May 12, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: FOX’s “Wayward Pines”


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THE FACTS:  M. Night Shyamalan is the marquee producer of this neo-Twin Peaks-ian limited series.  (He also directed the pilot.)  It concerns Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, who travels to the small, strange town of Wayward Pines in search of two missing agents.  The people he encounters there include the sheriff (the very busy Terrence Howard), a nurse (Melissa Leo) and a bartender (Juliette Lewis).  It won’t come as much of a surprise that nothing in Wayward Pines is what it seems, and that might include Ethan himself.  Despite Shyamalan’s name up top, the series is created by Chad Hodge, whose last series was set in a very different kind of odd environment:  The Playboy Club.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  Oh, it’s saying Twin Peaks, loud and clear.  If the music and something-isn’t-quite-right-here bucolic exteriors weren’t enough of a tip-off, there’s the shot of Howard enjoying his ice cream cone with the same savor as Kyle MacLachlan once ate his cherry pie.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  With Shyamalan involved, one can’t help but worry about the ending–although the trailer seems to spoil a great deal of the mystery about what’s really going on in Wayward Pines.  (Impossible to tell with this kind of surreal narrative, though, how much of it may be a fake-out or a hallucination.)  The strong cast is showcased, and there’s no attempt to make the show seem any more mainstream than it intends to be.  Nevertheless, there’s only David Lynch in the world, and pulling off a show that recalls Lynch at his most iconic won’t be easy.

THE OUTLOOK:  Who knows?  Twin Peaks was almost 25 years ago, and this is the most cable-ish of anything airing on the broadcast networks next season.  Beyond the fact that FOX hasn’t yet said when they’ll put it on, the appetite of a wide audience for something so odd is uncertain.  It will certainly need strong reviews to get a foothold, and a story that moves forward instead of just being repetitively weird.  Hats off to FOX, though, for taking a real shot at something different.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."