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Immortal stories of Half Moon Bay
May 01, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

Half Moon Bay, get ready for your close-up. Hollywood is calling. Last week, the Bravo TV network announced a new mystery drama produced by actress Jennifer Garner and set it in — you guessed it — Half Moon Bay.

Take that, Carmel! You might have Clint Eastwood but the San Mateo County coast gets Ben Affleck’s wife and the folks who brought TV viewers such gems as “Toddlers & Tiaras” and its breakout star Honey Boo Boo.

Of course, this upcoming bit of escapism will not be “The Real Housewives of Half Moon Bay” much as that might be disappointing. Instead, the show entitled “All the Pretty Faces” is described as a mystery dramedy series focusing on, according to one published summary, “two immortal families in a decades-long feud who come together after one of them dies to search for the secret to their eternal life.”

I’m thinking “Twilight” meets “Hatfield & McCoys” with everybody impossibly attractive to watch and at least one Romeo and Juliet-style love connection that keeps the families at odds. And maybe a werewolf. The word “moon” is in the city’s name, after all.

Besides, supernatural is fitting for that part of the county. There’s the Blue Lady of the Moss Beach Distillery, the ghostly apparition of a beautiful, young woman who died in a violent automobile accident some 70-odd years ago and haunts the restaurant looking for the handsome bar piano player with whom she had an illicit affair. Another legend claims that the Purissima Cemetery south of Half Moon Bay includes a little boy who died from a fever. A grown man fell ill with similar symptoms about a week later and appeared to have also died. But he woke up just as funeral preparations were being finished. The boy’s family worried they had buried the boy alive so they exhumed the grave. Cue the creepy music — the body was flipped over inside the casket.

On Thanksgiving Day 2006, three teens broke into an abandoned Pacifica elementary school in search of ghostly spirits. They claimed to belong to the Idaho Spirit Seekers and had information about ghosts at Fairmont School. The organization said only one boy ever attended a meeting and was not invited to join. There you go — built-in drama and mystery!

Why stop there with the ripped-from-the-headline plot lines? Supernatural undertones aside, the writers needn’t look too far for some real drama Half Moon Bay.

The antics of the Harbor Commission, with its infighting and finger pointing, is good for a multi-episode arc. Heck, maybe it could provide some of the hair-pulling and name calling we’ve come to expect from the Real Housewives franchise. Not so sure on the plastic surgery and bling.

Subplots — the hoist, the fish fees, the annual stress of a successful crab and salmon season. It might not be “Deadliest Catch” but this is potentially good television, people!

Don’t stop there. Radiation washing up on shore from the Fukushima nuclear meltdown — everybody loves a very special disaster episode — and the Mavericks surfing competition are possibilities. Action shots! Guest appearances!

Now the mystery — how about a murder? Gaylord the ostrich was found fatally shot the day after Halloween in 2006 and his killers only revealed after his owner tracked down the pair on her own.

Or, stretching a bit, maybe a giant gourd can fall on a competitor at the annual giant pumpkin weigh-off. Was somebody trying to squash the competition? Tune in next week to find out.

Same goes for that town divide over agritourism, coliseum-style sword fights and large metal gorillas at pumpkin farms. If that doesn’t cause rifts among families and residents, little will.

When all else fails, the city’s somewhat recent financial trouble stemming from an $18 million legal settlement over a land dispute is always good fodder. City government isn’t usually what springs to mind when one thinks of scintillating television but the success of “Parks and Recreation” is proof positive that even the most basic of functions can be mined for comic gold. Granted, nobody was laughing when city leaders began talking about unincorporating and outsourcing services.

Nobody is laughing either over the city’s latest twist, the fight over the future of its historic bridge connecting downtown and State Route 92. But in the hands of a good writer, who knows what gems can spun from this story of a city battlefield. It might even be better than the real thing. However, unlike those other tales out of Half Moon Bay, we must wait until later for that story’s finale.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



Tags: might, mystery, after, about, there, drama,

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