Lights, camera, action: “The Vineyard” debuts tonight

The cast of The Vineyard (l-r): Luis d'Agostino, Ben Rossi, Sophi Alvarez, Cat Todd, Jackie Lyons, Katie Tardif, Jon Franco, Emily Burns, Taeylr Robinson, Gabby Lapointe, Daniel Lipshutz. — Photo courtesy of ABC Family

“The Vineyard” was vilified and glorified, praised and panned, much anticipated and much despised, before anyone saw a frame of the finished “docu-soap” drama shot here on the Island.

Tonight, that changes. Set those DVR’s.

“The Vineyard” airs tonight on the ABC Family Channel (Comcast channels 42 and 784 HD) at 10 pm.

Show producers took great pains to avoid describing the production as a reality show. When they asked permission from local governments to shoot on public beaches, they billed it as a Disney production for 14-year-old girls.

But in promotional material issued by the network, “The Vineyard” was described as a show where “lust simmers, and sometimes, mistakes are made with no regret.”

The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven, where much of the show is set, plans a private viewing party tonight.

Several local establishments, including the Sand Bar, and the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, both in Oak Bluffs, plan public viewing parties.

The program has attracted a moderate amount of attention from entertainment web sites and television programs, and even the trailer sparked some sharp comments among Island residents.

Comments on the Martha’s Vineyard Times Facebook page ran overwhelmingly negative.

“I am going to guess it will have as short a seasonal run as does a true Vineyard summer,” wrote one Facebook commenter.

“It should be called Nantucket. That’s not the Island I grew up on,” another wrote.