M. Night Shyamalan Talks ‘Wayward Pines’ Series; New Behind the Scenes Image

Published 1 year ago by

m night shyamalan wayward pines M. Night Shyamalan Talks Wayward Pines Series; New Behind the Scenes Image

Some of our readers have wondered how M. Night Shyamlan’s After Earth failed to secure a spot (or “honorable mention”) on our Worst Movies of 2013 countdown, and the answer is simple: as flawed as the film arguably is (read our review), there are traces of complex storytelling and Shymalan’s auteurial touch that make the sci-fi/father-son drama worthwhile – well, okay, more worthwhile than other 2013 films like, say, the shoddy B-movie Getaway or bland horror sequel Last Exorcism Part II.

Those same elements have kept alive our hopes that maybe, maybe one day Shymalan can escape the sinkhole of ineptitude that he’s been circling in recent years, with movies like The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. Could his upcoming limited TV series Wayward Pines be such a project?

Wayward Pines – both Shyamalan’s mini-series and the Blake Crouch novel that inspired it – have long drawn comparisons to Mark Frost and David Lynch’s cult series Twin Peaks, and Shyamalan did as much in a recent interview with EW:

“When I read [Chad Hodge's script for 'Wayward Pines'] I immediately thought: Gosh, I know how to do this. It struck me as having a Twin Peaks-y vibe. David Lynch’s achievement with that show — especially in the pilot — was some super audacious filming. It’s the kind of thing where you have these quirky over-the-top performances that are still resonant. He balanced that line in a way only he could to. So when I read Wayward Pines, I found that same mix of humor I’ve been dying to do.”

Both Twin Peaks and Wayward Pines use neo-Noir traditions and offbeat deadpan humor to explore the seedy (and trippy) tale of a law enforcement agent, who travels to a small town to investigate a crime that exposes hidden (and bizarre) truths about many of the people who live there.

Matt Dillion stars in the Wayward Pines TV mini-series as Secret Service agent Ethan Burke, a father and officer who has his quirks (though they don’t includes a fondness for “damn good coffee and pie”) but soon discovers that the eponymous town is another beast altogether. Rounding out the supporting cast are such recognizable and talented character actors as Terrance Howard (The Butler), Melissa Leo (Prisoners) and Juliette Lewis (August: Osage County).

Check out Shyamalan and Dillon on the Wayward Pines set in the following image:


wayward pines matt dillon shyamalan 570x439 M. Night Shyamalan Talks Wayward Pines Series; New Behind the Scenes Image

One of the benefits of the television medium is that storytellers aren’t restricted to having one major narrative twist or revelation, and the various zig-zags in the story can play out over entire seasons and/or from episode to episode (see Orphan Black, for a good recent example) – something that should appeal to Shymalan the director, who is known for liking his surprises.

Shyamalan also broke down the additional benefits of realizing Wayward Pines on TV, during his talk with EW:

“Everyone’s been telling me that I’d like the way the medium is going, how it’s character-based and darker in tone. There’s been this shift towards the things I love: atmosphere and not black-and-white characters. Unresolved, open-ended stuff. It’s the same reason why I like smaller movies. It’s proving that leaning on characters and tone makes things resonant.”

For clarification, Shaymalan is an executive producer on Wayward Pines and is directing the pilot episode based on a script by Chad Hodge – creator of another Noir-influenced mystery TV series, in the form of the short-lived The Playboy Club. Other directors who are confirmed to helm at least a couple of the other 10 episodes ordered thus far include Zal Batmanglij (The East) and Charlotte Sieling (The Bridge).

There’s certainly an intriguing collection of filmmaking and acting talent involved with Wayward Pines, and for sure it’s encouraging to see Shyamalan in a more collaborative mode. Question is, could this become a cult success in the post-Millennial age of television entertainment – or will it end up ignored and quickly forgotten, like other Twin Peaks imitators (a la Happy Town)?


Wayward Pines will debut on Fox later in 2014.

Source: EW

Follow Sandy Schaefer on Twitter @feynmanguy
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  1. I have to say thank you Sandy for mentioning Happy Town, the Keyser Soze of TV shows.
    One week it was there and then poof… It was gone.

