Friday, July 25, 2008

Point Pleasant (2005)

Point Pleasant is a plasticky American Fox series about the struggle between Good and Evil (note purposeful capitalisation), involving a great deal of overt Christian material in relation to this struggle. So why did I like it so much?

Everything here is not quite as it seems. The plot follows the character of Christina, a girl who is washed up on the beach in Point Pleasant and who slowly realises that she is - well - the devil's daughter, and is fated to have an intimate role in a coming apocalyptic scenario. The town itself is a fairly typical American TV show realm of beaches and bods, so to speak.

On the one hand, the show holds the same kitschy appeal as the Christian supernatural delvings of daytime soaps. But things here are rather more complicated; it's by no means so simple as Christian equals good guy, though we are at first led to believe that this is the case. Indeed, there's a low-key satirical element (I'm not sure if it's entirely intentional) as regards the tropes of Christianity in popular fiction, a la Left Behind. The complexity (for a mainstream TV show) of the plot development, the concepts involved regarding morality, and the way in which our perception of the heroes and villains of the piece changes, is one of the show's strengths. Unlike many other TV shows and films in a similar vein, the action is never driven by special effects, and neither the conclusion, nor the final actions of the main characters, are predictable.

I also found that the setting of the show really worked for me; call me a sucker for suburban gothic (not to mention Biblical blood and thunder), but, in a similar manner to Desperate Housewives, The Devil's Advocate or The Craft, there's a nice contrast between the shiny, plastic surfaces and the dark, Biblical-melodramatic thematics; one which also allows complexities to develop contrary to our expectations. Finally, though the teens are, for the most part, more looks than substance acting-wise, there's an excellent performance by Grant Show as the villain of the piece, and I also very much enjoyed Dina Meyer, who I loved in Starship Trooopers.

Point Pleasant's executive producer was Marti Noxon, known for his work on Buffy. Though PP definitely has more of a soap-opera quality to it, fans of Buffy - those who appreciate relatively sophisticated supernatural action/melodrama in television - might well find a lot to like here. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after 13 episodes - the final two, which bring the action to a conclusion, are included only on the DVD release. In one sense, it's a shame - but where TV is concerned, being left hungry for more is often a better option than watching a promising, successful series have the life wrung out of it season after season. Better to end, Armageddon-style, with a bang...

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