Well, CBS took a gamble, creating an intentional one season series, "HARPER'S ISLAND," hoping to make big numbers and a decent show. While it didn't succeed in reaching the large audience it had hoped for, it's actually a lot better(at least on dvd) than one might expect. The premise follows the basic format of a slasher film, extended to 13 episodes. When trying to watch it unfold on air, over weekly episodes, "HARPER'S ISLAND" became irritating. On dvd, however, it's surprisingly entertaining, and in spite of a few major flaws in execution, it's easy to recommend!
Set on "Harper's Island," a fictional island somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, a young couple about to marry, along with family and friends, meet for the wedding. The island has a dark not-so-secret past, for years before, John Wakefield committed gruesome murders there. Before the 1st episode has ended, a guest has been brutally murdered. Of course, more killings are to follow at the climax of each episode, by an "at first" unknown assailant, theoretically leaving the audience at the edge of their seat awaiting the next episode for clues, or in wonder of who's to be next! The first 5 episodes focus on the demise of characters and the cover-up of their death. The following five episodes present the survivors finally catching wind that murders are actually occurring, and the last three episodes expose the killer with an explanation and the survivors trying to make it out alive.
While there are some moments that early on which become increasingly annoying, eg. characters doing ridiculous, "asking for trouble" things, it still doesn't prevent the episode's tension from becoming palpable. About mid-way through, it's extremely hard not to be hooked! Characters become developed, and the viewer becomes empathetic towards some they couldn't have cared about early on.
With the way in which the series unfolded over time on television, it was easy to become annoyed. Knowing with certainty that someone would die at the end of each episode felt gimmicky. But, on dvd, without the commercials and the extended weekly wait for the next episode, "HARPER'S ISLAND" moves at a brisker pace, changing the entire feel of the series. "HARPER'S ISLAND" feels much smarter now, and it would be a real loss for those not willing to give the show another shot.
PARAMOUNT has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement. "HARPER'S ISLAND" is one of the most impressive tv to dvd transfers of the year! The show has an impressive production design and the color palette is served well here, with strong hues(no oversaturation) and terrific(for standard resolution)depth! While there are some minor artifacts in a few spots, the overall image is excellent! A thriller necessitating plenty of darker scenes, could've really suffered on dvd, but blacks are deep, allowing for depth to still be maintained, without being swallowed up by shadows during these moments. A GREAT LOOKING DVD!
PARAMOUNT has provided a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix. It's a lively, immersive environment, with ambient and sharper, discrete effects blending with music and low bass for added thrills. Dialogue is perfectly balanced and never overshadowed by an apparent layer of effects.
Various featurettes will be hard to pass up for those who've watched and therefore, highly entertained with the series. But, the commentaries for four episodes are the best of the extras provided. So deleted scenes are also offered, but these are easy to pass up without consequence.