First Impressions

The Secret Circle

Aired on: The CW

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            When I saw previews of this new series about teen witches, I frowned.  Made by the same folks who brought us The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle was also based on a popular series of novels written byÖyup, you guessed it, L.J. Smith, the author of The Vampire Diaries.  The previews made it out to be a sort of teenage Charmed.  Now, Charmed was a good series for quite some time, but I wasnít sure I was interested in seeing a teenybopper version of it.  But, in the interest of my readers and their quest for interesting television, I decided to check out The Secret Circle when it aired on September 15, 2011 and see if it was worth our time.

            The series centers around Cassie Blake (Britt Robertson), a happy teenager, living a normal wife with her widower mother until one day, a flat tire and a major fire changes everything.  While Cassie is out changing a blown tire on her vehicle, her mother is burned to death in her home in a rather suspicious blaze.  Cassie moves to her motherís hometown in Chance Harbor, Washington to live with her one remaining relative, her grandmother, Jane (Ashley Crow). 

            Itís bad enough being the new girl in school, but when she is approached by other schoolmates and informed that she is a witch, Cassie Blake has doubts about whether it was a good idea to move to Chance Harbor.  Especially when she learns that the students are a part of a secret circle of witches, supposedly a tradition shared with all five of the studentsí ancestors dating back to the 1600s, including her own mother.  Cassie begins to doubt the sanity of the students, especially that of Faye Chamberlain (Phoebe Tonkin), the principalís (Natasha Henstridge) daughter.  Faye is especially power-hungry and wants Cassie to join the circle to enhance her own powers.

            Despite the insistence that she has powers, Cassie sees no symptoms of magical ability until Adam Conant (Thomas Dekker) proves she is a witch by joining his power to hers.  This creates a bit of scandal as Adam is dating Diana Meade (Shelley Henning), a new found friend of Cassieís who turns out to be the daughter of someone who (unbeknownst to Cassie) happens to look very much like the man who killed her mother.  According to Adamís somewhat alcoholic father Ethan (Adam Harrington), Adam is magically bound to Cassie the way Ethan was bound to Cassieís mother.

            Now that Cassie realizes she has powers, she still believes it may be a bad idea to join this secret circle despite the urgings of Adam and Diana.  Her hesitation becomes justified when she stumbles upon some of her motherís secret belongings which come complete with a letter to Cassie from her deceased mother, warning her about Chance Harborís occupants.

            When I first started watching this premiere, I was expecting a teenage version of Charmed.  In fact, Cassieís grandmotherís house looks very much like the Charmed house.  Teenybopperdom was confirmed when I saw the set of the local Chance Harbor hangout which is reminiscent of the Ice House, the Potter familyís restaurant on Dawsonís Creek.  However, as I watched the show, I began to see more and more of The Craftís influence.  For those who donít remember the film, it also features teenagers who dabble in witchcraft.  The trio bring in a new girl who is much more powerful and adds to their own powers, much like in The Secret Circle.  The movie had a very dark edge, much like this television series and Faye Chamberlain reminds me of Fairuza Balkís character, Nancy Downs, who is just as power hungry and dangerous.

            I was actually surprised that I found The Secret Circle a bit intriguing.  I always liked The Craft and the darkness of the premiere of this series and its kinship to The Craft joined to make the premiere episode quite intriguing.  It was good to see Thomas Dekker again.  I loved him in Heroes and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and found him to be just as enjoyable in this first episode of the series. 

            Thus far, fans of the books are not making a great deal of noise about the series the way they did for The Vampire Diaries.  Having never read the books, I really have no idea as to whether the series is holding true to the novels.  However, what I can say is that I found the first episode of The Secret Circle to be intriguing enough to want to check out the second episode when it airs on The CW on Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 9PM.  Fans of magic and witchcraft movies and TV series might want to give this series a peek.  Fans of the books are welcome to voice their opinion about the series on our Message Board.  We know you are watching and we would love to know what you think about The Secret Circle television series!


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