[Warning: General spoilers ahead.]
This Friday, Syfy and CTV Sci-Fi launch SurrealEstate, a brand new scripted series occupying a slot in their old midsummer stomping grounds. It’s full of familiar faces and a fun callback to one of our forever faves, Haven (now streaming on Netflix). Headlined by Wynonna Earp‘s Tim Rozon, who reunites with some of the production team behind last year’s Vagrant Queen, the series follows the adventures of Luke Roman and his team of real estate fixers who clear “stigmatized” *cough* haunted *cough* properties of their otherworldly issues.
Roman has a vested interested in this particular service that’s revealed over the course of the pilot and in the episodes that follow. He’s joined by new hire Susan Ireland (Schitt’s Creek‘s Sarah Levy), a big-league closer who has her own reasons for changing jobs; “Father” Phil Orley (Adam Korson), the former priest who handles the research;, August Ripley (Haven‘s own Maurice Dean Wint), who handles the tech; and Zooey L’Enfant (WE‘s Savannah Basley), who’s the glue that makes the thing an actual business. Tennille Read (Workin’ Moms) plays Megan Donovan, a new client who Luke is drawn to.
Out of the gate, the crew has a very particular shorthand that could potentially leave Susan on the periphery of their merriment, but she proves herself capable from the jump and they realize she’s not so easily dismissed. As the season progresses, we’ll see those relationships solidify, which I look forward to. The series is not at all negative, so some of the initial static made me a little nervous.
I genuinely wasn’t sure what the tone was going to be, but it’s a bit similar to what I loved about Debris (go stream that, BTW–it could still end up on a streamer) in that everything the team is doing is rooted in service of helping the client. Yes, they stand to make a bucket of cash when they finally get a house ready to sell, but their larger goal is the peace and safety of the families who come to them for help. And their hearts are very clearly on their sleeves in how they work.
There is a thread of wink-nod going on, too, when they readily acknowledge now and again that they are, to a degree, winging it. And the opening scene is pretty much a riff on William Holden’s arrival The Exorcist. So it’s a bit of a thematic mashup. Aside from Debris, I was also reminded of the 20-year-old The Chronicle, an early days Sci-Fi (pre-Syfy) series about a tabloid team that actually was investigating the wackadoodle stuff they wrote about.
As Luke, Rozon is very, very good, hinting at personal wounds that help us realize he’s not just looking for closure for his clients; he might be chasing a little of it for himself, too. And the firm is his found family, although they soon learn that even they don’t know everything there is to know about him. When he brings Susan in, he sees in her something no one else does, and she sees that in him, too. They’ll make good partners.
Lev (who previously teamed with Rozon on Schitt’s Creek) is really good as Susan faces a very unorthodox first week and manages to strap in and not flee. We also spend a little time with her to find out that she’s not all polish and pose like she pretends to be. And it’s fun to see her one-on-ones with her mom, who can and does call her on her bullshit.
The rest of the cast click right into place. We believe everyone working with Luke has had his back for a while, and we learn more about each of them over the season. The series does an interesting thing by introducing viewers to this world through two entry points–the first in Susan, and the second in Megan. Both are initially incredulous and then curious and then accepting. And then for Megan, there’s the personal angle of bonding with Luke while she’s in full panic mode after a particularly terrifying close encounter and he’s an extremely decent guy.
I’ve watched five episodes and they get better and better each week–the kind of better where you want to keep watching them as quickly as you can but you weigh whether you should slow your roll because the sooner you finish, the longer you’ll wait for (hopefully) another season, and you regret rushing the experience of watching each episode for a first time. The third episode is extra Earpy when Melanie Scrofano drops in. She also sticks around to direct a couple of episodes. I’ll have those previews later this season.
Created by George R. Olson, who wrote the pilot, directed by Paul Fox, the series is filmed in Newfoundland and Labrador (home to Canadian series Republic of Doyle and Hudson & Rex), which gives it a very distinct, moody look and feel that’s a close sibling to Haven‘s Nova Scotia locale.
Photos and Videos Courtesy of Syfy.
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