Depending on where you live, you might be sunbathing OR building a snowman at this very moment, but one thing remains the same no matter your latitude, and that's the fact there's an abundance of new television premiering this month. Perhaps you've even been wondering whether you should invest in a separate DVR specifically for Sunday-evening use? You're not alone—and we can help. WGN America is about to jump into the original programming pool with its first-ever scripted series, the witch drama Salem. But is it bewitching in a good way, or does it deserve to burned at the state? Find out now in the latest edition Hey TV.com, What's the Deal With This Program on My Magical TV Box?
Salem—lemme guess, this is a show about the Salem Witch Trials?
Yes, but also no. Salem is set during that infamous era in American history, and it features religious fanatics who stone people they suspect of witchcraft, but it also exists in a version of the world/time period/town where there is very real magic at work. It's creepy and it's dark, and you get the feeling that the show's not dealing with the kind of magic that Glinda the Good Witch uses in her daily adventures. Our protagonist is a Salem resident named John Alden, who leaves for war in 1685 and returns seven years later to find everyone gripped by witch-hunt hysteria. Not only that, but the love of his life, Mary Sibley, has married the rich, old jerk who used to run the town. John remains one of the only voices of reason in Salem, but he doesn't realize that in his absence, Mary became the most powerful witch in Salem. And that's only one of her many secrets.
Who created this show? And who's under those beards in the promo photos?
Salem was created and written by Brannon Braga (24) and Adam Simon (The Haunting in Connecticut) and stars a long-haired, bearded Shane West (Nikita) as war veteran John Alden. West is joined by a heavily bearded Seth Gabel (Fringe) as Cotton Mather, an aristocrat who fans the flames of the witch hunt, as well as a (thankfully!) beardless Janet Montgomery (Human Target) as John's unrequited love Mary Sibley.
Elsewhere, West's former Nikita co-star Xander Berkeley plays Magistrate Hale, Salem's chief politician; Ashley Madekwe (Revenge) plays the mysterious Tituba, who aids Mary in her magic; and Iddo Goldberg (Mob City) plays Isaac, an outcast who helps Alden and Mather in their quest to learn the truth about Salem. Tamzin Merchant (The Tudors) and Elise Eberle (Tiger Eyes) round out the cast.
When does the witch hunt begin?
Salem debuts on the mysterious WGN America network Sunday, April 20 at 10pm. That puts it up against AMC's Mad Men and HBO's Silicon Valley + Veep comedy block, as well as The Mentalist on CBS, Crisis on NBC, and Revenge on ABC.
Who might find Salem spellbinding?
Fans of the supernatural and horror genres, for sure. However, it's worth noting that Salem is dark, but not particularly humorous or campy—so if you're looking for the wit of True Blood or American Horror Story, your mileage may vary.
What's magical about Salem?
The show does a nice job of combining supernatural happenings with period drama, although that isn't terribly surprising, given the subject matter. It also treats its witches as mysterious, dark, and dangerous beings, as opposed to magical sidekicks whose abilities don't really follow a set logic, and it's kind of refreshing to see them taken seriously.The witches of Salem and the dark magic they use are at the forefront here, and it's creepy in the best possible way.
What puts Salem at risk of being burned at the stake?
The pilot meanders a bit as it goes about introducing the hysteria-plagued world of 17th Century Salem and the characters who inhabit it, so some viewers might find themselves wondering whether or not Salem and its witches have any particular goal in mind. This is the type of show that will benefit from keeping its cards close to its chest—after all, keeping secrets is what makes shocking reveals feel shocking—but at the outset, Salem's mysterious nature is both a blessing and a curse. The witches do have a plan—they're not just wreaking havoc in Salem for the hell of it (although that would be fun, too)—but we don't learn what they're up to until very late in the game, which could be off-putting to those who don't have much patience.
So, should I watch it?
If you're into supernatural/horror fan, yes. At the very least, you should DVR it.
Let's take a look at a trailer!
Your wish is my command:
Salem premieres Sunday, April 20 at 10pm on WGN America.
AIRED ON 7/13/2014
Season 1 : Episode 13