DVD Review: Guilty Pleasure ‘Harper’s Island’ Could Become Cult Hit

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CHICAGO – I’m still a little miffed that the “Harper’s Island” experiment didn’t work out for CBS. The show was far from perfect, but I still like the idea of a limited series with a predetermined beginning, middle, and end. Sadly, no one tuned in to watch “Harper’s Island” on CBS but the guilty pleasure could have a second life on DVD.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 3.5/5.0

Was “Harper’s Island” any good? It depends on what you mean by “good”. If you’re looking for witty dialogue, detailed character, and clever plotting, look elsewhere. But not every show needs to be intellectually satisfying. For the same reason we go see silly horror movies, sometimes you just want to enjoy a guilty pleasure and “Harper’s Island” was the guiltiest of 2009.

Elaine Cassidy plays Abby Mills, the heroine returning to the titular body of land after seven years. Back then, a twisted soul named John Wakefield went on a horrible killing spree and one of the victims happened to be Abby’s mom. She’s a little fragile as the ghosts of the island return to her and she is forced to deal with her father (Jim Beaver) again. Oh, he just happens to be the sheriff who killed the bad guy the first time around. Can he do it again?

Harper's Island: The DVD Edition was released on DVD on September 8th, 2009.
Harper’s Island: The DVD Edition was released on DVD on September 8th, 2009.
Photo credit: Paramount Home Video

Why is Abby back at all? Her close friend Henry (Christopher Gorham) is getting married to Trish (Katie Cassidy) on Harper’s Island. Henry is the poor kid and Trish is the wealthy daughter of the Wellington family (headed by the always-slimy Richard Burgi).

A wedding’s worth of victims await viewers of “Harper’s Island” as “secrets are revealed, relationships are tested and guests are being murdered, one by one.”

“Harper’s Island” should have been a delightfully trashy mix of “Gossip Girl” and “Scream” but both of those properties had clever, witty dialogue and characters who viewers actually care about. The characters and dialogue on “Harper’s Island” are mediocre to awful. It’s too much like a daytime soap than the clever mystery it could have been.

And yet I couldn’t give up on “Harper’s Island” (if just to prove that my hunch about the killer’s identity was true). I can’t believe that I was alone in my addiction to this mystery thriller and Paramount has treated fans of the show well with an excellent 4-disc set full of special features.

“Harper’s Island: The DVD Edition” is presented in 16:9 widescreen with an English 5.1 Surround track.

Special features include CBS Network On-Air Promos, Harper’s Globe Webisodes, Deleted Scenes, “Casting Harper’s Island,” “One By One: The Making of Harper’s Island,” “Guess Who?,” “The Grim Reaper,” and the following commentary tracks:

Episode 1 “Whap” - Jeffrey Bell, Art Schlossberg, & Dan Shotz
Episode 6 “Sploosh” - Karim Zreik, Dean Chekvala, & Matt Barr
Episode 11 “Splash” - Dan Shotz, Cameron Richardson & Matt Barr
Episode 13 “Sigh” - Jeffrey Bell, Dan Shotz, & Christopher Gorham

‘Harper’s Island: The DVD Edition’ is released by Paramount Home Video and stars Elaine Cassidy, Christopher Gorham, Katie Cassidy, Cameron Richardson, Adam Campbell, C.J. Thomason, Jim Beaver, Matt Barr, Amber Borycki, Richard Burgi, and Harry Hamlin. The show was created by Ari Schlossberg. It was released on September 8th, 2009. It is not rated.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Iuri's picture

I loved this show, so sad it

I loved this show, so sad it was unsuccessful. The last episode was a lil bit disapointing but it was great anyway.
I’ll be probably buyin the DVD.

Melissa M's picture

harper's island

I LOVED this show! Judging by the seriously poor ratings, and the drastic time slot shift from 9.30pm to 1am, it seems like I was the only person in Australia to feel this way. Nonetheless, the fact that I had to resort to watching each episode in separate you tube instalments - one by one ;) - in no way effected my enjoyment of the show. I did guess the killer’s identity fairly early on, but that didn’t make it any less shocking or gutt wrenching somehow. The show’s creators were obviously inspired by slasher films, but the difference with Harper’s Island is the characters; they are written so that the viewer finds themselves invested in them, and even liking them, only to have them snatched away as cruelly as possible; three characters demises were particularly hard for me to watch. Being a confirmed extra features junkie, I was in nothing short of a state of bliss at the assortment of extras in this dvd set, and they’re not your usual boring crud, either. All in all, fantastic.

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