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The Secret Circle, “Pilot” (1.01)

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A review of the new witch drama, written by Andrew Miller and directed by Liz Friedlander, after the jump…

When I sat down to The Secret Circle, I knew it would probably be good. It comes from the same stock as The Vampire Diaries, which I’ve heard nothing but good things about, after all. And I have to say the pilot exceeded my expectations: every moment, every player, every scene here fits together into a wonderfully cohesive whole. There’s never a moment that doesn’t feel inevitable, nor any castmates who don’t fit. And, though I didn’t expect to do much more than respect this pilot, I genuinely enjoyed it.

The entire cast works nicely. Britt Robertson walks the line nicely between hesitant fragility and buried strength as Cassie, and handled her slow realisation about what this creepy town actually is nicely. She also has undeniable chemistry with Thomas Dekker,  whose ‘nice guy’ role is made a little more interesting with how he seems to be drawn to her, almost against his will. That’s a trope, but Dekker plays it  nicely, with a hint of confusion, almost as if he gets a bit high off her presence. I like it. Shelley Hennig also works as the sweet girl with a bit of hidden fire, trying to be the leader and not quite shaping up. Ashley Crow is very good here in a stock role of the wise grandmother. And Jessica Parker Kennedy and Louis Hunter are practically nonentities, but I liked what I saw.

There were three others in the cast, the standouts. Phoebe Tonkin is brilliant as the overeager ‘bad girl’ who uses her powers flippantly, only to realise that she’s more capable of starting fires than putting them out. Natasha Henstridge, who I knew only from playing the love interest in Eli Stone, is very engaging as the kind principal you know is up to no good. And Gale Harold is pretty perfect as the evil bad guy who goes around killing and threatening the older witches.

The script’s pretty good, too. Not much happens here, but it sets out the world and the characters enough to intrigues. It has some great scenes. The best, with a genuine sense of dread, being the opening sequence of Gale Harold‘s character using magic to murder Cassie’s mother, followed up by Cassie and Adam (Thomas Dekker) making it rain upside-down after their connection ramps up both their powers.

All in all… I liked it. Very deserving to go alongside Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries. I’ll probably wait until end of season then do a catch-up, much like I’m planning to do with Diaries.

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