Debuting in 126 countries around the world, in 33 languages, on exactly the same day, Wayward Pines is one of the biggest television launches in history. If only the show deserved such a lofty pedestal. Based on Blake Crouch’s book and adapted by Chad Hodge, the “event series” marks the television debut of mystery man M Night Shyamalan. While searching for two missing Secret Service agents, fellow suit Ethan Burke ( Matt Dillon) is involved in a car crash and wakes up in the peculiar mountain town of Wayward Pines where everything is a little… off. The hospital has no patients, hidden speakers pump out the sound of crickets and the town’s inhabitants are almost all aggressive and unhelpful. What’s worse, telephone calls go nowhere and all roads out lead straight back to Strangeville. Burke is trapped, but the big question is: why?
To its credit, the first episode rattles along, unleashing what feels like a full season’s worth of plot in 45 minutes. And if you’ve read Pines you’ll know the show’s not likely to disappoint as the 10- episode season goes on either. It’s got a darkly comedic tone that blends laughs and moments of surprising violence well and crucially Matt Dillon is superb as the surly agent stuck in a nightmare town, even if the rest of the cast are often a little too quirky for their own good.
The problem is it does nothing mystery- driven American dramas haven’t been doing for 10 years. Take the opening shot – an extreme close- up of an open eye belonging to a battered, bruised and besuited man lying on the floor, surrounded by tall trees in the middle of the day. Yep, it’s all but identical to Lost’s opening moments, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s homage or second rate knock- off. There are even flashbacks and hints at pseudo- supernatural weirdness going on.
Twin Peaks, The X- Files, The Prisoner and more recent fair such as Persons Unknown and Ascension have all done a very similar thing ( in most cases better) but the real test will come in how it handles the tale’s later twists and turns. For now it’s hard to see the wood for the trees. Jordan Farley
Matt Dillon discovers that they don’t sell Newcastle Brown either.