How SYFY made a show based on a Stephen King story and didn’t tell anyone.

by Robin Reed

Well, they didn’t tell me. I am the target audience for any show with a science fiction, fantasy, or horror premise. I will watch anything in those genres. And Stephen King – I have two shelves devoted to his books. I haven’t caught up with “The Colorado Kid” yet, a short novel of Mr. King’s from a few years ago, but if I had heard a hint of a TV show being made that was based on it, I would have been there to check it out.

Instead, I discovered “Haven” due to insomnia, by which I mean I couldn’t sleep, not the title of another Stephen King book. I got up and watched TV, switching to Syfy (still hate the new name) because that’s where I always start a TV session. I move on only when I have seen the show or movie already or if even I can’t stand the particular CGI monster that appears before my wondering eyes.

“Haven” is set in a coastal Maine town, but I knew that these kinds of shows are never shot in the U.S., and indeed the long and detailed Wikipedia article (someone knew about this show, and wrote a long and very boring article about it) says it is produced in Nova Scotia. Seemingly it was first developed for E!, which as far as I know doesn’t do scripted shows at all. (E! is one of the channels that produces an autonomic thumb movement on my remote to get past it as fast as possible.)

Stop me if you have heard this before: An outsider (FBI agent Audrey Parker) arrives in a small town (Haven, Maine) on a routine case (or to solve a murder, or is brought there by a son she didn’t know she had) and discovers that a lot of strange things happen in that town. There may even be clues about her own identity. When the first case is wrapped up, she is offered a job as a sheriff’s deputy (or something) and stays on. You should have stopped me, that’s “Once Upon a Time,” and several other shows the titles of which don’t leap to mind.

So I watched two and a half episodes, and when I got some sleep and then looked it up I found that this show has been running since 2010. It is distributed all over the world. I have never heard of it. I have never seen an ad for it. We’re going into the third season and it has escaped my SF, fantasy and horror addled brain entirely.

Now that I have discovered it, I will watch it again. The next time I can’t sleep. The stories weren’t that exciting or original. The Stephen King story must have been better.

The last episode I saw involved men in the town aging and dying in three days after making it with a mysterious hottie. At the end we find that said hottie has a baby every time she seduces a man. One of the series regulars (and possible love interest for Audrey) Duke Crocker starts to age and just before he perishes from all the latex in his old age makeup, Audrey tries to place the baby in his arms to see if the life energy will go back into him. No, it hurts him to bring the baby near him. But he recovers and the baby is shipped off to be adopted somewhere. The logic of the story is completely blown. We know either the baby or Mr. Crocker has to die. It has to have been written that way. Mr. Crocker is one of those characters you know won’t die because he’s in every episode. The baby is just a prop wrapped in a blanket. Someone intervened and told them you can’t kill a baby. So they reshot a little and made them both survive. Then why did the other two men die? Why does the story matter?

I will go read “The Colorado Kid” and see if it bears any resemblance to this show.


Just your average ordinary superhero

Full disclosure—I’m not a fan of Spider-man. Not because I’m arachnophobic.  I don’t mind spiders at all. Spider-man simply wasn’t one of my go-to superheroes. You know how you don’t like something just because? That would be me and Spider-man.

Now I’m a little more partial to the crawly dude since I saw THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. Overall I found the movie enjoyable. The cast was good, the CGI wasn’t overwhelming or obvious, and as with all Marvel movies of late, the sequel set-up was there and not too ham-fisted. I might even watch this movie again, which I can’t say about too many other films.

And yet, there are a few nits to pick. The main one is the issue of backstory, aka the writer’s bane. How much previous information is too much? How to decide what is germane to the story you’re trying to tell? If you leave anything out, will the audience be confused? If you add more than you need, will the audience be bored?

In this case, a good half hour could have been cut from the first act without taking anything away from the story, and the tighter edit sure would have helped with the pacing. The movie starts off quick—Peter Parker’s parents disappear and no one knows why. Of course we the people know they know why, they’re just not telling. Then the story delves into the family drama of Peter as a gawky teenager still dealing with his parents’ disappearance, and the beginning of a crumbling relationship with the aunt and uncle who selflessly raised him. All good stuff—except it has almost nothing to do with the second and third acts. PP’s/Spidey’s vigilante revenge grinds to a nub once he realizes he’s causing problems for the police. Because all superheroes cause the po-po headaches, don’tcha know. And since he’s carrying a web-wrapped torch for the police chief’s daughter, this gangly, brilliant, agile, spandex-wearing emotional mess of a spider-bite-gone-wrong has to do the right thing—forget about catching his uncle’s killer and, uh, chase the big dinosaur.

An argument can be made that the family angst is pivotal to Spider-man’s development as a superhero. True, if that had been carried throughout the story. Instead it seemed like a chance for stunt casting Sally Field and Martin Sheen, who, while excellent in their roles, could have easily been five minute cameos and the message would have been the same: Spider-Man becomes the reluctant hero because of his uncle’s tragic death. It would have been better to use the first ten or fifteen minutes to show the backstory, then on to dinosaur chasing, web flinging, air swinging shenanigans. And don’t forget the impossible romance that must end in tragedy or the sequel will. not. happen.

