Review: Haven: The Final Season (Blu-ray)

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Title: Haven: The Final Season
Format: Blu-ray / DVD
Release Date: April 19, 2016
Studio: Entertainment One
Original MSRP: $49.98 (Blu-ray) / $39.98 (DVD)
Number of Discs: 4
Language: English
Subtitles: English
MPAA Rating: NR
A copy of this series set was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Audio Review:
The audio review for this Blu-ray is available on Episode 469 of the podcast at 95:00.

Story:
In August 2015, about three weeks from the airing of the first episode of Season Five, SyFy announced that Haven was being cancelled. Fortunately, the producers had sensed the writing was on the wall and had already taken the approach that this would be the final season.

Here’s where things get a little bit weird, but this is Haven after all. Each of the first four seasons aired as thirteen episodes across a four month period. Season Five ran twenty-six episodes spread over two four month periods: September through December 2014 and October through December 2015. That’s essentially two full seasons airing a year apart.

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Granted, the numbering doesn’t mean a whole lot to the viewing public at large but it can create a lot of confusion for fans, for the show’s stars, even for the marketing department. In September 2015, about a month before the final thirteen episodes began to air, Haven: Season 5, Volume 1 was released on Blu-ray and DVD.

This set is simply titled Haven: The Final Season. Confusing? You betcha. I initially thought that this was the complete final season, rendering that Volume 1 set useless. That’s not the case.

… the show is given a proper ending …
What we have here are the final thirteen episodes of Haven, technically Season Five, episodes fourteen through twenty-six. This is Season 5, Volume 2 though you won’t see it titled as such (unless you live in the UK). When talking about this final group of episodes in the supplemental materials on the Blu-ray, Eric Balfour even gets confused saying “Season six, Five-A, whatever it is we’re calling it”.

Whatever it is we’re calling it, this set contains the (currently) final episodes of the series Haven. The major storylines are all wrapped up and the show is given a proper ending, rare in TV these days.

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It also leaves the door open just a crack for any possible revival. A wise move considering the possibilities 2016 has to offer with crowdfunding, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, and more.

I’ve had time to digest the season and consider its part in the overall series and I’m still a little iffy on the whole thing. I realized that what drew me into the first few seasons were the characters and the stories, but I seem to recall it having a more lighthearted tone overall.

… the heavy WWE influence this time around …
Whatever the case, the past few seasons have been very dark and I’ve had a much harder time enjoying them. The writing also seemed to slip into a number of convenient plots and more obvious twists. Like, you can see it coming three episodes away, obvious.

There’s also the matter of the heavy WWE influence this time around. Clearly the producers are wrestling fans and if you are as well, you’ll probably enjoy what they’ve done. If you’re not, you may notice some strange things between characters but not understand the wrestling influence.

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Because of the mostly obvious writing, the only time I was truly left wondering what would happen was right at the end of the final episode when the climactic showdown happens. This was the only place in the season where it felt like they could go either way so I was genuinely on edge with how things would shake out.

In the end, we get at least the major plot points resolved although there’s a lot of stuff maddeningly glossed over or simply forgotten about. The fates of the major characters are not without controversy but there is at least an actual resolution for everyone.

… just wonderfully detailed, especially in close ups …
Video:
The Blu-ray format is able to bring out so much more than the original broadcast airings in terms of clarity, depth, and lighting. Blacks that look crushed over cable show no signs of banding here.

The downside is that some of the… lesser… special effects look even more shaky with the added detail. However, characters and even the town look much better and just wonderfully detailed, especially in close ups.

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Audio:
An upgrade from earlier seasons, the DTS-HD audio is an excellent presentation. The dialogue is crystal clear as well as the sound effects which are used to heighten the mood throughout.

Along with a lot of the familiar themes in the music, everything is a bit darker and more sinister this time around.

… a huge omission …
Bonus Features:
Each episode contains an audio commentary, some better than others. The rest of the supplemental material is a bit hit or miss. We get the “Inside Haven” featurettes for each episode filmed during the making of each but they’re just too short to offer any real insight.

The Livestream segments are probably the most frustrating part of this material. Clearly there was a lot going on here with all the major stars of the show, a number of the more well known guests, and a few producers and showrunners answering questions live on the internet.

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Instead of giving us the full session, we have brief snippets that typically run for about a minute each. This should have either been the entire session or just dumped entirely. As it is, it feels like a tease and a waste of time.

Interestingly, the interviews don’t include essentially the biggest cast member, Emily Rose. The show revolves around her character’s journey and not getting an interview with her on the final season of the series is a huge omission.

  • Mythology Refresher (4:08) – A highlight reel of the previous seasons with all the important plot points
  • Haven Origins: Love Conquered All (8:36) – Another in a series telling of troubled people from history finding their way to Haven, this one set in colonial times.
  • Haven Origins: Trust Kills Fear (10:41) – Another in a series telling of troubled people from history finding their way to Haven, this one set in a Japanese internment camp after World War II
  • Haven Revisited: Livestream Segments with the Cast & Crew (11:12) – Nine individual clips running around a minute to a minute and a half each, pulled from a livestream Q&A session which can be viewed individually or all at once
  • Haven Archives: Entries From the Crocker Diaries (6:30) – These four “Diary Entries from Humphrey Crocker (1605)” don’t really add much to the story or lore of Haven in general, presented in a motion comic style with artwork designed to look like presentations from Revolutionary War historical building sites which can be viewed individually or all at once
  • Inside Haven Featurettes (40:29) – Thirteen behind the scenes features filmed during the making of each episode during the season each running anywhere from 2:21 to 4:02 which can be viewed individually or all at once
  • Interviews (44:06) – Five interviews with three of the stars, a major guest star (the shortest of the bunch) and one of the producers which can be viewed individually or all at once

 

Conclusion:
Despite the confusing naming, especially if you’ve collected the entire series on disc, this season is a decent, if uneven, conclusion to Haven.

The bonus features were really a missed opportunity, although somewhat understandable considering the timing of the cancellation announcement. Either way, the entire cast and crew appeared to approach this season as if it were the last, even before they knew for sure. It would have been nice to get more of a feel for that and a genuine look back in the supplemental stuff done for this set.

Fans of the series can at least be assured that all the major questions have been answered and that each major character has some kind of resolution to their individual story arcs. That’s more than can be said for quite a few genre shows with a cult-like following.

Score:
7.5

* All screenshots used in this review were provided by the publisher.

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