Harper's Island

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"Harper's Island"
Created by Ari Schlossberg
Starring Elaine Cassidy
Christopher Gorham
Katie Cassidy
Cameron Richardson
Adam Campbell
C.J. Thomason
Jim Beaver
See below
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Jeffrey Jackson Bell
Ari Schlossberg
Jon Turteltaub
Running time 42-45 minutes
Production company(s) CBS Paramount Network Television
Junction Entertainment
Distributor CBS Television Distribution
Original network CBS
Original release April 9, 2009 (2009-04-09) – July 11, 2009 (2009-07-11)

Harper's Island is an American murder mystery television series. Produced by CBS Paramount Network Television and Junction Entertainment, it aired on CBS during the 2008-09 season. Created by Ari Schlossberg, the narrative followed the guests of a wedding party who were killed one at a time.

The show ran for thirteen episodes, with the story being completed over the season. A second season would have contained a new story with new characters. The show premiered in April 2009 but was moved from its Thursday timeslot to Saturday after three episodes due to poor ratings. The series concluded in July 2009 and was later confirmed to be cancelled. A DVD of the series was released in September 2009.



The show is set on Harper's Island, a fictional island thirty seven miles off the coast of Seattle. Seven years before the events of the series, a man named John Wakefield killed seven people, the first murders in the history of the island. Wakefield was killed by the Sheriff, Charlie Mills, whose wife was one of the victims. Afterwards, Mills sent his daughter Abby, to live with her grandmother in Los Angeles.


Abby returns to the island to attend the wedding of her best friend, Henry Dunn to Trish Wellington, in a destination wedding which is supposed to last a week. A murderer starts killing members of the wedding party one at a time, forcing Abby to relive memories of the killings seven years before.



Harper's Island was created by writer Ari Schlossberg. In March 2008, CBS ordered a 15-minute pilot presentation of the project.[1][2] In May 2008 CBS picked up the show for midseason.[3] They ordered 13 episodes which contained a finite story arc.[4] A potential second season would have revolved around a new story with new characters.[5] Jon Turteltaub said: “Our hope for the show is that it becomes an anthology that continues in 13-week spurts.”[6] Jeffrey Bell joined as showrunner.[7] Bell was brought on as Schlossberg was new to television.[8] Schlossberg remained on board as a co-executive producer along with Karim Zriek, Dan Shotz and Tyler Bensinger.

Filming took place from August 2008 to February 2009.[9] The series was shot on Bowen Island, an island municipality about two kilometers west of Vancouver, British Columbia, and at the University of British Columbia.


After the pilot presentation was greenlit to series, several members of the cast were replaced, including Ryan Merriman (Henry Dunn), Samantha Noble (Trish Wellington), Bill Dow (Sheriff Mills) and Bill Pullman (Uncle Marty). The roles of Thomas Wellington and Hunter Jennings were also recast.

Actors who remained with the show from pilot-presentation to the aired television pilot include Elaine Cassidy, Cameron Richardson, Adam Campbell, C.J. Thomason, Matt Barr, Cassandra Sawtell, Brandon Jay McLaren, Chris Gauthier and Sean Rogerson.[10]

The actors and actresses were not told about their characters' deaths until the day that each script was given. The only two actors to know the length of their contracts were Richard Burgi, as his death was seen as a major turning point in the series,[11] and Harry Hamlin, as his contract was for a single episode.

Harper's Globe[edit]

Harper's Globe is a web series that takes place in the same universe as designed to Harper's Island. The series is created by EQAL (creators of lonelygirl15, KateModern, LG15: The Resistance) and CBS Interactive. The show premiered its weekly episodes on March 18, 2009, and ran for a total of sixteen weeks. It stars Melanie Merkosky as Robin Matthews, a woman who moves to Harper's Island to work for the newspaper, Harper's Globe. The series includes appearances by Harper's Island characters Ben Wellington, Sheriff Mills, Nikki Bolton, Maggie Krell and John Wakefield. Robin appears in episode four of Harper's Island, Bang.

