THE SHOW "Harper's Island," CBS/2, Thursdays at 10, over 13 weeks, concluding July 2.
REASON TO WATCH Murder most foul, I tell you. Murder. Plus, the scenery's really nice.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT A wedding party heads out to a secluded and lovely island somewhere in Puget Sound, where the wedding will take place later in the week. But this will be a wedding most won't forget - for the simple reason that most will be dead. One by one, this party gets a little bit smaller as a murderer in their midst gets busy. Guests are dispatched in various and highly creative ways - all of them bloody - though the most interesting may well be the first. (Warning: This scene, at the series' outset, should not be watched by anyone who has ever been tied to a boat propeller.) Here's the basic story: Henry Dunn (Christopher Gorham, most recently, "Ugly Betty") is getting married to beautiful and wealthy Trish Wellington (Katie Cassidy). But Daddy Dearest, Thomas Wellington (Richard Burgi, "Desperate Housewives") does not approve. He lures handsome Hunter Jennings (Victor Webster), her old boyfriend, to the island as well, so that Hunk Boy might turn her head. Meanwhile, the constellation of friends and relatives arrives at Harper's, including little Madison Allen (Cassandra Sawtell), the flower girl, who's a little bit nuts; and Uncle Marty (Harry Hamlin), the same. Abby Mills (Elaine Cassidy) - an old friend of Henry's - is here, too. Her mother was murdered years earlier on the island by one John Wakefield, who whacked a few others on there as well. John may be dead. Or he may be undead.
BOTTOM LINE What a hoot. What a ridiculous, soap-operatic cutup of a series. But if you can stop giggling long enough, as I managed to - quite a feat, let me tell you - "Harper's Island" is also hugely enjoyable. Oh, sure, you'd like the pace to pick up, or the bodies to pile up just a little more quickly. You'll also wonder, why doesn't anyone ever ask, "Whatever happened to so-and-so? Wasn't he / she just here?" Instead, so-and-so just disappears - typically beheaded, dismembered or whatever - never to be heard from again. (You'll also ask yourself: Will people start asking this question when the party gets down to, say, around two people?) "Harper's Island" is as scary as the Easter Bunny - OK, a mean Easter Bunny, but don't hold that against it. This is still a lot fun.