The beach stretches off into the distance and the ocean to a vanishing point on the horizon. Somewhere out there is Plum Island —sinister Plum Island, where perhaps some experiment has gone horribly wrong.
Or maybe just space aliens have taken over the place.
Who knows. Worse things have been said about poor maligned Plum anyway. What does matter is this: "Emergence" (premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. on ABC) where this scene appears, is set in Southold. That beach is supposed to be nearby, maybe Orient Beach State Park?
Supposed to but isn't. The beach that appears in the pilot is Island Beach State Park in New Jersey. Southold doesn't get much of a close up either. Its scenes were shot in the Monmouth County, New Jersey, towns of Keyport and Middletown.
Hey, at least it's the thought that counts, right?
"Emergence" stars Alison Tolman, a Southold cop who is called to the scene of a mysterious plane crash on that beach, where she then is approached by a little girl who has amnesia (Alexa Swinton). From there, things start to get weird. There's a touch of "Stranger Things," and a splash of Spielberg — the Spielberg of "ET" and "Poltergeist." And yes, Plum Island does have a prominent and mysterious role in "Emergence."
Tara Butters, co-creator and executive producer of the new series — also married to Port Washington native Marc Guggenheim ("Arrow") — said in a recent interview that when she and her co-exec on the series, Michele Fazekas wrote the script and "set it out in Southold because we really wanted a location that had the proximity to a large city, like New York, but a small-town feel. We loved the idea of Long Island because my husband lived in Port Washington, and we really loved the locale — especially the North Fork which is Middle America but not Middle America. There is a warmth to it and just real people there."
She said the original intention was to film on Long Island but "New York State had run out of tax [credits] and we were lucky that New Jersey had brought theirs back."
New York's so-called Film Tax Credit Program is one of the most aggressive production incentives in the country, and gave $1.2 billion in tax revenue to 43 TV series alone over the past four years, according to a survey conducted by the Albany Business Review. ($420 million a year is set aside for movie and TV production tax breaks.)
In 2018, New Jersey re-instituted its own program, with a sweetener: On top of the 30 percent tax credit, shows earn another 2 percent for diversity. (An ABC spokeswoman said the show "does take advantage of New Jersey tax credits [but] a number of factors led to shooting there." )
Will "Emergence" shoot any scenes on Long Island?
"That's our hope," says Butters. "On the last day of shooting the pilot, we got to go out to Greenport,and the opening sequence in the pilot was all shot there, including the shots of Claudio's [on the corner of Front St. and Main Rd.] Our hope is to shoot a couple scenes here and there. It's always hard, having to bring a crew all the way out there, but I'm hopeful. It adds so much to the look of the show."