The “event series” Wayward Pines – based primarily on the first novel, “Pines”, in Blake Crouch’s Wayward Pines book franchise – follows Seattle-based Secret Service Agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon), who is on a search for two missing federal agents when he arrives in the eponymous Idaho town – an enigmatic place, which quickly pulls Burke into a far larger (and more dangerous) mystery in need of solving. As the trailer illustrates, this series is very much a descendant of Mark Frost and David Lynch’s often surreal cult hit show, Twin Peaks.
Having that said, M. Night Shyamalan – an executive producer on Wayward Pines, who also directed a handful of the 10 episodes (including the pilot) – has already made it perfectly transparent that this series is meant to be his direct homage to the mix of quirkiness, crime procedural drama, and unfathomable horror that is Twin Peaks, as well as that show’s neo-Noir examination of American small town life.
Indeed, Wayward Pines appears to feature more than its fair share of distinct nods to iconography from Lynch’s past work, such as vintage-style architecture and neon signs glimpsed around the titular location (e.g. allusions to the darker truths hidden beneath the friendly surface, in Noir tradition). The shot compositions and visual flourishes glimpsed throughout the Wayward Pines trailer seem more on the level with a movie than network television, no doubt thanks in part to Shyamalan being involved behind the camera.
However, for those of you who immediately distrust any project where Shyamalan is the main creative force nowadays, you might take some comfort in knowing Wayward Pines was created and written by Chad Hodge, who also played around with classic mystery narrative elements and neo-Noir tropes in his short-lived The Playboy Club. (Emphasis on you might take comfort.)
With its surreal atmosphere and hints at a larger mythology, however, the Wayward Pines trailer footage also brings to mind other cult TV shows, such as The Prisoner. (And, to a lesser extent, certain elements of Shyamalan’s Twilight Zone-esque film, The Village.) It’s certainly possible, therefore, that this new program will strike a chord with a younger TV viewing audience, much like its predecessors managed back in the day; if done well, Wayward Pines might also appeal to those who’ve long been searching for a fitting successor to the Twin Peaks throne (after past attempts like Happy Town failed to earn much attention).
In addition, Wayward Pines boasts a strong cast of character actors playing archetypes right up their alley, be it Oscar-winner Melissa Leo (Prisoners) as Nurse Pam, a caretaker whose bubbly exterior disguises her sinister intent – or Terrence Howard (The Butler) being all smiles as the untrustworthy lawman Sheriff Arnold Pope, whose habit of constantly snacking on ice cream drumsticks feels like a nod to the coffee/pie running bit on Twin Peaks.
Does the trailer for Wayward Pines pique your interest? Let us know in the comments section!
Wayward Pines airs on Fox beginning in Fall 2014