seasons to come.

That was not to be the case, which seems like a shame.  I mean, sure, I'd stopped watching two seasons previously, but I still wish the show had been able to come to a natural conclusion, rather than a forced one.

Oh, well.

Reboot time!



05/10/2009 -- "Three Kings"  (Family Guy season 7 episode 15)





This episode of Family Guy evidently is composed of parodies of Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and Misery.  I have never seen it, because I kinda loathe Family Guy.

I'll get around to it at some point.



10/30/2009 -- "Insomnia"  (Creepshow: RAW episode 1)





The fine filmmakers behind Creepshow III at some point licensed out the Creepshow brand to someone named Jace Hill, who intended to make a webseries -- to be titled Creepshow Raw for some reason -- based on the concept.  Only one episode was ever produced: "Insomnia," which was directed by Wilder Valderrama, written by Jace Hall and Jason L. Cooper, and starred Michael "hard-up for work" Madsen and Wendi McLendon-Covey.

I have not watched this.  I'll get around to it, too.

Eventually.
 
Not in a rush.



07/09/2010 -- "Welcome to Haven"  (Haven season 1 episode 1)





 Haven is SKINO, and for those of you who don't know, that means Stephen King In Name Only.

There are people who will argue that that is not true.  I've strapped the old flamethrower to my back and gotten into fabled Internet flame wars about it, and while that's not exactly noble work, it is sometimes necessary.  (It is if you're as opinionated as I am, at least; most people are full to the brim with don't-give-a-fuck on the subject of Haven's relatively Kingliness, and that's as it should be.)

My evidence is simple: read the novel The Colorado Kid, and then watch the series Haven, which is ostensibly based upon that novel.  Then explain to me how the show is a fundamentally more faithful adaptation of the novel than The Lawnmower Man is of the short story bearing the same title.

You won't be able to do it.  And if by some miracle you are able to do it, then sir (or madam, as the case may be), I shall owe you a steak dinner.

Here's what carries over from novel to series: there are two crusty old newspaper men named Vince and Dave; there is a mysterious dead body, known as "the Colorado Kid"; and there is a bar named the Grey Gull.

And, unless my memory has failed me utterly, that's it.  Otherwise, the characters and conceits of the television show are completely invented by the show's writers and producers.

You might be asking yourself, "So, Bryant, if the show is that unrelated to King's novel, why are you including it here?"

Good question.  The answer is that, SKINO or no, this is an officially-licensed, legally-sanctioned "adaptation" of the novel.  Period.  The producers have every right to claim that it is based on The Colorado Kid, because the bottom line is that somewhere, there are many pieces of court-approved paper that say that it is.

But make no mistake about it: this series is every bit as craven a cash-grab, every bit as shameless a piece of Kingsploitation, as is The Lawnmower Man.  Stephen King never wrote about Audrey Parker, or Nathan Wournos, or Duke Crocker, or "the troubles."

One piece of evidence that fans of the show love to cite is that it contains frequent loving homages to King's work.  For example, a character in the final episode of season one shows up not long after having been released from Shawshank Prison.  In another scene in an earlier episode, there is a toy car on someone's desk: a red 1958 Plymouth Fury.  Elsewhere in the series, you see a young boy in a yellow rain slicker sailing a paper boat down a stormdrain choked with rain.

Whoopity-fuckin'-do, y'all.  Whoopity-fuckin'-do.  Does this mean I should begin citing Internet memes as official adaptations of King stories?

I don't think so.

Anyways, for all its supposed "loving homages," the producers failed -- or perhaps merely ignored -- a key fact about King's work: that it already contained a town called Haven, Maine.  Readers of The Tommyknockers may recall that that novel was set in Haven, a small landlocked town that, to the best of my knowledge, has not appeared again in King's work.

How, then, can we accept the notion that for the series, Haven has somehow migrated to the coast?  If you're me, you can only accept it by theorizing that the producers were unfamiliar with The Tommyknockers, and that King was indifferent when he signed off on the idea of the series.  He's not prone to look back on The Tommyknockers with any fondness, and simply may not have cared that a series called Haven would be set in a town called Haven that is demonstrably NOT the same Haven as the one in The Tomyknockers.

And yet, I've had people argue with me that they are the same town.  That position is untenable.  If I were to write a novel tomorrow, set in a a city named Los Angeles that is at the bottom of Florida, would that make it the same Los Angeles as the one that, say, L.A. Confidential takes place in?  If it had some of the same landmarks and history, it might, although I would certainly, as the author, have some 'splainin' to do.  If, however, it shared virtually nothing with the L.A. we're all familiar with, then you'd really have no choice but to assume that I was a fucking idiot and had no idea what I was doing.

Just sayin'.

So, does the series bear out my passive assertion that its producers are fucking idiots?

By my standard, it gets close.  This is not a terrible show; it fits right into the modern aesthetic of the Sfyfy Channel, which is to have as little aesthetic as possible.  Ever seen an episode of Eureka, or Warehouse 13?  Then you've seen an episode of Haven, more or less.  If that's your cup of tea, then have at it, and my apologies for all I've said in the past few paragraphs.  But for me, modern television is capable of not just better, but vastly better series.  In a world that offers me television shows of the caliber of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, and Boardwalk Empire, Haven simply does not make the grade.  Take a step or two down the quality ladder, and you'll find Homeland, Dexter, and The Walking Dead, all of which are not merely better than Haven, but better by a substantial margin.

Why, then, should I settle for mere mediocrity?  There is no reason why I should.

And yet, because it's -- however loosely -- based on a Stephen King novel, I keep subjecting myself to it.  Such is the life of a blogger determined to become a Stephen King scholar, I suppose.

Anyways, that's my anti-Haven rant.  Apologies to those I may have offended.  And now, allow me to tell you what I like about the series: I like Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, and Eric Balfour, the show's trio of leads.  All three are fine actors, hella-good-looking human beings, and engaging personalities in interviews and press opportunities and such.  I wish the show they were in was as good as they are in it; if that were the case, I'd be dropping my Haven-hater status immediately.

And now comes the spoiler warning.  I'm going to crib plot summaries for all of the episodes of Haven from the corresponding Wikipedia pages, so unless you don't mind having the entirety of the plot laid out for you, you might want to skip reading those.  Don't say I didn't warn you!

With that warning issued, here is a plot summary, stolen from Wikipedia:

Special FBI Agent Howard goes to Audrey Parker's apartment to send her to a town in Maine called Haven and bring back an escapee called Jonas Lester. Later Lester is seen chasing someone through woodlands with a gun. He reaches a cliff and is suddenly propelled into the air away from the cliff and is gone. The silhouette of Conrad Brauer is seen on the cliff. In the morning Audrey is driving into Haven, when an enormous crack opens up across the road. She swerves and finds herself dangling off a cliff. Nathan comes to pull her out and the car drops and crashes below. Audrey gets into Nathan's truck and she slams the door on his fingers, but he feels nothing. They drive to the scene of where Lester fell. She finds a scrap of paper on Lester's body. Audrey calls Howard to say Lester was dead, but she wants to stay to tie up loose ends. She and Nathan go up to Tuwiuwok Bluff (Tuwiuwok meaning "Haven for God's Orphans"), where Lester had come from and find uprooted trees, a gun and Conrad Brauer's hat. Nathan explains that Lester and Brauer had been in the Gulf War together. Lester had stolen a lot of people's money in Haven, including Brauer's. Brauer now has boundary issues from the war.
 
Outside Marion Caldwell's shop Brauer tells Audrey and Nathan he was clamming last night. Instantly a strange fog enshrouds them and Audrey has to knock Nathan out of the way of an oncoming truck in the fog. Brauer is gone, so they talk to Marion, who is planning on moving to Santa Barbara and buying a shop with Ted Ford. Marion supplies an alibi for Brauer last night. Nathan gets a call to say that the gun traces to Duke Crocker, so they go to his boat. Nathan sees a calendar with a corner ripped off, but no Duke. He goes off in search of Duke. Brauer has known Marion since childhood and has always trusted her. She is worried about the Lester business so Brauer tells her to let him handle it. At the dock Audrey was waiting for Duke when a freak hailstorm struck. She runs for shelter and somehow is knocked out, falling into the water. She wakes up undressed in bed on Duke's boat. He'd saved her.
 
Back at the police station Nathan tells her the paper scrap she'd found comes from the corner of Duke's tide calendar. There's a number on it. Audrey checks the tides and realizes that Brauer's alibi doesn't wash because it was high tide. She finds him with Marion outside the shop and he confesses to killing Lester, claiming it was an accident. She starts to arrest him when a sudden wind blows her against her car. Recovering, she takes Brauer in. Vince and Dave Teagues, the editors of the Haven Herald go to the police station to give Audrey a picture of a woman that Audrey had reminded Dave of. While there she asks them if there had been reports that tied Brauer with freakish weather. Dave doesn't find any, but says there are reports about the Caldwell family. Audrey reconstructs the situation as Brauer protecting Marion and she being on the cliff that night, responsible for the freak wind that sent Lester off the cliff. Audrey connects Lester with Ford and calls Marion to ask if she'd given Ford money. Marion understands that she has been swindled and goes to seek revenge. Clouds, wind and lightning follow her when she confronts Ford, who was just preparing to skip town. Audrey arrives to talk down Marion and Nathan arrests Ford.
 
Audrey knows that Brauer loves Marion and persuades him to let his guard down and get involved with her in order to help her through her Trouble.
 
Audrey later calls Howard and asks for some vacation time. Howard is watching her from the distance. He gives her the time off and makes a call to tell someone that Audrey is staying.

It isn't a particularly good episode, but you probably could've guessed I would say that.  I do appreciate the guest appearance by Nicole de Boer, who had previously played Sarah on The Dead Zone.



07/16/2010 -- "Butterfly"  (Haven season 1 episode 2)






From Wikipedia:


A series of mishaps start with a boulder by the church rolling down a hill and smashing a pub where the minister's daughter worked, but was not supposed to work at. The boulder initially had a butterfly light upon it. Later, Audrey is in her room after a shower and a butterfly lands on her and she is encased as if in a cocoon. Before it encases her completely she manages to call Nathan and he arrives and saves her. Evidence is pointing to the daughter or the orphaned boy that the minister has at his home, Bobby. When they are looking for Bobby they find him at his school locker room sleeping. Nathan and Audrey are in the hallway and a butterfly lands on Audrey's shoulder. Water from a water fountain covers the floor and an electrical wire that is cut is shocking and moving towards the water. Nathan and Audrey escape by pulling an alarm and waking up Bobby, who in the end is the troubled one. While in the car driving to the reverend's house to tell Hanna not to let Bobby fall asleep, which he does anyway, and remembers when his real parents died in a car crash. Many butterflies fly in through the window and they know it's bad. Audrey turns around in her seat and starts to talk to no one, when she is really talking to Bobby in his dream and telling him to think about something else. It succeeds and they are safe. Hanna and Bobby soon move away. The episode also reveals that the reverend hates Nathan. Nathan tells Audrey he dated Hanna, the minister's daughter. She thinks that might be why, but he tells her it is because the minister thought his condition was an evil sign.

Not a good episode, but it's an improvement on the pilot.  Stephen McHattie guest-stars as a Reverend who later turns out to be a major character, and he's quite good.



 07/23/2010 -- "Harmony"  (Haven season 1 episode 3)





From Wikipedia:


Something is causing those at the Psychiatric Care home in Haven to go mad. Audrey and Nathan investigate what caused those living there to temporarily go nuts, or if in comatose conditions they would "wake up" for a short time and act normal. Initially, Audrey and Nathan believe that a doctor at the home is giving the patients a type of medicine that causes the madness. After brief experimentation with that theory, it is rejected. Then, Audrey notices the piano player in the video replay of the initial incident at the Psychiatric Home. They track down the man, Ray McBreen, and discover that the music played causes his wife to return to normal. All he wanted was his wife back, he did not realize initially what it had done to the other patients. In the end, Lilly and Ray take the other "coma-like" patients out on a boat with lots of musical instruments to allow them to live normally (somewhat) without affecting anyone else. As they depart, one of the men on the boat tells Audrey she reminds him of the Colorado Kid and he thinks he remembers her name. It was Lucy.

This one is decent, but suffers from having some not-great actors in the guest roles.



07/30/2010 -- "Consumed"  (Haven season 1 episode 4)



Couldn't find a decent plot-centric screencap, so I settled for a dramatic shot of a brooding Duke.

From Wikipedia:


Audrey wanders the local farmer's market and enjoys the food there until somehow, it all goes bad and spoils. Also nearby, the McShaw brothers are opening their restaurant, Second Chance, with great care. One is a fantastic cook and one has a background in business. The brothers are old friends of Duke's and he brings them a surprise which they must buy without looking at it. This is apparently an old game they have from when they were younger. Audrey first suspects the brother who is a cook, but he is not the cause. After the opening night, when the food goes bad in the middle of their grand opening, Audrey realizes what is causing the food to go bad. Apparently, when Bill eats something and gets upset, all the food associated with what he's eaten goes bad as well. In order to save the building that has been in their family forever, the brothers give Duke the Second Chance using their old "surprise" game. It works because once he takes the box, he has to keep the surprise. Duke accepts and agrees to take care of it because Jeff and Bill are like brothers to him.

This one is decent, but suffers from having some not-great actors in the guest roles.  (Yes, I did indeed just copy-'n'-paste my previous comment.)



08/06/2010 -- "Ball and Chain"  (Haven season 1 episode 5)





From Wikipedia:


Vince and Dave Teagues find the body of an old man in a boat floating near where they were fishing. The boat was probably used for lobster poaching. The man has a round maze-shaped tattoo on his forearm. Harbormaster Beatrice ("Beaty") Mitchell, who has recently adopted a baby and is carrying it, recognizes the boat as stolen from Camden Harbor. Audrey goes to the Grey Gull to see if anyone knows the man. While there, she sees Joe Campbell kissing a beautiful unknown woman, but doesn't find anyone who recognizes the man. Duke invites Audrey to dinner on Friday. The tattoo leads Audrey and Nathan to the Funk Parlor Tattoo where they find the man who "created" it. He doesn't recognize the dead man, but says that the tattoo was not done on an old man. Eleanor Carr estimates that the man was 30 when he died and that he had been rapidly aging before he died. Joe Campbell comes looking for Eleanor. He has aged 50 years in a few days. The Grey Gull waitress remembered the woman with Campbell was called Helena. Vince Teagues is called in to draw a sketch of the woman and Nathan gets a hit on Campbell as a lobster poacher. Audrey and Nathan visit Beaty to get her knowledge. She knew of Campbell as a loser, but not a bad person. An elderly African-American woman, Abby, comes in with Beaty's baby. When Audrey and Nathan leave, Abby asks about them and Beaty tells her that they know about Helena but not when she's coming back.
 
Outside, Nathan tells Audrey the news that the supplies on the dead man's boat were sold by a bait shop in Camden to two men in their 30s, one of whom was Phil Reiser. The men had ordered equipment which will arrive soon and Nathan thinks that the other man will pick it up. They pick up the second man, James Wardell, and interrogate him at Haven police station. He says that Phil was with Helena at the Grey Gull on Friday night and she was "intense". Reiser was too sick to go out poaching and had outstanding warrants so Wardell put him in the boat. Audrey guesses a pattern where Helena picks up a man on Friday at the Grey Gull. Duke faces the fact that Audrey has stood him up, when Helena comes on to him. In the morning Duke staggers to his car and greets Beaty and Abby in passing. Nathan digs up an old case in Derry from 1954 where a 40-year old is found dead of old age in a few days. The woman who discovered him, Alexandra Leidner, died a week later. Audrey hears from Duke about Helena and they go to his boat to find him aging. Duke is unable to say anything useful about Helena, for it was like he was hypnotized. Asked if he saw anyone out of the ordinary afterwards, he explains having seen Beaty and the old woman. They go to talk to her. At Beaty's house they catch Abby at the door. Inside, Duke recognizes the dress that Helena was wearing, then Audrey recognizes the dress she'd worn the week before and found Beaty's uniform on the same rack. On the wall is a diploma with the name "Beatrice Leidner Mitchell". Abby explains that Beatrice is Alexandra's granddaughter. Audrey comes to the conclusion that Beatrice is Helena.

Abby says that Beatrice is at the lighthouse, where they all go. Duke is much older. Nathan breaks the door down and they find Beaty inside with two babies and she is almost in labor with a third. Audrey realizes that it isn't Beatrice who is killing the men, but the babies. Nathan says that they have to stop the baby from coming, but Beaty breaks water. The stress of meeting her ex-husband who had started a new family put her into a state that caused Helena to come. Audrey, while interrogating Beaty who is now in full labor, works out that the men die when Beaty holds the new born baby, so Audrey takes the baby. From that moment Duke starts to revert. Audrey arranges for child services to take the baby. Beaty will voluntarily remain locked in the lighthouse to look after the two babies she already has to avoid any more deaths.

This one has a solid performance by Eric Balfour, and also has surprisingly good old-age makeup.



08/13/2010 -- "Fur"  (Haven season 1 episode 6)





From Wikipedia:


Audrey and Nathan have yet another bizarre case on their hands when a prominent member of the exclusive Haven Hunt Club is found in his car, mauled to death. It has all of the earmarks of a wolf attack and Chief of Police Wournos, who is also a member of the club, is all set to organize a hunting expedition to track and kill the animal. He reluctantly agrees to Audrey's request for 24 hours to investigate further and there are soon two other attacks, one by a bear and the other by a moose. The moose attack is most revealing since it turns out the animal was stuffed leading them to believe that supernatural causes are actually at work. Their investigation turns up two suspects: Landon Taylor, the taxidermist who stuffed the animals in the first place and Jess Minion who has a reputation for being a witch. They confront Landon and find out that when he gets cut that instead of blood there is sand, which was the same thing that happened to the stuffed animal moose. They concluded it was his mother who was the troubled one and she stuffed her son because he was killed in a fire and had a son of his own and couldn't let him be father-less.When his mother says to Nathan and Audrey she can feel the animals are going to come to life, she runs to the Hunt Club trophy room and locks herself in. All the animals in there come to life and kill her, meaning they will never come alive again.

This is a mixed bag of an episode.  On the one hand, the main plot is dumb as hell, and is poorly-executed.  On the other hand, I quite like the new character, Jess.  Don't get used to her, though; the show gets rid of her before long, which is truly unfortunate tendency (introducing a good new character only to get rid of them way before it seems like they ought to).



08/20/2010 -- "Sketchy"  (Haven season 1 episode 7)





From Wikipedia:


Three or four businessmen are on a boat in the Haven Marina, one of the men whose name is Wallace was discussing a "get rich" plan. The other men scoff at the idea and leave. Vicky (Molly Dunsworth), who is the one girl on the boat, was bringing drinks when Wallace's elbows and femurs break identically. Vicky is extremely alarmed and calls the police and flees the boat. Audrey and Nathan come and interview Vicky since she is the only witness to the attack and her father Alec and her fiance Jimmy. After the interview it becomes clear that they do not like the men they work for. In another part of town a real estate agent, Joe Santamaro, is sliced into three lines perfectly down his body. The only person who witnessed the attack was Alec. Audrey and Nathan make Alec, Jimmy and Vicky their prime suspects. Audrey tries to trigger Alec's trouble if he even has one by yelling at him and being rude. Nothing happens. They then consider Jimmy as a suspect, but when they go to question him his face suddenly disappears, like it was erased. Vicky is their last suspect. They go to investigate her garage and they find pictures of townspeople, buildings and even one of Nathan. Audrey touches the picture and Nathan flies backwards into the wall. They realize whatever happens to the picture that Vicky draws, happens to the object or person in the picture. All the victims were in debt to the captain of the boat where they held their business meetings, Richards. He somehow knew of Vicky's abilities and took her father captive so she would draw the other men. Fortunately, Audrey and Nathan find Richards, who drowns when his picture that Vicky drew fell in the water.

