Wayward Pines: Season 1 DVD Review
Written by R.J. MacReady
DVD released by 20th Century Fox
Written and directed by Various
2015, 440 minutes, Rated TV-14
DVD released on October 13th, 2015
Matt Dillon as Ethan Burke
Carla Gugino as Kate Hewson
Shannyn Sossamon as Theresa Burke
Toby Jones as Dr. Jenkins
Melissa Leo as Nurse Pam
Hope Davis as Megan Fisher
Terrence Howard as Sheriff Pope
Juliette Lewis as Beverly Brown
M. Night Shyamalan has had a string of hits and misses since he broke through with the smash The Sixth Sense, but it's the recent run of the latter that has had many writing him off as creatively-bankrupt. As I mentioned in my review of his most-recent film The Visit, I've always hoped he would stage a comeback and that little film – that's gone on to make 65 million on its budget of five million – was a good step in the right direction for his career.
When news broke that he would be executive producer (and would direct the pilot) of a television show based on the "Wayward Pines" novels, questions arose as to how he'd handle the gig. Would it be the Sixth Sense Shyamalan or the After Earth Shyamalan who'd show up to the job?
I'm happy to say it's another step in the right direction for Shyamalan. The show, based on a trilogy of books by Blake Crouch, finds Matt Dillon playing secret service agent Ethan Burke. Ethan's been tasked with finding two missing agents near the town of Wayward Pines. The show opens up fast and really never lets up, as Ethan wakes up from a car crash and finds the corpse of one of the agents all in the first twenty minutes of episode one.
From there Wayward Pines becomes a curious mix of The Prisoner meets Twin Peaks, as the town and its people are harboring a secret that Ethan becomes desperate to discover, especially since he doesn't seem able to escape the town or contact his superiors.
I'll admit that the first episode didn't exactly hook me. It wasn't bad, but Dillon's character didn't seem particularly compelling or interesting. The mystery of what's going on is the driving force of the show, and in TV that can be a good thing or a bad thing. If the answer to that mystery is weak and/or they drag it out too long (I'm looking at you, Lost), then the show becomes a disappointment.
The good news is that Shyamalan and Crouch decide to give you all the answers you're looking for by episode five, titled quite accurately "The Truth", and from there the story plays out with minimal flashbacks.
Shyamalan's always had great success utilizing talented actors, and the show's stacked with them. The main ones are Juliette Lewis, Shannyn Sossamon (A Knight's Tale), Toby Jones (Hunger Games), Oscar-winner Melissa Leo, Oscar-nominated Terrence Howard and the prolific Hope Davis. The always-gorgeous Carla Gugino plays one of the missing agents that Matt Dillon searches for, and finds.
I talked to a friend that read the books who claimed that they appear to have crammed all three books into this one season, which would explain the breakneck pace, but leaves me curious as to how they do a season two. The ratings appear to warrant it, and I'd welcome it if they came up with a good idea to continue it.
Either way, it's a self-contained story, so if you enjoy a well-made television show you can binge-watch in two days then this is for you.
Video and Audio:
No issues with the audio/video. Presented in 1.78:1 with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, it looks and sounds great. It also comes with Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0, and subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
This is where they skimped out; two extras that total under twenty minutes. (Technically there are movie trailers on the discs, but I'm not counting those as extras.)
Where Paradise is Home: A Style Guide to Wayward Pines is a hodgepodge of interviews (including Shyamalan) regarding the production design of the town of Wayward Pines. It's only a short nine minutes, so you're not going to get anything great out of it, but it's interesting enough if you like seeing "behind the curtain".
Creating A Mythology: At 10 minutes, this quasi-making-of is short but features pretty much everybody you'd want to hear from, whether it's M. Night Shyamalan or creator Black Crouch or stars Matt Dillon or Terrence Howard. It's mostly superficial chitchat about the show, but again, if you enjoyed the series then it's worth looking at.