*Very* wayward, amiright people? I don’t even know what that means…..
Screw my New Year’s resolution to be more positive. I have two big (huge!) concerns about Fox’s M. Night Shaymalan-helmed event series Wayward Pines and the phrase ‘event series’ didn’t make the top three.
One involves a series of promoted tweets Fox put out over the last couple of weeks playing on the idea that something Very Unusual is occurring in this small town with the same name as this lil’ TV series. Words like ‘unique’ or ‘different’ were involved. I had many an internal eye-roll upon seeing those tweets after watching the pilot1 because a) if the best your marketing team can do with an M. Night Shyamalan piece is say ‘it’s different!’ then stop hiring your studio chief’s nephew straight out of business school and b) for all the stuff I liked about the pilot (positive stuff below!) its utter uniqueness was not among them.
This is a series that starts with a nearly identical shot to Lost, tells – at least in the pilot – a tale with many a shade of The Prisoner, has character quirks quite akin to Twin Peaks, and – interesting little space-time-dilation aside – ends up physically very reminiscent of the little-watched Persons Unknown.
And I will put up with all of that since I can ignore the advertising, except for my second big (huge!) concern that the advertising presages a smugness about how clever the creative team thinks Wayward Pines will end up being. This very-possibly-thinks-it’s-cleverer-and-more-unique2 than it really is show matches M. Night Shyamalan, a writer/director whose concepts have increasingly fallen apart between pitch and screen, with Fox, a network that has repeatedly shown itself to be tone deaf to source material and creator intent. There’s a real risk that we’re going to get a Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark-level train wreck out of such a pairing.
All that said there are several reasons I’m legit excited about Wayward Pines. The cast is great, both generally as actors and specifically doing what they’ve been asked to do so far. The budget for this show is proper, so the look is strong. This is an event series, not a testing-the-waters summer replacement.3 And this genre has always appealed to me – when it doesn’t get too smug about its mystery. There are a ton of wonderfully weird touches throughout4 and very little time was spent on tight shots of Matt Dillon staring in steely confusion or whatever at said weirdness. Good job. That’s how you do a show like this.
I have many, many questions about Wayward Pines‘ pilot,5 but I will not care about getting answers to most of them if the show moves things along and piles up the unanswered questions in an aesthetically pleasing pile while sort of frantically pointing at the next weird twist in this world.6 A commercial I caught after the sneak peak suggests something really world-bending might be afoot. Again, good. I want to stare in delighted confusion at my TV for ten weeks.
- FOX released tonight’s premiere online and on demand several weeks early. ↵
- Uniquer? ↵
- Persons Unknown. BTW, I may be the only person you’ll encounter who watched and enjoyed all of that show. ↵
- Cricket speakers! ↵
- Why didn’t he go back to the sheriff’s office first thing in the morning? Are Secret Service agents all trained to perfectly ID bloated corpses in dimly lit rooms? Is Carla Gugino’s character really supposed to be 28? HOW DID HE NOT SEE THE TRUCK?! ↵
- Happy Town. There was a series that kept things properly weird and yet grounded and moving. ↵