Not one of the better episodes, from what I recall, which isn't much.



08/27/2010 -- "Ain't No Sunshine"  (Haven season 1 episode 8)





From Wikipedia:


To start off another great day in Haven, Audrey and Nathan are called to the murder scene of Bill Rand, a nurse at the nearby Hessburg Medical Center, where his obvious cause of death was the large cut made most likely by a sword-like object.
 
Nathan and Audrey soon interview Mrs. Wilson, the hospital's director, and many family members of Bill, when they are introduced to the idea of "The Dark Man". All they interviewed believe that it was this "Dark Man" who killed Bill, and many others who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, which is what the hospital takes care of, since they died way before their time. Though it seems far-fetched (even for Haven), they all want to share their stories about their personal encounters with the "Dark Man".
 
Later on when Mrs. Wilson is home on her couch, she is attacked and killed in a similar way compared to Bill. Audrey asks to exhume the bodies of the other victims who died recently, to find any similarites in their death. Yet a man named Thorton, whose wife recently died, refuses. Later that night, while Audrey is alone, she is attacked by the Dark Man, and even though she is in a state of panic, she turns off all the lights and realizes that the Dark Man cannot function in the dark, because he is a shadow. She calls Nathan, but he does not answer his phone because he is with Jess.
 
After the event, Audrey receives the autopsy reports about the exhumed bodies. Though all the patients were diagnosed with cancer, there was no sign of chemotherapy. Bill and Mrs. Wilson were taking the money for themselves. In a turn of events, the Dark Man attacks Jess, but does not kill her, after she discovered that Thorton did not let his wife take her medication. Nathan and Audrey realize the connection, also they notcie that Thorton has no shadow. In the grief of his wife's death, his shadow took out his pain and anger out on the others who ever Thorton is angry at, and his shadow goes after them, but the patients actually died from not taking their medication.
 
Thortons shadow returns to him and he is left to live in the dark for the rest of his life. After the events that have happened to Jess, in the end, she leaves for Montreal, leaving Nathan heartbroken. When Audrey and Nathan are watching her leave, Audrey kisses him on the cheek and he can feel her touch, her being the first and only one he could.

Here's the thing: if you're writing a series based on -- and, supposedly, prone to lovingly reference -- Stephen King's work, then you should probably have the sense to not nickname a character "the Dark Man" unless that character has thematic similarities to Randall Flagg, which this character most definitely does not.  If you opt to do so, one might be inclined to think that you don't actually know as much about King's work as you want the world to think you know.

That said, this is a pretty good episode.  The monster-of-the-week is one the very few that could have fit into an episode of The X-Files (which is one of Haven's obvious influences) without being embarrassed.  And the character work is quite good, especially the big revelation at the end.  This episode marked the point at which I perked up and thought the show might be turning a corner toward a higher plane of quality.

It never quite happened, or at least has not happened as of the point where I am caught up to (the end of the second season); but episodes like this and the next show a better picture of what the show's potential is.



09/10/2010 -- "As You Were"  (Haven season 1 episode 9)





From Wikipedia:


Duke takes Audrey out on a boat to the island of Carpenter's Knot. She is hesitant about it but he insists to show her the place. Duke explains to her that a Vaughn Carpenter lives there and owns a place that used to be a hotel. When they arrive, Duke takes Audrey to the hotel and finds out that Nathan, Chief Wournos, Eleanor, her daughter and the Teagues have thrown her a surprise party.
 
Eleanor introduces her daughter; she has been away working out of the country. Nathan arrives with a bellboy cart full of presents. Audrey thanks Nathan for showing up even when he's not in the mood after what happened with Jess. He admits he's trying to get over her. Mr. Carpenter arrives and greets all of them and then tells them that his wife Olivia died. He is introduced to Audrey and he says that she looks just like Lucy Ripley, an old friend of his. The lights go out and Vaughn leaves before Audrey can ask him any question.
 
Upstairs in his bedroom, Vaughn tells Olivia that he's getting weaker so she has to go away. They say goodbye and when she's gone, his face distorts.
 
Downstairs, everybody decide to find their rooms for the night and the Chief offers to help Nathan. He refuses saying he's going for a walk. Duke says he's not used to giving gifts but all Audrey says is she wants to find Lucy first. Duke is disappointed and tells her he will give her the gift later.
 
Vaughn goes to Nathan's room and takes his gun out of his bag.
 
Moments later, everybody is downstairs waiting for Audrey to show up so they can start the party. She's a little late so Eleanor asks Nathan to go find her and asks Julia to ask Vaughn for some matches. But Audrey arrives before Nathan can find her, she's wearing a blue dress, the gift from Vince. They hear Julia scream and when they all find her, they realized she's found a sort of shed skin in the shape of Vaughn. Chief Wournos explains to all that Vaughn was a chameleon, a shape shifter and he warns everyone that now that it has shed skin it has taken the form of one of them... and has killed the original.
 
In the living room, Chief Wournos tells his experience with chameleons. He tells everyone that they should stay together because it takes time for the shape shifter to mimic the victim's soul. Duke wonders how everybody happened to be in the hotel and the Teagues admit that Vaughn called him so they could see him since it had been a while and since Eleanor was looking for a place for the party, they decided to have it there. They all start arguing but Audrey calms them. Lines are down and they can't use their cell phones. Duke says they can find a boat in the boathouse but Chief says he won't risk the chameleon going to mainland, but Audrey suggests they go down there for candles and then decide what to do. Julia tells Audrey that she's the only one with a gun, but Audrey says she's she and gives them personal information. Nathan points out that they don't really know a lot about her so they don't know if she's telling the truth. Audrey gives up her gun and her hidden gun. Duke insists that Nathan and the Chief also have guns, but Nathan says his in his bag upstairs and the Chief says he didn't bring any gun since he was going to a party.
 
At the boathouse, Nathan and Audrey find the dinghy. Audrey thanks Nathan for backing her up and he tells her that's what partners do. He thanks her for asking him about Jess and she says that's what friends do. Chief Wournos finds them.
 
At the hotel, Dave and Vince start suspecting each other. Julia hides a cheese knife in her pocket and Eleanor catches her. But she admits that she hasn't understood Julia, but Julia says she doesn't want to fight. At the boathouse, Chief Wournos shoots the dinghy boat with his gun and explains that he won't let the chameleon go away. When the three of them return to the hotel, he tells everybody they didn't find a boat. Duke has found a radio and he's trying to fix it. Nathan suggests they all go find the victim so they can identify who the chameleon is. They go in groups: Audrey and the Chief, the Teagues, and Nathan goes with Eleanor and Julia.
 
While searching, Audrey tells the Chief that Nathan is in a dark place. When Audrey makes a discovery and he compliments her, she says he should compliment Nathan more often, but the Chief insists that Nathan should take things tough because he will handle things after he's gone.
 
Audrey joins Nathan and Julia and they find newspaper clippings, including one of Audrey. Other clippings show how Vaughn had gotten meningitis 27 years ago but he recovered miraculously. They all realize that probably the chameleon took Vaughn's shape all those years ago and Olivia knew this. Audrey goes looking for Dave, who wrote the article about Vaughn's recovery and he tells her that Vaughn is afflicted and since Lucy liked helping them, the chameleon was interested in Lucy.
 
Duke comes back from the boathouse with an axe and is very angry that the dinghy is destroyed. He accuses Nathan of doing this because he looked for a gun in Nathan's bag and it's not there. Audrey calms them down; she has an idea. Each person will grab the present they brought for her and will tell what's inside. Eleanor and Dave are correct and it's Nathan's turn. He says it's a sweater. But when Audrey opens it, it's a scarf. Nathan and Duke start to fight, but the Chief knocks Nathan out with his gun.
 
Nathan is tied up. Duke tells the Chief to give up his gun and he accepts reluctantly. So Duke removes the head of the axe. Nathan is asked to give an explanation. He says that he and Jess agreed on getting the sweater to Audrey, but she must've changed her mind when she went back for the gift and she bought the scarf instead. Audrey unties Nathan and the lights go out again and everyone separates. Duke finds out the Chief's gun is gone and Nathan says this is the work of the chameleon. It wants them apart so he can attack.
Eleanor and the Chief are together. Julia is hidden under a bed. Duke, Audrey and Nathan find out that the fusebox has been tampered with and they go back downstairs and split. Suddenly, they hear someone scream. Chief has found Eleanor, near the stairs, dead of a broken neck. He figures out that she died of an accident.
 
Back in the main room, they all find a large crack on a wall. Nathan stares at the chair he was tied at, looks at Audrey and then asks her to join him. He asks her if she trusts him and she says yes. He takes her hand, caresses it and then grabs her face and kisses her. Then Nathan takes out a gun and shoots her in the chest. The chameleon has taken Audrey's shape. Nathan is very upset. It apologizes and insists it didn't mean to hurt anyone. It thought Audrey could help it. Then it says that Audrey was supposed to die but she didn't.
 
Nathan and the rest of the group enter a storage room where they find Audrey, unconscious, inside a trunk. Nathan urges Julia to help her and when Audrey wakes up, Nathan cries in relief.
 
Back on the mainland, Audrey tells Nathan that the chameleon came to her for help, but she didn't know how to help it. Audrey wants to know how Nathan found out it wasn't her, but Nathan says he just knew. But he doesn't know her that well. They tell each other their middle names. Chief Wournos tells Nathan he's proud of him for shooting his partner but Nathan is angry and tells him he will never be like him.
 
When Dave and Vince say goodbye to Julia, Vince notices a new crack opening on the road. He keeps it to himself and walks away.
 
Duke comes to Audrey and gives her his present: a necklace with the initials LR. Lucy Ripley. He reveals that he is the boy in the photo next to Lucy Ripley the day the Colorado Kid was killed.

Definitely one of the better episodes of the series.



09/17/2010 -- "The Hand You're Dealt"  (Haven season 1 episode 10)





From the ever-helpful Wikipedia:


Duke takes Audrey to his old high school to introduce her to his old babysitter, Vanessa Stanley, who is now the guidance counsellor, in the hope that she has memories of the day the Colorado Kid died, but Vanessa also remembers nothing. Two boys who had been fighting later visit Vanessa and, after they leave, the principal catches them fighting again and gives Matt West a detention. She complains to Vanessa about the lack of success of her counselling and when she touches Vanessa, Vanessa has a vision. She tries to stop the principal from getting in her car, but the principal gets in and it explodes. No sign of an explosive device was found.
 
Vanessa frantically tries to get into the pool where one of the boys is now swimming. Suddenly the water heats up and the boy is boiled to death. Nathan has a sketch artist reconstruct the woman seen at the scene. Audrey recognizes that it is Vanessa and she conjectures that Vanessa may have been responsible for the deaths. In Vanessa's house they find notes and drawings of death and destruction, as confirmation of her "Trouble". When they arrest her, she explains that her Trouble is being able to see the last thing that people she has touched see before they die. She does not cause it to happen.
 
Vanessa supplies enough information about many deaths she has seen happening soon for Nathan to recognize an opening air screening of films with Matt West as the projection man. They realize that he is the thread connecting all the events. Vanessa feeling impotent tries to stop West who hits her with a blast of heat. Audrey and Nathan confront him and though he quickly disarms them by heating their guns, Audrey understands that his basic problem is his insecurity, so she belittles him when he thinks that he has become someone important and then she walks away leaving him in his aggitation. This causes an impotent rage which causes him to explode.
 
Before Vanessa dies she tells Duke he is going to die at the hand of the person who killed the Colorado Kid, a person with a tattoo on his forearm.

One thing I'd say in favor of the show is that when it really buckles down and decides to advance its mythology, I typically become interested.  My problem with the show is that that happens too rarely.



09/21/2010 -- "Caregiver"  (Sons of Anarchy season 3 episode 3)





King has a small role as "Bachman," a fixer who shows up to help dispose of a body.

I know nothing about Sons of Anarchy, except that I'm inclined to think I would enjoy it.  I have not watched this episode, apart from King's short scenes.  He's quite good; whoever directed the episode had some good ideas on how to use him well without having the whole thing play merely as a jokey cameo.  I'd kinda like to see King do more of this kind of thing.



09/24/2010 -- "The Trial of Audrey Parker"  (Haven season 1 episode 11)





From, again, Wikipedia:


Audrey is playing cards with Duke, Julia Carr, and two of Duke's acquaintances, Ezra Colbert and Tobias Blaine on Duke's boat. After Audrey wins a hand Duke checks Colbert's to see that he had folded on a better hand. He suspects a hustle. Audrey's boss, Agent Howard, comes aboard and orders her to explain her actions in Haven and why she should be allowed to remain there. They go into a stateroom and Audrey cautiously outlines some of "The Troubles". They are trapped inside, when the door is locked from outside. On deck Colbert returns to his previous phenomenal winning streak until he explains that it isn't money that he wants but one of the boxes Duke is shipping. Duke takes Julia and pretends to go looking for the box, but they are followed and captured. With no cell reception within the metal walls, Audrey has nothing else to do but continue her report of "The Troubles". A crack forms in the boat and it starts taking on water.
 
Blaine is unsuccessful at beating the location from Duke, so Colbert anticipates Duke's thoughts, explaining the things that Duke thinks to avoid thinking of the box, until he falters and Colbert sees where the box is, though the effort causes him great discomfort. Audrey, while talking to Agent Howard, has been looking for an escape hatch from the room, as she knows that Duke is always prepared. The boat is now listing because of the water intake. Finding the hatch she escapes and radios Nathan the situation. She rescues Duke who is now tied up on deck. He tells her about Colbert's ability and she devises a plan. Duke confronts Colbert and Blaine on deck, making strange gestures and saying irrational things. Colbert has difficulty with the incoherence and suffers. Duke is following Audrey's instructions through an earphone, so Colbert cannot anticipate. Duke maneuvers them toward Audrey and they are finally overpowered.
 
Agent Howard provokes Audrey and she resigns from the FBI, so she can remain in Haven. Howard later tells Chief Wuornos that Audrey is staying, as though that was the desired result. He says that Wuornos needs to get "this place under control... soon."

Not a bad episode at all.  I'm definitely intrigued by Agent Howard and whatever agenda he's got going on, and I typically find Duke-centric episodes to be amusing.



10/01/2010 -- "Resurfacing"  (Haven season 1 episode 12)





From Wikipedia:

When James Garrick's fishing boat, the Fisherman's Honor, which was missing with all hands, washes up on shore, anger towards the missing Garrick and his family resurface. Vera, wife of the dead crew member Andy Weaver, comes to the Garrick house and causes a scene, which ends with her impelled across the room. Meanwhile, Duke is worried and seeks a meeting with a shady character named Stoney. When Brooke Garrick's boyfriend is also thrown across the room, Audrey begins to think that the Garricks' daughter might be troubled, but when she's angered nothing strange happens. Duke ropes Nathan into helping him deal with Stoney, who has used Duke as a patsy regarding a shipment Duke delivered. A stone is thrown through the Garrick window wrapped in a news paper story about the boat with James Garrick's face crossed out and young Michael, also present at both events sees it and begins to vibrate unnaturally. Audrey discovers, talking with Tracy Garrick, that, as Michael had seizures, so did James when he was a child. Tracy explains that Lucy Ripley had helped James deal with it. Stoney meets Nathan, who offers her the money she'd paid Duke. This is to save Duke's life. Stoney recognizes the money as her counterfeit bills and sets her thugs onto Nathan. Duke arrives pretending to be the police with Nathan's gun and badge to save the day. At the Garrick house Audrey discovers that Garrick is present and, as long as she can hold him, he stops vibrating and stays visible. At first he thinks she is Lucy. He states that he always wanted to thank Lucy for her help and express his sorry that Lucy got cut deeply in the sole of her foot by a breaking glass while helping him. Garrick can't stay visible. He tells his wife, "when I'm gone this time, there's no coming back", but "I'll always be here" and he tells Audrey that when Lucy helped him he shattered a glass and it cut Lucy's foot deeply. He then finally disappears.
 
Duke and Nathan mend a few bridges and Audrey examines the scar on the sole of her foot.

This isn't a bad episode; the Trouble-of-the-week plot is fairly engaging.  However, sandwiched as it is between two fairly mythology-heavy episodes, it feels like a bit of a distraction.



 10/08/2010 -- "Spiral"  (Haven season 1 episode 13)





Wikipedia says:


Max Hansen comes back to Haven now an old man, after being released on parole. His return seems to upset quite a lot of people, chief among whom is Chief Wuornos who put him away for the murder of the Colorado kid. Wuornos subsequently adopted his son Nathan. However, Nathan has no knowledge of this ever happening and still believes the chief is his father. Audrey also discovers that she is actually Lucy, the woman in the picture of the news clipping of the Colorado Kid. Max goes to see Duke on his boat to persuade him to help him but Duke refuses and becomes apprehensive upon seeing the tattoo on Max's left arm - he has been told that someone with that tattoo is going to kill him. He tells Audrey this, and Audrey approaches Max in Duke's cafe. In the course of events there, the waitress pours hot scalding coffee on Max who does not feel a thing, commenting that "Good thing they sell cold coffee here", he leaves and says he was heading for church. While discussing with Duke, the waitress mentions that the coffee was scalding hot, yet Max did not feel a thing. Audrey makes the association that Max was probably related to Nathan. Nathan then storms to the Chief's office demanding the truth. Wuornos reluctantly tells him about Max being his father and Nathan storms out angry. Later, Max is killed by being swallowed by a crack in the ground. It is later discovered that chief Wuornos was responsible. They eventually find him on the beach and he offers to kill himself. Nathan pleads with him not to do so, but he changes into rock and then disintegrates. Audrey tries to console Nathan who angrily rebuffs her, asking why she didn't tell the chief she could help him like she normally does to other troubled people. In the last scenes of the episode it showed Nathan revealing to Audrey that he can feel her touch, Audrey says that she believes she is Lucy Ripley due to a cut on her foot and an FBI agent appears claiming to be special agent Audrey Parker and asking Audrey "Who the hell are you?"

Well, as season-ending cliffhangers go, that's a pretty good one.

Does the show make something interesting out of it when the second season begins?  No.

No, it does not.  And that's part of my disdain for the series; it has potential, and occasionally even goes in an interesting plot direction, but there is no consistency to the plotting and writing.  The acting from the leads is consistently good, and occasionally even excellent.  The writers fail those leads at nearly every step of the way, though.



07/15/2011 -- "A Tale of Two Audreys"  (Haven season 2 episode 1)



Wink-wink ... pssst, hey: we've seen It!


From Wikipedia:


Continuing from last season's final at the waterside, Audrey and Nathan draw on the woman claiming to be FBI agent Audrey Parker and force her to submit, then cuff her. While Duke talks to Ed Driscoll at the Good Shepherd Church, the ground sprinklers start emitting blood. Back at the waterside there is a sudden rain of frogs. When a swarm of gnats attack a car and Duke returns with his tale of water turning to blood, they understand that they are observing the ten plagues of Exodus. Audrey #2, while offering her help in some damage control, gives indications that she has the same knowledge and memories as Audrey.
 
