Harper’s Island

Overview:
Harper’s Island was once the scene of a gruesome series of murders. Now, seven years later, family and friends gather on the island for a wedding, but one by one they begin to die.

Plot Rating: 5/5
If you haven’t noticed, I copy the Overview from the back of DVD boxes, Amazon.com descriptions, or IMDB. Let me clarify what that paltry description has to say.

7 years ago a man named John Wakefield went on a murder rampage through Harper’s Island, a peaceful island community off the coast of Seattle. On his spree he blew up the island docks and slaughtered several townsfolk, whom he also strung up into a tree on display, before being shot and killed by Sheriff Charlie Mills (who’s wife was one of the victims).

Now his estranged daughter Abby, who left the island in the wake of the murders, is back to celebrate the wedding of her two longtime friends Henry and Trish. But with Abby’s return people begin to vanish again. As the wedding party begins losing members left and right and the police hunt desperately for the copycat, strange rumors begin to surface, whispers that John Wakefield is back from the grave.

Every episode sees the death of at least one character, and this murder-mystery keeps you hooked from the first episode. And just how strong is my recommendation for this show? Well, I downloaded it off iTunes and have watched the series all the way through five times and am planning on a sixth over the holiday break.

Acting Score: 5/5
With at least 15 key characters (who die one by one~) and numerous supporting stars there was definitely a worry that this show was doomed to fail. It is truly astounding how well the cast worked together and how brilliant their performances were.

Trish (Katie Cassidy) and her sister Shea (Gina Holden) watching the guests arrive on the boat to Harper's Island

I’ll hit the highlights as far as the actors go, instead of rating each and every one. Jim Beaver plays Sheriff Charlie Mills, and if you’ve read my “Supernatural” reviews you know how much I love him and swear by his performances. Katie Cassidy (who appeared in “Supernatural” season 3 as the demon Ruby) holds the role of Trish, bride of the wedding party. Her groom Henry is played by Christopher Gorham. The main lead of the show is Abby Mills, played by Elaine Cassidy (no relation to Katie Cassidy). Her love interest Jimmy is brought to life by C.J. Thomason.

A show with so many cast members I just gave a few names of people I thought did especially well. You can view the full list of actors on IMDB.com to see the other big names.

Age Rating: 15+
For this show I’d recommend keeping to the recommendation I set. There is just one sex scene that comes to mind (and only the tail end of it), no nudity, and just light cursing, but it’s pretty gory and many of the murders are hard to watch.

Fun Trivia
While Jim Beaver and Katie Cassidy acted together on “Supernatural” in Season 3 (Jim Beaver has been in every “Supernatural” season to date), they are not the only cast members from “Harper’s Island” to appear in the show. Sixteen members of the Harper’s Island cast, major to minor, have appeared at some point in “Supernatural”, some more than once. If you count the actor who also served as a “Supernatural” stunt man that ups the ante to 17!

Abby (Elaine Cassidy) has an awkward encounter with estranged father Charlie (Jim Beaver)

During the run of the show an official online game accompanied it. Each week viewers signed in and voted on who they thought would die in the next episode. If they guessed right their name was entered into a sweepstakes and at the end of the show a winner was announced and given a vacation prize. On a personal note my parents played this game obsessively and would argue over dinner about each individual character and the pros or cons of that one dying in the next episode.

Episode titles were given special thought. Each episode is an onomatopoeia such as “Whack”, “Crackle” and “Ka-Blam”. Each title represents the sound made when a character is killed. If I give you any examples it gives away parts of the story, so you’ll just have to see for yourself.

Don’t expect any clues from the actors as to who the killer is. The writers kept each episode hush until it was time to film, and the actors would see then if their characters were going to survive to the next episode. Katie Cassidy and Christopher Gorham (Trish and Henry) revealed in an interview that the cast actually had a pot each week going. They would place bets on who would die each week, then speed-read their scripts when they were handed out to see who was the winner. Up until the very end when they shot the big reveal they did not know who was the killer.

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