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FBI agent with a little extra sci-fi something

Audrey Parker, the hero of Syfy's diverting new paranormal mystery, Haven, which premieres Friday, is an eccentric, kooky, mildly obsessive, and immensely likable FBI agent.

Audrey Parker, the hero of Syfy's diverting new paranormal mystery, Haven, which premieres Friday, is an eccentric, kooky, mildly obsessive, and immensely likable FBI agent.

To use an awfully old-fashioned term, she's a real pistol.

Much to the chagrin of her superiors, the otherwise intelligent, fastidious, and efficient crimebuster has a penchant for discovering supernatural phenomena.

Her colleagues think she's a bit nuts.

And, every once in a while, so does she.

That is, until she reaches a tiny burg named Haven.

Elegantly portrayed by Brothers & Sisters star Emily Rose, Audrey has a life-changing experience when she's sent to coastal Maine to investigate the death of an escaped convict.

Haven, Audrey soon discovers, isn't a typical American town. And its inhabitants, whose various eccentricities make her seem the epitome of normal, are anything but ordinary.

Haven, loosely based on Stephen King's 2005 novella The Colorado Kid, is the brainchild of Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn, the creative team behind USA Network's sci-fi drama Dead Zone. Ernst and Dunn say the pulp mystery is an atypical King work: There's nothing supernatural in it.

"Initially, our idea was to stay close to the book. So it had no supernatural element," says Ernst. "But when King read it, the first thing he said was, 'Where's the supernatural element?' "

Ernst says King, who was not directly involved in the TV adaptation, was pleased by their finished idea about a town that is secretly a refuge for folks with strange powers.

"Each week, we meet someone new with a supernatural affliction," Ernst says.

An affliction?

"They're not powers," but a curse that alienates people who are possessed by them, Dunn says. "That's the difference between a comic-book hero" and a Stephen King character.

"The thing Stephen King does so well," Ernst says, "is he takes normal people and has the world go sideways on them."

That's certainly the case for Audrey, who feels the ground give way each time she meets a Haven resident. And the show has assembled a terrific troupe of characters.

There's Audrey's partner in crimesolving, Haven deputy sheriff Nathan Wuornos (Lucas Bryant). A handsome, quiet man who has a touch of that ol' Gary Cooper stoicism, Nathan can't feel pain. At all.

He doesn't flinch when cut, burnt, stabbed, or shot. His nerve endings, Nathan explains to Audrey, just don't transmit the right signals to his brain.

The town's oddest bird, Duke Crocker (Eric Balfour), doesn't seem to have any powers at all. Nathan's childhood friend and rival for Audrey's affections, Duke is a charming, roguish-yet-gallant pirate, of sorts, who uses his boat to smuggle contraband.

In the series opener, Audrey and Nathan, who are investigating the convict's death, are subjected to sudden weather changes - including a dose of John Carpenter-ish fog, tornado-strength winds, rain, and hail.

Is someone controlling the weather? It would spoil the fun to reveal more. Fact, Ernst refused to reveal the kinds of powers the rest of the series will showcase.

"One of the things we try to do each week is to keep you guessing," he says. He adds that the show will strive to strike a balance between irreverent humor and the thrills of a good murder mystery.

Dunn says the show's greatest mystery is Audrey herself. Orphaned as a child, she has no idea where she came from. By the end of the first episode, she feels a powerful connection to Haven.

Were her parents from there? Were they also afflicted? So many delightful mysteries.