Good, Bad & Ugly Review: Wayward Pines (Pilot)


Rotten Tomatoes Rating: NA (Critics) / 100% (Audience)
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: Chad Hodge
Starring: Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Toby Jones, Melissa Leo and Terrence Howard
Network: Fox

Synopsis:A Secret Service agent ends up questioning his own sanity as he searches for two missing colleagues in a strange town that he seemingly can’t escape in this thriller based on the novel `Pines’ by Blake Crouch. (Source)


The Good:
The cast assembled for this show would be great for a big screen movie but it is downright amazing for a TV show. I am especially loving Melissa Leo’s go for broke approach as a wacky nurse with the worst bedside manner this side of Nurse Ratchet and Terrence Howard’s sheriff whose ever present welcoming smile does little to hide the malice bubbling under the surface.
I was also glad it was confirmed right away that everything in Wayward Pines is actually happening instead of stringing viewers along with the idea that we should be questioning Agent Burke’s sanity even as Burke does it himself. Even knowing that this is not some demented fever drream, director M. Night Shyamalan is able to keep most of the scenes in the show at a nice level of creepy tension.
And I loved the cool opening credits scene of a miniature doll town.

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The Bad:
As impressed as I am by the cast I am not really loving Matt Dillon in the lead as Agent Ethan Burke. None of the things necessary to carry the vibe of a show like this are necessarily in Dillon’s acting wheelhouse. I am hoping it is just pilot episode growing pains and Dillon becomes more comfortable in the role going forward.

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The Ugly:
As a 10 episode show with an already defined ending, I was really hoping for more fearlessness in the storytelling. Without the specter of trying to extend a show for “6 seasons and a movie” I was expecting the insanity to be dialed up to 10 and for things to be far wackier than they ended up being. Of course this could just be a case of the pilot being set-up for the rest of the episodes but with a shortened run and a desire to grab the audience and pull them in for the whole ride things could have been a lot wilder.

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Final Verdict: WAYWARD PINES doesn’t go nearly as far with the weird and wacky as I hoped it would go but it does produce enough quirkiness to entertain and has an intriguing enough mystery that I am curious as to just what the heck is going on. With a cast this good my fingers are crossed that Shyamalan can bring this odd hybrid of PICKET FENCES and THE PRISONER home without falling into any of his established worst practices.

Rating: B

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