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the early word

Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘Harper’s Island’ Might Be Killer

Cassidy in Harper's IslandScreencap courtesy of CBS


Title: Harper's Island

Stars: Elaine Cassidy (The Ghost Squad), Bill Pullman (come on, you know who Bill Pullman is)

Network: CBS, mid-season replacement

The pitch: A serial-murder mystery, in which a mysterious killer picks off the inhabitants of an island one by one.

Pilot report: Abby Mills (Cassidy) returns to her childhood home of Harper's Island for the wedding of her best friend. She hasn't been back since her mother was one of the victims of a string of vicious murders. All seems to be going well onboard the ferry taking the wedding party to the island, until we witness the particularly gruesome killing of one of the guests, who is strapped to the propeller of the boat and quickly chopped to pieces. This fifteen-minute presentation — the show's opening teaser, plus a handful of other scenes — was the way Harper's Island's producers sold the show to CBS, which means everything here will likely be re-shot, perhaps with different actors. What we do see, though, promises a lot of suspense and gore.

Representative dialogue:

Murky taxi driver with an eye patch: You look familiar.
Abby: Yeah, I grew up on the island.
Murky taxi driver with an eye patch: Right, you're Sheriff Mills's kid. What a shame. All those people? Terrible. I never would have believed something so terrible could happen on the island.

Breakout star: One of the only stars guaranteed to make it from the pilot to actual broadcast is narrator and protagonist Elaine Cassidy. She's essentially playing the Neve Campbell role from the Scream movies, but it looks like she'll be able to pull it off without all of the pouting.

Worth a season pass? Yes. The location, an island in Puget Sound, is an appropriately spooky setting for this series — and the cast is young and sexy enough (and multitudinous enough) to keep us watching as they get picked off. And if the literal back-stabbing isn't enough, there's also a fair amount of figurative backstabbing — and cheating, and sleeping around — as well.
—Chris Rovzar