TV DVD Review: Wayward Pines (USA, 2015)

Wayward Pines is M. Night Shyamalan’s first venture into the world of TV and while it lives up to his legacy of telling stories with ridiculous plots, it has got way too many problems to hold its own against all the other compelling shows at the moment.

Based on the book by Blake Crouch, the series follows Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon) who awakes after a car crash in the isolated and idyllic town of Wayward Pines. It doesn’t take long for Burke to discover that there’s something not quite right – and that leaving the town may be more difficult than expected.

The series’ most fun scenes come early on, where the series delights in its ability to throw the audience’s expectations and understandings on their head. However, once the series runs out of big revelations it begins to become disappointingly mired in the uninspiring melodrama of its characters. It doesn’t help that the series most fun characters – Sheriff Pope (Terrence Howard) and the sinister Nurse Pam (Melissa Leo) – become frustratingly ancillary as the series progresses.

While Shyamalan’s convoluted storytelling approach doesn’t do the series a lot of favors, his visual talents are a major asset. When the show’s faux-Americana aesthetic hits its mark, it’s eerie and cinematic in a way that few other TV shows can be.

Wayward Pines is far from awful, but even at its best, it falls short. Shyamalan’s talents benefit the series greatly but his storytelling style often lead the series into a narrative cul-de-sac common to this kind of mystery drama.

Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

The special features on the DVD set favor quality over quantity with only a scant two video features included and no commentary tracks to speak of.  ‘Where Paradise Is Home: A Wayward Pines Style Guide’ is a cool video short that tackles the production design of the show and how it changed over time provided some interesting insights but was a little on the short side.

Similarly, ‘Creating A Mythology’ documents how the show’s themes and ideas evolved during production. While I would have liked them to be longer, watching these features made me revise some of my disappointment in the show. Even if he fumbled the execution, it’s reassuring to know Shyamalan’s intentions and ambitions were in the right place.

Special Features Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Wayward Pines is available on DVD now.