Tag Archives: Wayward Pines

Summer 2015 Review: Wayward Pines

15 May

Wayward Pines

There are supernatural mystery shows and then there are supernatural mystery shows. Many post-Lost supernatural mysteries have somewhat tamped down the mystery angle, probably smartly, so that they can work as character-based shows while the slow process of unfurling plot and answering questions inches its way forward. Often this effort is unsuccessful, and the dialogue and characters pale in comparison to the sheer curiosity generated by the central mysteries, but the effort is noble and well-advised. Placing all your eggs in the mystery basket often leads to disaster as Lost clearly demonstrated. Wayward Pines, however, disregards that recent trend, putting just about all its eggs in that supernatural mystery basket; every last one of them.

Matt Dillon portrays the protagonist, a secret service agent on a mysterious secret mission trying to find a missing coworker/former lover.  He is involved in a car accident, remembers little when he comes to and wakes up in a strange town in a decidedly old-fashioned doctor’s office where a seriously creepy Melissa Leo is working as his nurse. He is immediately suspicious of why he can’t contact anyone and where his belongings are. He gets up and escapes the hospital and then finds a local bar where the kind bartender played by Juliette Lewis offers him a burger on the house along with her address.

Things get weirder from there. Dillon, after an unsuccessful run in with sheriff Terence Howard, gets corralled back to the doctor’s office (I might bet getting the exact order of these events wrong, but that doesn’t really matter). He goes back to the bar, where it turns out no one is familiar with Juliette Lewis, going as far as to claim that she doesn’t exist and that he’s inventing her. When he heads to the address she left for him, he finds his fellow agent and passenger in the car in which he had his accident brutally murdered.

He tries to get out of the town, but finds that it’s surrounded on all sides by fence; it’s a trap or a prison or something. Juliette Lewis helps him escape from the hospital before surgery is performed on him against his well (more creepy Melissa Leo, along with help of doctor Toby Jones), conveying to him that she’s been trapped in this mysterious town for years. He eventually runs into the subject of his initial search, played by Carla Gugino, who looks all Stepford Wife-d up, and is older than he remembers her. It turns out, she tells him in hushed tones, because there are ears everywhere, that she’s been there 12 years, while far less time has passed in the outside world.

Oh, if that’s not enough, there are scenes outside of Wayward Pines featuring Dillon’s wife and son in Seattle, who are freaking out, naturally about what happened to him after the accident, since neither he nor his body has been found. His boss tells them he has no idea what happen to Dillon, but we learn that the boss is totally in on it, calling Toby Jones, to try to call whatever it is off, but it’s too late.

The recent summer network show that really went for the jugular supernatural mystery-wise that Wayward Pines immediately reminds me of is Under the Dome. I regret to remember that I watched nearly the entire first season of Under the Dome, despite the fact that it was probably the worst season of television I’ve seen in the past five years (Dexter Seasons 6 and 8 may be the closest competition). Asking questions is easy. Answering them is hard. It’s crazy but true that I liked Under the Dome well enough to keep watching it the first time I saw it because it got so stupid, so fast, but that’s because the easiest part of these shows is the pilot. If you believe the writers know what they’re doing, that every question asked no matter how outlandish or far-fetched it seems, hides a brilliant, intriguing answer that is satisfying, unpredictable, and wraps up all loose ends, well, these shows are incredibly tantalizing. That almost never, ever, happens, unfortunately, but the less information you know the easier the perfect ending is to imagine.

And if you’re not intrigued by the mystery, well, what else are you really watching Wayward Pines for.  Wayward Pines is obviously inspired by Twin Peaks, and while Twin Peaks was unquestionably mystery-driven – Who Killed Laura Palmer? It wouldn’t have endured without a lot more on its bones than that.

I’m not sure, from the one episode that Wayward Pines has more. The dialogue isn’t particularly sharp and the characters and cinematography are not particularly intriguing. There’s nothing else to get worked up about except for the mystery. And the mystery is actually intriguing to me, but I can only get fooled so many times by supernatural mystery shows before I stop biting. At this point it would take a lot for me to trust in a television supernatural mystery, and I’m not convinced I have that level of trust here.

Will I watch it again? No. I’m not falling for one of these again. I swear. I’m not going to do it. Just one more episode? Maybe it’ll get good? No, I’ll read about it on Wikipedia or if someone tells me I really need to watch it later on.

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Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: Fox

8 May

FOX

Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

Fox up next. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

Red Band Society

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 12-

This was an exact example of a show I thought would make it through one full season before not being invited back for another, but it did not get that far.

Gotham

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

Comic books are hot, and while Marvel has been killing it in the movies, the Batman brand may still be the strongest of them all. Gotham only had to not be terrible to survive, and it was just not terrible enough.

Gracepoint

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: No renewal

I really enjoyed Broadchurch, which Gracepoint was based on, and for some reason put my trust in an absolutely needless adaptation of a British show. This was always a 10-episode series, but poor ratings and being generally heralded as vastly inferior to the British version helped lead to its not being brought back.

Mulaney

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

Mulaney, despite it’s eponymous creator’s obvious stand up talents, looked bad, bad, bad, and it was bad, bad, bad, and thankfully Fox’s discriminating viewers did not reward its brand of badness by watching.

