Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Harper's Island

Harper's Island, CBS, Thursday 10:00 pm. Full episodes available at the CBS website. Limited series (total: 13 episodes).

The Plot:

Seven years ago, there was a string of murders on isolated Harper's Island; John Wakefield was accused; killed by the Sheriff; and the survivors left to pick up the pieces.

Henry Dunn and Trish Wellington both spent summers on the island, he working, she as a rich tourist; and now that they are getting married, it seems perfect to get married back at Harper's Island. To put the past behind them.

Two episodes in... and the murders keep piling up. Now, I don't want to give too much away. CBS has the episodes available to view online, so new viewers can quickly catch up.

The Good:

Harper's Island is a delicious mix of murder mystery, suspense, and horror. I like horror; but I don't like gore. Harper's Island provides some nasty murders without turning it into a splatter-fest.

This is a classic English country-house mystery; you know, the ones were all the suspects are staying at the English manor, a murder takes place, so it has to be one of the people... Except here it's an isolated island off the coast of Washington, with locals and wedding guests as both suspects and victims.

If people are dying like flies, why doesn't anyone get the hell off the island? So far, the viewer knows about the murders; no one on screen has found a body, except for one that looks like a suicide. But honestly, if I were attending a friend's wedding and I disappeared, I hope someone would notice.

Harper's Island gives us all the standard characters: good girl, old boyfriend, controlling father, etc. Part of the fun of a show like this is trying to figure out who will be next and who did it and how the next one will die. Could it be X? Where was s/he when the last murder took place? Uh oh, that person is dead, take them off the list.

Also good? This is only thirteen episodes. Which means it is tightly plotted; no meandering, no network inspired sudden changes. It tells a story that is complex -- multiple characters, backstory, interesting relationships, hidden secrets -- a story that could not be told in only a few hours. A story that would suffer if drawn out over multiple seasons. YAY, it will have an ending.

Note to Supernatural fans: it has Bobby. And Original Ruby. What more do you need?

Extra feature: an online companion series, Harper's Globe, that so far is creeping me out much more than Harper's Island.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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