Haven A Rare Serial Worth Watching In Its Third Season

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Courtesy: Entertainment One/Syfy

Syfy used to be one of the greatest networks on cable at one point.  It lived up completely to its name, airing primarily science fiction.  But somewhere along the line, this one great powerhouse of a network fell off and did a total 180, opting instead for really bad modern day B-movies and the like.  But in the last couple of years or so, it has looked like there might be tiny glimmers of hope with the Battlestar Galactica special, “Blood & Chrome” and the introduction of Defiance.  And then, the network took a couple more daring steps, picking up Sanctuary and Haven.  While the prior only lasted four seasons, it was a great mix of fantasy and sci-fi and was a perfect fit for the network.  Haven on the other hand, is more of a sci-fi/supernatural hybrid.  This aside, the show is still a good fit for Syfy.  And currently being in the midst of its fourth season, it will be interesting to see if it can outlast Sanctuary.  While fans take in Season Four, they can now take in every episode from the show’s third season on DVD and Blu-ray.

Things get quite interesting for both Audrey (Emily Rose) and the residents of Haven.  Secrets are finally revealed about Audrey’s past that will change her future forever.  She finds out just who the Colorado Kid is and how he is supposedly connected to her.  That won’t be revealed here for the sake of those trying to catch up with the series.  There is also an evil twin plot with a twist in the two-part episode, “Magic Hour.”  The evil twin plot is a staple of any science fiction program.  And while its execution in this two-part episode has been done before, it’s rarely been done in the format used here.  As Season Three winds down, even more revelations are made in “Last Goodbyes.”  Again, the show’s writers keep the surprises coming; so much so that audiences can’t help but keep watching.  That is the sign of solid writing.  So congratulations are in order for the show’s writers, obviously. 

Writing is key to any television show’s success, regardless of genre.  And if Haven’s third season is any indication, the show’s writing is just as solid as ever, even as a serial.  In the case of a science fiction show, the writing is especially important.  But it’s not the sole factor in the show’s success.  The shooting and special effects are just as key to the show as its writing.  And both were just as expertly pulled off as the writing.  Considering Syfy’s recent track record with a majority of its programming, it would have been so easy for the people behind the cameras to go the cheesy angle.  Rather, the special effects and shooting tied in to the show are just as good as those in NBC’s sci-fi drama, Revolution and even AMC’s The Walking Dead.  That’s some pretty good company in which to sit.  And those that work tirelessly to make the show’s special effects and shooting something special.  Along with its writing, these two factors help to show why exactly why Haven is one of the best dramas on television today.

The writing, special effects, and shooting are all key components to the success of Haven in its third season.  And now that it has been released to DVD and Blu-ray box set, audiences have even more reason to be happy about their favorite show.  That reason is the included bonus features.  Season Three’s box set includes both audio commentary and more than enough bonus features to make any Haven fan squeal with glee.  Fans are treated to the full series of Haven webisodes, and all the standard behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews.  The full making of featurette is there, too in “The Haunting Truth About Haven:  A Documentary.”    Fans will also appreciate the bonus New York ComicCon Haven panel.  This feature is the real bright spot among the bonus features.  That’s because fans really get to see the cast as themselves, rather than as characters.  The cast and writers discuss what could be expected from the showing in coming episodes and the now fourth season.  Rather than taking questions from the audience, the panel is run by a moderator.  And her questions for the cast are both serious at times and at others worthy of more than their share of riotous laughter.  The responses from the cast members are a just as serious and laugh out loud funny.  It’s one more positive to a box set that any true sci-fi fan will appreciate.  And it is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.  It can be ordered online via Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Haven-Complete-Third-Season-Blu-ray/dp/B00DPJEWCK/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1379621678&sr=1-2-fkmr0&keywords=haven+the+comple+third+season.  More information on this and other releases from SyFy is available online at http://www.syfy.com and http://www.facebook.com/Syfy

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The Haunting Hour’s First Season Closes With Two More Scary Sets Of Stories

