So, Point Pleasant. Some of you might remember this short-lived series. Its brief run began (and ended) in 2005, although the show looks and feels more like it was filmed in 1997. The premise was based around a mysterious young girl who (literally) washes up on the shore of the titular New Jersey town. She is the daughter of Satan and a mortal woman, in perpetual conflict between her human side and her evil side. PP received attention in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer fandom because it was co-produced by Buffy alum Marti Noxon, but it soon became apparent that PP had more in common with a low-budget version of The OC sprinkled with elements of a Dan Brown novel. And therein lies the awesome. This is crack of the finest quality, guys.
So the pilot episode opens with an underwater shot of the still surface of the ocean. The stillness is broken when our heroine plunges rather ungracefully into the water. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for the way she will soon disrupt the peaceful waters of Point Pleasant? Deep. Next comes a montage of aerial shots of the town, set to dramatic instrumental music. The title appears against a shot of an iconic lighthouse, then disappears in an impressive CGI display of crows flying off. This effect will come to characterize the show. Sadly it is probably the most impressive thing about it.
The show kicks off when a sudden and violent storm disrupts a peaceful day at the beach for the denizens of Point Pleasant. Because nothing says menacing like attractive people cavorting on a beach. These scenes introduce us to the main characters—attractive teens who look 27 and their equally attractive parents. There’s Paula, the “Libby” of the show; Terry, the douchey “bad boy”; and Jesse, best summed up as an even less interesting version of Riley Finn. Terry and Jesse both have generically attractive Abercrombie looks that meant I kept getting them mixed up for the first three or so eps. They’re also both lifeguards, which adds a nice touch of Baywatch. These three teens are involved in the requisite love triangle (soon to become a love rhombus when our heroine arrives)—Paula’s with Jesse, Terry wants Paula, but Paula coldly blows Terry off. Next we meet Judy Kramer, a snarky, Joey Potter-esque brunette with Something Dark in her past. In contrast to the carefree teens at the beach, Judy is first seen at her job at a gas station.
The storm hits and the beachgoers all scatter like freshmen at a kegger when the RA arrives. All except Jesse, who spots our heroine floating in the sea and goes out to rescue her. Unable to get to a hospital, he brings her to the nearby Kramer house. Pa Kramer, a doctor, takes a quick look at the girl’s eyes and tells Jesse he’s got it covered. Well, he was really helpful. I think I’ve seen more efficient doctoring on livejournal RPGs.
The power has gone out in the storm so the Kramer house is lit by about a kajillion candles. This was probably done for atmosphere, but all I can think is, who keeps that many candles in their home? They rob a new age store or something? We get blackouts all the time where I live and we’re still scrambling for candles every time the power goes out. I had to use this vanilla-scented candle I got for a gift once and the entire condo smelled like cookies for a week. The Kramers’ flagrant disregard for candle preservation becomes more apparent when we see drowning girl asleep in a room lit by red candles (because red candles are totally more evil than the white ones in the rest of the house). This chick’s asleep—what does she need light for? Oh yeah, so the candles can ominously go out one by one as gusts of wind blow through the room.
Meanwhile, Judy snoops in the knapsack the Kramers found on drowning girl while eerie music plays in the background. Judy uncovers a strange, antique-looking box, but the moment she opens it (subtlety is really this show’s specialty), drowning girl’s eyes fly open and the power comes back on.
We learn that drowning girl’s name is Christina, she fell overboard during a cruise for her high school, her father is overseas and her mother is out of the picture. At least, that is what she tells the Kramers (and Jesse’s Dad, who is a cop). Christina looks through the box, finding old photos and some kooky glass ball. Judy comes in and through their convo we find out that the stuff in the box belongs to Christina’s Mom, of whom she knows very little. We also find out that Judy’s sister Isabel died and Judy angsts about it, but hides it behind a tough exterior. And the tropes just keep on coming.
It only gets better when Jesse shows up, looking more bland and Abercrombie than ever. The music swells and he and Christina gaze dramatically upon each other and you can practically see huge neon letters flashing LOVE INTEREST ALERT LOVE INTEREST ALERT. Judy, of course, makes a joke about it, because that’s what the snarky tomboy-until-she-puts-on-a-dress-and-is-so-prettttyyyy does. Jesse says Christina looks good for a floater. Well, that’s a word that could apply to this scene.
Meanwhile, at what looks like a park or something, a sketchy old guy announces to Grant Show (his character’s name is Lucas Boyd, but Boyd has enough presence that I seeing Grant Show) that Christina has been found. Christina is… dun dun dun… THE CHILD OF DARKNESS! Old Dude, Kingston (great, now I’ll keep thinking of Gwen and Gavin’s son), raised Christina but Boyd believes it’s time for her to be released into the wild to destroy the world. For most kids that age, it’s called college. Except maybe without the whole “destroy the world” part.
In the midst of all this excitement, we check up on Terry and Paula. I’m sure you’re all just dying to know what happened them. Terry drives Paula home from the beach and hits on her more, accusing her of looking at him with “do me” eyes. He later shows up at her house with a case of beer. Stay classy, Terry. We find out that Paula’s Mom is the Julie Cooper knockoff of this series, and she’s currently with her latest boy toy. Terry tells Paula that she and her Mom go for the bad boys. Man, with lines like that, how is he not getting more tail than a veterinarian’s office? The scene ends with them hooking up in the pool, as it is one of the many required scenes of any self-respecting prime-time soap.
Later, we are treated to a lovely dream sequence during which Jesse is seduced by Paula, only to have her morph into Christina mid-romp. Christina seductively asks Jesse to kill her. Wow, Jesse’s even boring in his dreams.
