Multiple murders haunt 'Harper's Island'
When Elaine Cassidy and Christopher Gorham come to "Harper's Island" to get married they have to deal with a killing spree in the murder mystery that premieres tonight.
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There's nothing subtle about "Harper's Island," CBS's bid to attract viewers to a 13-week murder-mystery series with the promise of a definitive ending when the finale airs July 2. The show (10 tonight, KDKA) is an unabashed things-that-go-bump-in-the-night mystery with enough hints and red herrings to give observant viewers whiplash.
Set on an island off the coast of Seattle, this drama follows family and friends who have traveled to the destination wedding of poor-boy Henry (Christopher Gorham, last seen playing another Henry on ABC's "Ugly Betty") and rich-girl Trish (Katie Cassidy).
Her father (Richard Burgi) secretly hates the idea of their union and imports one of Trish's ex-beaus (Victor Webster) to mar the proceedings, much to the chagrin of Henry's protective Uncle Marty (Harry Hamlin).
And that's just the beginning of the intrigue.
- When: 10 tonight, CBS
There's also Henry's childhood best friend, Abby (Elaine Cassidy), who returns to the island seven years after a killing spree claimed the life of her mother. She arrives just in time for a new -- sometimes gruesomely depicted -- killing spree.
The characters are drawn pretty thin in the pilot, the necessary result of having to introduce so many in the first hour. Writer Ari Schlossberg and executive producer Jeffrey Bell ("Angel") layer in the potential suspects with a heavy hand. Could the killer be the wedding party's flower girl who tortures snails? What about Henry's suicidal brother?
Director Jon Turteltaub ("Jericho") creates a palpable sense of fake doom as a bird terrifies friends of the bride by flying into the middle of a spooky conversation or by showing a figure lurking in the shadows. (He also winks at the audience by using what sounds like the beginning of a shriek of terror only to reveal it to be a crescendo of sexual satisfaction.)
CBS promises that each week a new character will die on "Harper's Island," which makes one wonder, at what point wouldn't a real bride and groom postpone the wedding in light of the tragedies piling up before their big day? No matter, I'm sure it will all make sense once the killer finds a way to cut communication to the island.
"Harper's Island" may prove to be a predictable throwback in the "Ten Little Indians" mold, but it's not one that we've seen in prime time of late. It's an entertaining enough diversion that may grow more intriguing as other series end their season-long runs next month and viewers become more desperate for fresh entertainment.
First Published April 9, 2009 12:00 am