We got a look at the premiere of WGN America’s “Salem” a little early and are here to give you an idea of the seductive sorcery the series is offering plus provide a peek behind the scenes at the “Secrets of Salem.”
Witches are hot properties on TV right now, and yes, they are the focus of the show with the horrific Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials ramping up and full-blown mass hysteria just around the corner. But these aren’t your garden variety witches, and the storyline encompasses a much darker world than we’re used to seeing on network TV.
In “Salem” there are also demons and wheeling & dealing with the devil, some very strange goings-on with a toad, a seemingly possessed woman being led around town like a rabid dog on a leash – and that’s just in the first episode!
Plus there’s nudity and blatant sexuality veering very close to HBO and Showtime standards. Actually, it’s classic “almost” nudity, and if you thought Alexandra Daddario’s shirt was tenacious in Texas Chainsaw 3D covering up her private parts, wait until you see the tricks they pull in “Salem”!
It’s not just the women who are showing their skin either. The men are just as carnal and apt to be a witch. And corruption runs deep. Fortunately, “Salem” isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to portraying the hypocrisy of the church and the townsfolk who were accusing others of witchcraft.
Related Story: Visit our “Salem” Archive
It may not be completely historically accurate, but just about everyone is a real historical figure like John Alden (Shane West) and Cotton Mather (Seth Gabel), with the recently announced Increase Mather (Stephen Lang) soon joining the fray, and so far it doesn’t feel too contemporized. Obvious parallels are made to today’s issues, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with them. Nor does it take itself too seriously. (But again… that’s only “so far” after watching just the pilot so don’t blame us if it takes a downward turn like so many promising shows sadly do.)
The acting is decent overall. He may be a little vanilla, but I’ve been a fan of West since “Once and Again,” and the standout newcomer for me is Ashley Madekwe as Tituba. Plus, it’s always great to see Xander Berkeley, who looks fabulous with period-appropriate long hair, by the way (as does West). The costumes, sets, and atmosphere are all quite impressive – and oppressive, just like those Puritanical times.
So our verdict is yes, you should tune in for the premiere of “Salem”… unless you’re only looking for something geared toward the younger crowd. In that case, you probably shouldn’t as there isn’t a single emo teen or high school dance in sight!
“Salem,” premiering on Sunday, April 20th, enters the world of the most notorious witch trials in history, a period steeped in fear, suspicion, and hysteria. “Salem” explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth behind them.
Note that the pilot episode runs a bit over an hour so if you’re DVRing it, be sure to add on an extra 10-15 minutes so you don’t miss the ending.
“Salem” Episode 1.01 – “The Vow” (airs 4/20/14)
John Alden returns from war to discover that the woman he left behind is now married to another man and that his hometown of Salem, Mass., is in the midst of a witch panic in the premiere of this supernatural drama.
Created, executive produced, and written by award-winning writer/producer Brannon Braga and Adam Simon, “Salem” stars Janet Montgomery as the ruthless but vulnerable Mary Sibley, Salem’s most powerful enchantress; Shane West as handsome, hardened war veteran John Alden – and Mary’s onetime love interest; Seth Gabel as local aristocrat Cotton Mather, who fans the flames of Salem’s witch hunt; Ashley Madekwe as Mary’s mysterious, carnal accomplice, Tituba; Xander Berkeley as chief politician Magistrate Hale; Tamzin Merchant as the forthright Anne Hale, an artist with a perilous attraction to Alden; Elise Eberle as the mysteriously afflicted Mercy Lewis; and Iddo Goldberg as outcast Isaac Walton.
Keep your eyes on the “Salem” Facebook page for updates and more info.
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