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Surf, sun, and Satan's spawn

The dark side goes to the beach in lightweight 'Point Pleasant'

Fox's ''Point Pleasant" brings back memories of ''Carrie," Brian De Palma's great 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's first novel. ''Carrie" made the teen hierarchy into something catastrophically painful to those at the bottom -- who were not lovable geeks but the tortured losers who were said to have ''cooties." Crushed by the mean girls, the telekinetic Carrie White could overcome her self-annihilation with a burst of homicidal rage. And it was a bloody mess.

''Point Pleasant" is ''Carrie," but now the misfit with the lifeless hair has been made over by ''The Swan," then sent back to homeroom to conquer the Heathers. In this not-great beachside series, which premieres tonight at 9 on Channel 25, telekinesis isn't much more than a weapon in the teen dating wars, to be deployed during bonfire hookups and cafeteria catfights. About the spawn of the devil, a blond girl with innocent eyes named Christina, the soap opera squanders its paranormal setup on the vapid melodramatics of bikini babes and buff boys. ''Point Pleasant" is ''The Bold and the Beautiful and Beelzebub."

Actually, Christina (Elisabeth Harnois) isn't just the daughter of the devil himself. She's also an angel in white, a woman who's a little of both, as the Eagles put it. Her mother was a good mortal, it seems, and so Christina's genetics are at war within her pretty little head. When jealous, she can make SUVs blow up; but she's not always pleased about that ability. No daddy's girl, she. While Joan on ''Joan of Arcadia" follows God the father at every turn, Christina is caught in some kind of mad postdivorce crossfire.

But her inner turmoil is beside the point, at least in tonight's premiere. (The show begins its regular time slot tomorrow night at 9.) She has picturesque places to go, plastic people to see. Christina is saved from drowning by stud lifeguard Jesse (Sam Page), and she falls into the society of the New Jersey beach town, which Fox has modeled after the flesh-friendly settings on WB's ''Summerland" and its own ''North Shore." She quickly becomes embroiled in a pretty love triangle, which finds Paula (Cameron Richardson) trying to hold onto Jesse, who has become smitten with Christina. Naturally, Paula is a bratty schemer; all good guys are required by the Big Book of Soap Opera Rules to be hitched to a hussy.

The show also borrows a page from the ''O.C." by having the mysterious Christina move in with the Kramer family, in the same way Ryan was adopted by the Cohens. The Kramers have recently lost a daughter, so Christina sets up in the extra bedroom and helps to heal their grief. But don't expect any ''O.C"-like humor in ''Point Pleasant." Created by Marti Noxon, an executive producer of the superior ''Buffy the Vampire Slayer," it's woefully lacking in cleverness and self-irony.

Grant Show appears as some kind of emissary from the Dark Side, and he virtually guarantees that the humorlessness will continue. He seems to think that Christina's father -- you can call him Meph -- will not be happy about her relocation, and that there may not be anything pleasant about the town for very long. Alas, there may not be anything entertaining about it, either.

Matthew Gilbert can be reached at

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