Harper’s Island: reviews

CBS' cheesy murder mystery is coming this year to TEN, and is unusual as a short-run series.

harpers_island32CBS’ newest drama, Harper’s Island, is CSI meets Survivor – a murder mystery drama, not dissimilar to a B grade horror movie, in which a character dies every week (now that’s fun!). Guests are invited to a wedding on an island, but one by one they start getting bumped off. Heck, it’s even got Harry Hamlin in it.

It is notable as a 13 episode close-ended series. In other words, it already has an end date in the US, setting it apart from other dramas that are picked up for 22 episodes and subsequent seasons.

However, there is plan that if the series succeeds it could be adapted into other settings.

“Our hope for the show is that it becomes an anthology that continues in 13-week spurts,” said Jon Turteltaub (National Treasure, Jericho), an executive producer and a director of the program. “Maybe there’s ‘Harper’s Safari,’ where people have crash-landed in the jungle, or one where there is a boat that is lost at sea.”

But can we pleeez ask TEN to move fast on this one? If the whole point is to conceal a mystery murder until the final episode, then the big reveal will be all over the net.

NY Daily News reckons, “Harper’s Island” is an elaborate horror movie, a twentysomething slasher flick with a really good wardrobe, a first-rate cast and 13 weeks worth of twists and subplots. Based on tonight’s premiere, all those subplots give “Harper’s Island” enough dramatic heft to appeal to fans of classic murder mysteries as well as those who simply enjoy great showers of blood.

LA Times found some bits to like, saying Overall, “Harper’s Island” earned itself a second episode viewing. It’s hard to judge too harshly. Ninety percent of the episode was exposition. The show has a good premise, just takes a bit to set up. We have the strong hook, but now it just needs a little more bait. How’s that for a metaphor? The biggest problem right now is that the characters don’t even know there’s a murderer yet. Hopefully it won’t take them too long to get caught up with the audience. Then we’ll see if this show really gets rolling.

Variety said:
As much as I like the idea behind “Harper’s Island” — a self-contained 13-episode “mystery event,” with a fixed July 2 end date — the execution falls well short of the “Ten Little Indians” conceit. Playing mostly like a twentysomething soap — “One Tree Hill” if they killed a character or two each week — the episodes are too scattered initially to provoke much curiosity about whodunit, and the slasher-movie flourishes (grisly as they are) will feel watered down to an audience weaned on them. Things gradually become more interesting, but by then, viewers will likely be disappearing faster than the cast.

Hollywood Reporter was savage, saying: If “Harper’s Island” were a self-aware spoof of the horror genre, it would be amazing — like “Shaun of the Dead”-level good. But the problem with CBS’ new horror-mystery-soap mash-up is that it’s completely earnest in its awfulness: the clunky dialogue full of lines you’ve heard before; the plot twists you remember from every B horror movie; the stock characters whose sole purpose is to annoy you into hoping they get killed soon; the cheesy music cues and intruders that turn out to be just a flock of birds; etc. Every single fragment of the series has been scavenged from other shows or movies. It’s as if someone handed creator Ari Schlossberg a book on how to make a boilerplate, uninteresting slasher flick, and he lovingly followed every step.

Source: NY Times

7 Responses

  1. It was on last night? I couldn’t find any info and when the sport started, I thought that it had already been shunted to a new night/timeslot…but no, even worse, it was on after 1am? Probably not worth watching it if this is how it is going to be scheduled,,,

  2. Sounds like worthwhile watch.
    We definitely need decent murder mysteries back on screen – another Agatha Christie on the horizon.
    Poirot,Midsomer, Murder She wrote,Columbo – anything along those veins is needed to allow a bit of brain power.

  3. I like these types of ‘mini series’ they could almost be called, it allows the writes to tell their story in their time and not have to worry they will be canceled.

    A friend is sending me the pilot next week 🙂

    So TEN has the rights, probably better than the others but ITA they need to move fast, maybe even at the expense of another show, drop the Monday night NCIS re-run!

  4. Watched this last night. Really liked it. Pretty gory and lovely cinematography. A lot like watching an Agatha Christie movie. Suspenseful. S**t myself when my cat clawed my hanging fingers out of the blue during the last murder (in the dark, of course)!

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