Spring:

Empire

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

Fox put everything it had into Empire, leading me to feel pretty confident, and Empire rewarded Fox with the biggest network debut in recent memory.

Backstrom

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 13+

Backtrom looked generic and behind the times, hitting lots of tropes that had been hit within the last decade dozens of times before. It seemed dead on arrival, and somehow lasted long enough to air all its episodes before being cancelled, just long enough to screw over my prediction.

The Last Man on Earth

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

The prediction I’m most proud of. There was no reason to pick this as a renewal, as most had pegged this high concept comedy as instant network cancellation bait. Against all odds, it was a mild success, and will be returning next year.

Weird Loners:

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

A pretty easy prediction. This aired midway through the spring, when nothing but shows that are doomed to be quickly cancelled air, and it reeked of being a poor man’s version of eight other similar shows.

Wayward Pines

Prediction: One Season


Reality: Undetermined, but probably one season=

This really shouldn’t be on here, as I didn’t know it was going to air so late, and there probably isn’t an option for a second season either since it’s miniseries-style. However, since I listed it initially, I thought I’d put it here now, if only to address how I can’t address it.

Spring Previews and Predictions: Fox

7 Jan

Fox

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with designs for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Empire – 1/7/15

Empire

This is Fox’s big midseason player. Terrence Howard plays the founder of a massive music empire (actually named Empire as well), which he built from nothing, starting out as a small time drug dealer to fund his music career. After he learns he’s dying, he realizes he must pass on his company to one of his three sons, who compete for the honor. Added to the picture is his ex-wife who appears to be getting out of a long prison sentence and wants what’s hers, having contributed to the label way back when it was just beginning. This is definitely an attempt for the network to do a big show, a cable-type show, and it’s from director Lee Daniels and writer Danny Strong of Lee Daniels’ The Butler fame. I rarely get hopeful for new network shows in this day and age, so forgive the tepidness you see throughout these predictions, but this show holds a halfway chance at maybe being decent, which is just about all you can ask.

Prediction: Renewal – Fox is pumping its promotion machine into this show, airing commercial after commercial, and if it fails, it’ll be a major black eye for Fox’s development team.

Backstrom – 1/22/15

Backstrom

You’ve seen this show before. The detective, who on the job is an absolute genius, who sees things absolutely no one else can see, has an absolute wreck of a personal life. He’s a misanthrope and an all-around asshole, but he’s damn good at what he does. This time Rainn Wilson plays that wacky detective, who is, of course, named Backstrom, and has a team of characters with a capital C that would be welcome on USA any day of the week.

Prediction: 12- It’s from the Bones creator, so I don’t know if that buys the show any good will (though it didn’t for Bones spin-off The Finder), but it feels like we get one of these shows every year, and those they may succeed occasionally, odds are against.

The Last Man on Earth – 3/1/15

The Last Man on Earth

Now, that was a weird trailer. The title is literal, not figurative. Will Forte appears to be the only remaining man on earth as he shops and then sings The Star Spangled Banner to an empty Dodger Stadium. I have absolutely no idea what to think. Presumably he at least meets a couple of other people, or the show would probably get boring fast, but I kind of like the fact that it’s so ridiculous. The pilot is directed by Chris Miller and Phil Lord, the men behind The Lego Movie and 21 and 22 Jump Street, which is a good sign, and I’ve always liked Forte.

Prediction: Renewal Why not? It’s not really a sensible prediction. The Last Man on Earth seems probably too insane, it’s airing way too late in the Spring, at a time where very few debuting shows ever get picked up, but it’s fun to pick surprises. Who knows, maybe it’ll even be good.

Weird Loners – 3/22/15

Weird Loners

I can’t actually find a trailer for Weird Loners which is never a great sign for the success of the show. There is an exceedingly small amount of information out there for a show set to debut in just a couple of months. Weird Loners is apparently about four relationship-phobic thirty-somethings who through some odd circumstances are forced to live together. Former Happy Endings cast member Zachary Knighton and How I Met Your Mother Barney love interest Becki Newton are among the cast members.

Predictoin 12- Well, I know so little about it, so it’s hard to judge based on quality, but the fact that there’s so little out there leads me to believe that unless it somehow generates an unlikely groundswell of support it’ll be a mid-Spring show which airs a few episodes before being completely forgotten about.

Wayward Pines – 5/14/15

Wayward Pines

A mystery-horror-suspense-mindbender. Matt Dillon is a special agent of some kind who winds up somehow in a town called Wayward Pines, Idaho. This is a mega-creepy Twilight Zone style town where everything looks hunky dory but everyone is watching (think Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life). It’s the type of town where you can enter, but you can never leave. One would imagine that over the course of the 10 episode series (it looks like an event-type series that’s over for good after 10) we’ll dive deeper into the dark secrets of this town and maybe find out a thing or two.  Juliette Lewis, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, and Toby Jones are among Dillon’s co-stars. M. Night Shayamalan is producing which is always troubling, but he’s not writing it, for what it’s worth.

Prediction: It’s a limited series, so there really isn’t one. It’s 10 and out, and it doesn’t seem like the type of show that would be easily anthologized, considering the title is the name of the town.