Monday, September 19, 2011

Pilot Inspektor Tim: The Secret Circle

The show: The Secret Circle, Thursdays on The CW

The premise in ten words or less? Teenage girl discovers she's a witch and joins a coven.

Any good? Well, first off, I should say that this show really, really isn't aimed at my demographic. It's a Twilight-flavored supernatural teen soap about a bunch of high school girls and a couple token chiseled-ab guys doing magic and making kissies in an extremely Dawson's Creek-esque fictional town called Chance Harbor. I can tell you without one glance at the ratings breakdown that the majority of people jonesing for episode two are either 13 or 14-year-old girls.

But if I try to empathize and look at it from their perspective, it's actually not too bad. The show's executive producers are Elizabeth Craft and Sarah Fain of Angel fame, so it's not like they don't know their way around a supernatural drama. Most of the actors are the same blandly pretty twentysomethings-playing-teens you expect from any CW show (with the most notable adult participant being Natasha Henstridge as the high school principal, and yes, it's weird that the girl who spent much of the 90s sci-fi flick Species walking around naked is now old enough to play the mother of a high school student), but Britt Robertson has a certain spunk as the protagonist Cassie.

The show opens with Cassie's mother dying in a house fire started by a mysterious evil wizard, then skips several months ahead as Cassie moves in with her grandmother in the waterfront town of Chance Harbor, Washington. It's only about one commercial break in that Cassie gets dragged to an abandoned house in the woods by five of her peers and told that she's the progeny of a line of great witches and must join them for, well, fun, I guess (though the same evil wizard who killed Cassie's mom is seen to live in town, so there's obviously a collision brewing there). It's all very "yer a wizard, Cassie!"

Cassie proceeds to feud with Faye, this popular mean girl witch who's all about power, and get all flirty and almost make out with Adam, a hunky teenage wizard and boyfriend of Diana, head of the coven, which is exactly as generic teen soap as it sounds. By the end of the first episode Cassie is powerful enough to stop a lightning storm via dramatic chanting in what's actually a decently cool scene.

Now, I wasn't overwhelmingly gripped by any of this, but it's not aimed at me, so who cares. The supernatural element affords plenty of wiggle room for the writers to tell just about any story they want so long as it can be explained via magic, and the show does appear to actually be shot in a harbor town, with boats and piers and boardwalks, making it look more alive than most network TV pilots. All in all, it's not the worst thing I've ever seen. Hands down better than the CW's other pilot Ringer.

Will I watch again? No, but at the same time, unlike, say, Twilight or The Secret Life of the American Teenager, I find little objectionable about the notion of the show's junior high girl demo getting into it. It's a perfectly competent supernatural teen drama. Who knows, Whedonverse alums do run the show; maybe it's building towards some sort of apocalyptic magical showdown for the fate of the planet ala season six of Buffy.

Premise: B+

Execution: B-

Performances: C+

Potential: B-


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