As the plagues continue to follow, they discover that one person seems to have been present at each occurrence, TJ, a man whose wife has recently died in labor. The Audreys go to his house to find him upstairs with a gun and his baby son, Aaron. He intends to kill himself because he believes he is responsible for the plagues and the next plague is the death of the firstborn son, meaning that his son will die, if he does nothing. Audrey discovers that he was at the Good Shepherd church this morning and had read the plague story in Exodus. As men, presumably the firstborn sons, start falling over outside, Audrey, understanding what TJ's Trouble is, gets him to read from the Velveteen Rabbit, a children's book, to stop the effects of his earlier reading of Exodus. Outside the firstborns resuscitate and the Trouble is averted. As the Audreys leave a small shadow of a rabbit appeared on the walls.
 
Senior Special Agent Howard arrives with back-up in search of the person masquerading as an FBI agent, but it is not Audrey's supervisor. Audrey #2, after living through the plagues, covers for Audrey.

See, now, here's my beef with this series.  The producers came up with, and implemented, a perfectly good season-ending cliffhanger, with the whole introduction-of-Audrey-Two thing.  What I want from the premiere of the next season is for the episode to just chill out and explore that a bit.  What I don't want is a mediocre Trouble-of-the-week episode with some grace notes aimed at the Audrey Two plotline.

But that's what this is, and it starts the season out on a sour note.



07/22/2011 -- "Fear & Loathing"  (Haven season 2 episode 2)



Okay, no, seriously, we get it; you've seen It.  Congratu-fucking-lations.


From Wikipedia:


After the memorial service for his father Nathan receives commiserations from various people including Ian Haskell who is looking for Duke. Panic breaks out in a shop where people suddenly find themselves facing their worst fears. Nathan and the two Audreys soon get the idea everyone was hallucinating. The only person who didn't see anything was Bryan Shaw who was in the back looking for his girlfriend. Nathan discovers that he has been cut in the hand and can now feel pain. At Haven bus station a similar panic breaks out. Ian has caught up with Duke on his boat and asks him to get him out of Haven, but Duke refuses. The two Audreys investigate at the bus station and Audrey spots a girl leaving the scene, but is forced to deal with other issues, so she gets Vince Teagues to draw a sketch of the girl. Audrey #2 goes to find out from Duke what he knows of Audrey's mysterious Agent Howard. Audrey connects the girl at the bus station with Bryan Shaw's girlfriend, Jackie. When Audrey finds her after Jackie is wounded in another panic scare, she discovers that Jackie had lost her 'trouble' for a few weeks after someone cut her only to have it return this day. She connects the return of Jackie's 'trouble' with the loss of Nathan's. Nathan realizes it must have been Ian.
 
Ian now breaks into the museum, suffering no pain as he slid down the chimney, and steals an old children's puzzle. He later fits one piece into it and a Haven building immediately withers and disappears. Vince explains the power of the puzzle and how the town had confiscated it two centuries ago, hiding the pieces and placing the puzzle in the museum for safekeeping. Ian is a descendant of the original owner, knows its power, and took Jackie's "trouble" through contact with her blood, using it to cause panic and allowing him to collect the pieces. After complications on Duke's boat Ian is shot and Nathan gives up his new found feeling by putting Jackie's bloody bandage on Ian's skin before he dies to cure her 'trouble'.
 
The two Audreys go to the house where Agent Howard had stopped while in Haven and they discover the novel that Audrey had lent him. Audrey later tells Nathan the book indicates they are on the right track.

You'd think based on this episode that Audrey Two was going to be a major new character on the show.

You'd be wrong about that, so far as I can tell.



07/29/2011 -- "Love Machine"  (Haven season 2 episode 3)





From Wikipedia:


At the docks a fishing boat attempts to kill a worker and while Audrey and Nathan talk to the boat's owner, Jimmy Halsey, the boat finishes the job. Investigation reveals that the boat had been sunk and Lewis Pufahl, the repairer of the boat, explained that when it was refloated the crew was still at their post. Next morning the fishermen's union rep's car is crushed by a crane. Audrey guesses that when Halsey gets angry the machinery reacts, so Audrey and Nathan try to anger him. Machines do come to life, but not for Halsey, as they kill him. Audrey #2, following coordinates left by Agent Howard, gets Duke to take her there by offering him a file containing interesting material.
 
Audrey and Nathan investigate a crazed machine at the hockey rink. Marsha Steltzer, who has invited Lewis to leave Haven with her, explains that he had fixed a number of machines at the rink. Audrey thinks that when Lewis fixes things they 'come to life'.  Audrey #2 finds a barn at the coordinates and enters. At Lewis's repairshop Audrey and Nathan are attacked by the appliances and they try to escape. Duke finds Audrey #2 wandering dazed. Audrey and Nathan find Lewis who says that he was thinking of leaving Haven. Audrey realizes that the machines are trying to stop Lewis from leaving. She then fears for Marsha and they arrive in time to find her pinned against a wall by a machine threatening to kill her. Lewis is forced to agree to stay in Haven.
 
At the police station they learn that Audrey #2 has lost her memory and Duke notes, 'It's like the day we found the Colorado Kid. None of us remember anything'  They call her boyfriend, who takes her home. Evi Ryan gives Duke the file she stole from Audrey #2's car. At the coordinates Nathan and Audrey find the building gone.

This episode has a few good moments, but s mostly quite mediocre, and don't even get me started on the resolution for the Audrey Two plotline.  What a crock.



08/05/2011 -- "Sparks and Recreation"  (Haven season 2 episode 4)





From Wikipedia:


Nathan takes Audrey to Haven's big little league baseball event between the Sea Dogs and the Cutters, which is kicked off with the appearance of the very popular Mayor Brody. No-one notices the night lights spark. During the match the umpire makes a bad call against a Cutter. The crowd takes sides according to their preferred team and both vocal, until the mayor expresses his view that the call was wrong. Suddenly all the crowd start shouting that it was a bad call. Finally, the umpire reverses his call. The lights erupt with huge arcs of electricity and everyone runs for cover. The umpire is struck by a pulse of electricity.
 
Electrical repairs are done by a mysterious Haven resident, Dwight Hendrickson who notes that someone would need an electromagnetic pulse to generate that much electricity. Nathan figures that Driscoll will use the incident to raise more hatred against the Troubled. Audrey is surprised that Dwight will take care of both electrical and construction problems. He explains, looking at Nathan, 'I'm Dwight. I clean things up, that's where your dad and I use to call it (wink).' When the mayor starts to reassure townsfolk that the event was under control, his microphone overloads and kills him in a flash. Chris has suddenly become extremely popular and everyone but Audrey hangs on his every word.
 
Duke goes out looking for what is indicated on the map in the file Evi stole for him. Nathan tells Audrey that the mayor traded in his wife for a new model when his son Chris was young. Audrey sees that there are two Troubles, the electricity and the strange popularity. They start to suspect Chris, who seems to know a lot about electricity through his studies, has reason to hate his father and may want the popularity. Duke and Evi find a box which contains a short board with the words 'Rasmussen House' on it. Audrey and Nathan suspect that the mayor had a mistress and go to the mayor's wake, where they see Ed Driscoll. Duke and Evi arrive to ply information about Rasmussen House from the Teagues. As Audrey talks with Chris, sudden bursts of electricity hit him, then the mayor's wife (Felicia), and Evi.
 
At the hospital Felicia admits knowing about an old affair of her husband, but rules out a recent fling. Audrey gets the nurse Lori, to run a blood pressure test on Chris which malfunctions because of electrical problems. Audrey has found the electric lady. She escapes, frying the surveillance cameras. Dwight comes in to restore power at the hospital and he tells Nathan that he'll handle it, warning him keep the regular city workers away. He says that Chief Wuornos didn't ask questions and it was easier that way. The camera at the police station shows Lori escaping in a van with Felicia. Duke and Evi separately break into a store and find each other in the basement. He puts the board in a hole in the floor which forms an arrow that points to a wall behind which he finds an empty box with the words Omnia vincit amore ('Love conquers all') inside.
 
Audrey and Nathan receive phone evidence to confirm that the mayor and Lori were lovers and get the news that the getaway van belongs to Driscoll, so they go to the church. Nathan says that the microphone that killed the mayor had been tampered with. She texts Chris to come and help. Nathan sees flashes from the church basement. They all go down to find Felicia and Lori talking. Lori starts losing some control and admits killing the mayor. Audrey tries to calm her saying she didn't kill him, but she loses more control. Nathan grounds her (using wire from his truck) to a lightning rod outside and skim off the electricity. Chris talks to her and she calms enough to explain the affair. Audrey realizes Lori with her uncontrolled emotions was incapable of rigging the microphone and Felicia had been manipulating Lori to confess to a crime that Felicia committed. Felicia is arrested and Lori is taken away to be looked after and kept 'grounded'. Driscoll arrives while Dwight is cleaning up the mess and complains, but Nathan points out that all the evidence suggests that he was involved. He then warns Driscoll that if he continues, he'll put him in jail. Chris suggests drinks to Audrey.
 
At the rerun of the baseball game, Chris cannot get his team to focus on the game being strangely distracted by him. Dwight compliments Nathan on how he handled Driscoll by saying they need people fighting for them, and Nathan agrees with him. Later, a disappointed Duke wonders if he should let the tattoo business go and Evi suggests that they both do the same. Though Duke is skeptical of the outcome, they make love. As they do, a lantern is knocked onto the table with the box on it. The name 'Crocker' glows on the lid briefly before the lantern rolls off.

I hated this episode, partially -- but not entirely -- because I have never been able to abide Jason Priestley.  I also kinda loathe the character of Evi Ryan, whom I have not yet mentioned.  "Evi" is -- I kid you not -- short for "Evidence," which is such a stupid name that I'm convinced someone somewhere actually has it.  That does not make me like it.

Speaking of things I do not like, the idea of introducing a romantic interest for Audrey was flat-out moronic.  Part of the show's appeal is the will-they-won't-they between Audrey and Nathan; another is the will-they-won't-they between Audrey and Duke.  Saddling the show with a "she-won't-with-them-but-she-will-with-this-dipshit" distraction subplot was just not a good idea. It's a blatant stalling tactic designed to keep the writers from actually having to develop Audrey's relationships with Nathan and/or Duke to any meaningful degree.

In other words, it's bad writing.



08/12/2011 -- "Roots"  (Haven season 2 episode 5)





From Wikipedia:


Audrey delivers a marriage certificate to Ben Keegan's house, as the family is preparing for a wedding rehearsal between Ben's daughter Maura and Peter Novelli. Audrey has brought Chris Brody with her intending on going on a date after she's finished the chore. Keegan has reservations as to young Novelli's sincerity and they start to argue about financial issues. Duke and Evi arrive hoping to get some information about the box from the elderly Beverley Keegan, who knows about Haven cultural artifacts. In the house Peter talks with his uncle, Dom, who thinks the marriage could bring dangerous repercussions. Keegan breaks in and announces he will prevent the marriage from continuing. Keegan goes off to the bathroom and soon strange inhuman noise, sounds of scuffling and breaking, come from the bathroom, sounds that attract Audrey who forces the door and find the room devastated, the window almost gone, blood on the remaining glass, and no sign of Keegan. Outside signs of great force are seen in the destruction of the house's fixtures and there is a rut in the ground that leads off into the surrounding woods. Audrey follows the rut through the forest until it stops, so she looks around for clues. She is startled by Chris who had followed her, but then together they continue looking around. Chris finds Keegan's glasses covered in organic "goo".
 
They head back to the house, but don't notice the body in the trees above them. Beverley tells Duke that the box was "late colonial", the work of Regis Glendower, but knows nothing more. Audrey talks to Peter Novelli about the fight they'd had and Maura, a little shocked, wants to know more. Chris is getting more frustrated about hanging around waiting for Audrey, who has the scent of a Trouble. She talks to Dom Novelli and discovers that there has been a longstanding feud between the two families. He reveals his scarred forearm to show what had happened to him. A scream draws Audrey away and out to the edge of the forest where Chris has found Keegan's body left there. The scream was from Maura who had followed Chris and seen the body. It had been torn apart by something beyond human strength, says Chris. It has marks on its forearm similar to those of Dom Novelli. Audrey believes it is best that everyone leaves for town, but Peter wants to know what happened to the body. Maura wants to know why, leading to her suggesting that Peter may have killed him for financial rejection and they start to fight. The ground begins to rumble and in fear one of the caterers runs for her car, but before she can open the door crawling vine-like roots drag her away screaming. Crawling roots rumble towards the wedding party and Audrey herds everyone into the barn, which is quickly enwrapped in roots, trapping everyone inside. Dom Novelli blames the Keegans, while Beverley accuses the Novellis and while they fight the roots shake the walls. Chris thinks of finding tools to cut through the roots, industrial weed killer to get rid of them, but Audrey tells him that Haven's problems are about people not things. Understanding the people's problem is how they will get out of the barn.
 
Audrey asks Beverley when this had happened before and she tells her of a time when she was in high school when her brothers caught Dom Novelli in a lie and he attacked them, she implies, with the roots. Dom calls her statement a lie and a fight starts. As it does a root breaks through a wall and almost grabs Audrey but for Duke's leap to remove her from harm. With the fighting stopped the root withdraws. Audrey realizes that the hatred between the two families is what attracts the plants. Chris suggests that as hatred attracts the plants, love will neutralize them. Audrey explains to Beverley that Dom didn't attack her brothers, showing her Dom's scars. Dom was in love with her and wanted to marry her, but Ben Keegan would lose control of Beverley's money if the marriage succeeded, so he lied to her about what happened. Dom explains that he was going to elope with Beverley but her brothers tried to drive him away. At that moment the trees attacked them. Beverley now realizes that she'd got it all wrong and Audrey prompts her that she can still do it right. She tells both of them that if they have any love left for one another it may drive the plants back. And they reach back and find their old love. The act of refinding their love neutralizes the plants and they are able to leave. Nathan finally arrives after having been caught by the plant life elsewhere. He has forced his way into the barn to find the situation resolved. Dom and Beverley leave together hand in hand, as do Peter and Maura, then Duke and Evi, finally Audrey and Chris, leaving Nathan alone.
 
Back in Haven police station Dave Teagues explains to Nathan that generations back the Novellis had twins which split the family curse and one married into the Keegan family, so one from each family is needed for the curse to manifest. Evi is still trying to get Duke to leave, but he explains that his father had made him promise that if The Troubles returned to Haven then Duke would return as well, so here he is. He doesn't know why his father made him return, but he promised he would. When Duke goes off to bed, she calls someone and says, "his dad never told him." A male voice replied, "then we have to keep pushing him." Nathan calls Audrey, but she is "busy" with Chris.

The Twitter competition between Vince and Dave is without a doubt one of the most annoying subplots I have ever seen in an episode of television.  It's not a good episode even without that, though; the effects are shoddy and the Trouble-of-the-week is utterly uninteresting.



08/19/2011 -- "Audrey Parker's Day Off"  (Haven season 2 episode 6)





From Wikipedia:


Chris Brody wakes Audrey up with a kiss. He has made plans for Audrey's day off. Downstairs Duke is putting up a sign for Taco Tuesday. Audrey and Chris sneak by and make it to the car before Duke sees them and attempts to remind Audrey about the rent. Audrey has a chore to do before they can relax. She goes to the school. A couple is arguing in a car and a boy goes by without a helmet. Audrey goes in and talks to a class about her job. Then one girl asks Audrey if her gun is real and if she can fire it while a boy asks her if she has broken the law. At this point she gets Chris to talk to them. Outside, Chris explains that he's supposed to be in London trying to get funding for his work, but prefers to stay with her. Audrey gets a call from Nathan. There is a crime scene and when she arrives Nathan stops her from seeing it. He shows her a bloody green child's tennis shoe.
 
Chris wakes Audrey up with a kiss. And Audrey thinks she is experiencing dejâ vù. Downstairs, Duke is writing a sign. She gives Duke a check for the rent and goes to the school with Chris. She knows the children's questions. She leaves Chris and meets Nathan at the police station, telling him of her day repeating and the death. Audrey thinks her knowledge can help them get ahead of what's happening. She keeps in contact with Nathan by phone as they each look for signs. Duke calls out to Audrey. She'd forgot to sign the check, so she signs it and he goes off to the bank, but on the way he is knocked down in a hit-and-run. She reaches him and says he wasn't supposed to be there, then remembers the rent check. Duke dies and Chris wakes her up with a kiss.
 
Downstairs she tells Chris to stay with Duke and promises to pay the rent tomorrow. At the school she meets Nathan. She points out the couple who start to argue, a jogger who jumps a flower bed and a boy on a bicycle without a helmet. They decide to set up a check point, because they know the time and location. A church bell rings to mark the time and a car hurtles down the road knocking Nathan over as it crashes through the wooden barrier and is gone. Audrey finds Nathan who doesn't realize he has a large bolt of wood in his abdomen. Nathan describes the car as a beige sedan and the driver as an older man then dies in distraught Audrey's arms.
 
And Chris wakes her up with a kiss. She sees the blood on her hand from the broken wood of the barrier where Nathan was killed and thinks if she died the cycle could repeat forever. Downstairs, Audrey gets Chris to stay with Duke then goes to the police station, repeats the story to Nathan, asking him to stay, but getting squad cars to stop all beige sedans. She rings Duke to see if he's ok and finds Chris has gone. In fact he finds her at that moment. She says he must leave. As he does, the church bell rings. She sees a man waiting to cross the street. He seems a little obsessed. She helps him across the street and then calls Nathan to say that it may have resolved itself. Suddenly a blue car appears, but, before it can hit her, Chris pushes her out of the way and dies instead. The obsessive man comes and says that it is his fault. Audrey remembers that he is the man fighting in the car at the school. He's always been there.
 
And Chris wakes her up with a kiss. She goes directly to the school to talk to the obsessive man. His name is Anson Shumway and his wife has been threatening to take away custody of their daughter. His obsession made him late for the child's birthday: he'd forgot to do the light switch three times so he had to go back. His wife arrives and, as Audrey talks to her, Shumway drives off. At the police station a hit on his credit card reveals he has just bought something at a sporting goods store. Audrey realizes what happened. He'd bought a pair of green tennis shoes and as he went to give them to her his OCD got him stuck-- unable to cross the road. His daughter saw him and ran across the road only to be knocked down by a hit-and-run.
 
Audrey finds Shumway stuck at the curb and puts him in the police car, explaining that his Trouble causes him to reset the whole day each time he blames himself over what goes wrong and returns to the beginning to get it right. She takes the green tennis shoes from him and goes to the ice cream parlor where his wife and daughter are. Audrey gives the child the shoes and rings Shumway so that he can speak to his daughter. At the end of the call he tells Audrey he knows how he must end the cycle of repeats. Audrey fears the consequences and runs to stop him. As she approaches, he steps into the street to be knocked down by the car.
 
At the Grey Gull Nathan says that the driver was an elderly man who had confused the accelerator and the brake. He averts his eyes as he passes Chris and sees Duke still in rapture because of Chris's Trouble. Nathan tells him if he averts his eyes he won't fawn over him. Audrey, still disturbed by her five days in one which saw the death of each of her friends, tells Chris he should go to London.

