Back to SoCal

NUVO | May 25, 2007
Hidden Palms

8 p.m. Wednesdays

WTTV (Channel 4)

By Marc D. Allan

See if this sounds familiar: gorgeous, troubled teens and beautiful, haunted adults living in southern California with lots of hip, contemporary pop music providing the soundtrack for their lives.

No, it’s not “The O.C.,” but you’re within maybe a hundred miles. It’s the drama/mystery “Hidden Palms,” and given that it’s just debuting now, you might want to catch it before it disappears. And it almost certainly will go away -- not because it’s bad; in fact, it’s semi-seductive in that way nighttime soaps have of suckering you in. But, well, networks just don’t introduce scripted series in the summer. Not ones they expect to stick around, anyway. So unless something bizarre happens (like 7 million viewers glom on), kiss it goodbye.

The H.P. -- let’s call it that -- takes place in Palm Springs, the land of “gays, grays and streets named after dead people.” Johnny Miller (Taylor Handley) and his mother and stepdad have moved here from Seattle. It’s been a year since Johnny witnessed a horrible death and, as the series unfolds, we learn that he’s spent at least a portion of that time in rehab.

So now Johnny has to make friends with new beautiful people, which he does. In short order, he has a best bud of sorts, Cliff (Michael Cassidy), a love interest named Greta (the exceedingly hot Amber Heard) and a neighbor, Liza (Ellary Porterfield), who has a secret crush on him.

It’s all good, except that there’s some weird stuff going on. The last kid who lived in Johnny’s house -- Eddie, Greta’s boyfriend -- killed himself, and someone is IMing Johnny warning messages.

That bit of intrigue separates The H.P. from its predecessors, as does Handley. He plays Johnny -- somewhat surprisingly -- as likeable and normal. Even though Johnny’s lived through turmoil, is angry with his mother for remarrying and has a drinking problem, he actually appears to be enjoying himself. He even smiles.

I don’t know how he’s going to manage in SoCal with that attitude, but it’s worth checking in to find out.


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