Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pilot Review: The Secret Circle

The Secret Circle (CW)
Premiered September 15 at 9pm

There have been many shows about witches – teen and adult alike – in recent years. This is hardly new territory, but, truth be told, this is right up the CW’s alley, and honestly, the network has done a pretty good job with it. That’s not to say I have any desire to watch the show, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself relatively enthralled throughout as Cassie made her way to her grandmother’s home and gradually met the members of the now-complete witch’s circle. Britt Robertson managed to bounce back right away from the cancellation of “Life Unexpected,” securing herself another lead role where she has a complicated history with her parents, though in this case they’re both alive rather than reunited with her during her formative years. That’s another element that this show has done well, turning most of the adults, with the exception of Adam’s father and Cassie’s grandmother, into villains deliberately manipulating their children into achieving some endgame, and in the case of Diana’s father, explicitly murdering other members of his generation. The kids are a fun bunch, particularly Phoebe Tonkin as Faye. Despite her inability to hide her Australian accent, Tonkin is terrifically entertaining as the would-be nemesis for Cassie who probably won’t even turn out to be nearly as much of a problem for her as the jealous Diana will be. The boys are plenty awkward, especially Thomas Dekker’s Adam, whose infatuation with Cassie after they “did magic together” is a smidge too obvious. Gale Harold makes for a great villain as the Diana’s father Charles, and the rest of the adults do just fine too. Much of the drama is supposed to be digested comically, and I think that this show doesn’t try to take itself too too seriously (it does a bit) and appropriately injects humor where it’s most effective. I can’t say I plan to watch this show, but I’d be willing to give it a few weeks since the pilot was far better than I expected.

How will it work as a series? It’s based on a book series, so there’s plenty of material to be drawn from, but even as an independent show, there are many storylines that can be explored, and this show shouldn’t have any trouble figuring out how to keep its audience hooked in and captivated.
How long will it last? The ratings for the premiere were great, coming close to last year’s “Nikita” debut and retaining most of the audience from “The Vampire Diaries” in the 8pm timeslot. This seems like a great fit for the CW, and I’d imagine they’ll want to keep it around, especially since they have so few new shows and this may be their best shot.

Pilot grade: B-

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