The fact that someone had the idea to promote Haven Twitter accounts on an episode of the show itself is galling; the fact that the producers allowed it to extend into a second episode is unforgivable.

This is a lousy episode either way, although it at least closes out the Audrey/Chris "romance"; that was a plotline that can only have been invested in by Jason Priestley's agent, and I was happy to see it come to an end.


08/26/2011 -- "The Tides That Bind"  (Haven season 2 episode 7)




Let's see what Wikipedia has to say for this one:


At the end of a wharf a group of children are singing a type of sea shanty which includes the line "down below is where they sleep." Suddenly they grab one amongst them, tie his feet with rope, and push him in. At the end of the rope is a masonry block to weigh him down. A tattooed man comes, tells them that supper's ready, and looks down into the water to see the boy.
 
The tattooed man is found dead on a beach next morning. On his body were found some keys attached to a photo of the man and a woman, presumably his wife, and a handwritten note, which says, "I'm sorry to leave you... but I can't go on." At the police station Duke wants to know about the tattooed man and Audrey discovers that the woman is Mary Collins, who runs a soup kitchen for Rev. Driscoll. The dead man is Mary's ex-husband, Leith Glendower, with whom she had been fighting for custody of their son, Daniel. They go to see Mary. Answering Audrey's question why her husband, Leith, had the tattoo, she says that many of the Glendowers have one. She suggests that Leith, who was out of work, may have committed suicide because he was unable to provide money for their son, Daniel. Later, Nathan tells Audrey that the Glendowers have a compound outside town that his father used to visit from time to time. Mary returns with the news that Daniel is missing. He had regularly been out at the Glendower place and was there the previous night, but Leith hadn't dropped Daniel off at school. Audrey and Nathan go to the Glendower place and meet Cole and Gwen Glendower. They stare strangely at Audrey, then when Cole hears questions about Daniel he asks them to leave. As they leave they see a boy and they ask him about Daniel, but the boy says, "you can't have him. He's one of us now."
 
Nathan goes back to Mary to find Rev. Driscoll and some men preparing to go to the Glendower compound to get Daniel back. Nathan convinces Mary to stop and tells Driscoll and his friends to go home. At the police station Audrey has found an old case from 1983 in which the Rev.'s wife, Penny went missing. The suspect was Cole Glendower. Three days later she was killed in a car accident. Audrey thinks this is why the Rev. is interested in going out to the Glendower place. Nathan thinks that the Rev.'s attempt to find Daniel will cause a war. Audrey suggests that they go out there this night.
 
Inside the one house at the compound that is locked Audrey finds a photo of Lucy Ripley with Garland Wuornos and Gwen Glendower. The sound of dripping water takes them to the bathroom where they find underwater in the bath the boy from the beginning, Daniel. The boy, startled, comes out of the water. Glendower comes in with a rifle and tells Audrey and Nathan to step away. He puts the boy back under to Nathan's consternation, but Audrey understands that this concerns The Troubles. In Haven, Duke asks Evi to distract the Rev. because he wants to look for anything that will help him find out about the tattoo. Glendower explains that whenever The Troubles come, the Glendower men lose their ability to breathe air and have to go back to the water. Audrey asks how Leith could drown and the Glendowers guess that he must have panicked for some reason. The children are transitioning to be able to go back to the water and have to spend a few hours each day under. Audrey realized why Gwen had seen the note that was found on Leith's body: she'd written it. The writing on the photo matched the note. Gwen explains that it was to her first husband. Audrey puts the puzzle together and concludes that Gwen had faked her own death in a car accident, for she was the Rev.'s wife, Penny Driscoll. News comes that all the boys have been kidnapped. The Rev. is the main suspect.
 
Evi sweetly talks to the Rev., while Duke searches his office until he finds a list on a sheet of paper headed "Citizens killed by the cursed". Duke's father, Simon Crocker, is on the list. At the dock Nathan goes to arrest the Rev. but he was involved with the soup kitchen all morning, as Evi could testify. Nathan surmises that Mary has them. Suddenly men leap out of the water and take two of the Rev.'s men back into the water. Glendower comes up to get the Rev. but Duke and Nathan stop him. They tell him the Rev. hasn't got the children. Audrey gets him to give the two men back, but as everyone leaves he threatens: if the boys die the beaches and docks will run red with blood for as long as they are under. Audrey thinks the Rev. told Mary about the Glendowers' affliction. The Rev. won't let on where the children are, but Evi says that Mary told her about a barn outside town. They take the Rev. to the barn. Inside the children are suffering from lack of water and Mary doesn't know what to do. When the people arrive Mary takes out a gun, saying she will only talk to Driscoll. The Rev. won't talk to her unless Nathan and Audrey come to Sunday services. They refuse, so he doesn't go. Nathan has someone fetch Gwen/Penny. She tells the Rev. that no amount of prayer or hurting innocent people will take The Troubles away. He may have convinced himself that his actions against the cursed are righteously motivated, but 27 years ago his anger and bigotry drove her away and he wants revenge. Eventually she convinces him to get the children from Mary. The children are quickly taken away to water. The Rev. tells Audrey that the time for prayer is over, but the good shepherd always finds a way to save his flock.
 
Nathan receives the autopsy report on Leith Glendower who had no water in his lungs. At the Glendower place the men are preparing to enter the water. Nathan tells Cole Glendower that he murdered Leith. Daniel had explained that he'd seen Leith and Cole arguing. Leith had told Daniel he'd found a way to get money for Daniel's mother. Leith had attempted to blackmail Cole over the note: he threatened to give it to the Rev. Cole knew that if that happened the Rev. would come when the men were away in the water and he knew that none of the women would have survived. He promises that when The Troubles are over he will return and pay for his crime. Nathan promises to watch over the family.
 
Duke comes to ask Cole Glendower about the tattoo and he tells him that all he knows is that Duke is being watched in case he decided to follow in his father's footsteps. Glendower doesn't know who killed Duke's father, but suggests that if Duke wants to stay alive he should stay away from The Troubles. In the distance the Rev. watches them pass. Evi approaches and the Rev. asks if Duke suspects anything. She says "no" and now that he knows his father was murdered, the Rev. has him. Mary says goodbye to Daniel and Gwen consoles her. As the men enter the water, Audrey tells Nathan Gwen said that his father and Lucy "helped a lot of Troubled people." Audrey says "we've been following in their footsteps without even knowing it."

This is one of my least-favorite episodes, which is saying something.



09/02/2011 -- "Friend or Faux"  (Haven season 2 episode 8)





Says Wikipedia:


Cornell Stamoran, a bank manager and neat freak, wakes up to find his twin has made a mess in the bathroom. Downstairs the twin has messed up the kitchen to make pancakes. Stamoran in suit ready to go to work pulls out a gun and shoots the twin several times. He goes out and gets into his car, but there is a strange noise and his twin appears in the rear seat with a gun. The twin tells him to get out of the car because there is someone he needs to kill.
 
At the Grey Gull Duke has a hired hand called Henry who seems nervous. He explains that he saw something he shouldn't have. Stamoran appears outside and Henry hides behind the bar. Inside Stamoran orders a drink. He spins a silver dollar on the counter. He asks Duke about Henry, but Duke plays ignorant. Stamoran says he doesn't like liars, so Duke tells him to leave. As he goes he says to Henry, knowing he is there, he'll see him outside. Duke brings his gun out to make sure he leaves. At the door Stamoran pulls a gun and starts shooting. Duke returns fire, telling Henry to run, then he wounds Stamoran in the arm. Henry is on his motorbike and up the road when Stamoran drives off.
 
Duke tells Audrey and Nathan what happened, omitting Henry from the story. Nathan gets the owner information of the car and he and Audrey go to speak to Stamoran. On the way out, with Evi in the background, Nathan tells Audrey he was late because of the time it takes to edit The Troubles out of his reports. After they go Duke also leaves—packing guns.
 
At Stamoran's house they find him uninjured. His car arrives and they chase it to the shell of a giant unfinished hotel, the Everwood. In a shootout at the entrance with Duke suddenly appearing, the driver gets killed. He looks exactly like Stamoran, but he was the one wounded by Duke. They hear a strange noise and another Stamoran appears and runs into the hotel. They all follow him in and search through the unfinished building until Duke spots Henry's hiding nook. Henry comes out and explains that he is in trouble because he saw Stamoran kill someone. The Stamoran copy arrives shooting and they all run downstairs and split up.
 
Audrey and Nathan find Stamoran who explains that he is the original and he shows them the bodies of his copies. He explains they all have his memories. They seem to have one purpose: to kill someone called Henry. He killed them because he didn't know what else to do and the first was killed at the Everwood, which causes Nathan to think that that might be what Henry saw. Nathan goes off to look for Duke, Henry, and the copy. Henry tells Duke that he left home because when his mother died his father stopped noticing him. When Duke finds an exit, Henry runs back into the hotel.
 
Nathan doesn't find Duke, but he does find the Stamoran copy who says he just arrived. Nathan realizes that this is the real Stamoran. Audrey watches Stamoran spin a silver dollar and realizes that he is the copy, but too late, because the copy catches her off guard and gets her gun. Audrey asks the copy how the situation works with Stamoran. He explains he has all the memories but also has all the cool parts. He does all the things Stamoran can't and fixes all his messes. Audrey tells him she has someone else's memories as well. She asks him, "If we have somebody else's memories then what makes us us?" He responds that she thinks too hard and Audrey says that that's what her school friend used to tell her, but laughs, explaining that she'd never really met her. She was someone else's friend, not hers. As she approaches him, she explains that the best part about her memories is that the person whose memories she has went to Quantico and knew how to disarm a person, which is what Audrey does. She cuffs him to a pipe and goes to find Nathan. In the police station Selectman Gerst comes to leave a note for Nathan, but when he goes into his office he rifles through the files. Audrey finds Duke and Henry, then calls Nathan and tells him to meet in the atrium. The copy, trying to escape, finds a pointed tube projecting from a pillar and impales himself on it. As he dies, there is the strange noise and another is generated.
 
While heading for the atrium Nathan notices a wall with blood at its foot and removes a masonry block to discover a body in the wall. He goes to call Audrey but Stamoran knocks him out with a block. His copy, having watched, urges him to kill Nathan and thus work as a team. He doesn't want to kill a cop, but the copy tells him that he should have thought about that before killing Neil, the man in the wall. Stamoran said he had no choice: Neil was going to tell the police that he was embezzling from his bank. Audrey and Duke open fire from above while Stamoran and his copy return fire. A lengthy gunfight leaves Audrey and Duke out of bullets, while the Stamorans are sitting with more ammunition. Audrey tells Duke to take Henry and go, then steps out unarmed, asking the copy not to hurt Nathan. She tells him that Henry didn't witness his crime, but the crime of the real Stamoran. If he kills her now all he'll remember is cleaning up after Stamoran. She tells him he has a chance to have his own life, a chance to save lives, not end them. Stamoran decides that he has to kill Audrey, but, before he can, the copy shoots him. Sensing the end coming, the copy gives Audrey the silver dollar and then fades away.
 
In his office Selectman Gerst accuses Nathan of falsifying police reports by deliberately omitting all the details concerning The Troubles. Nathan figures that Driscoll has put Gerst up to the accusation and that he is about to lose his job. Gerst recommends that Nathan leave Haven because things are going to get rough on his "kind". At the Grey Gull Duke has arranged for Henry's father to come and get him. Inside Nathan is drinking. When he starts dancing (horridly), Duke has to take a photo and reaches for Evi's phone and clicks. An SMS arrives from Driscoll, "Thanks for the files info. I took care of the rest." Duke is stunned.

Like the previous episode, this is one of my least favorite, although this one at least has no mermen.


09/09/2011 -- "Lockdown"  (Haven season 2 episode 9)




Courtesy of Wikipedia:

Dwight is arrested while "cleaning up" at the Central Coast Meat Packing for carrying a crossbow by Officer Stark, who tells him that Nathan has been removed from his position as police chief of Haven and has been replaced by Chief Merrill. Dwight notices the officer is sweating though the day is not hot. Nathan, heading to the police station tells Stark to uncuff Dwight. Nathan tells Dwight he suspects Merrill is unaware of The Troubles and is one of Driscoll's unwitting pawns. Stark goes inside to the bathroom, takes off his gloves to reveal black hands, looks in the mirror to see the veins in his face turn black. He collapses and dies oozing black blood.
 
As Chris arrives to take Audrey out to the Haven boat parade, Duke also comes into the station and informs Nathan about Driscoll's text to Evi. However, before they can question Evi, they find the dead officer. Merrill sees the body, notices that Evi is infected as well, and believes the station may be the target of a chemical attack. He orders the entire building sealed, confiscates everybody's weapons and cell phones, and warns them that anybody caught trying to escape the building will be shot. As a contingency plan, Audrey hides a handgun in the evidence locker where Merrill won't search. Hugh Underwood, a doctor trapped in the building, examines Stark's body and says that it doesn't seem like anything on medical record.
 
Nathan manages to get into radio contact with Dwight who tells him that the federal authorities have been warned to consider any calls coming out of Haven as prank calls and armed men have formed a perimeter around the station, meaning somebody wants the people inside isolated. After telling Dwight to go to the Sheriff's office to get help, Nathan confronts Merrill. Merrill reveals that he knew about The Troubles all along and is working with Driscoll to eliminate the Troubled. As he rants about The Troubles, Merrill manifests signs of the mysterious disease and dies. Audrey decides to interview everyone to see who might be responsible for the disease. Nathan and Duke interrogate Evi, who admits that she was told that Duke would benefit from having Nathan removed as police chief. She tells Duke that he is central to some sort of plan for Haven. Audrey first talks to Nikki Coleman, a nervous young woman who pulls styrofoam cups apart, then she talks to Chris, who objects at first, then behaves. Evi breaks out of the station to confront the gunmen outside. She is fatally shot, and Nathan is forced to lock Duke in a cell to keep him from doing anything rash.
 
Audrey looks through Merrill's office for clues and finds a styrofoam cup in the waste bin and deduces that the disease is caused by Nikki. As she speaks to her again, Chris comes in with black hands and gathers from Audrey that Nikki must be the Troubled person and tries to use his Trouble to get Nikki to stop doing her "voodoo", but she doesn't understand. Audrey tells Chris, if he wants to be saved, to let her do her job. She explains to Nikki that Troubles are often caused by a traumatic event, but Nikki doesn't want to talk, admitting only that someone abusive is back. That's why, Audrey surmises, officer Stark went to see her. Outside Audrey's office Underwood convinces a panicking Chris that he can help him if they can get him to a hospital. All they need is a weapon. Chris obtains the gun Audrey hid in the evidence locker and gives it to Underwood, who uses it to hold Audrey and Nikki hostage, revealing himself to be Nikki's abusive ex-husband. Dwight then warns Nathan that the gunmen are attempting to break into the station before the Sheriff's men can arrive in order to kill everyone in the station and so remove the curse. Meanwhile, realizing his error, Chris distracts Underwood while Audrey convinces Nikki that she has the power to fight back. Taking courage Nikki stands up to Underwood, causing the disease to leave the townspeople and fall on Underwood, who quickly dies under its impact. As Nathan moves to secure the back door, Dwight dives through just before the door is riddled with bullets. As the assailants drive off, Nathan wonders at how he wasn't hit until Dwight reveals that his affliction means that bullets tend to find him, which is why he wears a bulletproof vest.
 
After the crisis is resolved, Duke is left to mourn Evi's death. Driscoll arrives to try to console and manipulate Duke, who listens and, though doubtful by nature, eventually thanks him. Audrey tells Dwight to cover up the details of Evi's death, since they can't afford to officially investigate her murder with Driscoll and the state police looking over their shoulders. Nathan also reveals that Merrill's phone records proved that he was in constant contact with Driscoll during the lockdown, meaning that he's going to need Dwight's assistance more than ever. Down at the docks, Audrey meets with Chris, who still feels guilty about betraying Audrey's trust. He admits he gave in to his affliction and nearly got people killed. They both decide to break up, though Chris is hopeful that once The Troubles go away, they might have a chance to rekindle their relationship.

This episode is, at the very least, an improvement over the previous two.  However, it expects me to actually care about Evidence "Evi" Ryan, which is a silly thing to expect from me.

I was happy she got killed, and I can only hope she never comes back.


09/16/2011 -- "Who, What, Where, Wendigo?"  (Haven season 2 episode 10)




From Wikipedia:

A series of murders of young people has happened along the Maine coast, when young Rory Campbell runs out of a local cafe past a waitress off into the woods, chased by a man matching the description of the serial killer. After talking to the waitress, Audrey and Nathan look around to find a wrist strap with the word "Forever" on it and some blood. Rory's father identifies it as Rory's. Audrey and Nathan choose to search for them alone, but first Rory's father insists on coming, then Dwight does. Nathan then decides it would be good if the Teagues brothers came and Audrey calls Duke, who refuses.
 
In the woods, the group splits into pairs to search for Rory. After finding a gutted raccoon Audrey and Campbell see the man who had chased Rory staked to a tree with his chest ripped open. Reunited, the searchers examine the body and hear an eerie screeching in the distance. Dave is worried that the death is the work of a Wendigo, which he describes as a spirit who feeds off people. Dwight identifies the teeth marks as human and the group splits up again. Nathan comes across Duke with Driscoll and his supporters, all armed. The stand off is relieved when Audrey arrives on the scene, but Driscoll has made his intentions clear: he aims to kill whatever he finds. Elsewhere, Dwight has a vision of a young girl in pink tutu. Audrey and Nathan later find a girl's cardigan covered in blood. Amid loud screeching Rory runs out of some trees babbling about killing the murderer. The arrival of one of Driscoll's men complaining of being bitten prompts Rory to run off again.
 
Night falls and the searchers camp. Duke approaches Audrey and tells her that he is playing the Rev. to get answers to the mysteries he finds himself in, despite knowing that Driscoll is responsible for Evi's death. The screeching approaches the camp, so Campbell and Driscoll's men move forward to take the fight to the enemy and Nathan follows. Nathan trips over a dead deer and finds Frankie Benton and her sister Sophie. He fetches Audrey. Frankie explains that they killed the animals, but they refrain from killing people. Nathan concludes that they are Wendigos, tells how they survived a plane crash some months back and adds that their transformation was caused by The Troubles. Audrey asks, if they don't kill people, then who killed the murderer? Frankie says that it is Amelia the third sister, who ran off into town. Audrey shows her the wrist strap and Frankie identifies it as Amelia's, and they conclude that Rory is Amelia's boyfriend. He lured the killer into the woods for Amelia to feed off. Nathan and Audrey go looking for Amelia. At an abandoned cabin, Amelia tells Rory that she can't fight her hunger, even after feeding off of the killer, so he goes to search for more food.
 
