WHEN GOOD TIMES GO BAD

For a bloody good time, Guy Davis rec­om­mends a trip to Harper’s Is­land, now show­ing on Ten.

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RATED M CAST Christo­pher Gorham, Elaine Cassidy, Richard Burgi, Cameron Richardson SUM­MARY No stranger to beau­ti­ful sets, Ugly Betty’s Christo­pher Gorham an­tic­i­pates trou­ble in this par­tic­u­lar par­adise – think of it as Scream gets Lost.

TV is get­ting blood­ier, there’s no doubt about that. The gore and grue­some­ness on your av­er­age episode of CSI or Bones takes things to a graphic new level, and don’t even get me started on what you’ll see when you catch an episode of True Blood or Dex­ter.

But Harper’s Is­land, the 13-part who­dunit cur­rently air­ing on Ten, adds a new el­e­ment to the mix. There have been mur­der mys­ter­ies on TV be­fore, of course, but this might be one of the fi rst shows to use the tried-and-true slasher-movie for­mula on the small screen.

Any­one who’s seen a Fri­day the 13th movie – c’mon, ad­mit it, you’ve snuck a peek – knows how this for­mula op­er­ates: take a bunch of young peo­ple, prefer­ably good-looking, and stick them in an iso­lated lo­ca­tion. Add a spooky lo­cal leg­end and a red her­ring or two as a di­ver­sion. Then throw in a mys­te­ri­ous ma­niac with homi­ci­dal in­ten­tions to­wards your group of hot young things. And let the good times roll!

While Harper’s Is­land isn’t quite as bloody as many of the movies that ap­pear to have in­spired it, it still has its fair share of the red stuff . But the bump­ing-off of its cast of char­ac­ters is the main sim­i­lar­ity here.

The story be­gins with Henry ( Christo­pher Gorham) and Tr­ish ( Katie Cassidy) hold­ing their wed­ding on the re­mote and seem­ingly idyl­lic is­land of the ti­tle. They’ve brought a small group of their friends along for the big day, even though the place has a past: seven years ear­lier, six peo­ple were bru­tally killed there.

Of course, as soon as the pas­sen­gers step off the ferry, the car­nage be­gins again. And

As hooks go, that’s not bad. And as shows go, Harper’s Is­land isn’t too bad, ei­ther. It’s at­mo­spheric, with the is­land pro­vid­ing a suitably beau­ti­ful but for­bid­ding back­drop. The char­ac­ters have just enough di­men­sion each episode prom­ises an­other death un­til the num­bers are re­duced by the fi nal episode to the last per­son stand­ing and the mur­derer. and di­ver­sity to make you hope some sur­vive and some meet their maker sooner than oth­ers.

And it’s sharp enough to dis­tract you with bits of busi­ness like the death of one char­ac­ter’s mother dur­ing the fi rst se­ries of mur­ders seven years ear­lier, or the pos­si­bil­ity that one or more sup­port­ing char­ac­ter has a nasty tem­per.

Con­sid­er­ing that most of the ac­tors are ba­si­cally there to meet a grisly demise, the act­ing is sur­pris­ingly ca­pa­ble. Like­able Ugly Betty star Gorham is an ap­peal­ing lead, and fresh faces like Cassidy, C. J. Thoma­son and Cameron Richardson all do well. The stand­out, how­ever, is Elaine Cassidy, who plays the wounded but feisty Abby.

Don’t get too at­tached to any­one, though. In the space of a few months, most of them will be his­tory. But won­der­ing who’ll make the cut on Harper’s Is­land – and who’ll sim­ply be cut – is the fun of this guilty plea­sure of a pro­gram.

Bot­toms up: The cel­e­bra­tions of Henry ( Christo­pher Gorham, cen­tre) and his wed­ding party are dis­rupted; inset, Chloe ( Cameron Richardson) comes face to face with a killer.

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