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'The Secret Circle' Premiere: Intriguing Mysteries, Cliché Characters (VIDEO)

by Jason Hughes, posted Sep 16th 2011 1:52AM
'The Secret Circle' - 'Pilot'['The Secret Circle' Season 1, Episode 1 - 'Pilot']

When looking for a companion series for 'The Vampire Diaries' on Thursday nights, The CW didn't have to go very far. They simply looked at the bibliography of books by 'VD' book series author L.J. Smith. There they found 'The Secret Circle' (Thu., 9PM ET on The CW), a trilogy of books featuring the same teen romance, only this time with witches.

Britt Robertson was transplanted from the just-cancelled 'Life Unexpected,' taking the lead as Cassie Blake. In typical fashion for these types of young adult stories, she finds herself an orphan at the beginning of the series when her mother dies in a house fire.

And so, she moves in with her grandmother, which takes her back to a hometown her mother never talked about, and all the secrets housed therein. Everyone knew her mother, and so in a way everyone knows Cassie, who is the ultimate fish out of water. It's certainly tapping into relatable experiences for every teen girl out there.l

But she quickly finds that she does fit in, whether she wants to or not. And thus we get an instant core of six teenage characters -- the titular secret circle, which isn't actually so secret. And even these characters are stock characters for this type of story.

Faye is the wild child, the unpredictable bad girl who doesn't listen to anyone and does things her own way. Her mother, natch, is the principal of the town's high school. And then you have Diana, who's as sweet as a button and the de facto leader of the circle. So, of course, Cassie is going to have a mutual "feeling it" shared moment with Diana's boyfriend, Adam.

That said, their scene in the forest when they raised the droplets of water was rather sweet and romantic. So the love triangle is in place. The rest of the circle is made up of bad boy Nick -- gotta have one of those -- and Faye's insecure mean girl crony, Melissa.

But while the characters are all very cliché, at least there is some intrigue when you start looking at the next generation up. The circle is a generational thing, meaning the parents of these six kids had one as well, and apparently one parent of each of them died.

It's the remaining parents that seem to be up to something; particularly Diana's father Charles and Faye's mother Dawn. Adam's father, on the other hand, looks like someone the kids might be able to turn to as an ally, assuming Charles doesn't kill him.

At first I was under the impression that the six who were in the parents' circle were the witches who died, but Charles definitely has some power. So maybe there were more than six in that circle, or some of the six survived, but their spouses didn't.

The show didn't leave any mystery as to what happened to Cassie's mother. While we saw a man in shadow killing her with magic, though Cassie thinks it was an accident, I was a little surprised to see him revealed so early in the series as Charles. This definitely gives the audience a heads up that this guy is trouble, but what was his motivation?

Did he just want Cassie in Chance Harbor, and this was the best way to do it, or was it some sort of revenge against her mother. Maybe it was both. Cassie in Chance Harbor apparently strengthens the power of the other five kids in the circle -- Diana said something about a binding spell that would unify them and help them control the power.

Maybe the unifying spell wasn't cast by the original circle, or someone broke the bond. I wonder, though, if Cassie's presence in town increases the magical ability of the likes of Charles.

Based on what the kids were saying, Charles certainly held more power than they did before Cassie arrived. Or maybe his power increased when the other members of the circle died, like the Highlander or something.

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. At least for right now, the focus is so much on these teenage kids, while 'VD' seems to have a balance between the younger characters and a myriad of adults and people even much older than that.

But 'Secret Circle' has yet to really establish its legacy and its deeper mysteries. We only got a tease of what Cassie's mother knew when a letter she'd written to her daughter was discovered. She clearly knew Cassie had magic, as it was her magic that triggered the letter to reveal itself in her mother's old room.

"I hoped that keeping this secret would keep you safe, but all I've done is left you unprotected," she wrote. "You have incredible power inside you. People will come for it. They will come for you."

In other words, mom screwed up and probably should have told Cassie what she needs to know to face this danger. And to make matters worse, mom knew she was going to screw up in just this way, and did it anyway, hoping probably Cassie would never read the letter. I hope the rest of it proves more helpful.

What did you think? Are witches the new vampires?

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I'm really glad that Britt Robertson is getting another chance at a lead role - I loved her in Life Unexpected and was so bummed when that show was cancelled. Also loved that they used MNDR's "I Go Away" in the first scene of the show - really got me excited (watch at http://vimeo.com/29586736)

While I was kind of apprehensive when i read the show description, thinking it might be a little too cookie-cutter, the pilot was very solid. The show has good tone - it's the right mix of dark without being depressive, and it had excellent pacing, which is often overlooked. I'm excited to see if Britt can take this role and run with it!

October 11 2011 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Great another show to help indoctrinate kids into the ways of the occult. I wouldn't mind but they make sure to research real witches to make it as 'real' as possible. As if it really matters if they mistakingly misrepresent them.

September 17 2011 at 4:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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