Christina Nickson -
Jesse Parker -
Terry Burke -
Judy Kramer -
Paula Hargrove -
Ben Kramer -
Meg Kramer -
Lucas Boyd -
Amber Hargrove -
OTHER DEVILISH SHOWS
OTHER ODD PLACES
POINT PLEASANT is a small holiday beach town that lives off the summer sunseekers that drift in. During a storm a young woman drifts in from the sea, unconscious and close to drowning. She is Christina and there's something not quite right about her. She is, in truth, the daughter of the Devil and Point Pleasant is to be the location of the trials that will bring her into her powers and thus start the downfall of man. Unless, of course, the crush she has on lifeguard Jesse distracts her too much.
In the US, ratings are the one true god and any show that doesn't get them doesn't get to come back. In some cases, a lack of ratings means the show doesn't even get to finish its schedule and that's what happened to POINT PLEASANT. Only 8 of the 13 episodes of the first series were actually broadcast before the show was cut off. This was a shame because it was only after this point that the show started to really get into its stride and show what it was really made of.
The earlier episodes were hampered by the need to set up the characters and the situation, to weave a tangled web between all of those living in the town so that the strands could be cut and twisted and knotted by later events. This led to a slowburn quality that wasn't ever going to be a ratings winner and an unhealthy amount of teenage soap opera angst. As the supernatural started to take over from the soap opera, however, the show started to seriously improve. Sadly it was only when the DVD box set was released that this could be seen as most of the improvement was in the episodes that never made it to broadcast.
It didn't help that many of the younger performers upon whose shoulders the majority of the show rested struggled to make an impact. As the Devil's daughter, Elisabeth Harnois needed to have a subtle undertoning of danger, but only ever came off as a peevish teen. The adults fared better with Grant Show's Lucas Boyd stealing the thunder as the embodiment of true evil.
POINT PLEASANT eventually came to show a lot of promise, but it's brave stance on the slow build up of the story and the tension instead of instant thrills meant that you had to buy the DVDs to appreciate that.Top
Christina Nickson gets rescued from the sea during a storm with no memory of how she came to be in the water. Jesse, the lifeguard who saved her, carries to the nearby house of the Kramer family, a typical family messed up by the loss of a daughter some time in the past. When Christina's father doesn't seem keen to get her back they step up and agree that she can stay for a while. A family retainer, however, meets Christina at a local church and tries to kill her, but is himself killed by a swarm of bees.
The sea seen from below, the surface pockmarked with the falling rain. A body crashes through and floats away. It's an impressive opening, but one that is the high point to this opening episode. After that, we are introduced to the relevant members of the Point Pleasant community, a band of pretty people with petty problems (in the case of the teens) and adult hangups (in the case of, well, the adults). Everyone has issues and everyone is linked to each other in twisted relationships that you just know are going to form the core of the soapy background to the supernatural story.
The Devil's daughter this way comes, and that isn't a spoiler because the show tells you that in the first ten minutes and then goes out of its way to remind you of the fact at least twice more in case you forget it whilst meeting all the soap characters. The big finale in the church is then shoehorned in to remind you that this is, in fact, a supernatural series even though the running time won't stand it and thus it is rushed and less effective.
We've has the set up now, so perhaps the pace can sort itself out and the demonic influence can start to spread further than the girl who puts out for the boy she hates during a half-day personality switch.Top
Christina goes in search of her mother at the local church and find her family name, but the priest is clearly hiding something from her. She and Jesse break in and discover that there is evidence that Christina was the product of a virgin birth. The older priest of the church, initially sceptical of the younger priest's faith in the ancient prophecies that Christina's arrival will make Point Pleasant the site of the End of Days, discovers hidden writings that send him rushing to the Kramer's boat, but a sinister accident leaves him hanged and burned.
After the set up of the Pilot, the tone and pace have settled down nicely in this second episode. The arrival of Christina's watcher allows for a little grown up menace and his treatment of the town tramp is pretty brutal in a psychological sort of way. That it leads to a situation that is destined to cause the Kramer family great discord shows that the soapier elements of the show can be worked into the more supernatural. Of course, it's more than a little reminiscent of THE OMEN, especially in terms of the priest's death, and the younger members of the cast are finding it difficult to convince, but there's still hope that the show can find its own way.Top
Lucas Boyd starts working on his plan to turn Christina into the destroyer of mankind. He engineers a car accident that leaves Judy in the hospital, driving Ben a little crazy. Christina's father shows up to tell her that she's on her own and she turns to Ben to protect his 'daughters'. The town lighthouse proves itself to be more than just a town symbol and it is made clear to Christina that if she really is the Devil's daughter then the battleground for the final conflict will not just be in the streets of Point Pleasant, but within her very soul.
