If there’s one thing The CW has taught us over the years, it’s that being a teen ain’t easy. Sure, you might be pretty and have a trendy outfit for every occasion (despite having no discernible means of income), and chances are you have a car. But, gosh darn it, there’s always, like, someone out to turn you into a vampire or steal your soul or turn you into a secret agent or set your car on fire with magic.
Yup, being a teen is tough.
But if there’s another thing The CW has taught us over the years, it’s that mixing teen angst with a healthy dose of creepy goings-on makes for a heady brew that can be downright entertaining. With THE SECRET CIRCLE, we got all that and more in a quick-paced hour that, if not exactly pushing any envelopes, at least didn’t leave us feeling as if our brain cells were being stomped upon.
Realizing that every single viewer tuning in would know that the show was about spell-casting teens, the show didn’t waste any time in setting up its premise. By the half-way point, our innocent ingenue, Cassie (played by Britt Robertson, who is a tad blank in the expression department yet reminds one of a young Michelle Williams) had found out she was a witch, gotten herself involved in a love triangle, reigned in an out-of-control storm and found her mom’s secret diary. Of course, said journal indicated that people would be coming for Cassie and her powers, which even the least astute viewers had figured out about when, about five seconds in, hiss-worthy baddie Charles Meade (the surprisingly-effective Gale Harold, best known for the gay sudser QUEER AS FOLK) turned her mama into a human fireball. Perhaps the true standout performance in the opener came from Phoebe Tonkin, who plays bitchy witch Faye Chamberlin. (Although, as a friend of mine always says, “Playing the bitch is easy. Playing the bitch everybody sympathizes for is tough.” Tonklin definitely nailed the latter, so now we can only hope she — with an assist from the writers — manages to flesh the teen temptress out.)
The show didn’t reach VAMPIRE DIARIES levels of storytelling and intrigue, but then, that show is now entering its third season and, despite a solid pilot, took a bit of time in striking the right balance. Here, it might have behooved the writers to spend a little time crafting a few cool-sounding spells. Having our heroine basically look to the heavens and say, “Make it stop!” in order to quell a bad storm was probably a tad more giggle-inducing than they’d intended. But over all, the debut episode accomplished everything it could possibly want to, introducing us to a plethora of characters (almost all of whom had names that seemed lifted directly out of a ’50s New England Who’s Who) and setting up the inevitable battle between good and evil. Now, we’ll just have to see if it proves to have more than one trick up its sleeve.
THE SECRET CIRCLE premieres on the CW this Thursday September 15th at 9pm (Friday September 16th at 9PM on MuchMusic in Canada) and stars Brittany Robertson, Thomas Dekker, Gale Harold, Natasha Henstridge, Phoebe Tonkin, Logan Browning, Ashley Crow, Shelley Hennig and Adam Harrington. Download the series premiere for free online by clicking here.