The Kramer ‘rents discuss the Christina sitch and decide to let her stay with them. Next morning, Dr. Kramer gives Christina a quick exam and notices an unusual birthmark in her eye. An extreme close-up informs us it is… dun dun dun… the sign of the devil! Unbeknownst to the Kramers, Christina calls Harlan, a family friend, on a pay phone and informs him of her whereabouts. However, she wants to stay with the Kramers and search for her estranged mother. All her life, she’s felt that something’s been “off” with her, like something’s missing. Honey, that’s being a teen. Everyone feels like a freak. You’re not unique. Christina thinks finding her mother would answer these questions. I think she’d benefit more from finding some acting classes, but that’s just my opinion.
Since Christina’s arrival, subtle changes begin to occur in the Kramers’ normally sitcom-harmonious lives. For one, Judy begins wearing her hair down and being girlie and pretty (which means showing off the ya-yas in a bikini top worn under an open hoodie). Wow, that didn’t take long. Judy and Christina go to the pier where they run into Jessie. Jesse and Christina continue to gaze awkwardly at each other, to the extent that Judy makes another joke about it and splits. Can’t say I blame her. Unfortunately, we viewers do not have that luxury.
Dr. Kramer, meanwhile, starts putting the moves on Amber, Paula’s Mom and PP’s resident MILF. When she comes in for an exam, things get inappropriate fast, and he spills that his wife won’t sleep with him since Isabel’s death. Subtle. His pager goes off, ruining this wonderfully Melrose moment. He prattles on about how much he loves his wife and I can’t help thinking, “Dude, you totally fucked a couch on Nip/Tuck.” It is also worth mentioning that during this scene, we see that he has doodled the DEVIL SIGN onto his notepad.
And now we get our requisite party scene during which shit goes down, because shit must always go down at parties on teen soaps. It became such a cliché on the OC, in fact, that the show itself started totally lampshade-hanging in the later seasons. In this case, the party scene takes place at a bonfire on the beach. We get more of Terry douchily hitting on Paula while Christina and Jesse share some extremely stilted flirting. It is worthy of mention that Christina’s tank top-and-floral miniskirt outfit screams late 90s. Clearly Satan has not imbued his progeny with a hip and cutting-edge fashion sense. Paula saunters over to stake her claim on Jesse and get her bitch on, while a jealous Christina gets a mildly constipated look on her face and the fire briefly flares up. Christina then looks terrified and runs away. The scene fades out with the flames forming into the DEVIL SIGN. Man, this is awesome.
Fade in, and we’re still at the party. Jesse and Terry get in a fight over Paula that makes West Side Story look gritty and realistic. Man, and we don’t even get wonderfully memorable lines like “Welcome to the OC Point Pleasant, bitch!” I especially love how, when their friends pull them apart, Terry’s shirt rides up so we can see his washboard abs. Can’t fault this show for fanservice.
Later that night, Christina gazes on from the Kramers’ window while Jesse and Paula stop at the gas station. Paula and Jesse make out while Christina gazes on longingly, and soon we see gas flowing out of the car’s tank and across the asphalt. Seriously, it’s like a flood. Yet when the gas station attendant walks over, it’s back to being a little puddle. The gas flows quickly toward the garage where sparks emitted from a blowtorch ignite it. The flames race straight to Jesse’s jeep. Paula’s seat belt has conveniently become stuck and I’m cracking the hell up, which is probably not the reaction the director had in mind. But have no fear, Paula and Jesse make it out of the Jeep just before it explodes. Man, and we don’t even get any comical scenes of them flying through the air like on Smallville or Lost. You know your show’s hit rock bottom when it’s being compared unfavorably to Smallville.
Next day at Chez Kramer, Judy’s Mom dumps out her medication. There are a variety of ways this can end, and “well” is not one of them. Meanwhile, Christina heads over to the church, because it’s time to bring some Dan Brown into this heezy. The church is dark and kind of misty-looking, which was again probably done for atmospheric purposes, but I just find myself wondering why no one thinks to flip on a light. Again, we see another DEVIL SIGN that Christina notices etched onto a pew. OK, guys, we get it. Christina is the CHILD OF DARKNESS.
Harlan appears suddenly, backlit dramatically against a stained-glass window. We learn that Christina’s Mom was the daughter of the church’s groundskeeper. Harlan utters some increasingly oblique statements (with a bonus Latin incantation thrown in, because you can’t have creepy demonic shit without Latin incantations) whilst looking increasingly constipated, before he grabs Christina and tries to choke her. But then a swarm of wasps appears suddenly and attacks him, which enables Christina to escape. No, I am not making this shit up. Christina runs out of the church while even more wasps burst through the window, descending upon Harlan. The camera pans back to reveal him lying on the church floor in a position reminiscent of the crucifixion. Guys, I really wish I was making this shit up. If only my mind was capable of creating something this golden.
Back at Casa Kramer, Ma Kramer has cleaned up Isabel’s room for Christina, so we know she’s in it for the long haul. We end with another beach scene and more ominous music. In voiceover form, we have a retread of Kingston and Boyd’s convo, warning that Christina will have to make a choice. Then we have a dramatic shot of her surfacing in the ocean, gazing into the camera with an expression that is either ominously dark or hilariously derpy, take your pick. Aaaaand that’s a wrap.
So there you have it, kids. The pilot of Point Pleasant. I really am shocked this show only lasted thirteen episodes. Shocked.
Stay tuned for the exciting next installment!