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/The Hub

R.L. Stine and The Hub are back with two more volumes of seriously scary stories for kids and their parents.  The Haunting Hour Vol. 3 & 4 offer audiences ten more tales of terror that will entertain and scare audiences every time they turn them on.  This latest pair of volumes offers not only five great episodes each, but some star power, too.  The Haunting Hour Vol. 3 boats guest appearances from the likes of Robert Capron (Diary of a Wimpy Kid), Maddison Pettis (Cory in the House), Christopher Heyerdahl (Hell on Wheels, Sanctuary), and others.  Apparently, Heyerdahl has a thing for playing villains, much like Tim Curry, as he takes on the role of quite the scary character in the episode, ‘Fear Never Knocks.’  Heyerdahl’s character is absolutely creepy in his role in this episode, terrorizing a pair of children who stumble upon their grandfather’s “box of fear.”  He is released when young Jenny decides to play with the box, and releases both her fears and those of her brother and fear itself (played by Heyerdahl).  Also in Volume Three, Maddison Pettis is one of three kids that get caught up in a supernatural story that brings the past and present together thanks to a mysterious mask.  The mask shows events that happened in the past, which themselves lead to another mystery that will leave viewers guessing right up to the end of the story.  And in another of the set’s best episodes, Robert Capron plays a young man whose overactive apetite leads him to get much more than he hoped for after a strange ice cream truck starts making rounds through the boy’s neighborhood.  This is an episode that will send “chills” (ba-dump-bump-bump) through every viewer, and will make them think twice next time they see an ice cream truck come through their neighborhood.  What’s more, it’s a valuable warning against over eating, too, ironically enough.  It’s little things like this, and the writing for the other noted episodes that make The Haunting Hour Volume Three another nice inclusion for any fan of ghost stories and of R.L. Stine’s work.

Courtesy:  Shout! Factory/The Hub

Courtesy: Shout! Factory/The Hub

The scares don’t stop with Volume Three of The Haunting Hour.  Fans will also enjoy Volume Four, which was released alongside Volume Three.  The show’s fourth volume offers even more scares, as well as guest appearances.  It all opens with another episode that’s just as much a warning as it is a scary story in ‘Wrong Number.’  Debby Ryan (The Suite Life on Deck, Radio Rebel) stars in this episode as Steffani.  Steffani is a rather spoiled young woman that is the very stereotype of the stuck up “mean girl.”  But she gets what’s coming to her when she and her friend decide to prank call an elderly woman one night.  The consequences of her actions turn out to be deadly, as a matter of fact.  This is just one of the many scary stories presented in The Haunting Hour Volume Four.  Another equally terrifying tale included in this set is the episode, ‘Lights Out.’  Super 8 star Gabriel Basso stars as Teddy, a young teen skeptic who is pulled into a ghost hunt after watching a ghost hunt show on TV.  Teddy’s friends set out to prove to him that ghosts are in fact real in their hunt for the supernatural.  He learns that lesson in a way he never would have expected, nor will viewers who have never seen this episode.  The twist ending will scare audiences to no end and leave them talking.  As with Volume Three, what is presented here is just part of what makes Volume Four so enthralling.  The stories presented in these two volumes are sure to scare and entertain both kids and adults alike.

The Haunting Hour recently wrapped its third season on The Hub network.  Allegedly, a fourth season might be in production.  That gives ample time for both seasons Two and Three to be released to DVD while fans await the show’s return to The Hub.  Until then though, these last two volumes of Season One will keep audiences coming back again and again.  All four volumes are available in stores and online and can be ordered online direct at http://www.shoutfactorystore.com

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Sanctuary: The Complete Series A Fitting Final Release For Show’s Fans

Courtesy:  Entertainment One

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Sanctuary was one of the most extraordinary shows that Syfy had during its four seasons on the air.  It was obviously also one of the network’s least appreciated and most underrated shows as it seemed that network heads kept moving it from time slot to time slot, never really giving it a full chance.  But thanks to EOne, fans of this hybrid sci-fi/fantasy drama have the opportunity to enjoy the show whenever they want as it has finally been released in a full four-season box set complete with bonus features included in all four seasons.

Right from the moment that they open this eighteen-disc set, fans are awarded for their loyalty.  They are rewarded with a companion booklet that does more than just list episodes.  The companion booklet in any box set is far too often overlooked as just another addition to box sets.  But in the case of Sanctuary, it’s also an in depth guide for fans both new and old.  For all intents and purposes, it serves as a Playbill of sorts.  It starts by including descriptions on the show’s primary characters, explaining the role that each one plays in the show.  Also noted in the character guide section is the name of the actor in each role.  From there, audiences are treated to an episode by episode guide of all four seasons, complete with listing of bonus features included with each season.

The episodes that made up Sanctuary’s four seasons had so much going for them; so much so that it’s impossible to entirely put into words.  The first thing that audiences catch about each episode is the balance of live action and CG.  From the sets to the characters, the mix of the two elements was very well balanced.  That balance of live action and CG based special effects is a small part of the success of the show’s episodes.  On a more subtle, but equally impressive note, the people in the show’s make-up department are to be commended for the work done to transform star Christopher Heyerdahl into Bigfoot.  Were one watching Sanctuary for the first time, they would not even know that both Druett and Bigfoot were played by the same actor.  Perhaps the only similarity between the two would be the characters’ chins.  Other than that, the show’s make-up department did an outstanding job turning Heyerdahl into the gentle giant that was Bigfoot.