Meanwhile, Driscoll tells Duke that he has the opportunity to save Haven where his father failed, and promises to tell him everything after the conclusion of the hunt. After Duke goes back to the hunt, Rory knocks Driscoll out with a rock and ties him to a tree for Amelia to eat. Audrey and Nathan can't find Amelia, so they take Dwight and go to where the other sisters are hiding. Sophie is now sick for lack of food. Dwight decides to take her to his truck where he has medical supplies. Amelia approaches Driscoll and contemplates her hunger for his flesh, but the noise of the searchers is getting closer. Frankie, Audrey and Nathan go in search of Amelia. The searchers hear Rory making a lot of noise, crying out for help. Frankie says Rory is running in one way but the blood is in the opposite direction. Amelia is tempted by Driscoll's blood, from where Rory hit him, but she resists and eventually cuts the ropes holding the Rev. Once free, he overpowers her and takes the knife to kill her, as she is one of "the cursed". However, before he can make the kill, he is fatally shot by Audrey. While Driscoll's men complain, Nathan tells them that Audrey was justified. Duke is horrified to see Driscoll dead.
 
Later, when Dwight gets in the truck to drive the Bentons away, he takes his keys from the sun visor that reveals a couple photos of himself and Lizzie. After he drives away, Nathan asks The Teagues where he's taking them, to which Vince replies Dwight is taking them to a slaughterhouse to stay and feed until The Troubles are over. Audrey tells Duke that she will face an inquiry over Driscoll's death. Duke, upset, says that he was so close to getting answers from Driscoll about his father and his true purpose. Audrey retorts by asking what he would have done if he were with the Rev. and he was about to kill the girl. He responds that he honestly doesn't know. Audrey then tells Duke that he will eventually have to choose a side.

What a lousy episode this is.  The Trouble-of-the-week is at least a decent one, the best one in weeks.  However, the fact that this is how Reverend Driscoll exits the series is just pathetic.  He's been built up the entire season as a major adversary; you'd think the show's producers would have managed to end his story in a suitable fashion.

Barring some sort of resurrection at some point down the line, that appears to have not been a part of their agenda, in which case, why build him up at all?

It's things like this that keep Haven from being a good show.


09/23/2011 -- "Business As Usual"  (Haven season 2 episode 11)




From Wikipedia:

During a marathon race in Haven, one of the participants collapses and dies of dehydration, his body shriveling up as every drop of water is sucked out of his body. As Nathan and Audrey try to figure out what happened, Dwight arrives and reveals that the victim was Troubled, though he does not know what his affliction is. He also reveals that many of the Troubled living in Haven are organizing a meeting in response to the growing hostility against them, as well as Reverend Driscoll's death. Nathan is concerned that such a meeting will only confirm the normal residents' fear of the Troubled, while Dwight maintains that it is only a measure to help protect themselves. However, they are interrupted by an argument outside, where one of the residents, Patrick Grolsch, accuses Stu Pierce of the murder. Nathan and Audrey break up the argument, but it opens up questions on whether Audrey's shooting of Driscoll was really the right course of action. They then receive reports of another death by dehydration. Again, the victim is a Troubled person who was planning on attending the meeting. Suspecting that Stu, who is the organizer of the meeting, is involved, Nathan and Audrey arrive at his house only to find out from his wife Colleen that he has been kidnapped, meaning that whoever kidnapped him also has the list of the names of every Troubled person in Haven.
 
Meanwhile, while looking through Evi's belongings, Duke comes across the silver box again, with a note from Evi advising him to put it under an ultraviolet light. He finds the name "Crocker" written on the box. In an attempt to find Stu, Audrey arrests Grolsch and attempts to interrogate him. However, Grolsch threatens them with a harassment suit, forcing them to let him go. Duke takes the box to Vince and Dave. While Vince is uncomfortable and feigns ignorance about the box, Dave promises to find out what he can about the box. Vince angrily tells Dave that he will do everything in his power to stop him, while Dave retorts that it will be impossible to keep the Troubled secret forever. Desperate, Vince gets Dwight to steal the box from Duke. However, Duke catches Dwight in the act and both men struggle, breaking the box and revealing a key. Duke manages to talk Dwight into an alliance to figure out the secret Vince is keeping from them. Audrey tracks Grolsch to an abandoned warehouse. Dave then calls and tells Duke the small box was part of a set of two, the other being a larger silver box. Duke deduces that the key unlocks that box and that his father must have hid it somewhere.
 
Audrey finds Grolsch in the warehouse and handcuffs him, hoping to find Stu. A fire alarm goes off upstairs and Audrey guesses that Grolsch is attempting to kill Stu in a fire. Stu's affliction is that his sweat kills anybody it touches and Grolsch tells her that if it is Stu he'll be in need of a hand, apparently hoping Stu's sweat will kill her. Nevertheless, Audrey succeeds in rescuing Stu.
 
While searching Simon Crocker's old boat, Duke asks Dwight how he got his affliction. Dwight explains that he discovered that he attracts bullets while serving in Afghanistan. Even his dad knew about it but refused to admit that he and his son were Troubled. The boat owner tells them that this was actually the second last boat that Simon owned and that the Cape Rouge, Duke's boat, is the last boat that his father bought—so that Duke could win it in a poker game on his 21st Birthday.
 
Stu and Colleen decide to leave town, sadly stating that Haven is no longer a safe place for the Troubled. This causes Audrey to fear she has only made things worse. Nathan reassures her that she did the right thing and hands her Lucy Ripley's address, which he has recently obtained through painstaking research. Audrey is very grateful and, as she leaves, she kisses him, going off to find the real Lucy Ripley. Lucy reveals that Audrey had come to her home 27 years ago, with all of Lucy's memories. Audrey had apparently told Lucy that she had figured out how to permanently end the Troubles, but she was being pursued by men who wanted to "erase" her. She then told Lucy to recount the entire story to her if she ever returned. Lucy also tells Audrey that Duke's father had arrived shortly after she did, apparently looking for her. Shocked, Audrey returns to Haven to confront Duke.
 
Duke and Dwight search the Cape Rouge and discover that Simon had hidden the large box in a barrel. Duke opens it with the key, revealing a small arsenal of weapons and a journal. Audrey then arrives to tell Duke about her encounter with Lucy when Dwight breaks the alliance and attempts to steal the box. Duke attempts to stop him, and cuts Dwight with the dagger he took from the box which caused his blood to fall on Duke's hand. It is absorbed immediately. As Dwight turns to hit him with a crowbar, Duke then impels him off the boat.
 
Many of the Troubled meeting at the newspaper office under Dave's tutelage, with an angered Vince declaring that Dave's actions will only lead to a war. Dwight arrives and reports to Vince that Duke has opened the box, and that he had been cut by the dagger, alarming Vince. Nathan then arrives, not to break up the meeting, but to show his support, finally deciding to side with the Troubled in the coming war. On Duke's boat, Duke and Audrey read the journal, which appears to contain Duke's family history. He finds a page written by Simon, telling him that it is his duty to kill Audrey. This leaves both Duke and Audrey wondering why Duke's father wanted her dead so badly.

This is a decent episode that is a step back in the right direction; not a major one, but hey, I'll take it.


 09/30/2011 -- "Sins of the Fathers"  (Haven season 2 episode 12)




From Wikipedia:

The ghosts of the Haven dead start coming back to deal with unfinished business. A husband, who died of a heart attack when he found out about his best friend's affair with his wife, causes the death of the wife at the hands of her lover. A brother kills someone who raped his now dead sister.
 
Audrey, armed with the photo from Duke's book, knows that Dave Teagues had a relationship with Sarah, Audrey's persona before Lucy Ripley and demands answers from the Teagues brothers. Vince tells her of some of her previous "lives" and then gives her a ring that was Sarah's. Nathan calls her for back-up. On Duke's boat long dead Simon Crocker greets his son.
 
Audrey and Nathan have the body of the heart attack man exhumed by Kyle Hopkins, the gravedigger at Eastside Cemetery. The body is very much there and dead. Simon Crocker tells Duke about his Trouble: if a Crocker kills a Troubled person, the Trouble dies and no-one in the family will ever suffer from the Trouble again. Duke is unimpressed. While Kyle reburies the body, he is visited by the dead Ed Driscoll, who requires Kyle's help. Simon Crocker, in an attempt to get Duke to continue his work, takes him to a field where a group of children had died because of a Troubled person. If Crocker had killed the Troubled girl's grandfather, the curse would not have been passed on to the child and the others would not have died. Duke walks away. Audrey and Nathan discover that all the dead were buried in the same cemetery, Eastside. Kyle has a list of Troubled people and Driscoll tells him to mark where they live well, so the others can find them.
 
At Eastside Cemetery, Nathan sees more than twenty dead people, though Audrey can't. They all approach, then go their way. Audrey and Nathan walk through the grounds and find Duke who was burying the box at Crocker's grave. Nathan discovers that the gravedigger was the same for all the dead people who have been seen walking: Kyle Hopkins. As Nathan tells the news he sees his father in the cemetery. Audrey and Duke leave Nathan to his father and go to find Kyle. Nathan and the Chief talk, and the Chief explains that the situation is precarious: the town is like sitting on a volcano. The Chief tells him he can't afford to be in love with Audrey, because she is too important to the town.
 
Audrey stops when she sees a red X in the street. Duke sees Driscoll who threatens Duke to go with him or he'd take his revenge on Audrey. Nathan picks up Audrey after Duke apparently abandoned her. At Kyle's house they see his pregnant wife with red paint on her hand leaving. Audrey pretends to be lost rather than reveal they are the police.
 
They follow her to discover that the Rev's people had gathered many Troubled people in a barn in the woods. They watch Driscoll and Duke arrive, but then they are caught by the Rev's supporters including Kyle. Driscoll wants Duke to kill the people in the barn to save their families from The Troubles. He refuses as Audrey and Nathan are brought in. Audrey tells Kyle that he is Troubled. He asks Driscoll for support, but the Rev says he can't help, though he says Duke can save Kyle's unborn child. Someone puts a knife in Duke's hand. Kyle asks Duke to do it, but Audrey tells Duke that they can stop what's happening. Simon Crocker tells Duke that as Sarah, Audrey killed Duke's grandfather, and as Lucy she killed Simon too. Duke is having difficulty and the Rev. says that Audrey is a liar, but Duke knows that is not true. However, Kyle pulls Duke's hand and thrusts the knife it holds into his own stomach. Kyle thanks him and dies. With his death the dead disappear.
 
At the newspaper office Vince tells Dave that he paid Kyle Hopkins to dig up Garland Wuornos because they need him now. Dave thinks Vince was wrong to do so. Audrey is preparing dinner for Nathan and when she opens the door she is tasered. Nathan discovers her missing and goes to the Cape Rouge thinking Duke is responsible, because he found Duke's whistle in her apartment. After a scuffle Duke is on the floor reaching for a hidden gun with Nathan standing over him pointing his gun at him. Duke sees the tattoo on Nathan's forearm. As the camera scene changes to view the outside of the boat, a gunshot is heard from within.

It feels weird to say it, but ... I kinda like this episode.  It's no masterpiece, or anything like that, but I found myself consistently interested in what was going on, the way you optimally do during nearly any episode of a fundamentally good television series.  I don't think the "reappearance" of Reverend Driscoll pays off the way the producers seem to have wanted it to, but that's forgivable in light of the good use of Chief Wuornos.

Also well-used: Tahmoh Penikett, formerly of Battlestar Galactica and Dollhouse.  Why is this guy not a big star?


10/03/2011 -- "The Horrors of Stephen King"  (TCM's A Night at the Movies)




This hour-long program consisted, basically, of Stephen King talking about horror films for an hour, with healthy smatterings of footage from the movies he discusses.

It is terrific, and it annoys me severely that Turner Classic Movies has not released it on DVD, or on Blu-ray, or for download.  It damn sure deserves some sort of home video release.

As of the last time I looked, a crappy version with out-of-sync audio could be viewed on YouTube; that's a poor option, but it's better than nothing.  Marginally.


12/06/2011 -- "Silent Night"  (Haven season 2 episode 13)




The last time a Stephen King television series did a Christmas episode, the result was "A Very Dead Zone Christmas," which is one of the worst things I have ever seen.  So it's no overstatement to say that I was dreading a Christmas episode of Haven.

Imagine my surprise to find myself actually enjoying the episode!  Again, this is not a masterpiece, but it's a consistently engaging hour of television, one that manages to not really piss me off by means of one stupidity after another.  There were multiple episodes of Haven that did that very thing during its second season, so the presence of two episodes that reversed the trend a bit at its conclusion is a very welcome aberration.

Let's check out Wikipedia's plot summary:

In sunny July the people of Haven are putting up Christmas decorations. At the local cinema a girl called Hadley Chambers is looking for her mother, though the owner explains to Audrey and Nathan that she doesn't have one. Silent Night is heard from nowhere and outside a man putting up lights slips and would have choked had Nathan not caught him in time. Everyone is convinced it is Christmas.
 
At the police station Audrey, Nathan and Duke are talking to Stan the cop, when Silent Night is heard and Stan disappears. When Audrey asks the others if they noticed, they don't know who Stan is. Audrey realizes there must be a Trouble. A body is reported and Audrey takes Duke to investigate. At the scene she calls Nathan for backup, but he thinks it's a joke because there are only two police officers in Haven, him and her. The phone plays Silent Night. Duke doesn't remember that there was a body. In fact, now there is no body. Only Audrey remembers. They go to see Vince and Dave, who consult the archives to find a case in 1955 when Arthur Chambers claimed that he'd made people disappear, but they never existed. He eventually shot himself. Audrey connects Arthur Chambers to Gordon Chambers, father of Hadley. Dave indicates the population of Haven was 3101, but last time Audrey checked it was over 20,000.
 
Audrey, Duke and now Nathan, go off to find Chambers, who has just moved to Derry. They run into a traffic pile up at the edge of town. The front car appears to have crashed into thin air. Duke disappears and Nathan doesn't remember him, but he trusts that Audrey is right. A bird in mid-air thumps something and falls to the ground, prompting Audrey to find an invisible wall that traps everyone in Haven, a giant glass dome. Chambers must still be in town, so Audrey and Nathan hunt down his toy store. They don't find him, but they do see a whole shelf of snow globes and connect the dome over Haven with a snow globe. The town is being transformed into a snow globe.
 
After further searching Audrey hears Silent Night and Nathan has disappeared. At the Haven Herald, Vince alone, and confused, gives her the Chambers address. The population is seventeen. She finds Chambers, who remembers his mad grandfather's stories, how his grandfather remembered people who'd disappeared, but he doesn't remember his wife. Audrey realizes that Chambers isn't the Troubled person, but his daughter did remember her mother. Chambers disappears in front of her to the tune of Silent Night and Audrey goes off to find Hadley. The streets are empty. Everything is abandoned.
 
Audrey finds Hadley alone at the cinema, holding a snow globe. Audrey tries to tell her she is troubled and that she is turning Haven into her snow globe, but she doesn't listen. She feels abandoned by her father, by her mother and has withdrawn into a fantasy world inside the snow globe. She bangs it on an armrest and the whole town begins to quake. It starts snowing in the cinema. Audrey tells her her father loves her and that she doesn't need to feel alone. As she continues to encourage Hadley to come out of her fantasy world, Audrey looks into the globe and sees Nathan, while he sees her as a giant face looking down over him, as does Duke. Audrey and Hadley continue together until it stops snowing. They turn around and the cinema is full of people. Hadley's mother comes back from the powder room.
 
That night Audrey throws a Christmas party, which everyone thinks is weird in July. Both Nathan and Duke ask what happened this day, as no-one seemed to remember. She said that she was reminded how important friends really are. Hadley, who has been playing Christmas carols on the piano starts to play Silent Night, but Audrey asks for anything but that. Hadley strikes up We Wish You a Merry Christmas and everyone joins in. Dave and Vince close the episode by saying "Well, that's the end of our story. Correction, that's the end of this story. There's an awful lot more to tell. Not that we're telling. Nothing to secret to keep in Haven."

Side-note: despite its presence as the final episode of the second season, "Silent Night" -- in terms of the show's chronology -- probably takes place at some point mid-season.  Clearly, it does not take place after "Sins of the Fathers," which ends on a kidnapping that gets resolved in the first episode of season three.  If I were a bit more invested in the series, I might try to figure out where, exactly, "Silent Night" fits in, timeline-wise.  I'm not, though.

That might change at some point, provided that season three can manage to improve on season two.  I found the second season to be almost totally a washout, full of characters I disliked and Troubles that bored me silly.

As of the time I am writing this, the final two episodes of season three have finally aired, a night ago.  I've been recording all of the episodes of the third season, but have not managed to summon any enthusiasm for watching them.  However, I'm going to now sit down and plow my way through them, mainly so that I won't spoil myself when copying-and-pasting these plot summaries from Wikipedia, but also so that I might theoretically have opinions to offer as we go.

I've heard from a few people that the third season is an improvement on the second; I've got about thirteen hours worth of television to watch to get my answer, but all you need to do to get it is keep scrolling down.


09/21/2012 -- "301"  (Haven season 3 episode 1)




It's been mere moments for you, but it's been a week for me, and I've finished watching the third season.  It is, indeed, an improvement over the first two.  It's still not a great show, but I'm prepared to say that it's become a good one.  It still has problems; the production sometimes feels extremely low-rent, and the writers are still prone to do things that don't really make any sense.
 
For example, in the final episode, Audrey is being hunted, so of course Nathan and Duke leave her all alone, except for a guard: a character we've never met before, who exists only to get bopped over the head so that the next phase of the plot can kick in.  This is retarded, and clearly happens only because the writers needed something to happen, but couldn't think of an elegant way to accomplish it.  So, instead, they went with an inelegant solution.

Despite that, I found myself consistently engaged in the episodes, and in the overall story of the season.  It began reasonably well, and it ended reasonably well, and I found myself actually looking forward to watching more episodes.  It still doesn't have jack fuckin' shit to do with Stephen King, but that's okay; it isn't a prerequisite to my enjoyment, provided nobody is trying to hoodwink me into thinking that I'm seeing something I'm not actually seeing.

Anyways, let's dive into the plot summaries.  Here's the one for "301," courtesy -- though they may not know it -- of Wikipedia:

Audrey Parker is missing and Nathan Wuornos is fighting with Duke Crocker in the belief that Duke is connected to Audrey's disappearance. They stop when all metal objects in the cabin of Duke's boat are drawn to the ceiling. Duke takes the opportunity to convince Nathan he's been framed. Audrey is tied to a post in a cellar and interrogated by a dark figure asking about the Colorado Kid.
 
Metal objects were drawn up to the sky elsewhere in town then let drop causing damage and Dwight Hendrickson is out cleaning and covering up. Nathan learns that another woman has disappeared. He and Duke go to the Altair Bay Inn to investigate. Wesley Toomey shows them a blood trail disappearing at a door, indicating a body had been dragged. He believes aliens have taken his mother, Roslyn, as they'd taken his grandfather twenty years ago. They humor him, but his reaction is to escape through a deception. Audrey's kidnapper knows all about her and her previous "lives", asking her if she thought she was the only person who loved the Colorado Kid. As Nathan and Duke chase Toomey, their car suddenly stops: all electrics have gone dead, including cell phones. Audrey discovers the missing woman is also in the cellar, at the Altair Bay Inn! Nathan tries to fix the car, when without warning he finds himself dragged away by the feet across a field with Duke chasing and they find themselves in the middle of a series of crop circles. They then see a blue metal ball move across the sky, which they follow to find has crashed outside Toomey's house. Inside there are numerous newspaper clippings plastered over the walls of a room regarding a UFO event that happened over twenty years ago. Nathan, Duke, Dwight and the Teagues believe that Toomey is Troubled, perhaps triggered by his mother's disappearance. Audrey succeeds in escaping her bonds and phones Nathan. They all go to the inn to find her. Outside they see the body of Toomey's mother burning in a fireplace. Toomey's alien mothership looms in the sky threatening doom and destruction. He goes back into the inn thinking he has to jam alien communications to prevent any further damage. As the inn quakes under the alien ship, Nathan convinces him that his grandfather had probably gone with the aliens to save the town. Toomey, thinking he might be able to find his grandfather, goes outside and is drawn up into the ship and is gone. Duke is not impressed by Nathan's ethic, but the town was saved.
 
