Pilot Review: Eastwick

Sleepyville, New England, three women make a wish for something they feel their lives are missing. Then there’s a gust of wind, they get drunk, a mysterious stranger arrives in town, strange things start happening around them and they get drunk again. It’s based on the book, The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike, which I haven’t read, and the film, The Witches of Eastwick that I haven’t seen.

Roxie: Sometimes I wish I could meet someone who got me, you know? Someone dark and dangerous and exciting, who moves here in a cloud of scandal. And everywhere he goes, he stirs up sex and trouble. And he’s got a really huge… (gasps) appreciation for art

There’s a lot going for this show. It’s got a simple but powerful premise of magic, friendship and a mysterious stranger. It’s got a strong cast with three talented and beautiful women and the wonderful Paul Gross who I haven’t seen in anything since I worshipped him in Due South. Even the setting of a small town in New England is lovely, with opportunities for beautiful locations and quirky townsfolk. It sounds like Practical Magic crossed with Desperate Housewives.

The problem is the pilot just didn’t really work with me. There were perilously few chuckles or smiles and far too many pieces of cringe inducing dialogue like the example above. I think the problem is they crammed so much plot into the episode that they forgot to take the time for humour and character chemistry. You’re left feeling utterly overloaded rather than charmed and intrigued.

At the start of the pilot, the characters only know each other in passing, “we’ve never met, but it’s a small town” one of them says. They label each other as the flakey artist (Rebecca Romijn), uptight journalist (Lindsay Price) and doormat nurse (Jaime Ray Newman). They simultaneously each make a wish in a fountain and end up spending an evening getting drunk together and suddenly they’re best friends. Literally within about 10 minutes they’ve gone from strangers to bestest friends in the whole wide world, blowing off other friends, boyfriends and kids so they can spend more time together. It was just weird. Meanwhile they all develop some sort of neat magic power overnight, exactly what they need to fulfil their wishes.

So far, so twee. It’s bordering on a Lifetime movie of the week and making me want to vomit. But then Paul Gross flounces onto the screen as the mysterious stranger who moves to town and takes over. It just completely derails everything around it. The women and audience are suddenly speechless watching this ridiculous character. He’s so completely full of himself you want to slap him and yet also cheer him, because he at least evokes a reaction beyond mildly irritated eye-rolling.

I think this might be an ok show once it settles down, it just seemed a real shame to dump all that material into the first 45 minutes. It’s impossible to tell from the pilot what the individual episodes are going to be like, whether it’s going to just be giant ongoing soap like stories or ‘mystical spell of the week’ type episodes. If it slows down a bit, it might be worth watching, but for now I’m adding it to the list of things I’ll keep an eye on and maybe pick up later.

Links: Official Site at ABC, imdb, Wikipedia, TV.com
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  1. September 3rd, 2010
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