[Warning: Some spoilers ahead.]
More: Twin Peaks 101
That might just be because I have, too. Throughout the premiere, flashbacks to other shows and movies came racing through my head. It's not that it's a bad program... it's just that it's entirely unoriginal. The premise is simple enough: Produced by M. Night Shyamalan, Wayward Pines stars Matt Dillon as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke who is on a search mission for two missing co-workers. A car crash kills his partner and finds Burke in an eerie hospital, and then roaming around a picturesque but incredibly strange town called Twin Peaks with no money and no cell phone. The more he tries to escape, the worse his life becomes and the stranger the town begins to seem. And with each twist in the road, I'm left feeling nostalgic for entertainment from these much better iterations on a similar theme.
From the very start everything about this show feels like Shyamalan wants you to treat Wayward Pines as your Twin Peaks replacement. Even the opening scene with the welcome sign seems straight out of TP. A small town surrounded by lush greenery and mountains, a quirky sheriff, a federal agent and a dead body? Seems pret-ty similar. Except that no matter how brilliant Terrence Howard is on Empire, he just isn't up to snuff with the Twin Peaks sheriff we know and love. And, more importantly, Shyamalan is no David Lynch.
Of course with Twin Peaks you almost immediately felt a sinister vibe to many of its residents; with Wayward Pines, it tries a little harder to feel idyllic. More importantly, there's a very strict-running order and everyone seems to have their assignments in life. The small-town perfection reminded me of Pleasantville while the way-too-perfect families called to mind Stepford Wives.
Remember Eerie Indiana? If anyone has the box set of that show, please send it my way and collect my never-ending love and appreciation. It was an amazingly quirky show and so many elements of the town of Wayward Pines feels like that. Something about the über-perfect houses that we've yet to see inside of makes me certain there's Foreverware in the bedrooms. And the piped-in cricket sounds just seem altogether too strange to believe. The Sheriff's obsession with his rum raisin ice cream continues to play into the whole not-quite-human aspect of the townspeople, as well.
Halfway through the episode, when one character looks up to the fan on her porch and you suddenly realize everything that happens in Wayward Pines is filmed and monitored, you begin to wonder why. If you're like me, you might even squint at the television, recognizing that it's another callback to a better version of the same story, but you're not quite able to place it just yet. Later, when Agent Burke attempts to leave town and is looped back in, it will hit you: It's The Truman Show. And by the end of the first episode, you'll feel even more solid in that comparison. I'm not suggesting it's a blatant rip-off. Let's just just say that it's so obvious where it's going, I was practically giving my viewing buddy a play-by-play.
Will I tune into the rest of the limited series? Uh, yeah. But, that's kind of my job... and I still want to see how it ends.
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