Sunday, January 20, 2019

Pilot Review: A Discovery of Witches

A Discovery of Witches (Sundance Now)
Premiered January 17

It’s hard to believe how many shows there are about witches and vampires. I sighed when I started this episode, feeling like this is all that I’ve been watching with the many pilots I’ve sampled recently. Fortunately, silly as it may sound, the fact that it’s British and not on the CW gives it a slight leg up, at least having the appearance of higher quality. I’m most interested in the two lead actors, who I’ve seen in a number of projects. Matthew Goode, who recently earned an Emmy nomination for his recurring role on “The Crown,” has appeared in many projects from the 2007 film “The Lookout” to the TV show “The Good Wife,” and this is one of his more ominous, threatening roles rather than the sweet-natured type. Teresa Palmer was great in “Warm Bodies,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “Kill Me Three Times,” and, though I’m not sure why her character is American, she seems to be a good fit here as someone who wants to reject the magic she has in her but finally realizes that she can’t. I’m still not into this type of fare, but at least this isn’t an effects-heavy, battle-centric show but instead one about people realizing who they are in the grand scheme of the universe and its many supernatural forces. There’s clearly a long history here as there often is in this genre, and it’s not something that I’m going to be sticking around to see unfold since it’s just not interesting or stylized enough to appeal to me.

How will it work as a series? Palmer’s Diana is an academic, and indulging in the exploration of things that can’t be proven in her field is going to end up being a serious distraction from that work. Balancing her two worlds will prove difficult, and that’s not even taking into account the mythical forces that might be coming after her and Goode’s Matthew. There’s much to be uncovered, and those interested should keep watching to learn more.
How long will it last? Reviews seem to be pretty good, and this show has already enjoyed a successful run of its initial eight episodes on Sky One in the UK in September and November. It was renewed by that network for a second and third season several months ago, and it’s hard to know whether it will continue beyond that. Sundance Now should air whatever is produced across the pond, and I think it should do pretty well here given the popularity of the subject matter.

Pilot grade: B-

No comments: