Tube Talk: Escape to Wayward Pines

By Paula Hendrickson
Columnist

Following a car crash, Secret Service agent Ethan Burke (Matt Dillon, Something About Mary, Crash) awakens in the eerily quiet hospital of a strange little town called Wayward Pines, with no memory of how he got there. Something seems off about the town, but the nurse (Melissa Leo, The Fighter, Treme) and doctor (Toby Jones, Harry Potter and Captain America franchises) say his head injury could be causing hallucinations and memory loss, and without surgery the brain bleed will only get worse.

Yeah, I wouldn’t really trust those two to operate on my brain, either.

That’s the set up for Fox’s new suspense thriller, Wayward Pines, based on a best-selling book series by Blake Crouch.

I haven’t read the books, but I know some people who have, and they’re eager to see the 10-part TV adaptation, but are also curious if the show will be able to live up to its source material. I don’t know, but the first three episodes really drew me in.

Perhaps the most surprising thing of all is that the show is on Fox. It has more of a premium cable vibe, minus the adult language and nudity.

Because the story is set in a small town in the Pacific Northwest, the first thing I thought was it would remind me of Twin Peaks, but Wayward Pines is more serious and not nearly as quirky as Twin Peaks. It’s more like the lovechild of The Twilight Zone and The Prisoner.

Wayward Pines has a strong pedigree. It’s executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs), with author Crouch serving as consulting producer. Dillon, Leo, and Jones are joined onscreen by Carla Gugino (Spy Kids, Entourage), Juliette Lewis (Secrets and Lies, Natural Born Killers), Terrence Howard (Empire, Hustle & Flow), Reed Diamond (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Homicide: Life on the Street), and other talented actors.

(As a hardcore Homicide fan, I’m dying to see former co-stars Leo and Diamond share a big scene or two. The only thing better would be a guest appearance by one of their Homicide cast mates like Zeljko Ivanek, Kyle Secor or Clark Johnson. A girl can dream, right?)

Wayward Pines starts with a slow, disconnected, waking dream feel, which forces you to question what’s real, what’s not, and who, if anyone, Burke can trust. In the episodes I’ve seen, it’s not even clear if he can trust himself. Questions are answered along the way, but for every question that’s answered you’ll probably ask two more.

Programming Note

Wayward Pines premieres Thursday, May 14 at 8:00 p.m. CT on Fox.

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