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September 2014

Haven - season 4

cast: Emily Rose, Lucas Bryant, Eric Balfour, Richard Donat, and John Dunsworth

writers/ directors: various

572 minutes (15) 2010-4
widescreen ratio 16:9
Entertainment One DVD Region 2
[released 8 September]

RATING: 7/10
review by Christopher Geary

Haven - season four

Based upon Stephen King's short novel The Colorado Kid (2005), and produced in Canada, Haven is set in a picture-postcard fishing town in Maine. The TV show is a likeable cross-genre series that mixes offbeat crime drama with fantasy horror, and has melancholy folk theme that's a cut above most music scores. Lots of weird sci-fi and obviously supernatural things occur, and such events are very often caused by, or centred upon, otherwise quite ordinary local people cursed with special abilities they simply cannot control, especially when they are struggling to cope with overwhelming emotions.

These 'troubles' come under the baffled scrutiny of FBI agent Audrey Parker (Emily Rose), who arrived in Haven on routine assignment, but meets reformed crook Duke (Eric Balfour, Skyline), and becomes the partner of local cop Nathan (Lucas Bryant), a lonely romantic who cannot feel anything but her. A couple of old guys, Vince and Dave, run the Haven newspaper, and their secretive investigations help cover-up the odd stuff in all its varieties. Inevitably, as the gatekeepers of authoritarian from truth out there, these elderly brothers and their cohorts succumb to a diminished morality, just like any other so-called benevolent masterminds. Eventually, a 27-year cycle of dramatic re-appearances by the heroine, using other identities, is revealed.

Haven boasts at least some of the engaging mystery of Twin Peaks (1990-1), but it is never quite as bizarre or sinister enough to win a strong cult following. It copies the isolated town model of Eureka (2006-12), yet many characters are strange variations of the superhuman types from such TV series as Heroes (2006-10), and Haven has an increasingly complex back-story and a narrative mythology that borrows freely from The X-Files (1993-2002).

The great Canadian actor Stephen McHattie (Pontypool) was excellent as a standout provocateur among the recurring characters of seasons one and two. Season two introduced Adam 'Edge' Copeland, one of the very few professional wrestlers with any notable acting ability, and he became a regular on the show. He plays bullet-magnet named Dwight, a welcome addition to the supporting characters. The end of season three featured a meteor storm, and we saw Audrey and Duke vanish into 'the Barn', an outwardly plain structure that provides access to an otherworldly realm.

In this fourth season of 13 episodes, heroine Audrey is now living a wholly different life as barmaid Lexie, but her world is not what it seems. Six months later, new girl Jennifer (Emma Lahana, Alien Agent), from Boston, travels to Haven with returnee Duke, and finds that she a psychic link to the missing Audrey. Colin Ferguson (the sheriff in Eureka) appears as the mysterious William, whose purpose is to coax Lexie into accepting that her life is not real, so that she can escape through another inter-dimensional doorway. This doesn't happen until the climax of episode four, but when she returns to Haven, Audrey 'plays' Lexie, a very different personality; although she demonstrates the same pragmatic sense of destiny, and is equally brave. Will Audrey sacrifice her love for Nathan to save Haven? Does Nathan really need to die to put an end to all of the increasingly dangerous troubles?

There's freaky weather, spontaneous combustion, a free-range blood-pool infection, some impossible kidnappings, unusual suicides, and deep-sea pressures on land without any water that plague Haven with crushing forces leaving survivors with the bends. The Havenites suffer a volcanic eruption and Audrey is presented with a gift box from hell. "Why the hell does anybody still live here?" asks Jennifer, pointedly.

Lay Me Down features campy humour when dreams go viral. Bad situations on both the domestic and paranormal fronts escalate, with crazy behaviours that frequently threaten to unleash a microcosmic holocaust, including a makeover day with many role changes for everyone, where the troubles vanish and petty vandalism is Haven's biggest problem. Is Audrey the real saviour of the future, or is it actually William? Shot In The Dark features a reality-TV crew, the 'Dark-side Seekers', who haplessly track down were-wolfish attacks while they attempt to expose Haven's conspiracy. Cue wonky-cam shambles with clichéd chases. That's not this show's finest hour, but there are better episodes in this season.

William is revealed to be a Loki-style trickster, apparently the source of all Haven's troubles, and he claims that Audrey is his partner in the curses of the 'troublemaker' crimes. In the end, this season's story-arc is about coming home. It's an odyssey - an emotional journey in search of a place to belong. The heart of Haven's seaside appeal is an old lighthouse with a hidden trapdoor, and the season finale investigates this in an amusingly sequence, with a pulp horror paperback as our heroes' talisman key! Its fateful importance and malign influence upon the whole town is left unclear, but this is a clever twisty plotline with an intriguing cliff-hanger.

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