The big network channels like Fox, NBC, and ABC, have traditionally featured programs that were tame in comparison to the edgier programs found on cable. The networks have always tried to appeal to the most people possible, and this has kept them from pushing the envelope in the past. In recent years; however, there has been a shift in audience preference. Audiences are thirsty for shows with dynamic characters that have a dark side, rather than the typical "good vs bad" story. It is for this reason that Wayward Pines, Fox's new suspense mini-series.
Wayward Pines is based off the Science Fiction thriller novel Pines by Blake Crouch. This novel was so successful that it spawned the Wayward Pines trilogy and became an international best-seller. The plot of the book follows a man named Ethan Burke, played by Matt Dillon in the series, who is a secret service agent assigned to investigate the disappearance of two fellow agents in a small town by the name of Wayward Pines, Idaho. Burke gets into an accident on his way to town and wakes up with amnesia. Staying true to the "trapped in a strange town" genre, both the film and the movie follow burke as he slowly uncovers the strangeness surrounding Wayward Pines. Although it's too early to tell how close to the novel the series will stay, the big difference so far between the two seems to be plot vs. character.
This is the struggle that every novel that is made into a series or movie goes through. Pages of exposition describing character do not translate well to the screen. M. Night Shyamalan's specialty as a director has always been his plots. His characterization never exceeds the bare minimum necessary for the plot to work. Critics of some of his other works, like Lost, fear the plot for Wayward Pines will soon become ludicrous and the characters will be under-developed. The reality is these critics are forgetting Shyamalan is working off of someone else's script. In fact, the reason he got involved with the project is that he read a script by Chad Hodge and fell in love with the project. Also, the script is heavily inspired by the novel, especially when it comes to the characters. All Shyamalan has to do is make sure the characters are true Crouch's novel, and then he can focus on what he does best; creating drama and suspense leading up to the big reveal. It also helps that the big reveal was already worked out for him in the novel by crouch. All he has to do is focus on executing this in a way that resonates with a visual audience.
With that being said, there is some top-notch talent that should help bring these characters to life. Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke is one of those casting successes where you can feel the actor is the character. Terrence Howard, who is one of the stars of Fox's hit show Empire, plays the sinister sheriff of this small town. Mix in M. Night Shyamalan as Executive producer and director, and you have a recipe for an intriguing series. Many critics and fans alike have said the series has a Twin Peaks feel. This makes sense, as Crouch himself has admitted his novel was inspired by the plot of Twin Peaks, which involves a young FBI agent investigating strange happenings in a small town.
This 10 part mini-series is continuing the trend of Fox's shift towards edgier programming. It is a chance for Fox to wrestle away the younger demographic from popular cable shows and bring the ratings back to the networks, as evidenced by the early release of the pilot episode on-demand through DTV and Comcast. Any fans of the suspense genre should check out Wayward Pine when it airs May 14th on Fox.
Spencer Blohm is a freelance entertainment, culture, and lifestyle blogger. He lives and works in Chicago. When not working he can be found camped out in his apartment watching the latest films and newest television shows.