The Secret Circle: Pilot (Review)

The Secret Circle: Pilot (Review)

When I first heard about The Secret Circle, I was torn on whether or not to watch. On the one hand, I don’t need another show and one strictly focused on magic wasn’t all that appealing. On the flipside, there was the fact that Thomas Dekker (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), and Britt Robertson (Life Unexpected) were a part of the cast. I was a fan of both of their previous television work and  Following up one of my favorite shows, The Vampire Diaries, and in possession of one of the greatest inventions ever (the trusty DVR), I decided why not?! After two and a half hours (falling asleep during the first attempted viewing), what are my thoughts can be summed up quite succinctly: sudden, choppy, and predictable, though not without promise.

THE CW UPFRONTS 2011The show’s main protagonist is Cassie (Robertson), a teenager who moves from Cali to Chance Harbor, Washington after her mother Amelia’s death in a fire. We are privy to magic early on, as well as a villain (portrayed by Gale Harold), who is responsible for Amelia’s death. Cassie’s not even settled into her new school before Faye (Phoebe Tonkin), the stereotypical bad girl, introduces herself along with tagalong, Melissa (Jessica Parker Kennedy). A bit less in your face is Diana (Shelley Henning), the level-headed one and her boyfriend Adam. The latter is Thomas Dekker’s character and I must say an interesting dynamic is formed here. What I thought would be the predictable boy likes girl was put sideways when said boy has a girlfriend who, not only seems to be a sweetie but is also a part of the Circle.

Just what is the Circle, you may ask? Simply put, in order for a witch to come into his/her full power, the coven must be completed by five other like individuals descended from the six original families of the town. Cassie is the missing piece of the puzzle and, if foreshadowing is correct, the one with the most potential. This potential is in full effect when, barely done from performing a spell with Adam earlier in the day, Cassie calms a storm caused by Faye’s recklessness. While it’s been done before in many genres (the newbie becomes the lynchpin/savior) it doesn’t mean that it can’t work.

It’s rare for a series premiere not to be extremely flawed (Supernatural and Flash Forward are two of the best premieres in recent memory). The purpose is to introduce characters and a story dynamic that catches the viewer’s attention. As a standalone, I wasn’t impressed by the primary character outlines we saw in the premiere. With that said, some of the relationship dynamics presented (the potential triangle between Adam, Cassie, and Diana, the brewing power struggle between Faye and Diana, Faye’s mother’s relationship with  Charles, the man who killed Amelia and is also Diana’s father) offer some good material for intrigue that could develop into something very special.

As far as the acting, no one truly caught my attention save for the mysterious Charles Meade (played by Gale Harold) and Adam’s father, Ethan (Adam Harrington). Both show depth to their characters past what their lines dictated. Harold is especially effective, showcasing a quiet menace that pegs him as the antagonist even before he kills Amelia. Ashley Crow presents a matriarchal air as Jane, Cassie’s grandmother. Natasha Henstridge is adequate in her few scenes though the rest of the cast, the circle, if you will, do not convey the same three-dimensional depth as those mentioned above though, to be fair, neither did Nina Debrov for Vampire Diaries and her character has turned out to be more than okay.

There are secrets still hidden in the show’s mythos and while the pilot was a lackluster viewing, so were the first few episodes of L.J. Smith’s creation, The Vampire Diaries. Knowing how unfair it is to compare The Secret Circle with an established show, I will give it some time to develop as, after 3-4 episodes tVD started to find its groove and has only gotten stronger as the show has gone along. Will The Secret Circle find its groove? There is definite potential (there’s that word again) but for it to be found, the scripts need to be tighter and the characters need something to take them out of the stereotypical molds we saw in the first episode. Here’s hoping it catches a hot streak and doesn’t fizzle out like so many shows before it.

Rating: C

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– Darryl (follow @djasper07 on Twitter)
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