Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Before we get to all those book reviews

I must rant a little.

Did anyone else bother to watch that enormous waste of time and studio money, Harper’s Island, all the way to the end? I’m embarrassed to say that I did, although by the final pathetic two hours you could scarcely hear its tedious and trite dialogue over all the screamed epithets coming from my end of the couch. (Mr. Mouse sat on his end, quietly reading a magazine, and shaking his head at all the nonsense.)

I had high hopes at the outset: large cast containing both known and unknown faces (including one of my personal favorites, Jim Beaver f/k/a darling “Ellsworth” from Deadwood); gorgeous creepy setting; an Agatha Christie-esque concept as the wedding party gets picked off one by one; the promise of surprisingly gory and imaginative deaths. They even did pretty well for the first few episodes – Harry Hamlin got hacked in two and they even showed the dangling entrails! (in silhouette) – plus I have a soft spot for Christopher Gorham. Skinny boy can now fill out a sweater just fine.

But alas, the early promise was not to be. Gorham just couldn’t carry the show alone and the heroine, “Abby,” played by Irish lass Elaine Cassidy, consistently sucked the life out of every scene she was in. And she was in a lot. She seems to be of the Annabeth Gish School of Acting whereby standing around with her mouth open, looking poleaxed, is used to express "surprise," "horror," "sadness," "stomach upset" and "deep thought."

They actually reeled me back in for a few minutes at the end of E11 ("Splash"*), when fan-favorite characters Chloe and Cal were killed off: as the two were trapped on a narrow bridge spanning a rocky river, the Big Bad Serial Killer, John Wakefield, stabbed valiant little Cal in the heart. Then Chloe, showing more depth than she had in all the prior episodes put together, declared “You can’t have me” and dropped herself into the river to die with her man. It was actually an extremely good scene, all three actors giving it their all.

And then AARGH! The last two episodes just totally blew. The dialogue: appallingly awful. The plot wrap up: no plausible motivation for Wakefield’s killings (crazy? cranky? what?) and the motivation for SPOILER Gorham as the surprise-reveal Serial Killer Jr. was that for HE WAS SAD BECAUSE HE WAS ADOPTED. End spoiler. Oh dear god. Are you kidding? That’s it? I’ve sat through all these episodes and he killed all those people because his feelings were hurt? As one of the other characters said, “Grow a pair. Get over it.” I realize that the writers knew the series had been cancelled, and they were trying to wrap things up, but really? Total crap.

I have to admit that I did like the very last bit, showing the pre-wedding video where the main characters, now mostly dead, had recorded their wishes to the bride- and groom-to-be. It was bittersweet, seeing that after knowing what all transpired, and just slightly creepy to close with Gorham’s groom. That was a nice touch, but the nice touches were too far and few between. Good riddance to Harper’s Island.

* Another nice touch, which I have only just now discovered on the treasure trove that is imdb.com, were the lovely, onomatopeiac episode titles, which include "Thwack," "Sploosh," "Gurgle," "Seep" and "Snap." Heh.

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