Watching the new trailer for “Wayward Pines,” the new FOX 10-episode thriller from M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”), I couldn't shake a feeling of deja vu. No, not visions of dead people, but elements that seemed to be ripped from (oh, wait, an homage to) other sources. On the one hand, this could be seen as a salute to a short-lived by deeply influential 1990 cultural touchstone (“Twin Peaks”) or a beloved scifi series (“The X-Files”) or a serious take on a hit comedy (“The Truman Show”). Or, if you're not a fan of Shyamalan, you could see this as a desperate grab for the good ideas of other people. You be the judge!
1) This looks a lot like “Twin Peaks.” Like, a lot.
From the police chief mooning over his rum raisin ice cream (shadows of Agent Cooper's pie fixation) to the wacky townspeople to the very premise of the show (an FBI agent finds himself in an odd little Northwestern town investigating a case), it all smacks of “Twin Peaks.” All we need to see is a midget walking backwards and we're done.
2) Cameras everywhere? Could be a critique in reality TV… like “The Truman Show” was in 1998.
Okay, it's not a comedy, but the dirndl skits and retro styling of everything from the signage to Matt Dillon's FBI agent also remind us of “The Truman Show” — and those cameras everywhere really drive the point home. This seems to be considerably darker (the director wasn't trying to kill Truman, after all), but the quest of Dillon's character to get out of town — and away from prying eyes — seems familiar.
3) Remember the “Arcadia” episode of “The X-Files” where Mulder and Scully went undercover in a planned community? Yeah, that.
When Carla Gugino's character turns to the FBI interloper and tries to sell him on the benefits of Wayward Pines, did you feel a familiar shiver? Yeah, we remember that feeling from the 1999 episode in which Mulder and Scully discover that messing with a perfect community will get you killed. Not sure if this show will have a weird monster, but we can't rule it out yet.
4) Remember how “Heroes” had a dark, mysterious force calling the shots? And “Lost”? And “Revolution”?
Okay, it's a well-worn formula at this point. But combined with the “Twin Peaks” element, it just adds to the feeling that we've seen this before. All we need is the M. Night Shyamalan/O. Henry ending (they're all TREES!) and we'll just be angry at ourselves for watching this.
5) What a cute main street! Looks like “Northern Exposure” without the moose.
Between the gorgeous setting and adorable little buildings on the main drag, we're half expecting John Corbett to start riffing on whatever's rattling around in his brain pan while a moose wanders around. If the weird characters skew a little cuter, it could be a little slice of Alaska, easy.
Do you think you'll watch “Wayward Pines”? Are you a fan of M. Night Shyamalan?