Thursday, March 31, 2011

Harper's Island

This fall (August-October 2011), I'm directing the play 10 Little Indians. The play revolves around a group of people invited to an island for a weekend by an unknown person. Each person has been invited by a different reason. As the plot progresses, the guests are murdered off one by one in a variety of ghastly ways and it becomes clear that the killer is on the island and is probably one of the people in the group.

I'm a sucker for research and as part of my research for the play, I looked into the latest "adaptation" of Agatha Christie's most famous story: the tv series Harper's Island.

Harper's Island was a 13 episode series that aired on CBS from April-July 2009. The show revolved around a group of people that came together at Harper's Island for a wedding. Even before the guests arrive on the island, murder is secretly committed. As the wedding approaches, the wedding party their island friends are murdered off one by one. As the show progresses, it's clear that the killer has to be one of the people involved with the wedding.

I remember when the series aired, but I never had an opportunity to actually watch much of it because it was summer and I was busy. I'm glad I took the chance to view the show now. I was really impressed. There are some cliches and typical horror cheesiness. However, there's also some really original stuff done on the show. The thing I found most impressive was the characterization. There are over 25 major characters in the show and other than one or two, they all become quite well developed. As a viewer, you come to really care for the characters. Most of them have some incredible and highly believable arcs. There are some disappointments, for instance the concluding episode was a bit of a let down and I don't think it was necessary to kill off almost the entire cast. Still, overall, the show was highly entertaining and it's made me more excited about the play I'll be directing.

The show's producers had wanted to do more seasons of the show, but each season would feature an entirely different cast, different location, and different story. It's a great idea, but because of the lackluster ratings (it ranked in the middle of the ratings for most of the time it aired), CBS canceled it. I think if the show had aired in the fall, it would have gotten the ratings the network wanted. I know it will probably never happen, but it would be nice to see this show resurrected. If I was a television executive, I'd give it the green light and make sure that it aired at a proper time. A show like this that is well done can be highly successful and it could be pitched as a kind of The Walking Dead meets Survivor (a combination that other tv execs are sure to drool over). If you like mysteries and don't mind a bit of blood, you should check out Harper's Island.

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