    • Funny enough, I watched the entirety of Happy Town while it was on Hulu.

      I’ve honestly seen worse shows and it has many recognizable faces (Amy Acker, M.C. Gainey, Sam Neill, Frances Conroy), but it really failed to catch on.

      • Yeah, it wasn’t terrible. I watched it when it aired on ABC and thought it had potential but like you say it failed it catch on and if I remember correctly ABC just dumped the last couple of episodes on the same night during the summer and then said bye-bye.

  2. People really need to give M. Night Shymalan a break. Just because some of his movies weren’t exactly great there is no need to play whack-a-mole every time he sticks his head out to make a movie, even if it seems to be the hip thing to do at the moment. At least he’s trying, which can’t be said for Tyler Perry who’s Madea movies inexplicably didn’t make the Worst Movies 2013 list. But then again you probably would have to bring yourself to actually watch them to rightfully put them on a list like that. ;)

    • “Some of his movies”? Other than The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable (which came out in 2000), they’ve all been complete disasters.

      • You can’t say that with any authority. This is pure subjective opinion presented as fact. I’m just curious what makes those films any better than Praying with Anger, Signs, The Village and Lady in the Water? I look at the last three of those movies and I see the same basic level of filmmaking. The same rich production design, the same gorgeous cinematography, the same evocative use of colour, sound and music, the same weight of feeling and the same desire to create something truly original and mysterious. I also see the same pretentions, the same maddening plot-holes, the same over-done performances and the same wistful fragility that weakens the film when viewed from the outside in. None of his films are perfect, but I genuinely don’t and won’t ever see what makes Sings, The Village and Lady in the Water so inferior to The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. You’re free to prefer one over the other, but to suggest that there’s this great disparity between them feels like a total lie (IMO).

      • To me The Sixth Sense will always be his best. Unbreakable had such a terrible cop-out ending when it could have easily been extended into one or two more sequels,which is what Bruce Willis wanted.
        On the other hand, however, Mel Gibson and the supporting cast of Signs were outstanding, and the story avoided the “surprise” ending which is M. Night’s downfall.
        I always liked the quirkiness of Twin Peaks, so I am looking forward to this series.

        • Unbreakable sequels would’ve ruined it. Just like a sequel to No Country For Old Men wouldn’t work. How many people criticized that film for not having a typical villain/hero showdown?

          Shyamalan was going for the same type of ending. It’s a depressing ending. As it should be as the answers to the questions the movie asks about superheroes and superhero worlds re, what would it be like to be a superhero? what would be like to live in Gotham city or whatever? what would it be like if they existed in our own world with our real life rules? As the movie shows, it ain’t a great happy one for anybody.

  3. Other than the question of whether this show will be watchably good, there is the question of whether it will feel like a pure Twin Peaks ripoff, or bring a new spin. I don’t know, b/c I have not read the book.

    But I do love the idea of a modern, well-done Twin Peaks successor, so I’ll give it a shot.

    I just think that Shyamalan needs to be careful about overdoing the “quirky over-the-top performances” – David Lynch and Mark Frost may have been able to orchestrate it well enough to pull it off, but some of M. Night’s quirky performances have been extremely hard to sit through (Girl in the Water, etc). Good story is important, so the fact that this is adapting something pre-existing is probably a good sign.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Happening” as well as “After Earth” and I was a complete skeptic to the latter until I saw it.

    I agree with the posters that many of Shyamalan’s movies have been less than satisfying but then again he is constantly being compared to his greatest work to date, “The Sixth Sense”, which was in essence comparable to Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves” in terms of excellence in design and performance.

    Doing this will make any of M. Shyamalan’s attempts after such successes seemingly impossible to accomplish and few have given him any break in the matter.

    “The Happening” was a well done “sleeper” with an interesting twist to the ending. And with a little better script direction with an additional fleshing out of Will Smith’s character background, “After Earth” could have been his second great hit.

    So in my opinion we should give this film artist a little more slack than he has been afforded in recent years. No one can pop out pieces like “The Sixth Sense” or “Dances With Wolves” on a regular basis. If film artists could you would have a similar situation to what we have already found with the over-use of CGI, formulaic films that really have very little if anything to offer…