Friday, April 10, 2009

'Harper's Island' Let's the Good Times (and Heads) Roll

'Harper's Island' on CBSBy LillyKat
PTR Senior Staff Writer

Two down.

23 to go.

This is going to be awfully fun, folks.

Just as I had fan girl glee and was thrilled when Fox decided to bring us Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles in a weekly TV Series (a continuation of the Terminator: Judgment Day film, one of my all-time faves), the horror/thriller fan girl in me is game to play along with CBS' Harper's Island, which premiered last night and lived up to my expectations.

Which may or may not be saying much.

But after an awful lot whole lot of hullabaloo, it was great to finally get to see the darn thing. I can say that I did have flashes of Friday the 13th (thanks for the heads-up Jon Turteltaub). I even thought about The Shinning given how creepy little Madison seems to be. Cripes, she's channeling Danny, Tony AND the twins. Room 237 anyone?

Now, 20+ years of horror movie viewing has conditioned me NOT to fall for the Horror 101 Spook Shots that were abundantly on display in the pilot - the sudden appearance of someone behind you (cue pounce music!); the creepy steadicam long shot through the trees watching the girl traverse the dark parking lot alone (cue look over the shoulder and worry for moment!).

That said, I get a kick out of the horror-esque look and feel of this series. As Jon Turteltaub explained to us, it really is more like a film than a television series. It's big. it's bold. It's Vancouver. It reminds me of some of those great sequences from the early seasons of The X-Files

Now, I know it also IS a murder mystery. And so as not to scare off people who are averse to the whole horror genre, heads aren't flying constantly nor are chainsaws buzzing in the background.

But people are hanging from trees.

Being tied to the propellers of boats.

And being hacked in half.

Can't say you weren't warned.

And yet, that is what I find awfully cool about the premise. In a mostly unknown cast, you're instantly drawn to trying to figure out what comes next or who you want to have survive.

Or not.

Let it be said right now I'm routing for Elaine Cassidy's Abby Mills.


Abby is one of the 25 (er, 23, now) who has returned to the island to attend her friend's wedding after seven years away. And seven years doesn't seem quite long enough to forget the memories of her mum, who fell victim to John Wakefield's murderous rampage that also killed six other people.

Since Elaine's casting is one of those good ol' only-happens-in-Hollywood stories whereby she put her self on a tape in Ireland, sent it in for consideration and wowed everyone in the room ... well, I'm prone to give her the nickname Ireland for luck.

'Cause I definitely want her to make it through all 13 weeks.

But there are so many characters to keep track of that it's fun: The soon to be newlyweds. The best buds. The past lovers. The wanna be newlyweds. As for Harry Hamlin's creepy Uncle Marty ... um, yeah ... all's well that ends well. Didn't expect to have him exit center bridge in the first ep.

And yes, dialogue is a bit cornball at times, but that's to be expected when one is in the horror/thriller genre.

Does it entertain? Yes.

Does it intrigue? Yes.

Is the story interesting? Yes.

Does it keep me guessing? Yes.

Do I like the characters? Yes.

Do I want more? Yes.

Will I be bored? No.

That, for me, is good television.

New episodes of Harper's Island air Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS. The series will run 13 weeks. Play along online at to see if you can figure out who is next to get the axe. And be sure to check out the social networking companion series Harper's Globe to satisfy even more your Harper's addiction.

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