Despite all that, I’m looking forward to Spider-Man 2, which according to imdb is happening in 2014. I’m just giddy about all these superhero movies, because for the most part, they are a blast to watch. I just hope the sequels to all the sequels that have been already sequelized don’t let me down.

Thinking Man Reviews: Nikita Season Two Finale


**This episode originally aired in May 2012. If you are unfamiliar with the series, be aware this review contains spoilers.**

“Power Mr. President. Real power.” – Percy

It was another fast paced and action packed finale for the CW’s Nikita, as her war against Division finally comes to an end and she is forced back into the life she abandoned long ago.

That’s right. Nikita (Maggie Q.) has finally defeated the wonderfully evil Percy Rose (Xander Berkeley) in the season two finale “Homecoming”. But rather than destroy the organization she hates, Nikita and the gang must take control of Division and reform its practices in order to save the lives of the Division agents led astray by both Percy and Amanda.

But how is it that Nikita came to such a precarious position?

(EDITED BY munchman TO ADD: Ooh! Ooh! I know the answer to that question. Because somebody at the CW saw the last season of ANGEL, where he takes over the Demon Law Firm that’s been the enemy for years and said, “Hey, I have a bright, fresh and new idea! What if we–” Nevermind. Sorry to interrupt.)

Well, it all started when Dr. Evil Percy called up the President and told him he had sharks satellites with freaking lasers pointed their way under his control, which he proved by blowing up a power plant. After that the Nikita crew mobilized to disarm the satellite and take it out of Percy’s hands. Nikita and Michael (Shane West) achieved this by infiltrating Division and not-so-subtly blowing up a big computer.

Problem solved. But, hey, this is Percy we’re talking about, ain’t no way he’s going down that easy. Percy calls the President again and reveals that it was all a fake out. He had convinced the President of the United States that he was shooting laser beams from outer space when all he really did was plant a bomb in the power plant. Oh Percy, you so crazy.

He also tells the president that his top man (Roan) will set off another big bang unless Percy gets immunity and a nice retirement package. Little do they know that Percy had been given membership in an international shadow organization (the Evil League of Evil I assume) that will take him to the next level of… evilness?

Meanwhile, Alex (Lyndsy Fonseca) and Shawn (Dillon Casey) were having trouble tracking down Roan (Rob Stewart). Inside Division Nikita was forced to protect Percy and get him out safely so he could call off the attack.

It seemed as though everything was coming up Percy. But just as they made their way to the surface, his pride and ego refused to cooperate and he turned on Nikita beating her down and threatening to kill her. Unfortunately for him, the only reason any of us are alive is because Nikita allows it. And as you might expect, she quickly turned the tables and caused him to fall to his death.

Fortunately, Alex and Shawn managed to find Roan before the bomb was set and gave him a nice one-two punch to save the day. Crisis averted. Nikita wins. Huzzah!

With Percy down and Division disarmed, the government considered killing the remaining Division agents but Nikita and company decide to take control of it themselves and hopefully return it to the principles for which it was originally created.  And with that it’s all over. Except one thing, Amanda is still out there and in the final scene we discover she has a deciphered blackbox. Season three here we come!

Season Two 

Thinking Man Rating: 15 Thumbs Up

Season Two Finale

Thinking Man Rating: 14 Thumbs Up

**Be aware the Thinking Man rating system is based on awesomeness and should be disregarded if you are not now, or have never been, awesome.**

Peer Production: THE SILENT CITY Season 1 Episode 3

Three down and only two to go on this very well done web series. Hope they’re working on more:

Thanks to Rubidium Wu

Ken Levine on Sitcom Tapings and Series Crossovers

Dood gives a postgrad course right here:


What you see is what we show you by Ken Levine

…Ken, what do you think of series crossovers, like CHEERS/WINGS? This effectively makes CHEERS, WINGS, THE TORTELLI’S and FRASIER exist in the same universe as one another.

Do you think, despite it being an obvious ratings ploy, that it’s nice to have this shared universe among the characters?

On a similar note, what do you think of the CHEERS/FRASIER episodes?

I always like crossover episodes. It’s fun to see characters from different shows interact. I especially liked the CHEERS/FRASIER crossovers because David and I wrote most of them. (Four with Lilith, one with Sam, one with Diane.) We also wrote the WINGS episode with Frasier and Lilith. Here’s a piece of totally useless trivia: David and I are the only writers to write Frasier Crane in three different series. I think that’s our legacy.

Crossovers can get sticky however, if both shows aren’t from the same creative team. On ALMOST PERFECT we did a crossover with CYBILL. There must’ve been four drafts that ping-ponged back and forth between our writing staff and theirs.

Read it all (including more about crossovers and the whole bit about directing)

While we’re at it, maybe Ken will deign to acknowledge us – or, at least TVWriter™ – after he hears that we’ve told you to buy his book, The Me Generation, because it’s great! Because it is!