Audrey tells Nathan of her kidnapper who had expected her to remember her previous life though she couldn't and had indicated that the Colorado Kid was still alive. Back at a Haven cemetery, as Dwight and Nathan dig up the Colorado Kid's coffin (in plot 301), Audrey, talking to a pathologist by phone, questions the finding that Roslyn Toomey's body had been burning for four hours because she was talking to her only an hour ago before her body was found. No corpse is found in the coffin, only bricks for weight. Written on the inside of the coffin are the words "find him before The Hunter". Audrey recognizes her own handwriting. From the building nearby someone watches.

I'd heard about this episode way before seeing it, and the whole "alien" plotline sounded dumb as hell to me.  It doesn't play as dumb as it sounds, though, and in fact works quite well.  One of the good things about the concept for the show is that almost anything is fair game, plot-wise.  All the writers have to do is think of a way a Trouble can cause the situation to happen.  My problem with the show during the first two seasons -- particularly the second -- is that more often than not, I felt that the Troubles were just boring as hell.  There's an episode of the first season of The X-Files called "Space" that is notoriously lame, and most of the episodes of Haven that didn't work during its first two seasons were, in quality terms, sub-"Space."

The third season is a marked improvement in that regard.  We're still nowhere near X Files level quality, but who knows?  Maybe it'll get there.


09/28/2012 -- "Stay"  (Haven season 3 episode 2)




From Wikipedia:

A naked man goes into a store at the edge of Haven and starts consuming food from the stands. Audrey arrives with Nathan and she tries to calm the man who has an animal collar and leash hanging from it, but the owner, angered by the soft approach, goes to attack the man. The man evades him, bites him and bursts through a window out into the night. Next morning at the police station Nathan suggests that the naked man could be a Troubled. Audrey meets a psychiatrist Claire Callahan, who is charged with counselling Audrey after her abduction, but Audrey avoids her when a report comes in of another sighting of the naked man. They go out to meet Tor Magnusson, a farm owner, who points them to the barn, where the naked man was seen. An investigation reveals around ten such naked men and women, which Nathan jokingly describes as "cavemen". Before they can lock up the barn, Audrey sees Magnusson's son crawl into the barn. After returning to the room where the savages were nesting to find them gone, Nathan and Audrey split up to find Liam faster. However, Audrey and the boy end up barricading themselves in a small room when a particularly aggressive savage comes to investigate. Nathan, who has concealed himself from the rest of the men and women as they put clothes on, comes to their rescue, disabling the aggressive savage with a stun gun and holding the others off with a pistol. The man Nathan gets to his feet and flees to the woods, taking the others with him and leaving one Nathan shot behind. Audrey emerges with Liam unharmed, much to Tor and Nathan's relief. Audrey then stops Nathan from shooting one of the naked men who had been hiding in the room with them. She had been able to keep him quiet while they hid by offering a cookie, and realized he was different. Meanwhile, Vince has procured the autopsy on Roslyn Toomey, who had been killed by Audrey's abductor (in "301"). She had been killed by a bolt in the back of the neck from a bolt gun.
 
At the station, Nathan assents to Claire's request to shadow Audrey at work. They are called down to the waterfront where Duke and Dwight have trapped a naked man in Dwight's truck. Audrey attempts to communicate but the man angrily breaks the glass and Duke is spattered with his blood. Duke to his relief does not react and thinks he has control over his own Trouble, but Nathan suggests that it is not the naked man who is Troubled. Claire receives the bloodwork of another naked man that indicates he was drugged with a potent animal tranquillizer only used in Haven's pound. A visit there finds the place abandoned, a small animal cage with a naked human body buckled inside, dead, and half the leash of the first savage seen at the store. Audrey thinks the savages are stray pound dogs transformed into men.
 
Duke and Dwight go to see the Teague brothers to find out about the Hunter and Vince shows them copies of the Haven Herald from the Colorado Kid era. Most sightings of the dog men are places where a dog might go, except for their presence at Magnusson's farm. Nathan then finds that Magnusson had taken his dog to the pound the previous night. On the theory he might be Troubled they go back to Magnusson's farm. At the Herald Duke sees an article about Lucy Ripley gone missing. He also notices another about "The Hunter Meteor Storm". Magnusson explains that his parents had made him swear never to have animals, which leads Audrey to conclude that he is Troubled. Claire finds that Liam is missing and reminds the others that dogs bury things that are precious to them. The dog men have taken the boy and they go into the woods to search for him. In the woods they are surrounded by dog men and Audrey prompts Magnusson to talk to the aggressive dog man from before, which she surmises is the dog he had taken to the pound. By being humane to the dog man he reversed his previous inhumanity which had caused the dogs to become men. The change of heart transforms the men back into dogs, which run off. However, the reason Magnusson had taken his dog to the pound in the first place was because the animal had rabies and he was unwilling to get it shots. When the men transform back into dogs, the disease a human body could hold at bay overcomes the dog, and it dies before revealing where Liam is hidden. Magnusson is distraught and begins shouting into the woods. However, Liam is later found by the dog Audrey had rescued from Magnusson's farm.
 
At the Herald Vince shows Dave that the backroom has been ransacked by the man who kidnapped Audrey. At the Grey Gull Audrey is about to take her new dog for a walk, when Duke tells her that both Sarah and Lucy disappeared on the night of the Hunter meteor storm, which comes every twenty-seven years. The next such storm is in 49 days. A dismayed Audrey decides to give the dog to Liam instead.

This is probably the weakest episode of the third season, but it's still a basically decent episode.  The show-mythology revelations at the end of the episode are especially interesting.


10/05/2012 -- "The Farmer"  (Haven season 3 episode 3)




From Wikipedia:

A jogger is found by his companion, Sherry, dead not far from the track with blood around his mouth and a pair of lungs beside the body. The M.E., Casey, shows that no incision was made to the man's body and guesses the lungs came out through the mouth. A man wearing a Trilby hat photographs the corpse with his phone from a distance, enlarges the image and sees the lungs. At the station Audrey tells Nathan about the fact that she only had 46 days left before she would disappear (see previous episode). Casey explains that the lungs were diseased. He adds that the lungs weren't those of the victim. Nathan goes to interview Sherry, but she has already been questioned by a black male of around 35 named Tommy. A call for a disturbance comes in causing Nathan and Audrey to investigate. They find Tommy in Trilby bending over a body at the address. He explains he's a cop, but Nathan cuffs him. There are kidneys on the floor by the body. He explains that he is chasing someone who'd removed the liver from a victim in Boston, his trainee. Upstairs they find the victim's sister, Zoe. At the station, Zoe is in a bad state. Stan the cop is showing young Mark around the station. Tommy tells Audrey and Nathan that he was in Haven because witnesses had seen the perp wearing a "Sea Dogs" jacket. There is a scream from the corridor. Zoe has attacked Mark, pinned him to the floor and opened her mouth, prepared for who knows what, when Tommy knocks her out.
 
At the hospital Claire Callahan explains to Audrey that Zoe's organs are failing one-by-one. Nathan receives word that the diseased lungs and the kidneys were from the same person. Audrey conjectures that the killer is Troubled which causes his organs to fail, so he needs healthy ones. Claire notes that the most suitable organs come from family members. Nathan adds that if the attack succeeds, he gets the organs; if the victim gets away, their Trouble is triggered, and Audrey finishes, that they need new organs. Nathan asks Stan if Mark is related to Zoe. Stan doesn't know, indicating that Mark's mother had used a sperm donor. Tommy says that his trainee's mother had used a sperm donor as well. Nathan subpoenas the records of the local fertility clinic. They speculate that the killer has supplied his sperm at the clinic so that, when the Troubles returned, he'd have a stock of organs. And if these children's Trouble is triggered they will have to harvest organs themselves. Audrey says that the cycle must be broken. Harry Nix is surveying his next victim, a young woman.
 
Audrey has asked Duke to help interview the children and at the house of the third name Duke sees the girl and a man wearing a Sea Dogs jacket. Nix grabs the girl and from his mouth comes a snake-like tongue moving at the girl, but Audrey shouts and the man jumps into his car and drives off. The girl is in a bad state. Tommy doesn't believe Nathan's story about the Troubles. Audrey calls and Nathan gets an address from the license number of Nix's car, but Audrey and Duke find he and his family have gone. Audrey surmises that Nix will soon need organs, so they go off to the nearest child in the fertility clinic records. The child is not there so Nix takes his own son off "for a pit stop". Nix's body is failing him as he prepares to remove organs from his son. Audrey and the others catch him before he can do it. Tommy sees the tongue return into Nix's mouth. The boy is in shock. His father is dying. Audrey tells Nathan to take Tommy and the boy away. She tries to get Duke to kill Nix, but, realizing that this was Audrey's plan all along, he refuses.
 
At the morgue among the victims' bodies is one whose nose had been surgically removed and a woman who had been killed with a bolt gun, just as Roslyn Toomey had been. At the station Audrey deliberately alienates Nathan. She explains to Claire that bad things happen to the men she has loved. She receives a text that makes her leave. At the Grey Gull Duke is drinking. Audrey tells him that all those in Nix's extended family who were Troubled had mysteriously recovered. She has realized that Duke changed his mind and had killed Nix. Duke is not happy.
 
Someone opens Tommy's hotel room door. He then drives and parks in a remote location telling someone on the phone that he was "out" as he disposes of a body.

This is a fairly strong episode.  The idea of this particular serial killer is worthy of The X-Files and/or Millennium, and while the episode itself is not up to those standards from a production standpoint, it's still not at all bad by genre television standards.  The character work is solid, too, especially regarding Duke's plotline.


10/12/2012 -- "Over My Head"  (Haven season 3 episode 4)




From Wikipedia:

Nathan shows Tommy an ATM video of a man with a Guard tattoo using a bolt gun to kill a woman, whom he subsequently scalped, while across town Claire tries unsuccessfully to help Audrey remember the day the Colorado Kid died.
 
At the swim centre, instructor Alison Hargrove is trying to coax Frank Bentley into the pool. Suddenly the water erupts and Alison is pulled down into a pool of blood. The M.E., says whatever killed her was big. Bentley explains his regular teacher, Daphne, was missing, so Alison substituted.
 
Back at the station the Teagues want to know about the ATM killing, but Nathan won't give them any information, and instead wants them to tell him about the Guard tattoo. They tell him the Guard, who have been in Haven for generations, protect the Troubled. A Guard member, Jordan (McKee), can be found at the Gun and Rose Cafe.
 
Audrey finally has a vision of the Colorado Kid at the beach with Lucy as Nathan comes in with a shark's tooth removed from Alison's leg.
 
Duke is outside the station as Nathan and Audrey exit, and a wave of sea water rushes down the street and throws a car against a wall. They haul a soaking man, Reed Harris, out of the car. Nathan asks him to report at the police station after he has dried off.
 
Audrey receives a call telling her Bentley is dead. At the autopsy table the M.E. explains that Bentley drowned standing up in his shower. His wife said he'd been trying to contact his swim instructor, Daphne, all morning. Audrey decides to investigate Daphne's disappearance and takes Duke along.
 
Daphne's neighbor, Bob Harmon, starts telling Audrey about Daphne, but as he does he breaks out with an infestation of tiny black crabs. Harmon has no permanent damage, but Audrey now believes that the mysterious Daphne might be the thread that links all the victims except Harris.
 
Nathan has lunch at the Gun and Rose Cafe and meets the gloved waitress, Jordan. She doesn't trust him, but agrees to meet him after work. Vince has just discovered that there is a sealed file regarding Tommy in Boston PD records that may explain why he is hiding in Haven.
 
Harris hasn't been to the station so the three go to his house to find him. He is lying on an outside step, bleeding out from the cut on his leg. Dying, he explains that he accidentally ran a car off the road over the edge into the ocean. The best theory is that Daphne was in the car and so all the victims are tied together. She must still be alive, given the events of the day. Daphne is in her car in the water, a shark in the distance, her leg is cut and there are tiny crabs coming in through the vents. From the evidence Audrey and the others work out where Daphne is and go to rescue her. They see the car in the water with the tide rising fast. To Nathan's consternation Duke rappels down the cliff and goes to the car. As he does he dislodges a few rocks and more start to fall. Duke explains that she is causing them to fall, but, realizing she can't stop it, he reaches in and touches her bleeding leg. This triggers his Trouble giving him strength to pull the door open, remove the steering wheel and rescue her.
 
At the Gun and Rose after work, Jordan explains the tat is only for the Troubled. Her Trouble, she says, taking off her glove, is that her touch causes excruciating pain. Nathan takes her hand. She is freaked, but he explains that his Trouble is that he doesn't feel anything. He offers to do anything to gain the Guard's trust.
 
The Teagues come to blackmail Tommy over a shooting in Boston. He responds by saying that they seem to own over half the commercial real estate in Haven and have millions of dollars in off-shore bank accounts. He proposes that they stay out of each others' business.
 
Elsewhere the serial killer places the scalp on a dummy head. At the Grey Gull Audrey is dreaming of the Colorado Kid on the beach and, turning to see a barn, she wakes up. Agent Howard walks towards her bed and tells her to stop remembering. Then she wakes up for real.

The Bolt-Gun Killer subplot kicks into a higher gear this episode, and it's a fairly interesting one.  I also like the Nathan/Jordan plot pretty well.  Overall, this is another fairly good episode.

Hey, a streak!


10/19/2012 -- "Double Jeopardy"  (Haven season 3 episode 5)




From Wikipedia:

Jason Dooley, an internet pornographer who knows how to protect himself against the law, is found with his eyes removed with a spoon. He is now in hospital but didn't see who attacked him. Duke has just been in court before Judge Boone over parking tickets and is let off on a technicality. Outside the courthouse his car is scratched and his tire is pierced by a woman in white. He tries to get Tommy, as he passes, to do something, but the woman is gone. Nathan tells Audrey that the bolt gun killer has the tattoo, so he is one of the Guard. A tech sends Nathan a photo off Dooley's hard drive that showed a single frame of his attacker. It shows the flank of a female wearing white. Later at the Grey Gull, as Duke is closing, he sees, up the drive, the woman who scratched his car. He closes the door and she appears immediately outside. He turns around and she stands before him. She starts demolishing the bar, but disappears before the police arrive. Another victim has turned up and is in hospital with several fractured ribs. Meagan Berlin was attacked at Child Services where she was being evaluated for a custody hearing after being accused of shaking her six-month-old. The theory is floated that people are being targeted by someone attempting to seek justice for random criminal acts. Duke is worried that the fact that he killed Harry Nix will catch up on him, so Audrey says that she'll stand guard with him against the woman in white. Nathan visits the Gun and Rose to try to get closer to the Guard through Jordan McKee and she asks him to arrange a prisoner transfer from Shawshank as proof of his intent. In the middle of the night Duke is thrown to the floor by the woman. He gets up and stabs her, but there is no blood. Audrey warns her to stop and is forced to shoot her, causing her to shatter into shards of plaster. Yet relief turns back into panic as the woman, reconstructed, throws Audrey out of the room and begins pummeling Duke. When Audrey comes back in Duke is on the floor and the woman is gone.
 
Next day Audrey has had a drawing of the woman made. She meets Duke at the court house after he is let off from an accusation of assault. She gives him some copies of the drawing to distribute. He notices that the face is the same as that of Lady Justice in a mural in the court room. At the Haven Herald the Teagues explain that there was no real model for Lady Justice, though they further state that the woman sounds like a Golem, a figure of clay or earth, brought to life by a Troubled person. Nathan goes off to the courthouse to get Judge Boone to arrange the transfer of Jordan's prisoner friend. At the station Audrey notes that Boone was the presiding judge for Dooley, Berlin and Duke, suggesting that the judge might be the culprit. At the courthouse the judge is forced to let some boys go after an act of vandalism because the school won't press charges. Indicating jokingly he would accept a bribe of a bottle of scotch, Judge Boone helps Nathan relocate the prisoner and Nathan leave the courthouse. Outside he receives a call from Audrey about the theory that the judge may be Troubled, so he races back in to find the judge dead.
 
Nathan heads to the Gun and Rose and calls Jordan to confirm the transfer. He watches as she responds. She hurriedly leaves work and Nathan follows. Audrey and Duke go over the records they see that another person was in court for each case in the investigation. Jordan stops to get indications from a pair of state employees who are getting gas for their prison transport van. Touching each she has them double over in pain. Two Guard members appear and take the prisoner away. One of the men on the ground takes out his gun to shoot Jordan when Nathan knocks him out. At the court house Audrey and Duke confront the court recorder, Lynette, who has seen all the injustice that people get away with. Audrey explains that she is Troubled and responsible for what has happened. Lynette is filled with guilt and Lady Justice swiftly consigns her to the court room mural and retakes her own position in the painting. Late that night Nathan asks Jordan why she lied to him. She has trust issues. Nathan kisses her in an effort to make her feel at ease. Audrey receives a file from the FBI about another bolt gun killer victim whose chin was removed. She conjectures to Claire that the killer may be, rather than collecting trophies, building a woman.

Not one of my favorite episodes of the season, but still not a bad one.  There's a box of "Dandel-Os" cereal glimpsed at one point; that's the kind of Stephen King reference I can give a big thumbs-up.


10/26/2012 -- "Real Estate"  (Haven season 3 episode 6)




From Wikipedia:

On Halloween Chad and Tina in costume find themselves checking out the old Holloway house. While Chad tries the light switches Tina starts to freak as things start moving by themselves. At the Haven Herald office the party is not a thrill for either Audrey or Duke, but, when Tina comes in frightened out of her mind, they are happy to investigate. At the station Jordan McKee gives Nathan a burner phone from the Guard.
 
Leaving Claire and Tina outside, Audrey and Duke enter the Holloway house looking for Chad and find mirrors on every wall. He explains that Holloway disappeared, leaving his wife and daughters, who later disappeared. Audrey looks into one of the mirrors and, fainting, has a vision of herself as Lucy moving a painting to open a secret door. Duke helps her up and notices she has stepped in blood, which leads to the discovery of a dead Chad. Outside Tommy arrives and the three hear Audrey's voice through an intercom say they'd found Chad, so they go inside. Tina freaks when she sees Chad dead and runs off through the house. Duke notices where the front door was is now a wall and they are trapped inside. As they search the house looking for Tina, the house seems to change. Nathan arrives while Audrey and Claire are talking. He says that he got Audrey's call, but she explains there's no signal. A scream leads Duke and Tommy to a room which has a chandelier on which Tina is impaled. Jordan is staring at a pool of blood. They think she is responsible, but Nathan comes in and vouches for her. The intercom ring lures Duke and Tommy to hear Nathan trying to reassure Jordan, but she says Duke kills the Troubled, so they should kill Duke.
 
