The Secret Circle – Pilot Review

The concept – Six families are linked together – they’re witches. When Cassie returns to her mother’s home town knowing nothing of this mystical whatnot she’s quickly brought in to complete the circle of varyingly weird teenagers who together have great power. Not only are the kids a bit odd though, their parents are also a bit creepy – they had their own circle a couple of decade, something went very wrong and lots of people died.

As you can tell, there’s a lot of plot crammed into the pilot, and almost a dozen characters as well. It’s a bit painful at times, some rather cheesy exposition sequences and overly obvious “this is mysterious!” flags with a little too much pointed dialogue and meaningful looks. I also ended up fairly convinced that elements of the back-story didn’t make sense and deeply irritated by the numerous clichés.

The characters are all a bit one dimensional, but when you’ve got six teenagers and a variety of adults to get through, I guess there’s no choice but to rely on the fact that they all fall into their niches of ‘plucky heroine’, ‘good girl’, ‘the bitch’, ‘nice guy’, ‘brooding guy’ and ‘nondescript sidekick girl’.

Bits of it are fun and interesting, there’s nice touches like the little musical motif that runs through the episode and I for one was interested to see the harbour town location – a nice change from the usual bland middle American towns or familiar cities like LA or New York. But bits of it are painfully cliché – I groaned when the whole love-triangle, destined to be together thing was introduced and the whole “you two did magic together?” metaphor made me shout at the screen.

No one could ever doubt that it’s a CW show aimed at the Twilight generation, although I do acknowledge that I sound particularly old and fuddy by saying that. There’s an incredible amount of lip gloss on display, improbably short skirts, and a new catchy pop song every 2 minutes. It’s based on a book from the author of The Vampire Diaries and there’s a lot of similarities in style and concept.
I was quite frustrated by the pilot on first viewing, there were too many things that didn’t make sense, too much cheesy dialogue and too many standard teenage drama tropes. But, I watched it a second time while I typed this review and found myself liking it more, some of the more background characters have some potential and I did find myself intrigued by the mystery around the adults. I’m not sure it quite convinced me to watch it, but I’m certainly going to keep an eye on it.

Other Reviews
Maureen Ryan at AolTV – ‘The Secret Circle’ does exactly what you expect it to do, yet that efficiency ends up being refreshing rather than maddening. Slightly refreshing, mind you. ‘The Secret Circle’ will not redefine your idea of what a supernatural drama can be, what a CW show can be or what a program about witches and warlocks can be. All the pieces laid out here eventually end up in the exact places that you expect them to occupy.

Jason Hughes at AolTV – So far, ‘The Secret Circle’ is off to a good start. While I think it will appeal very well to the younger viewers of ‘The Vampire Diaries,’ it might be a little too “young” for older viewers.
The review also raises several of the spoilery questions that I had while watching.

The Secret Circle will air on Sky Living “in the Autumn”.

The Upfronts: The CW

I’m pretty far behind with the upfront coverage, so I picked The CW tonight as they’ve hardly got any shows to start about. There are only three new dramas and a collection of painful reality shows. It’s a pretty apathetic line up to be honest, even The CW don’t seem that proud of it; none of their trailers are available outside the US, hence the crappy quality videos below.

What’s Out
Some shows are killed and pulled from the schedules with such suddenness you can hear the air rushing into the vacuum. Other shows are allowed to age, grow old and then respectfully retired with fair notice and a chance to tidy all their affairs up. Smallville is the very definition of that. After 10 years Smallville was wrapped up this year with characters returning and satisfying resolutions to all its stories. I’ve never actually watched it, but even I appreciate The CW allowing it to close out with dignity.

Less dignified was the demise of Hellcats, whose cancellation was announced pretty much by its failure to appear on next year’s schedules. I enjoyed the pilot, despite its ridiculous plot and over the topness, but I didn’t get round to watching any other episodes because it aired on MTV in the UK and I couldn’t face it.

Somewhere in the middle of the range of dignity, Life Unexpected wasn’t renewed either. Another show (like ABC’s Parenthood) that I didn’t get in to because I assumed it wasn’t going to last, and despite surprise that it was renewed for season 2, it will not be back for 3 next year.

What’s back
Yay, Supernatural will be back for season 7! It was supposed to be a five year story and somehow they just keep going. One Tree Hill is being given a final half season to close itself down, I hadn’t actually realised it was still on to be honest. Also back are Gossip Girl (which I’m a couple of seasons behind on and not that fussed), The Vampire Diaries (which I guess I should give a proper chance to at some point) and Nikita (which I found utterly unremarkable).

What’s new
Hart of Dixie – New York doctor in small town Alabama. Looks tedious.

Ringer – Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy!) returns to television twice over to play twin sisters, one of whom steals the other’s identity. I’m hoping the actual show is more lively than the trailer which was over the top and slow as mud.

The Secret Circle –This show will fit in perfectly with the rest of The CW schedule – teenagers and supernatural stuff, The Vampire Diaries with witches effectively. Could be ok but the trailer was again, utterly ‘meh’.

Links: TV Squad, The Futon Critic, TV Line