Broadcast and ratings[edit]

The series premiered on Thursday April 9, 2009, at 10:00 pm as a mid-season replacement for Eleventh Hour. The premiere drew in 10.49 million viewers[12] After the third episode had aired, CBS moved the program to Saturdays due to low ratings.[13] The final episode aired on July 11, 2009. At the end of the 2008-2009 television season the show ranged at #50 being viewed in approximately 9,360,000 homes in North America. The show was also broadcast in Australia and the United Kingdom.


TV by the Numbers first reported that the series would not be renewed on April 21 2009, after two episodes had aired.[14] On 14 July, Entertainment Weekly reported that there would be no second season.[15] Co-Executive producer Karim Zreik confirmed on 29 July that the series had been axed due to low ratings.[16] CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler later said that while the show had a niche audience, it did not have the broad appeal to pull in a bigger audience.[17]

Home entertainment[edit]

In September 2009 the show was released on DVD by CBS Home Entertainment (distributed by Paramount). Extras on the DVDs include audio commentaries, deleted scenes and featurettes. Zreik confirmed that the pilot presentation would not be included on the release due to clearance issues with the actors who appeared in it.[18][19]

In 2014 the series became available on Netflix. The show was removed from Netflix on 1 July 2015 after the Netflix licence expired. The show is currently available on Amazon Video.[20]


  1. ^ Ford Sullivan, Brian (30 May 2008). "The Futon's First Look: "Harper's Island" (CBS, Original Presentation)". thefutoncritic.com. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  2. ^ Rovzar, Chris (11 June 2008). "Pilot Preview: CBS’ ‘Harper’s Island’ Might Be Killer". vulture.com. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "CBS Announces Fall Lineup". kwch.com. 14 May 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  4. ^ Steinberg, Brian (20 February 2009). "Is CBS's 'Harper's Island' a New Broadcast Model?". adage.com. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  5. ^ Farabee, Mindy (11 January 2009). "On 'Harper's Island,' survival is the game". latimes.com. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  6. ^ R. Lee, Felicia (7 April 2009). "A New Television Murder Series Keeps Its Own End in Sight". nytimes.com. Retrieved 30 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (18 May 2008). "Jeffrey Bell is 'Harper's' showrunner". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Ford Sullivan, Brian (9 April 2009). "Interview: "Harper's Island" Executive Producer Jeffrey Bell". thefutoncritic.com. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  9. ^ Loggins, Emma (6 April 2009). "Interview: Jon Turteltaub from Harper’s Island". fanbolt.com. Retrieved 7 October 2015. 
  10. ^ http://storage.canalblog.com/23/99/395902/27358445.jpg
  11. ^ Zreik, Karim (2009-05-11). "So, at the start of production back in August, we signed Richard Burgi to a five-episode deal. Richard knew that his time would be up in week 5 (the only actor on the show to have that sort of information), so it came as no surprise when I approached him to deliver the news.". Televisionwithoutpity.com. Retrieved 2011-10-31. 
  12. ^ Seidman, Robert (10 April 2009). "Thursday Ratings: Modest success for Southland and Parks and Recreation". zap2it.com. Retrieved 12 October 2015. 
  13. ^ Schneider, Michael (27 April 2009). "CBS exiles ‘Island’ to Saturdays". variety.com. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  14. ^ The Cancel Bear (21 April 2009). "Harper's Island: One and Done". tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  15. ^ Rice, Lynette (14 July 2009). "'Harper's Island:' No chance for second season, insiders say". ew.com. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  16. ^ Zreik, Karim (29 July 2009). ""unfortunately, no 2nd season. ratings weren't big enough."". twitter.com. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  17. ^ Ford Sullivan, Brian (3 August 2009). "CBS at TCA: Tassler Touts Successes, Challenges". thefutoncritic.com. Retrieved 6 October 2015. 
  18. ^ "Harper's Island Blog". blogspot.co.uk. 7 July 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  19. ^ Zreik, Karim (22 July 2009). ""it's a different cast, etc. tough to get clearance."". twitter.com. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  20. ^ https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005HF0GFW/

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