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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

deep thought (re the decline of Syfy)

Haven is the most boring show on television.



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  • RogerBW

    Yeah, even I couldn’t bring myself to watch this one, and I watch a lot of crap.

    Warehouse 13 continues to have occasional flashes of “hey, actually this is quite good”. And of course there’s Eureka.

  • texphile

    I have sucessfully managed to give Haven a miss as well. I like W13 for what it is… sci fi lite. Eureka is also mildly entertaining. I mostly watch it for Colin Ferguson. (He is such a cutie). I see the Sy Fy name as a misnomer… Most of what they pass off as Sci fi is either horror or fantasy. Let’s not forget WWF wrestling is a big part of their actual demographic.

  • Cathy

    I want to like Syfy’s shows but they all seem so slow to me. I am still recording Haven but I basically just have it on as background noise when I’m working…putting on the same level as the morning news and Judge Judy.

  • AJDS

    Well WWF is pure fantasy- so it fits with the rebranding.

  • RogerBW

    Cathy, I’m watching practically everything on 1.4x or 1.5x time acceleration these days – cut out the advertisements too and an “hour” show is half the length. (The only tricky bit is to shift the audio back down to normal pitch while keeping the speed, but mplayer can do this.) I think that a lot of shows are designed for people with poor attentiveness who are being distracted by other things.

  • mortadella

    Yes, Haven blows. Doesn’t have a thing in common with the source material, by the by. I miss Farscape.

  • This show really makes me think about how tastes have changed over the years. Haven shares a lot in common with X-Files, as well as with the newer Fringe (on Fox). I find Haven very, very boring, but it at least has a greater sense of being part of a larger story than early seasons of X-Files. It makes me wonder why X-Files was so popular back when it was on. Do we like different things now, or was there some part of X-Files that was inherently better?

    Fringe on the other hand, is like X-Files with ADD, and it’s quite successful. It lends credence to the idea that the public’s tastes have turned away from slow, thoughtful suspense and prefers people exploding, dying, or getting half naked every 10 minutes.

    No real point here, just food for thought.

  • Muzz

    Perhaps I’m out of the loop, but isn’t Scifi channel’s mediocrity more the norm and shows like BSG and Eureka rare exceptions? (and lets face it, BSG was mixed in quality itself)

  • It makes me wonder why X-Files was so popular back when it was on. Do we like different things now, or was there some part of X-Files that was inherently better?

    The X-Files was a smart, witty show about a subject that had great potential to be dumb. I watched a few of the older episodes a couple of years and I was surprised how easily I got absorbed in stories I didn’t expect to get absorbed in. I found it especially interesting to compare said episodes to the more recent Night Stalker reboot which tried to employ the exact same formula but failed miserably–perhaps because the X-Files episodes were more skillfully written and acted, perhaps because the writers of the Night Stalker didn’t seem particularly interested in their stories.

    I’m still reserving judgment on Haven–which I haven’t seen–but what little of Fringe I’ve seen on Hulu hasn’t convinced me I’m missing much.

    I’d like to catch up with Warehouse 13 when it hits DVD but then again there are a lot of shows I’d like to catch up on.

    Anyway, I wouldn’t mind seeing a new X-Files-style show if they could pull it off but then again I wouldn’t mind seeing a new Wonderfalls, a new Eli Stone, a new Pushing Daisies, etc.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    I think part of it also is that X-Files had a certain novelty at the time. It brought a modern tv sensibility with stronger production values to the older concept of investigating the supernatural. What’s also interesting is that the series never gave up the central idea, which was relatively mundane citizens being thrown into situations where they were way out of their depth.

    Since then “team secretly investigates magic/aliens/wierd shit” is a relative staple of TV sci-fi now, so most of the possible combinations have been done. I think one of the reasons I think X-Files stands out though, is that Scully and Mulder might have been top-notch FBI agents, but they were still mundane humans. Even Mulder didn’t have any superpowers, short of an encyclopedic knowledge of the supernatural available to anyone with a subscription to the Fortean Times. I think it created a unique tone to the show, in that often Mulder sna Scully served as the surrogate audience, unable to do much more than to guess at the nature of the mystery while it ran it’s course, powerless to actually do anything. The constant feeling of powerlessness against the vast unknown helped maintain the creepy atmosphere of the show, and it also made the clear victories all the sweeter for their rarity.

  • MaryAnn

    I miss Farscape.

    Heh. I’ve been catching up with *Farscape* on DVD: I’ve seen episodes here and there over the years but had never really been serious about it. Maybe I’ll write a little about it eventually.

    I think one of the reasons I think X-Files stands out though, is that Scully and Mulder might have been top-notch FBI agents, but they were still mundane humans.

    But they were also interesting characters. The two leads on *Haven* are dull as dishwater. It’s also bizarre that so much weird shit is happening in one small town and people barely notice. And the overall premise — weird shit happens in a small town — isn’t as compelling as *The X-Files*’ overall premise: government conspiracy! Even in the standalone monster stories, Mulder is himself part of the government conspiracy simply by dint of being an FBI agent who blows into town to investigate and then doesn’t stick around to talk to *Time* magazine or whatever.

    On the surface, *Haven* and *The X-Files* do seem pretty similar. But the execution is very different, and that makes all the difference.

  • Rachel Hartman

    I’ve tried watching Haven, and over several episodes because sometimes it really can take a while for a show to find its voice/legs/groove, but … it ain’t happening for me. In the end, time I spend watching Haven is time I could spend catching up on Eureka or re-watching Burn Notice.

  • Left_Wing_Fox

    Perhaps I’m out of the loop, but isn’t Scifi channel’s mediocrity more the norm and shows like BSG and Eureka rare exceptions? (and lets face it, BSG was mixed in quality itself)

    Perhaps. I personally quite liked them back around 2000-2003 when they were showing off a lot of original series and ambitious productions, before they decided that they were spending too much for too little return, cancelled the lot of them, and started pumping their money into cheezy, cheap monster movies for people to mock.

    Heh. I’ve been catching up with *Farscape* on DVD: I’ve seen episodes here and there over the years but had never really been serious about it. Maybe I’ll write a little about it eventually.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you think once you’ve watched those episodes in the order they were meant to be seen. I always felt the show did a pretty good job of balancing between the standalone nature of “Star Trek” and the episodic narrative of “Babylon 5”, and wondered if new viewers found that blend interesting, or incomprehensible.

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