Things are starting to get more interesting in POINT PLEASANT. The set up and plotting is still a bit too much like a teen soap for our liking, but the supernatural side is ramping up. The symbolism of the lighthouse intervention isn't clear, but that is actually OK. It's enough that a good man was driven to violence and then saved from it at the same time. It appears that there is going to be an obligatory beach scene to get the pretty young things into their bathing costumes in every episode, whether it needs it or not.
The acting, most especially from Grant Show as Lucas Boyd and Dina Meyer as Amber Hargrove, is hitting the mark more, though the younger performers are still struggling.
POINT PLEASANT is still a little too melodramatic for its own good, insisting on throwing in action that can be resolved rather than trusting on the slow burn of the build up, something that works much better in horror terms.Top
A shower of meteors is plunging earthwards in a display that none of the scientists predicted. A man comes to confession and tells Father Tomas under the seal of the confessional that God wants him to mutilate a young girl and this is the night for it. Boyd invites the Amber Hargrove, Ben and Meg Kramer and the Parkers to a party to view the meteors, but he has much darker plans for what is to happen there.
There's actually very little plot going on here, but a whole attempt at atmosphere building. The continuous shots of the meteors plunging through space on their way to Earth might have proved interesting had their presence meant anything other than a pretty backdrop and an excuse to get the kids onto the beach and the adults into Boyd's home. The stalker spends ages at the beach taking photographs with the apparent sole purpose of keeping us guessing about which girl he intends to mutilate, but then his story fizzles out towards the end.
The adult dinner party is a little more interesting, but Grant Show's Boyd is so transparently manipulative that the guests would have been climbing back into their cars ten minutes after arriving. He does make a nice double act with Dina Meyer's Amber, though, reminiscent of the sherrif/schoolteacher team in AMERICAN GOTHIC.
The soap opera side of things with the love quadrangle between Christina, Jesse, Paula and Terry continues to plod along and there's more shots of young swimsuit-clad boys and girls on the beach for no readily apparent reason other than to appeal to the target audience.Top
When the second stained glass window of the church is shattered in a row, Boyd offers to raise the money to have it repaired. His scheme is a marathon dance competition like they used to hold in the Depression. The kids show up and the dirty tricks start. Paula sets out to get Jesse back from Christina, but Christina's got the power of the Devil on her side.
Apart from taking its whole set up from THEY SHOOT HORSES DON'T THEY? and the whole dance marathon phenomenon, this episode borrows heavily from CARRIE. There's the 'hand from the grave' thing (it doesn't make you jump here because we've all seen CARRIE), there's the blood in the shower thing (though a different kind of blood and more of it) and there's the whole telepathic girl causes havoc thing (though there's not enough to quite merit the term 'havoc').
The more interesting aspect of the story here is the flashback to events that took place in the same hall at a similar event seventy years before. In these lies the origin of Boyd and his lust for evil. That's much more interesting than the soap opera overtones that make up the kids' relationships and the tangled mess of adult lives falling apart.Top
Father Tomas comes up with a line on Christina's mother - the doctor that might have delivered her. Christina goes to the hospital to challenge her, but she chooses to throw herself out of the window rather than answer Christina's questions. Judy sees this, having been following her in the hope of finding answers. Jesse has found an answer to a question that he didn't even know existed.
Christina's search for her history takes a big step forward as she chases down the doctor in the hospital and provides some seriously creepy sequences. For once Christina shows a bit of what she is capable of and there is a sense of fear about the forces ranged against her.
The soap opera overtones are still present, but for once don't overpower the main thrust of the narrative and for that the episode is much improved on many of the previous ones.Top
Thrown out by Judy, Christinal takes a bus out of town. On the same bus is Jesse, running away from the news about his family history. A storm hits the bus and throws it on its side. As Jesse and Christina try to save a wounded woman, she dies and warns Christina that Isabelle is afraid for her family. Isabelle is the dead sister of Judy and her mother has also been seeing signs.
The story is really starting to accelerate and there is a real sense of plot threads coming together as the overall design becomes ever more clear. Boyd's place is threatened by Meg's visions. She can see through his disguise and that is dangerous to him. Christina's bond with Jesse gives her the strength to tell Judy the truth. Even Amber, who has been siding with Boyd all along now sees something that gives her the strength to deny his influence over her.
The soap opera is receding and the main storyline is coming through ever stronger, improving the series episode by episode.Top
As Meg's mental condition continues to decline, Christina and Judy take Boyd prisoner and pump him full of sodium pentathol in an attempt to get some answers out of him. Answers they get, but not necessarily ones that they like. Jesse, meanwhile, follows his recurring dreams to a truth about himself that cannot bode well.
We've suspected all along that Jesse was more important than merely being Christina's love interest. That stemmed mainly from the unexplained scar on his neck. Well now the scar is explained and the truth is that Jesse died and came back seven hours later. He is clearly part of the overall plan and the fact that his mother is a devout churchgoer means that he must be on the side of the angels whether he wants to be or not.
