A flat and uninspired adaptation of the BBC hit “Ballykissangel,” “Hope Island” attempts to marry the otherworldly aspects of “Touched By an Angel” with the quirkiness of “Northern Exposure.” Characters hold little appeal in the slow-moving debut and an ensuing episode’s only slightly better, thanks to a guest spot by Roscoe Lee Browne as a dying islander who becomes a chess-playing friend of the Rev. Daniel Cooper (Cameron Daddo).
Cooper is the new minister on a Puget Sound island that has only had a Catholic church for a short number of years. The young, guitar-toting Cooper (seen out of his cleric’s outfit throughout the pilot) finds a boarded-up and vacated church save for a Jesus-inspired carnivallike attraction being set up by the island’s real-estate tycoon Brian Brewster (Duncan Fraser). It seems Brewster’s hopes for revived tourism are tied to the revival of the church but, like so many plot points, it’s never quite believable nor explicated.
Through Cooper, the town’s eccentrics are introduced one by one. Key among them is Brewster’s amiable daughter Molly (Allison Hosack), who has all the answers to who’s who and where the bones are buried; distrusting tavern owner Alex Stone (Suki Kaiser) and her young son Dylan (Max Peters) and the island’s cop Kevin Mitchell (David Lewis).
Cooper soon finds himself as the island’s key problem solver — how did they possibly exist without him? In episode one, he tries to deal with Mitchell’s father’s Alzheimer’s disease, in the other episode supplied for review, he attempts to provide spiritual comfort to Browne’s character and resolve the 17-year spat between the mother and daughter who run the general store.
A bit of humor does enter the latter episode, but not enough to keep viewers glued. Barry Donlevy’s cinematography is “Hope Island’s” strongest asset; he captures the natural beauty of the setting though Brad Turner’s direction, but the scripts haven’t quite figured out how to use the island itself as a character.