Imagine a cross between "Twin Peaks" and "Murder She Wrote," set in a quaint Maine town where weird things happen every week.
That's the best description I can come up with for "Haven," a paranormal crime show very loosely adapted from Stephen King's novel "The Colorado Kid." The first season starts off on a rather mediocre note with a string of one-off "troubles," but slowly develops a mysterious arc that grows more intriguing and powerful as time passes.
FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) is sent to the town of Haven to find an escaped murderer... but as soon as she arrives, she finds that the guy is dead... and his death was physically impossible.
Not only does Haven have some bizarre people and strange weather patterns, but Audrey finds that she has a connection to the place -- an old photo with a woman who looks just like her. So she decides to stay in Haven, and partners up with local cop Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryan) to solve local crimes while she searches for hints to her past.
However, it turns out that the "troubles" are returning to Haven after thirty-ish years -- mysterious aging, outbreaks of madness and sanity, spontaneously rotting food, horrible deaths related to artwork, a shadowy "Dark Man" (no, not the one Stephen King fans are thinking of!), a deadly shapeshifter, fiery deaths, a poltergeist and countless ground cracks.
"Haven Season 1" takes a little time to bloom. At first the acting is stiff, the one-off plots are ordinary, and there's no strong overarcing plot except "the troubles are back!" But as time goes by, the stories get darker and the writing becomes more compelling -- especially since only some of the mysteries center around stuff you can arrest people for.
Each episode introduces a new bizarre occurrence, and has Nathan and Audrey trying to unravel whose powers are going out of control. These mysteries are fairly clever, and there are some funny moments sprinkled in every episode ("I need a HUUUUUGG!"). And despite being based on a King novel, most of it isn't horrifying -- there are some creepy moments, such as a poor guy's eyes, ears and mouth slowly sealing up before our eyes. Eww.
Emily Rose is kind of stiff in the first few episodes, but she becomes a really likable heroine by the halfway point of the series -- she's strong, compassionate, playful and has some shocking secrets of her own. Bryan plays Nathan as reclusive and quiet, mainly because he can't physically feel anything. And there are some solid side performances by Eric Balfour as a charming smuggler, Nicholas Campbell as the gruff sheriff, and Anne Caillon as Nathan's girlfriend.
"Haven" hasn't fully unfolded into the great show it might become, but the first season shows it starting to really bloom -- and leaves you wanting more.