Boyd quite clearly is only on the side of the fallen angels and it is he who runs the question and answer session that Judy and Christina have cooked up. Their adolescent manouevres are no match for his time-hardened manipulations.
And then there's the question of the video. Ben's destroyed it once, but now it's back and it's bad enough to make Amber repent her ways. We can't wait to see what's on it.
The fact is that the last three episodes have lifted POINT PLEASANT out of the vaguely interesting category and placed it squarely in the must see category. If we never found out what happened it wouldn't be the end of our lives, but we would regret it.Top
As Judy finds herself caught between an old lover and a new one, Christina ponders over how much to tell Jesse. She fears that if he knows who she really is, he'll bolt. The only way out of what must come is for Christina to die, but she hasn't the strength to kill herself. She calls upon God for the strength. Instead, a dead priest returns with the object of killing her himself.
This is a long set up to the dramatic finale. The party by the lake goes on for what seems like forever before Christina makes her ill-advised prayer and the priest rises. When things finally get going, though, it's old time fire and brimstone stuff with Jesse finding that he cannot die since he's already been dead once.
The arrival of Boyd's long dead lover (see Last Dance for the background to that) is a curve ball to shake things up again, but the relationship between Terry and Paula is just a distraction - filler almost.
We also find out that the tape contains a last message from Isabelle Kramer, telling the family that she could see their future and wanted no part of it - hence her suicide. Considering the messages that she's been sending back, it's clear that her part in events isn't yet over.
The soap opera is back in the story and that brings the interest levels down a bit. This is the first of the episodes that didn't make it to broadcast in the US the first time around and which were only seen on the DVD release. It's certainly not the best episode, but the story is coming into shape nicely and it's a shame that there wasn't the faith in it to show it all.Top
Boyd's undead lover sets about making his life a misery, almost as much as hers. She has to die the same death every day and now he has to watch her. When Christina sneaks into the house, the two women strike a bargain for Jesse's safety, but who is playing a game with whom and can Christina sort it out before Jesse dies a second time?
Now this brings the show back up a better level. The twisted relationship between Boyd and his girlfriend forms the core of the episode and Christina is drawn into that, showing what she is made of when she has to resort to desperate measures to save Jesse.
Compared to that the story of Meg Kramer's mistaking her husband's secret for infidelity and then finally getting to see the tape is sideshow stuff. Judy's dalliance with her new boy also seems like an irrelevance until the final moments of the episode.
It feels like all of the pieces are almost in place for the endgame and that makes it more of a mystery that the show was cancelled before these final episodes could be shown as they are getting more interesting with every one.Top
Jesse escapes from the christian believers that want to turn him into Christina's killer and goes on the run with her, only to be caught between them and Boyd. Christina gets them out of that and they go to a motel together to get it on, but then Jesse catches a glimpse of Christina's future and runs, sending her into Boyd's waiting arms.
After the point where the show was taken off the broadcast schedule it's been getting better and better. This episod is almost wall to wall action - daring escapes, Christina letting her powers loose and the final revelation to Jesse. The end is most definitely nigh and we're at a point where we want to be there to see it - something that we didn't imagine after the first couple of episodes.
Meg has come into her own as the real force for good, gathering together her own group, the missing of the title, for reasons as yet unknown, but she is interrupted by Ben having her taken away as insane, begging the question of whether his alliances are suspect.
At this point, the show is really coming into its own.Top
Following Jesse's flight to the Christian army, Christina goes to Boyd and asks for help. He tells her the truth about the breakup of the Kramer's family and she goes to see for herself, but instead finds her mother, a mother whose concern for her welfare turns out to be less than she might have hoped.
The battle lines have been drawn and everyone knows their parts. Christina has been driven to the very edge and returns to the Kramer household to show what she is finally capable of.
This is a remarkable episode in that it comes to crescendo just as the credits roll and the audience is left begging to know what is going to go down.Top
Jesse has accepted his role in what must be done to Christina, but God has one last message for him. The missing folk of the town are revealed as having a final destiny in the events of the night that are to come. Christina starts to torture the Kramers with Boyd demanding a ringside seat, all of them waiting for Jesse to arrive and their fated confrontation to begin.
The episode title gives away the fact that this is meant to be the ending only in so far as it closes the first chapter and sets up another that was never to come. As a result of that, the outcome is inevitable and can't come as a surprise to anyone. Only the fates of the rest of the cast remains to be sorted and there really isn't a lot of surprises there either.
For an apocalyptic finale it's not all that apocalyptic, although all of the major characters go through the wringer a bit an nobody comes out of it unscathed. The show promised us devastation on scale to level the town, but what we get is a little girl throwing a strop, only with added demonic powers.
Some of the plot strands are left dangling, presumably for the second series that never came, but there is just about enough of a conclusion to justify the show's existence. Top
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