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'Hidden Palms': Surreal estate

June 7, 2007 | 10:00 am

Hiddenpalms200 What kind of Southern California tale would this be if there wasn't drama related to the housing market? In a big ol' advertisement for hiring a realtor to do due diligence, Johnny finds out that the recently departed Eddie actually committed suicide in his bedroom - and stepcreep Bob knew about it when he bought the house. Not so good for Johnny's mental state, given that he saw his father's suicide. But, you know, Bob probably got it for a nice price, and if you think of it as an investment over 30 years...oh wait, this isn't one of those mercilessly capitalist HGTV shows.

The revelation of Eddie's demise advances the overarching creepy plot of the show - what do the denizens of Palm Springs know about the death, and when did they know it? Johnny is warned to watch his back by a series of mysterious instant messages that are purportedly from Eddie himself. Yeah, getting embroiled in a chat room with the dead is such a bother - they just never log off.

As ludicrous as all this sounds, the spooky-lite subplots of the show are working better than the teenage angst ones. While Hidden Palms is obviously going for a summer campy vibe, it's probably not a good sign that two episodes in, the foreshadowing already is so very, very heavy handed that it inspires eye-rolling. When Johnny's fresh out of rehab pal Nikki tells popped Polo collar chipster Cliff "you look like trouble" - hey, guess what, trouble isn't going to be far behind. And then, when the line is repeated again after Cliff gets Nikki liquored up, that's just some lazy writing. It's already a show that's embraced the outlandish - I'd rather see the introduction of another dizzy character than dialogue repeated as though the audience has attention deficit disorder.

(Photo courtesy The CW)