‘Harper's Island,' premiering Thursday on CBS
The Orlando Sentinel (MCT) - Agatha Christie is prime-time's new muse. Chalk that up as progress.
Ah, "Harper's Island": so pretty, so deadly, such trashy fun. Following Christie's model, the series plops a group in an isolated spot and dispatches them one by one. Friends gather for a wedding on an isle off Seattle where a killer rampaged seven years earlier. As a new bloodbath ensues, the nuptials are shelved.
The series isn't as efficient as Christie. The mystery sprawls over 13 episodes, the mayhem is "Friday the 13th" ghastly, and most characters don't realize their dire situation until the sixth hour. Still, the story becomes addictive for its traps, double crosses and cliffhangers.
The crucial figure is Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy), whose father is the sheriff and whose mother was an earlier victim. Abby returns from Los Angeles, and a fortuneteller warns, "He wants you dead." But who is "he"?
Abby's fate becomes the most riveting plot, thanks to Cassidy's appeal. Other characters are basically types: playboy uncle, spooky girl, strange brother.
The familiar faces include Christopher Gorham as the groom, Harry Hamlin as an uncle and Richard Burgi as the bride's father. But being a TV veteran offers no security in this series. CBS compares the show's structure to a reality series: Actors didn't know their characters' fates until shortly before filming their exits.
Most characters won't survive, and there won't be a second season, CBS warns. "Harper's Island" is different, and Agatha Christie probably would approve because it's a bloody good time.
The CBS mystery debuts at 10 p.m. EDT Thursday
Parents guide: Violence, sexual scenes and themes, coarse language
© 2009, The Orlando Sentinel (Fla.).
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