Audrey accompanied by Claire finds the painting and opens the secret door leading to a room in which they find the rotted corpses of the Holloway women. The mother had killed her daughters and then herself. Audrey has a vision of herself as Lucy in the room with a man. Claire is worried that remembering could kill Audrey, for each time she suffers. Audrey says that if Lucy was in the room, there must be a way out. As each of the investigators is separated by the house, Jordan is knocked down some stairs, passing out; Duke finds a gun; Audrey is called to an intercom and she sees Roland Holloway in a mirror. He explains that he is the house and that he is trapped because of her, Lucy. His wife adapted by putting up the mirrors and installing the intercom system, but eventually she couldn't cope any more, but Holloway wouldn't let the family abandon him. Audrey offers to help, but he didn't bring her to the house for her help. Her friends would suffer as his family suffered. With Tommy she returns to the secret room where she has another vision from Lucy's past, that Holloway is responsible for his family's death and that he mustn't leave the house. She understands from her vision how to escape the house. She and Tommy find the others in a Mexican stand off ready to kill each other. She explains that this is what Holloway wants. The house is responsible for their conflict and they need to destroy the mirrors and intercoms if they want to get out.
 
The plan works and outside they meet the Teagues and Dwight who has made a bomb to try to blow his way in. Instead, Audrey uses it to destroy the house. At the station Audrey shows Claire a missing person report for a James Cogan, which she obtained by supplying the first name she heard in the vision from the secret room and a composite sketch. This is the name of the Colorado Kid. Audrey quizzes Nathan and he says he trusts Jordan. Later he meets Jordan and comforts her. They kiss. At the Holloway house Dwight puts up a do-not-trespass sign and the camera cuts to the ruins of the house. They are slowly rebuilding themselves.

I'm a sucker for Christmas episodes of tv shows, and I'm a sucker for Halloween episodes, too.  And so it makes me happy to say that Haven has now delivered solid themed episodes for both of those holidays.

This one is basically a Troubled take on the old haunted-house story.  It's got a good -- though brief -- guest appearance by Iain Glen, and it's also got the benefit of tons of good character development.

If I'm not mistaken, this was the episode that caused me to turn the corner and finally decide that I liked the series.  My fingers are crossed that it can stay that way.


11/02/2012 -- "Magic Hour (Part 1)"  (Haven season 3 episode 7)




From Wikipedia:

Rica and Dan Hamilton are grieving at sunset over the accidental death of their daughter Lizzy, but the mother stops her husband from calling the police. She tells him they were told to wait. They soon find Lizzy miraculously alive. Next day they are coming to grips with the event when the mother is hit and killed by a car. Audrey goes to Colorado to find the mother of James Cogan, taking Duke with her. Nathan finds Hamilton suspicious, as his wife is taken away, so he tasks Tommy to watch him. At the station Jordan tells Nathan that her Guard colleague Grady is missing about the time the bolt-gun killer came to town. A photo of the killer in action reveals Grady's watch, so they think Grady is the killer. Hamilton has withdrawn a large sum of money, so Tommy and Nathan theorize that he is paying his wife's killer. Audrey and Duke discover that June Cogan is now in a home for the aged. At the morgue Hamilton causes a ruckus to prevent an autopsy on his wife, who comes to life at sunset. At the station Hamilton explains that he was told to put the money in the locker and wait till sunset. Nathan receives a report that the car which hit Rica Hamilton is owned by the Coopers who Hamilton explains are his business partners.
 
Dwight is a little shocked when Jordan asks for his help. They go to see the Troubled man that Grady was sent to bring back. He tells them that he went to meet Grady but the cops showed up so he ran. In Colorado, June Cogan has Alzheimers and thinks Audrey is Sarah, causing her to ask why she had changed her hair color. The nurse comes in and tells them to leave. At the Cooper house at sunset Nathan and Tommy find Cooper dead on the floor and his wife hysterically asking why her husband hadn't come back to life. Duke has stolen a photo album from Mrs Cogan's room from which he and Audrey learn that James Cogan got married to someone called Arla in 1983. Nathan figures that it must be an employee, and with some investigation discovers that the housekeeper, Moira, worked for both families.
 
Noelle's boyfriend Joseph doesn't like her involved in Moira's blackmail scheme. Moira races in, saying they have to leave, as the police are on to them. Noelle is diffident, Joseph supports her, and Moira, understanding that her sister is being swayed by Joseph, shoots him. Noelle touches him and absorbs his death, becoming greatly weakened. Nathan and Tommy arrive, Joseph is alive and the sisters are gone. A background check reveals that the sisters' family had a cabin out at Trepingas Cove. At the cabin Moira helps Noelle onto the couch and complains that all the roads are blocked, so they can't leave. Noelle says she wants to stop, but Moira doesn't. Audrey discovers that Arla Cogan killed herself when James disappeared, so with no leads she is discouraged. Duke consoles her. They kiss, but, before long, Audrey stops, worried about the consequences. Next day Duke tries to imagine Audrey as a redhead (like Sarah), giving Audrey an idea. Dwight calls Nathan to tell him that Grady died on Route #17 a while ago, so he is not the killer. Jordan tells Nathan that a cop was the last to see Grady alive, but Nathan is aware of no police activity out on Route #17. Audrey in wig pretends to be Sarah for June Cogan and learns that James is actually Sarah's son. Audrey and Duke return to Haven and Nathan calls them to come looking for the sisters. Getting the GPS coordinates for them from Tommy's car, he notices that the car has been to Route #17. Nathan and Tommy find Noelle at the next cabin, though Moira is off scavenging. Tommy is defensive about Nathan going into the trunk of his car for a blanket for Noelle, saying Nathan is better with people, so he, Tommy, would get the blanket. Outside Noelle is put in the car and Nathan asks Tommy to check inside for anything that might say where Moira has gone, then he looks in the car trunk where he finds a bolt-gun and realizes that Tommy is the bolt-gun killer, which earns him two bullets to the stomach from Tommy. Noelle runs off in the confusion, as Audrey and Duke arrive to see Nathan bleeding on the ground with Tommy shooting at the disappearing Noelle.

This is a very good episode, with a solid Trouble and some major development in the show's mythology vis-a-vis Audrey and Duke's trip to Colorado.  I can't help but wish that Colorado looked more like Colorado and less like Canada, but hey, that's television sometimes.

I'd also like to make mention of the presence of Claudia Black in this episode.  Black played one of the lead roles on the outstanding sci-fi series Farscape, and it's always nice to see her pop up in something.  She's looking her age, but is still hot as balls, despite how frumpy and unappealing the production is trying to make her look here.

Another thumbs-up to the cliffhanger, which is not exactly revolutionary, but is nevertheless satisfyingly unsatisfying.


11/09/2012 -- "Magic Hour (Part 2)"  (Haven season 3 episode 8)




From Wikipedia:

Thinking quickly Audrey decides they have to find Noelle, who can save Nathan. When Duke sees blood where Noelle went into the bushes, they know she was hit by a bullet and Audrey concludes that she will contact her paramedic boyfriend, Joseph, so they follow Joseph. At the Haven Herald Vince figures that when the Bolt Gun Killer broke into the office he was after something specific. Joseph leads Audrey, Duke and Tommy to a house, inside which they separate and search for Noelle. Tommy finds her and smothers her. Both Nathan and Noelle are put in the trunk of their car. Audrey thinks that if they can find Moira and trigger the family Trouble, Moira can bring both Nathan and Noelle back. There are only a few hours till sunset. Audrey talks to Joseph to understand Noelle's Trouble and discovers that Noelle shares the scars of those she resurrects. He tells about the car accident that killed Noelle's father. The police had found the two girls standing in the road, apparently ejected from the vehicle. At the Herald Vince and Dave have been searching for sign of the Bolt Gun Killer, when Vince finds that one of the keys, the one to their fishing shack, is a new copy. Audrey manages to track down and arrest Moira, who tells Audrey that it was Tommy who shot Nathan, which explains to Audrey why Tommy has been acting strangely all day. She calls Duke, who is searching for Moira with Tommy, and tells him, saying he should watch him until Nathan can be resurrected.
 
Audrey calls Dwight, who buries Grady's body, and asks him to watch Joseph. Jordan arrives at Audrey's location, having tracked Nathan's phone, and Audrey shows her Nathan, telling her that Moira's Trouble must be triggered to save him. Duke is now acting tense with Tommy. Audrey and Jordan show Moira her sister's body, but Moira is unmoved, so they need Duke to test her blood to see if she is Troubled. Tommy has decided that Duke has been lying to him and in the ensuing fight Duke, touching Tommy's blood, realizes that he is Troubled. Before Tommy can shoot him, Jordan arrives and touches Tommy with her tazer hands. He escapes and Jordan tells Duke they can't follow him, as Audrey needs him. At the house where Audrey has Moira Duke finds that Moira is not troubled. The sun is very low. At Vince and Dave's fishing shack the Teagues brothers are surprised by Tommy. When Nathan is brought into the room Moira tells Audrey that it makes one feel crazy to see a loved one die and explains about waking up in the truck to find her father dead after a tool box had hit her in the back of the head, leaving a scar. Audrey realizes that Noelle had resurrected her sister and shows her the identical scar on Noelle's head. Moira refuses to accept it, saying that it would mean that Noelle saved her and not her dad, and Moira had never forgiven her sister for not saving their dad. Their father had said that only one person could be resurrected in one day, otherwise it would be too much strain, hence why Noelle couldn't save their father. The impact of this knowledge with the awareness of her own bad treatment of her sister causes Moira great emotional distress. As the sun is setting she hopes her Trouble has been triggered and touches both Nathan and her sister, but nothing happens. Overcome with grief, Audrey, with Duke and Jordan watching, tells the dead Nathan that she has always loved him. Suddenly, Duke absorbs Moira's blood and his eyes turn silver: she is now Troubled. The sun sets. Nathan revives and asks where the funeral is. Moira has absorbed both their deaths and Noelle wakes to learn that her sister had resurrected two people. As Moira dies, Nathan remembers Tommy. He and Audrey leave to find him, working from the GPS info from his car. Tommy has been torturing Vince and Dave at the fishing shack regarding the Colorado Kid and the barn (ep. 2.3), when Audrey and Nathan arrive. He escapes by boat and they shoot to take out the engine and stop him, but the boat explodes and they watch plumes of black smoke billow skywards from the boat in flames.
 
At the Grey Gull, Dwight has Noelle and Joseph in his truck with Moira dead behind them. Audrey tells Noelle that when Moira wakes up things will be different. Nathan tells Audrey that the person in the surveillance video (ep. 3.4) was clearly not Tommy and asks why he was killing the women. Jordan wonders what has happened to her relationship with Nathan. Audrey later alone, is met by Vince, who admits that he has been deceiving her and says he wanted to apologize before she vanishes again. She asks him who the father of the Colorado Kid was, but he says Sarah never told anyone. He gazes out to the island in front of the Grey Gull, and to his horror sees the barn into which Audrey will vanish. When Audrey follows his gaze, fog rolls in and obscures their view. Audrey heads in, content, while Vince remains shaken.

A solid conclusion to the two-parter, this episode is a good example of what the series did right in its third season: a combination of standalone story with elements that advance the show's overall mythology.  That's an element that worked on occasion in the first season, but -- for my money -- fell flat on its face in the second; it's very gratifying to see the producers and writers figure out the formula the third time at bat.

Now, don't misunderstand me: I still wouldn't place the series in the upper echelon of scripted television of the current era, and I'm still not a huge fan.  But I do now consider myself a fan to some degree, and if the fourth season manages to improve as much as the third has, then my fandom will increase exponentially.

I find myself in danger of needing to take back certain things I've said about the show.  And trust me, that would make me totally happy.

On the subject of this Haven, Maine not being the same as the Haven, Maine in The Tommyknockers, however, I will not budge even an iota.  And if you want proof, here's a map of Stephen King's Maine, sourced from King's official website:




You will note that Haven -- the one from the novels -- is nowhere even close to the ocean.  And yes, this discussion of Haven's real location is utterly irrelevant to the third season of Haven.


11/16/2012 -- "Sarah"  (Haven season 3 episode 9)




The lure of the time-travel episode is almost irresistible for sci-fi television series.  Hell, Lost did an entire time-travel season!

And so, eventually Haven had to go there.  Here's a plot summary via Wikipedia:

Duke's father's diary leads him to seek out Stuart Mosley whose name was entered in the diary on the day Duke's grandfather, Roy, died. Mosley, now an old man, recognizes Duke, saying he shouldn't be there and suddenly Duke finds himself in 1955. Soldiers in the local bar start a fight and in the scuffle Duke saves the bartender from an accidental death. Duke is arrested when the police clean up the mess. At the police station he notes a detainee with a Guard tattoo. Luckily the bartender vouches for Duke and he is released.
 
The Herald office doesn't exist in the present: in its place is a comic store. Nathan says Dave killed Vince fifteen years ago. In 1955 Duke finds a way to deliver a message to Audrey. In today's police station Audrey receives a letter held since 1955 in which Duke explains what has happened to him, so Audrey and Nathan go to see Stuart Mosley. Nathan finds a photo of Mosley on a porch table. Mosley vaguely recognizes Audrey, but says she should go before he has another episode. When he confronts Nathan, Nathan too disappears. Mosley says he knew Nathan and the other man. In 1955 Nathan walks into the bar. As he and Duke talk about how Duke has already changed Haven's future over a few beers, the bartender introduces himself as Roy Crocker. Duke, shocked, looks at his own grandfather, who Sarah would kill according to his father's diary. Nathan goes to liberate the Guardsman at the police station, leaving Duke to kill his grandfather.
 
In today's Haven, Claire tells Audrey that she needs to hide otherwise she'll be arrested for shooting Reverend Driscoll and Nathan is also dead. Back in 1955, Nathan frees the Guard member, who says that Mosley is arriving by ship later that day. Duke, following Roy, sees him talk to a cop who wants him to kill Mosley. Roy refuses, so the cop goes to shoot him, when Duke clobbers the cop. Mosley arrives and his nurse is none other than Sarah. At the hospital Nathan tries to see Mosley, but Sarah removes him from the building. While arguing, both notice a chemistry between them. Duke attempts to persuade Roy to leave Haven to avoid being forced to kill the Troubled. He is having success, when he needs to take a toilet break. Roy finds Duke's diary. When Duke returns, Roy knocks him out. Nathan and Sarah, now at the beach together, talk: she has only just arrived in Haven, sent by a supervisor who says that she is good with strange cases. They wind up in each other's arms. Roy leaves Duke tied up. He has read the diary and today he is to be killed by Sarah. Nathan finds Duke and learns that Roy intends to kill Sarah.
 
In today's Haven, Claire tells Audrey that the Guard are now occupied by smuggling the Troubled out of Haven. As they meet with ex-chief Garland Wuornos, Driscoll's men capture them all. In 1955 Nathan finds Sarah and, giving her a gun, convinces her to run, but, as she goes to meet Duke, Roy stops her. After a brief Mexican standoff, Sarah shoots him in self-defense. Nathan later tells her a little about Haven and the Troubled and asks for her help. With the help of the photo that Nathan found at Mosley's house in today's Haven, Sarah convinces Mosley to send them back to the present.
 
In today's Haven, Driscoll's men shoot their hostages, but before the bullets reach their targets, the proper timeline is restored. Audrey is back at Mosley's house, as are Nathan and Duke, who she quickly shoos away. Later, Audrey tells Nathan who the Colorado Kid is. Back in 1955, Sarah calls her supervisor—the same person as Audrey's Agent Howard—and asks to stay in Haven.

Perhaps because the time-travel plotline is old hat to me, I did not respond to this episode quite as positively as some fans seem to have done.  Don't get me wrong; it's a good episode, but I don't think it's particularly earthshattering.  It's fun to see one of Audrey's earlier selves in action, and Emily Rose is perfectly good playing that different aspect of the same person.  She does, indeed, look damn good as a redhead, too.

That said, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was a season's worth of story that got burned off in a single episode.  Or if not a season's worth, then at least a four-episode arc.  Better too little than too much, though, I guess.


11/30/2012 -- "Burned"  (Haven season 3 episode 10)




From Wikipedia:

Another burned body is found outside Haven and Audrey and Nathan wonder if it was one of Tommy's victims. Elsewhere a van careers off the road and while it's moving two men jump out, each saying "gotta get away", and run into the bushes. A report brings Audrey and Nathan to investigate and find a young girl, Ginger Danvers, who wants to know where her father has gone. Nathan tells Audrey that the Guard uses that van to transport the Troubled to Haven. They consider the father must have a significant Trouble. Claire is unable to communicate with Ginger. Duke has better luck. Claire and Audrey go off to hear Dr Lucassi's report on the burned body. Nathan is at the Gun & Rose telling Jordan about the van and Jordan is interested in the fact that Ginger is in police custody. In the kitchen Lance is not happy with Jordan's involvement with Nathan. Lucassi shows the bolt gun wound in the skull of the burned body. He'd been dead for five to eight weeks. Dental work shows that it was Tommy Bowen. Lucassi says the person they were working with a week ago was not Tommy.
 
Ginger tells Duke that she wants to go out and get some ice cream and Duke can't refuse, so Duke is getting some from a street vendor, who tells him that Ginger was just taken, he thought, by her father. Duke is nonplussed. Audrey and Nathan arrive and they look for Ginger. Lance is carrying Ginger, but loses control of her when Jordan arrives. Ginger tells him she hates his guts and runs off. Lance takes his shiv and eviscerates himself. When Audrey and Nathan get there, Jordan is gone and Lance is dead. They decide that the wound is self-inflicted and Audrey surmises that it is Ginger who is Troubled and somehow gets people to do what she wants. At the Grey Gull Duke is in Ginger's thrall and is playing pirate for her until Audrey and Nathan arrive and Duke falls off the upper balcony. Nathan checks Duke while Audrey asks Ginger what happened in the van. She told the people to leave her alone and they fled. She thinks that her father wanted to get rid of her. Audrey tells Nathan that Ginger's Trouble probably started when her mother died and, bringing her father back, he could convince her she is still important to him. When Nathan hears that Jordan was there when Lance died, he goes to bring her in for interrogation. Instead she tells him about an uncle that Ginger has in town, who the father and daughter were going to stay with, so Nathan goes to see him. Lucassi phones Audrey who is looking after Ginger at the Gull and tells her that the burned man was at a rope factory before he died. With Nathan off on a wild goose chase, Jordan sneaks in while Audrey is out on the phone to lure Ginger away, but outside she stops Jordan and Nathan arrives to arrest her. They go back in and Ginger forces Jordan to answer Nathan's questions. Jordan explains where Danvers is and that the Guard wanted Ginger in order to control Audrey through Nathan. Though Audrey was immune to Ginger, Nathan wasn't. Jordan says, when Lucy Ripley's time was up she refused to go into the barn and almost escaped. When she enters the barn the Troubles go away for 27 years. When Audrey and Nathan break into the Guard's safe house and rescue Danvers, they are caught by a Guardsman, so Nathan is forced to make a deal to release Jordan in exchange for Ginger and her father.
 
Reunited with her father, Ginger's Trouble stops, so Duke drives them away to a new place of safety. At the police station Audrey works out where the Bolt Gun Killer is hiding and she and Nathan go to investigate. Inside the abandoned factory they find water-filled tanks containing complete human skins, including Tommy's and Grady's. The killer has skinned people and burned them to hide the loss of the skin. Nathan says the bolt gun only minimally damages the skin. Native Americans have a legend about skinwalkers who can wear skin like a suit. There is an empty tank and the killer is out there somewhere in the skin.

