Saturday, July 04, 2009

Harper's Island, Etc.

I am very sad that this show did so poorly. Is it one of the best on TV? Hell, no. But it's been really interesting to extend the typical old horror movie format. We actually come to care for the characters before they get killed. We have people we really want to root for, and complex relationships instead of just random screaming and stuff.

I was going to comment on Sandy's excellent write-ups at Sci Fi Chicks, but I'm a couple of weeks late and my comments really exceed comment level. But go read them, she's got some excellent insight and theorizing.

The best example of the characterization on this show is Cal and Chloe. So many of us were rooting for them to die quickly. But Cal turned out to be not a silly, pathetic man desperate for the supermodel type toying his affections. He was brave, and honorable, and confident in himself despite the huge contrast between himself and Henry's macho friends. And Chloe won me over when she fought for her engagement ring. She was a weak person in her fear, but sympathetic and believable, and she found tons of inner strength in the end.

Henry and Abby are supposed to be the central focus of the show, but Cal and Chloe's deaths were harder to take than anyone else's. Cal's determination to save her, even when his chances were infinitesimal, and Chloe's four simple words--"You can't have me" when she let go and fell to her death on her own terms (kind of). Incredibly poignant, and how the heck are they going to top it?

There's been other good stuff, too. I admired Jim Beaver more than ever because I think he, himself, is awesome, and I adore Bobby. But no matter how hard I tried, I really didn't like the sheriff. I don't think I was supposed to, but it was so subtle, and then such a contrast to his final scene, when he poured so much love and emotion into his begging to Abby.

Now they've made us suspicious of Jimmy. I'm not buying it. They made us suspicious of JD with trumped-up evidence, then of the sheriff with blatant clues. So Jimmy was in jail once, and the sheriff had a file on him. Of course he did! He didn't like the guy, and Jimmy loved his daughter. Could have been a reason for her to come back, something her father definitely didn't want. He wanted her healthy and whole and away from the horror he'd lived, more than once, on that island.

As Sandy pointed out, over there on SciFi Chicks, we're in the difficult final hours, where we care more about nearly everyone, and deaths have an impact on us. If HI follows horror movie tradition, only two people will be left. So let's see who we have:

1. Madison. They're not going to kill the kid, though then it would defy tradition, so probably three will survive.

2. Shea. I don't mind if she dies, but then Madison would be alone, and that would suck.

3. Danny. He can die. Probably will.

4. Sully. Probably second only to Cal and Chloe in the character arc. He was a jerk trying to take another guy's girl. Then he let her go, befriended the guy, and saved his life. Unevenly, apparently, but then, that didn't matter much in the end. I don't want him to die. He probably will, too.

5. Jimmy. I was mad when he was apparently killed. Interesting shift, the way he was spared. I like him enough to keep me from expecting Henry and Abby from getting together. Because that seems the way things should go, doesn't it? There's speculation that he's Wakefield's child, but that would make him Abby's brother, because her mother was the Wakefield kid's mother, too, and that's just icky. Though they DID go to great pains to show us how they never had sex, and why.

6. Trish. She's been interesting. I keep going back and forth between not liking her and liking her. She's not a pure stereotype, and I've always been glad she didn't display animosity or jealousy toward Abby and Henry's protectiveness toward her. She's gonna die.

7. Henry. He's been consistent and solid, the stable centerpiece for Abby's whirling morass of emotion. I'm on the fence about him. I can see him going either way, but if he dies, Jimmy survives, or vice versa. Unless...

8. Abby is the heroine, the main protagonist, the one with the baggage and the relationship to the bad guy. So she's going to survive, and she's probably going to be the one to kill Wakefield. The only question is under what circumstances? Will she and Jimmy and Henry and Trish (and Madison, to be adopted and in therapy the rest of her life) all make it? Happy ending, hope for the future? Or will it just be Abby, alone and stranded on an island among all the dead?

I usually spend the summer watching a TV show on DVD, something with multiple seasons and stuff. This summer, it's not happening. I did True Blood and I have Entourage, but only one season of each (there is only one season of TB, and Entourage is released so far apart, I've been watching as it goes) and they aren't real seasons.

This summer, that's okay, because there's a lot I'm interested in checking out. Mostly on cable networks, but some on the big ones. Merlin and The Philanthropist I have started recording but haven't watched yet. Virtuality, a failed pilot, is sitting on the DVR, too.

Leverage and Eureka return this month. Warehouse 13 interests me. And then there's Royal Pains. I first fell for Mark Feuerstein on Caroline in the City wayyy too long ago to think about. Then I liked him in Good Morning Miami. I haven't watched everything he does, but the premise and his starring role intrigued me enough to check it out. And I happened to have four eps piled up (vacation is to blame!) so I watched three last night. And I really like it! The setting is gorgeous, of course, and his character is too good a guy to dismiss. I'm not too sure about Jill yet. She's okay acting-wise, but a bit too close to the throwaway rich beauties surrounding them, looks-wise. The other secondary characters are awesome, especially Tucker. This one's a definite winner for me!

The other show I'm recording, I don't want to watch: MTV's 16 and Pregnant. I just feel a parental responsibility to watch with my 14-year-old. I'm not going to let the fact that she spent all day yesterday working out her high school schedule (all four years!) to best benefit her into the future (subject to change) lure me into complacency. It would be all too easy. But smart, mature, forward-thinking girls, even ones who still avoid boys-as-boys, still fall prey to hormones and emotion. I'm not above scare tactics to help prevent mistakes. So we'll see what we think of that show once I force myself to force her to sit down and watch. :)

What TV are you into this summer?


MJFredrick said...

I just love Harper's Island. Like you said, it's not great, but it's entertaining. And I agree with everything you said about Jimmy and Cal and Chloe. Can't wait until the finale next week.

I wonder if Trish is Wakefield's child....

Oh, and I've been watching Rescue Me, 30 Rock and The Big Bang Theory on DVD this summer.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

The problem with any speculation about who is Wakefield's child is that the mother is definitely Sarah, Abby's mom. It's a lot harder to hide maternity than paternity, and I think they're all essentially the same age (Abby, Henry, Trish, Jimmy).

I started watching BBT in season 2 but haven't thought about going back to watch season 1. Maybe I'll do that.