So much work went into making the world of Sanctuary believable.  Just as important as the sets and costumes was the writing for each episode.  And even in just four seasons, Sanctuary offered more than its share of enjoyable episodes.  The entire season opens expertly with a two-part series premiere that wastes no time introducing the show’s cast of characters.  From there, the mix of multi-part story arcs and standalone episodes make for more than their share of entertainment.  One of the best of the standalone episodes comes from the series’ first season.  “Requiem” sees Will and Magnus answer a distress call from the Bermuda Triangle from a society of undersea beings.  They take Magnus’ submarine, “Nautilus”, to investigate the call.  The result is a life or death struggle for Will after Magnus is infected by a parasite that took over the beings that lived in the Bermuda Triangle.  This plot line may sound familiar.  As familiar as it is, the way in which the story line was executed makes it entirely original.  It’s just one of the many great episodes from this underrated series.

Another of the series’ standout episodes is another of its stand-alone episodes.  It too, comes from the series’ first season.  “Instinct” sees the team having to chase down a pair of rather unruly insects which are merely trying to protect their young.  The catch is that it’s all caught on tape by a far too overzealous young woman hoping to get her big break as a reporter.  The multi-pronged “story here is what makes it so enjoyable.  On the one hand, it serves to show just how over the top and too far the news media is willing to go for a story.  There’s a lot of truth to how the young lady and her camera man handle capturing the team’s actions.  On the other hand, it also helps to point out just how secret Magnus and her fellow associates at the Sanctuary are.  Not only that, but as secret as the Sanctuary network is, it helps to illustrate how misunderstood the unknown is.

Sanctuary offers fans plenty of great episodes through the course of its four seasons.  But one of the most important and enjoyable is the series finale.  How the series ends won’t be given away for the sake of those who have yet to see it.  But it leaves the door wide open for the series to be revisited and rebooted should any company ever have the interest in doing so.  Even if this doesn’t happen, it serves as a fitting end to what was and is one of the most underrated and underappreciated dramas to ever come to television.

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Season Four Is A Bittersweet Sendoff For Sanctuary

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Sanctuary’s end is here, fans.  It was announced earlier this year that after the hit show’s fourth season came to an end, Syfy was not going to renew it for a fifth season.  That being the case, the show has done a good job wrapping up some of the loose ends from its first season.  In season four, fans finally see the conflict between Adam and Helen come to its conclusion.  And the conflict between SCIU and the abnormals finally comes to a head in what can only be described as a bittersweet ending for the series. 

 

Courtesy: Entertainment One

Season four opens with the episode, “Tempus.”  In this episode, Helen travels back to London, 1898 to hunt down Adam.  She has to find him because he had jumped back to save his daughter, Imogen.  This is where things get dicey.  In the process of trying to find Adam, she also encounters the old Adam.  It later turns out after that encounter that the future Adam has taken Imogen, thus changing the future.  However in what she believes to be a final conflict, Helen kills Adam and saves the future.  The problem is that Imogen is inadvertently killed by Adam in the conflict.  As a result of everything, Magnus is stuck in 1898, and has to live there in seclusion until 2011, so that she can resurface.

Magnus bides her time, finally able to resurface in 2011.  But it would turn out that while she may have killed Adam in 1898, he pops up, so to speak in the episode, “Chimera.”  Magnus and Tesla run into a digital copy of Adam in a manner of speaking when they enter the Sanctuary’s computer system in order to quarantine a virus that threatens to basically shut down all of the Sanctuary’s systems, and even go global.  When they go into the computer, who should they run into but Adam, or a digital copy of his being.  The digital Adam ends up trapping Helen and Tesla, leading to a game of cat and mouse that ends with Adam being the one who gets trapped in the digital world.

After dealing with the issue of Adam once and for all, Helen has another obstacle to face in rising tensions from the abnormals.  Beginning with “Acolyte”, audiences get a hint that something very big is coming between the abnormals and the humans.  Thanks to abnormal leader, Caleb, an all out war with the humans nearly happens.  Thanks to efforts by Will, Magnus, and Tesla, that war is averted.  But it’s at a high price.  For those who haven’t seen how the series comes to an end, that won’t be given away.  As a hint though, the very end of everything is actually happy.  Though it does leave viewers wondering “what if.”  What if Syfy had picked up the show for a fifth season?  Either way, it can be said that at least it leaves viewers feeling like everything was wrapped up nicely.

Sanctuary Season 4 is available now on DVD and blu-ray.  It can be purchased in store or ordered online.  It can be ordered online via Syfy’s store, http://www.nbcuniversalstore.com/?v=syfy&ecid=PRF-TV2-100025&PA=PRF-TV2-100025.

To keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news, go to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it or its companion page, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Reel-Reviews/381028148587141.  Fans can always keep up with all the latest entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.