This episode was written by Charles Ardai, who is one of the show's producers, but is also the publisher behind Hard Case Crime, the imprint that originally published The Colorado Kid.  At this point, we're so far away from that novel that Haven might just as well be based on Moby-Dick, but hey, if the episodes are going to continue to be good -- which this one is -- then I'm okay with that.

The little girl who plays Ginger is quite good, which is frequently not the case with child actors on this show; that's a persistent problem on television in general, in fact.  Here, though, she's excellent.

So is Kate Kelton, who plays Jordan.  There are some very good scenes between Nathan and Jordan this week, and while I don't think that plotline paid off quite as well as it could have, it was still a worthy subplot.  Especially, say, compared to the Audrey/Chris plotline in the second season, or even the Nathan/Jess plotline in the first season.


12/07/2012 -- "Last Goodbyes"  (Haven season 3 episode 11)




From Wikipedia:

At the Bolt Gun Killer's lair Audrey and Nathan tell Claire, Duke, Vince and Dave that the killer may look and talk like his victims but it is a performance and he makes mistakes; he takes over the victim's appearance and voice, but not mind and memories. Knowing the person he impersonates and questioning him will help spot mistakes and identify him. They will all be looking for the killer, but first each must be eliminated from the suspect list. Outside, the M.E. uncovers the killer's dumping ground of victims used for parts and has corpses on makeshift tables. One is a young woman with one puffin earring. Next day at the police station Audrey interviews Claire and eliminates her as a suspect and, as the story progresses, we flash back at different times to her interviewing the others.
 
A day later as Audrey heads for work she discovers everyone in the town has collapsed and is asleep where they fell. As she walks around town she finds a man with one red shoe who is not asleep. He claims to have amnesia, and Audrey is suspicious. She asks him to take her to the place where he woke up. Near where he takes her there is an ambulance, inside which is a red shoe. She then concludes he was ejected from the vehicle and could be Troubled, therefore responsible for everyone being asleep. At the station Audrey tries to identify the red-shoed man from the ambulance logs, but the Internet connection is not functioning. He explains exactly that he has retrograde amnesia, indicating precise medical knowledge, so Audrey gets him to examine Nathan and he realizes that Nathan isn't sleeping but in a coma that leads to death in twelve hours. Trying to jog his memory Audrey discovers he likes basketball and he remembers a team mascot. At the Grey Gull she shows him the mascot and a photo of the players, one being him with the name Will Brady. This leads to the Brady house where Brady turns out to be an archaeologist, so his knowledge about comas is unexplained. Audrey finds a puffin earring and accuses him of being the killer after all. She throws the earring at him and it jogs his memory: the earring belonged to his friend, Erin. Audrey takes him back to the lair and seeing Erin's body sparks a memory of walking back from a movie two months ago with her. He was knocked down and the killer, as he grabbed Erin, said "hush" while using a bolt gun. That was the last thing he remembers until this morning. Audrey thinks he may have been in the hospital for the intervening two months, so they go to the hospital, where they find his bed. His chart shows he has been in a coma as a result of head trauma and if he were taken off life-support he would stop breathing in twelve hours. Audrey wonders how he knew all about the coma if he were in a coma and he explains that some people can still hear even in a coma. The ambulance was taking him home to die. Audrey thinks that hearing he was going to be unplugged triggered his Trouble. He says that everyone is dying now just as he would have and they realize he has to go back into the coma. Back at the ambulance he gets back on his bed and sinks into the coma. The driver awakens, as does everyone else in town. Audrey sends him back to the hospital to life-support, as he could understand what people were saying even in his coma.
 
Later, above the Grey Gull, Audrey and Claire are talking about Vince and Dave, trying to figure out who the killer is. Claire says that when they were tortured they were asked about the Colorado Kid and the barn. Audrey is disturbed by the mention of the barn, not remembering them talking about it, so Claire forcefully says "hush". The word makes Audrey think of Brady's attack and an unease shows in her face. Claire, on consideration, takes out a gun and, pointing it at Audrey, asks her, "What gave me away?"

This is a very good episode, with one of the better Troubles the series has ever had.  Helping tremendously is an excellent guest-starring role from Nolan North.  Now, I'd never heard of North, but based purely on how good he is here, I was convinced he must be an actor of some stature, so I looked him up.  Turns out, he's primarily known as a voice actor, and among his credits are several major starring roles in video games like the Uncharted series (he's Nathan Drake) and the Assassin's Creed series (he's Desmond Miles).

So yeah, he IS kind of a big deal.


01/17/2013 -- "Reunion"  (Haven season 3 episode 12)




From Wikipedia:

The Bolt Gun Killer in the guise of Claire holds a gun on Audrey. She explains that she is the victim. It took her a long time to believe that Audrey didn't remember what she'd done when she was Lucy. Audrey asks what she wants with her son and is told that he knows how to stop the Troubles. The killer then knocks her out. At Haven High a fearful man is killed when the bleechers in the gym were retracted, crushing him where he tried to hide. The body found is that of a seventeen-year-old. Nathan explains to Audrey that he went to school with the boy. There is to be a class reunion this evening and some of Nathan's old class mates arrive. He introduces them to Audrey: Denise, Robbie (who now goes by "Robert"), and Jeanine (ex-prom queen who has gained weight).
 
At the police station Audrey and Nathan show Duke, Dwight and the Teagues the results of a computer program that has assembled the body parts taken by the Bolt Gun Killer. The result is the face of Arla Cogan, the wife of the Colorado Kid. At the Grey Gull Duke is accosted by Arla Cogan. She tries to stop him from interfering with Audrey's destiny, saying that if Audrey goes back into the barn the Troubles will stop for twenty-seven years and Duke won't have to kill Troubled people or worry about being killed by a Guard. At the Haven Herald Vince finds an article from twenty-seven years ago of a woman killed and her body burned, so the killer has been in Haven since then. Dwight drops in to say that the Guard are following Audrey and watching Nathan and Duke in case they interfere with Audrey going into the barn. Dave thinks that they can catch Arla because she may be keeping tabs on Nathan and Duke as well.
 
Denise's body is found at the school, also transformed into a seventeen-year-old. Audrey and Nathan interview Robert and Jeanine, and Jeanine suggests they call off the reunion, but Nathan recommends they go ahead. At the Grey Gull Duke sees a box by the water and opens it to find a rattler. As he jerks away he is hit on the head and falls into the water. When he surfaces he is a seventeen-year-old. At the station Audrey hears from Dwight that Arla asked the Guard for help to bring the barn back twenty-seven years ago, but they sent her away. He asks if she will enter the barn and Audrey explains her conflict. Nathan is elsewhere talking with Jeanine who has reason to be angry with all the victims, then she explains what her Trouble is, that any food she touches turns into cake, which excludes her from the murders. Arla has been watching secretly, but the Teagues find her and with the aid of pistols take her back to the Herald. She tells them that Audrey is the only one who can find the barn and she will be by her side. When Arla tells Vince that there is another way to stop the Troubles than Audrey going into the barn, Dave knocks Vince out and offers to let her go if she tells him about the other way.
 
At the reunion Audrey and Nathan dance. As they do they analyze the evidence and decide that the killer was probably bullied and is hurting those who hurt him. This leads Nathan to think of Robert, who they go off to find. Arla walks down the school corridor. Robert is talking with two class mates who nastily remember him from school. They go off to the boiler room to smoke a joint leaving Robert, who suddenly transforms into a seventeen-year-old. The two in the boiler room discover they are locked in and the boiler starts threatening to explode. Audrey, Nathan and young Duke see young Robert outside the boiler room. Audrey chases him while the others break down the boiler room door. Audrey catches him in the gym, but before he can clobber her with the wrench he used to damage the boiler, Arla shoots him, then disappears. Robert, wounded, reverts to his adult self and wonders how he could do what he did without knowing. Duke also reverts.
 
At the Grey Gull the meteor storm is about to start and Nathan tells Audrey that they will find the barn before it finds her. Upstairs Arla is waiting for her. Audrey asks her if it was worth killing all the women to make her face and she replies that when James comes out of the barn she wants to look like the woman he loves. Lucy had said after James was murdered that she would take both him and Arla into the barn and the barn's restorative properties would bring him back, but her Trouble was triggered and she shed her skin. She killed a woman to have her skin, so that she wouldn't look horrid, but Lucy took James into the barn without her. Before James was killed he said that there was a way to end the Troubles for good.
 
In the dark of night the barn appears and both Agent Howard and James Cogan walk out of it.

This episode was originally scheduled to air a week after "Last Goodbyes," on December 14, 2012.  However, there is a shooting that takes place inside a school gymnasium, and when the Sandy Hook massacre occurred on the same day the episode was scheduled to air, Syfy elected to yank it from the schedule lest anyone be offended.

Watching the season the way I did -- i.e., in its entirety once it had all aired -- I did not feel the gap between episodes.  However, for anyone watching in real time, I'd imagine the month break hurt the momentum the show had built up.  I suppose I understand why Syfy did what they did, but to me, it feels like the wrong decision.

Either way, it's another pretty good episode.  The Trouble isn't one of the better ones of the season, but it's still fine; the kid they got to play teenage Duke isn't particularly good, though, sadly, and that hurts.


01/17/2013 -- "Thanks for the Memories"  (Haven season 3 episode 13)




From Wikipedia:

Nathan and Duke find Audrey missing from her apartment and know that Arla Cogan has kidnapped her. They decide she has taken her to Kick-Em Jenny Neck, to the site where the barn was last seen (Love Machine), so they go off to Kick'Em Jenny Neck. Out on the Neck Audrey and Arla come upon Agent Howard who is bird watching. He wants to talk to Audrey and convinces Arla to go and meet her husband, James in town. He explains that he is Audrey's "ride", he drops her off and when the time is right he picks her up again. He shows her the barn in the distance and tells her that the Troubles will stop for twenty-seven years when she decides to go into the barn. But she doesn't want to go in because Audrey will die and she will become someone else. He tells her to go and figure out a way to stay, but, while she tries to stay, the sky is starting to fall and will continue until Haven is destroyed. Nathan and Duke arrive while Howard and the barn disappear. A meteor falls and destroys the lighthouse. Audrey says she has to find James, as he knows how to end the Troubles.
 
In town Vince has Dave tied up in the trunk of his car when Dwight arrives. Dave had knocked him out and let Arla go and so Vince says he's dangerous. Dwight says to let him out as he leaves. Vince doesn't. Audrey, Nathan and Duke search for Arla and James. In a hotel James is sick and Arla is looking after him. James thinks his mother, Lucy/Sarah, had tried to kill him. Duke rings Arla on Claire's phone to tell her to bring James and meet him, for he will arrange to get Audrey, who can take James back into the barn, so that he can get better. Dwight lets Dave out of the trunk and Dave tells him that Vince wants Audrey to go back into the barn, but he thinks they should deal with the situation, break the cycle and truly end the Troubles. Duke helps Arla bring James to the barn and they are soon joined by Audrey and Nathan. Arla discovers that Duke wasn't helping her, but getting James to Audrey. Audrey figures that the barn won't leave until she is ready to go. In the confusion James goes into the barn with Audrey and Nathan in pursuit. Inside, the space is enormous with corridors fading away in the distance. Nathan can feel again, for apparently Troubles don't operate inside. He says that if the barn were destroyed the Troubles could be ended. They are transported back to 1955 and see Vince, Dave and Sarah arrive to blow up the barn, but with no effect. They have been shown one of Sarah's memories by Agent Howard that indicates blowing up the barn wouldn't work. Nathan doubts the memory, so Howard shows another memory he couldn't doubt and he and Audrey witness Sarah making out with Nathan. Back in the barn, Nathan, separated from Audrey, finds James and tells him he is James's father. James explains that his own death was the only thing that could keep Lucy out of the barn. The day James was about to leave Haven someone bashed him in the head and Arla found out it was Lucy. As Audrey approaches, James disappears. Outside, as Duke guards Arla, they are surprised by Jordan and the Guard. Nathan explains to Audrey that James thinks killing him will end the Troubles, so they have to find him and figure out what to do. Audrey summons Howard to show them James, but James will only trust Arla and wants to see her.
 
On their way to the barn Dave and Dwight catch up with Vince and convince him they have to stop the Troubles once and for all, so Vince goes to the barn and tells the Guard to leave. Vince has been their boss all along. He explains to Duke that he had prevented the Guard from killing him. Audrey comes out and brings Arla inside. Because Troubles have no effect, James sees Arla's mask, discovers what she has done and is horrified. Arla, knowing she has lost him attempts to stab Audrey, but James intervenes, taking the stabbing himself. Audrey turns the blade on her and goes to James, telling Nathan to take Arla outside to prevent her from being restored. James tells Audrey that Lucy said killing someone she loved was the only way to end the Troubles for ever. He asks her who she loves now. Howard appears and Audrey asks him why she belongs in the barn. He explains that the barn is like an amplifier for her. When she is in it the Troubles are nullified, but after twenty-seven years her energy is depleted, the Troubles come back and she has to go out and "recharge" with love. He answers her questions that she is human, that she is not Troubled, that it seems she is being punished because she is supposed to kill the person she loves, and that there are only two ways out now, one is the temporary solution, the other permanent. She goes to say goodbye to the people outside. Nathan finds it too difficult, but Audrey flees into the barn, so Nathan threatens to kill Howard. Jordan comes round the barn and shoots him. Nathan responds by shooting Howard. She shoots again and as Nathan goes down Duke grabs his gun and finishes her. The barn starts rupturing with light, as does the body of Howard, which soon disappears. Arla's body is sucked into the barn. The wounded Nathan tells Duke to go and save Audrey, so he races into the disappearing barn. It vanishes and Nathan is left by himself calling for Audrey.

Let me start by saying how happy I am that the producers didn't try to combine this episode with a Trouble-of-the-week plotline.  Instead, they just let the conclusion to the season's overall story play out as a single piece.  It's a good move, and one that -- hopefully -- shows an increased trust in the show's audience.

As for the episode itself, I thought it worked pretty well, although it's far from perfect.  When Jordan shoots Nathan toward the end, it is not filmed particularly well, and I'm still not entirely sure whether I'm supposed to think Nathan is badly wounded, or whether she only kinda grazed him or something.  Nathan doesn't feel pain, so Lucas Bryant's acting can't be of much help.  Maybe we could have seen some blood somewhere or something?

Production issues like that still crop up on the show too often, but I can let stuff like that slide to a large degree if I am emotionally invested in the characters, and by this point, I am definitely in that camp.  Even when I disliked the series, I liked its three main characters and actors.  Happily, the writing is starting to rise to their level.

There were some intriguing developments in this season finale, to say the least.  I'm shocked to find myself saying it, but ... I'm actually looking forward to the fourth season.

GASP!!!

*****

And with that, we are now caught up on the world of television episodes based on Stephen King properties.  It's been a long-winded one, fo sho, and if you have stuck it out all the way to the end, I deeply appreciate it.  I hope it's been of some use to you!

9 comments:

  1. Don't listen to him, folks - 'Battleground' IS 'that great!'

    But that aside, wow, man, how long did this one take? I'm impressed. Good stuff. As someone who has spent a good amount of time contemplating screengrabs, I particularly enjoyed the pics you chose to include. Good eye.

    The 80s saw such a revival of the anthology show format. I don't think any of them really improved on their 60s counterparts, but it was fun to grow up with Amazing Stories, Tales from the Darkside, the 80s Twilight Zone, the 80s Alfred Hitchcock, Freddy's Nightmares, Friday the 13th the Series (which I still watch way too often, thanks to it being on cable every Saturday here in Chicagoland), and... I feel I'm missing a few. (The Outer Limits revival came later, of course, and may even still be going, I don't know. I never really liked it.)

    The original Outer Limits is a bit awkward in spots, but quite unique. Its influence on King is unmistakable, although I didn't consider that until I read Danse Macabre. Now it jumps out at me everytime. (Boris Karloff's Thriller, as well) I'll be interested to see what you have to say about that aspect of it, when/if you get to it.

    I have to give those last few seasons of The X-Files (as well as the Dead Zone, and even Haven) a look-see one of these days/ years. Didn't it end with Mulder saying we all had to Dec 21, 2012 before the alien-compact or whatever-the-hell-the-mythology-morphed-into-by-that-point expired? But, I haven't considered the show or its mythology in quite some time, so I shouldn't be too snarky. I remember growing disenchanted with it, then tuning in for the last episode and getting actually pissed off. But, it's been awhile.

    "Chinga," though, has one of the greatest openings for the series. It's not a great episode, I agree, but that opening is killer.

    The Rocky Wood books is loaded on the kindle - just got to find the time. (I'm juggling Under the Dome and 11/22/63 at the moment)

    Well done!

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    1. * book, not "books." Stupid typos.

      Also, I love being prompted to "please prove you're not a robot." HOW DO I REALLY KNOW, INTERNET???? Haven't they seen BSG???

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    2. p.s. One last thing - I only saw that Family Guy King-homage a few months ago. It's not bad. I hated that show for years, but my wife likes it, so my resistance was slowly eroded. Now I don't mind it. Anyway, that particular episode will likely appeal to you.

      They managed to get the ST: TNG cast together for an entire episode, so that's something. (Though not as impressive as getting the TOS cast together, on Futurama)

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    3. My lack of familiarity with the various horror-anthology shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits is one of my perceived serious weak spots, culturally-speaking. I was hearing a podcaster talk about the "Talking Tina" episode of The Twilight Zone recently, and it sounded like an unbelievably creepy episode.

      Watching that entire series, as well as The Outer Limits, will be a project for this blog at some point years hence. King talks about them both in Danse Macabre, so I say it's fair game!

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    4. "Talking Tina" is fun. The TZ had some definite classics. I'd say maybe 20 or so untouchable episodes - the problem is there's about 200 of them, overall. A lot of them haven't aged well.

      Ditto for The Outer Limits, but they had a better ratio of good-to-bad, I think.

      King's assessment of both in Danse Macabre is pretty on the money. When I read that last summer I got a little miffed, thinking he was short-changing the Twilight Zone. Which I grew up watching and have a Trek-like loyalty to. But, it really should be said, there were an awful lot of crappy episodes.

      I remembered a couple of other 80s anthology shows since my original comment; Ray Bradbury Theater and Kurt Vonnegut's Monkey House, and, of course (tho I guess it was more 90s) Tales From the Crypt. I wonder if we'll ever see another time where there's so many anthology shows airing at the same time.

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    5. Probably not, but you never know. As many channels as there are to program these days, it might well happen again eventually.

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  2. Crikey - don't know how I miss these things, but Dawn's and my recent stay in the hospital got me thinking about Kingdom Hospital again so I thought I'd put it in as background at some point. "Some point" turns out to be this morning, and voila, 20 minutes in, the guy who stops to pick up Peter Rickman, is driving a Nozz-a-La truck.

    I wonder what other things I'll pick up on this re-watch.

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    1. I knew Nozz-a-La made an appearance, but I didn't know there was a Nozz-a-La truck! Or, at least, I'd forgotten it.

      Cool!

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  3. I really ought to update this post, shouldn't I?

    I don't think I will until "Haven" and "Under the Dome" are finished, though. Although by then, who knows, there might be a brand-new King-based series or two (or three) to contend with.

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