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Saturday, May 16, 2015

PILOT REVIEW: Wayward Pines


Starring: Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Shannyn Sossamon, Reed Diamond, Tim Griffin, Charlie Tahan, Juliette Lewis, with Melissa Leo, and Terrence Howard

Based on the Novel by Blake Crouch, Developed by Chad Hodge
Written by Chad Hodge, Directed by M. Night Shymalan

THE PREMISE: Wayward Pines is an eerie new mystery drama based on a novel and directed by famous (yet often ridiculed) spooky movie director M. Night Shymalan. The series centers on Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) investigating two missing agents in the sleepy and strange town of Wayward Pines, Idaho. He soon realizes nothing is as it seems including discovering missing agent and Burke's lover, Kate (Carla Gugino), in a different life. Meanwhile, we see his life at home with his wife and son (Shannyn Sossamon and Charlie Tahan), who don't know where Burke is. Burke's only friend appears to be another outsider in Wayward Pines, Beverly (Juliette Lewis). Rounding out the main cast is a psychologist (Toby Jones), a toymaker (Reed Diamond), a nurse (Melissa Leo), the sheriff (Terrence Howard), and Burke's boss (Tim Griffin).

THE GOOD: I haven't seen a Shymalan film in several years but this brought back the feelings of the few I have seen. It excels at creating a creepy ambiance and an unsettling feeling throughout the pilot. I felt more wrapped up in this show than I have other conspiracy/mystery dramas of late and I think it's because they kept it simple for the most part. Yes, there are a lot of characters and the potential is there for it to get convoluted. But it wasn't so far. There were a few questions answered and a few more raised but it never got overwhelming. The performances are good. I like Juliette Lewis more in this than I usually do and way more than I did in the Secrets and Lies pilot. Speaking of other stars from other shows this season, Terrence Howard seems solid and very different from Lucious Lyon. Matt Dillon spent most of the episode in a daze so I'll be interested to see what happens with his character.

THE BAD: Even though the early Shymalan films were great, recent ones have gotten a bad rap from fans for not really following through on its premise or delivering the thrills. I worry about that with this show. I worry it will go the way of something like Under the Dome quickly (and it's very reminiscent of that show but more eerie than sci-fi). Even though the pilot was fairly straight forward, I felt like the hops between Burke's experience in Wayward Pines and his wife & son elsewhere alongside flashbacks of certain moments made it a little confusing to understand what was happening in the present and what was happening in the past. This is especially important because there seems to be some sort of time element to the mystery and that can't get too confusing.

BOTTOM LINE: I'll be back for more of Wayward Pines. It hooked me more than recent mystery dramas including Gracepoint and Secrets and Lies. The feeling was creepier and the setting was more unique. Not to mention the performances were better. I'm just so leery of shows like this because I worry I'll devote 10 hours to watching all the episodes and feel unsatisfied at the end. Prove me wrong, Wayward Pines!

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